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Dream Home News, Issue #004 -- The Trend Issue
July 01, 2008

Hello, and welcome to the fourth issue of Dream Home Decorating News - THE TREND ISSUE (July 1, 2008).


  1. Publisher’s Note
  2. Featured Article: Interior Decorating Trends from London
  3. Legal Stuff

Publisher's Note

Hello again, and welcome to a midsummer cocktail of interior decorating trends in my part of the world!

In the last issue of "Dream Home News" I promised a shop report, but now I think I should qualify that a little, seeing as you're probably nowhere near the London shopping hotspots, nor planning to come and visit anytime soon! And you don't need to, either.

All the major Western interior decorating trends are pretty much available anywhere in Western cultures. So instead of telling you where to find what in London, I'd just like to give you an overview of some of the most prominent current home decorating trends in my part of the world. (I'll ignore period styles – they're rarely influenced by interior fashions.)

So here goes ...

Interior Decorating Trends from London

In many ways, interior decorating is now truly democratic – almost everyone has access to some version of their favorite type of interiors. Big-name designers are developing product lines for low-price retail chains (Terence Conran's bathroom products for Tchibo are the latest I've seen). You can have a 'designer piece' for less than 10 dollars if you want!

I've also found another, very interesting interior decorating trend that is emerging slowly. I'll report on that at the end. Let's start with ...

... What's Hot.

1. Green.
Eco consciousness is chic (Thank Heaven!) – renewable, natural materials (linen, nettle, organic cotton, wool & felt, water hyacinth, raffia, rush, bamboo, wicker, responsibly farmed wood &cetera.) – all these have caught the eye of good designers, and as a result there are lots of cool, contemporary interior products in the shops.

The same goes for designs that use recycled materials. More and more exciting, entirely recycled products are hitting the shelves.

Recycled accessories and furniture work particularly well with the eclectic interior decorating trend, whereas natural materials go with just about any style. They look great when they're married with antiques (e.g. Louis XV chairs covered in coarse linen, or a Queen Anne sofa upholstered in Harris tweed).

2. Modern Classics.
These are the Kelly Bags of interior design – instantly recognizable, with an aura of historical cutting edge-turned-respectable. People are currently putting Verner Panton chairs from 1968 around antique tables without batting an eyelid.

Sometimes one iconic piece can set the tone for a whole room. Take a 1930s Alvar Aalto lounge chair, surround it very sparsely with inoffensive IKEA furniture, and you'll create a room that breathes connoisseurship.

3. Holiday Home.
With little free time, and holidays generally few and far between, many people decide to create a holiday feel for their home to remind themselves of gloriously carefree days spent in beautiful, sun-drenched places. (I think this is also partly the attraction of the "New England" decorating style in Europe – although, in that case, I don't know about 'sun-drenched'.)

You can create instantly appealing, unpretentious, relaxed interiors with simple furniture, cotton ticking, and painted walls decorated with large-canvas prints of happy holiday moments. This style is even more of a winner if you bring a few items of everyday use home from your favorite vacation haunt. They can put a smile on your face every day.

The 'holiday home' factor is definitely at work in some of the immensely popular 'Southern European' interior decorating trends:

4. Provence & Tuscany.
For people from the soggier parts of Europe (like me), these regions are dream destinations. You can sell us wooden flooring called 'Toscana', even though hardly any home in Tuscany has wooden flooring - we'll buy it because the word 'Toscana' is just so darn evocative.

If you're interested in these styles, have a look at the articles about French Country interior decorating trends and Tuscan interiors. (I'm planning to add at least 10 more pages about Tuscan decorating, and some new 'French' pages as well, so do stay tuned!)

5. Scandinavian.
Ever since the 1950s, this style has never really gone out of fashion. And currently Scandinavian interiors are quite hip again.

People tend to mix some of the modern classics – like 1950s chairs by Arne Jacobsen or Eero Saarinen - with modern and retro fabrics (Marimekko-style prints) and simple, stylish white table- and glassware.

The current wallpaper revival adds bold, graphic patterns to this style. It appeals to young professionals on the move – versatile, multi-functional, and elegant in an understated, unsentimental way.

6. Luxury I – Sleek, Opulent, or Both.
The look of luxury isn't just for the happy few any more. DIY chain stores sell bathroom suites "with a distinctive air of opulence" (yep, that's what the catalog says!), and you can get sleek-looking, hi-gloss, minimalist "Italian" kitchens at every street corner.

You can use patterned wallpapers with gilded highlights, pearl sheen or gloss print, and hang flocked, cut-velvet or otherwise sophisticated and glamorous-looking curtains, and you can get reproduction furniture that looks almost like the originals. If you want to use this affluent-looking, luscious interior decorating trend in your home, it's all yours.

Of course, expensive luxury still exists – in the quality of genuine and rare materials, in superb workmanship, in old and original furniture, in art collections and exclusive accessories.

But even art is now being pitched to a younger, middle class market. Galleries and art/craft fairs like "Collect" or "Origin" (both are in London and very much worth visiting) sell affordable pieces by up-and-coming artists and designer-makers to future collectors.

7. (Post-)Modern Eclectic.
Of all the current interior decorating trends, this one is the most individual. It's perfect for creative people who like experimenting (and who can see the hidden potential of just about anything).

There is a 'raw' version of this look, with a mix of antiques, ethnic art, natural shapes and textures (you'll find the odd animal skin on the floor), modern art, iconic design pieces and highly personal items, often set against a background of rough floorboards or waxed concrete flooring, and unpainted plaster or exposed brick walls.

On the other hand, there is also a warm, shimmering, elaborate, 'Arabian-nights' version of this look, with lots of intricately embroidered textiles and exquisitely handcrafted items from different parts of the world.

It's a look that can be 'done' on any budget, in any type of architecture.

So could this be the interior decorating trend of the future? Let's see.

6. Luxury II – Exercising Choice
Almost all consumer trends, including major home decorating trends, have started in affluent pockets of society and then filtered into the mainstream.

And while many rich people still like to express their wealth and status by owning the biggest, most luxurious home money can buy them, some interesting new lifestyle choices are emerging among high net-worth individuals.

The essential question is, if "everyone" can have high-end goods - how am I going to assert my status and differentiate myself from the rest?

And the answer is, for an increasing number of people: by choosing an environment and experiences that are meaningful to me personally, that have a story, that connect me emotionally to people, things, ideas.

In other words, if you can have it all, you don't "need" luxury any more. You're free to choose whatever fills your life with meaning.

In this vein, a recent interiors magazine described the rural lifestyle of a former supermodel as "exquisitely sparse", and the same supermodel says that for her, it is important to have "harmony" in her life and to "find joy" in what she does every day.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

You & me can have this right here, right now. We can take the shortcut. We can choose to surround ourselves with what makes us happy, inspires us, makes us laugh - now. We can choose to ignore interior decorating trends altogether. We can choose to lead our very own lives.

One of my interior design heroes, Kevin McCloud, says:
"Having a home with wow factor is not about having good taste - it's about having conviction."

There you go.

Legal Stuff

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"See" you again on September 1, 2008!
All the Best to You,

Renate Hering-Shepherd
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