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Green is in, gray could be heading out. Love those clean mid-century lines, but how about something really comfortable. And wouldn’t a luxurious home theater be nice?
With many of us spending a lot more time at home during the pandemic, tastes in furnishing and decor have changed. One example: a shift back to warm tones and the soothing colors of nature. While it seemed that every house on the market for a time had the same gray walls and flooring, four of the major paint manufacturers — Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, PPG and Behr — all chose shades of green as their colors of the year for 2022. (The Pantone Color Institute, which picked gray and yellow last year, went with periwinkle blue for the new year. )
We talked to three bay area designers about color and what else is in store for 2022 (although supply chain issues mean that what’s actually in the stores might still be limited.)
Suzan Decker Ross, Decker Ross Interiors, Clearwater
Ross has had her own design firm for 30 years but the roots go back much further. “Both my parents were in the furniture business,” she said, “and though I really didn’t know it at the time it was in my blood.” She studied fashion first, then design and realized that the two go hand in hand. “I had an aha moment — I love design!” said Ross, who has clients throughout Florida as well as in other states.
Pandemic-caused delays mean it might take 20 or 30 months to get a custom sofa instead of two or three as before. “You can’t put a room together, which hurts us,” Ross said, “so we see a lot of repurposing and renewing. Maybe they recover something or if it’s metal, paint it a different color. We’re seeing vintage coming back really big” because of the availability.
With many people continuing to work at home, Ross finds a desire to bring the outdoors in. “Living walls” and kitchen herb gardens are big, as are flowering plants. And green will be everywhere. At the annual furniture market in High Point, N.C., last summer, “There was everything from olive green to evergreen,” Ross said. “It’s really wild the greens that were there.”
In bedrooms, heavy comforters are being replaced by lighter-weight quilts and coverlets. And anyone who has ever found themselves in a hotel or guest bedroom wondering where to put all the extra pillows, decorative and otherwise, might be heartened by this design change: “We’re not using as many pillows,” Ross said. “We might do three or four instead of six. Less is better on pillows.”
“LED lighting is huge. Now it comes in every different hue and they are nice because they last for years and the prices have come way down. Anytime we redo a home we always change all the lights to LED almost immediately. When doing design lighting can make a huge difference.”
“Light woods like oak are coming back. For many years, people were so into darker floors, the cherries, the mahoganies. Now we’re seeing a lot more of the light wide-plank flooring. Also, luxury vinyl plank flooring has really come a long way. Back in the day you could hear the clink, clink on the floor when you walked, now you can’t even tell.”
“Textures are big, too. Your wallpaper and grass cloth, embossed papers are really big right now. We’re seeing a surge in wallpaper coming back, maybe in a power bath or accent wall or kitchen.”
Enrique Crespo, Crespo Design Group, Tampa
Even in high school, Crespo knew what he wanted to do in life. “I traveled a lot around Europe with my mom and was attracted to design and art and going to museums,” said the Tampa native. He attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, served a six-month internship with a designer and 22 years ago opened his own firm. Today he “works all over the place,” including Beverly Hills, Calif., Montana and the Florida Keys.
Due to the pandemic, “people have been home a really long time and they’ve decided to make their home just the way they want it,” Crespo said. “They are trying to make things simpler, not as fussy so there are a lot of cleaner, neutral colors.” He considers mid-century “timeless,” but said that clients and furniture makers are on the same page these days when it comes to comfort. Whereas “very sculptural pieces” used to be in vogue, “manufacturers are moving away from that and making these very beautiful pieces that are welcoming as well to lay in and read a book,” Crespo said.
In a continuing trend, high-end home construction is forsaking formal dining rooms for great rooms. Among Crespo’s current projects is one for a North Florida couple that bought a condo in Tampa for when they come to see the Lightning and Bucs play. “They wanted a great room with multiple seating areas. You might have just one big room that’s a dining room, game room, whatever.”
“I really see a move towards indoor-outdoor living. Now that people are at home they really want to have this sort of seamless experience from that inside to the outside of the home. When I see colors like that (the green colors of the year) it really ties into nature.”
“There’s always a demand for home theaters. Because of the pandemic people don’t want to sit in a movie theater for two or three hours. I try to keep people away from the traditional theater chair. I really love big giant chaise lounges that are so much more comfortable than a theater chair. We try to do acoustical covering to help with the sound. Wall coverings (for home theaters) have come a long way. One company I love, Elitis, a French company, does this great foam paper that comes in a variety of patterns. The acoustic quality is fabulous.”
“Home gyms have become more and more popular so people don’t have to go out and expose themselves to a lot of other people. We’re seeing more and more saunas in homes, more and more full-on gyms.”
Leah Chorniak, Spaces by Leah, Tampa
While doing custom artwork for clients, Chorniak often found herself mentally critiquing their design sense — or lack of it — as she hung paintings. “I would bring my art into a client’s home and think, ‘If they would just move that vase over there,’” she recalled. Her flair for decorating led to working with friends and then to starting her own business seven years ago.
Chorniak numbers several Tampa Bay Buccaneers among her clientele. To accommodate their size, she sometimes designs furniture that is larger than what most stores sell and that has “more of a pitch,” as she puts it, making it easier to lean back into and sink down. “Comfort” is today’s buzzword.
“Now that people are working from home they really want to feel cozy and comfortable,” Chorniak said. “I certainly hope mid-century is making a bit of an exit. It has unique lines and is interesting to look at, but it’s not the everyday cozy go-to chair or sofa with a book and a cup of coffee. There’s a demand for sofa and chairs that have a deep pitch.”
Chorniak also finds that many of her clients “are feeling grayed out.”
“Things are leaning away from gray and toward your muted greens, beige tones, oatmeal tones in soft fabrics like velvet,” she said. “Even kids’ rooms seem to be a little more neutral. Gone are the days when you had those retro colors that are stimulating for children but keep them a little more active.”
“Home offices used to have big bulky furniture and now that we’ve gone to a digital world, people have less paper laying around and they are more interested in comfortable ergonomic seating. A great area rug, modern draperies — things like that will absorb sound because kids might be in the next room and also give a beautiful aesthetic.”
“A big thing is metal color — gold, silver, copper. Builders typically give you brushed nicked (on fixtures) but when you look at a design magazine you’re not going to see brushed nickel, you’ll see satin brass, beautiful matte gold or polished nickel. Those are things that are a little more expressive for your personality.”
“The master bedroom was usually that room where you shut the door and had a dog bed on the side. Now that people are living more hours inside the house, they are really having it as a sanctuary. With the master, we’ve been doing a lot of ivories and off white because it’s soothing and makes it feel like the space is bigger than it is. Maybe have a coffee maker or a wine fridge — I find parents are absolutely loving that it’s convenient to have a glass of wine at night in their own little sanctuary.”