RISMEDIA, Feb. 6, 2008-(MCT)-Wenge, it's been good to know you. Sunken Jacuzzis, we had some good times. Blue and brown, I can't believe it's over. But after a couple of years of same-old, same-old on the home-front, winds of change are blowing in. Some are driven by fashion, others by economic conditions and lifestyle shifts.
2008 will see waves of mainstream homeowners going green to save green, according to Ann Mack, director of trend spotting at JWT, a New York advertising firm. What Mack describes as a desire for "Prius homes" is being driven in part by financial incentives.
"Major banks are offering energy-efficient mortgages for homeowners," Mack said. Some changes are product-based (installing solar panels), while others are behavioral (holding out longer in summer before turning on the AC).
The way we interact with technology will significantly alter interior landscapes this year, experts say. In November, The Wall Street Journal published a story called "Au Revoir, Armoire," documenting the large-scale dumping of clunky TV closets in the new flat-panel era.
Michelle Lamb predicted the demise of the armoire in her trendspotting blog (michellelamb.typepad.com) nearly three years before the WSJ article was published. She's already calling the next piece of furniture that will become obsolete: "Desks. We don't need them, now that laptops are replacing PCs." You read it here first.
Lamb, chairman of Minneapolis-based Marketing Directions, says this is the year we say goodbye to dark, Pottery Barn wood stains.
"There are two things going on: Deep, dark wenge had a long run-it's time to move on. The other thing has to do with how we perceive wood and use it in decorating," she said.
Homeowners are looking for dramatic graining and patterning highlighted by lighter, natural finishes.
Also on its way out in `08: the powerhouse blue-and-brown color scheme. What will take its place? "Yellow and gray with white as a foil," she said. (Martha Stewart is already there, as evidenced by the cover of her January Living magazine.) For more adventurous tastes, Lamb predicts layered blues, moving into purples, will be big, as will the purple-and-red combination.
In the bath, homeowners are walking away from jetted tubs and into big, open showers, says Tony Shapiro, sales manager at Dorfman Plumbing Supply in Kansas City, Mo. Hard-core bathers are sliding into overflow tubs, whose tub-within-a-tub design allows them to fully immerse with no water sloshing onto the floor.
The surging popularity of ultra-low-flush toilets is driven by customers interested in green building and remodeling, Shapiro says. But one trend, he just can't explain. "We're selling a lot more square faucets lately. I have no idea why." Trendoids, take note.
In kitchens, the cold industrial look is out, says Geri Higgins, owner of Portfolio Kitchen and Home in Kansas City. "The kitchen area is becoming less kitchen-looking and more furniture-like," Higgins said.
Compartmentalized sinks are rapidly being eighty-sixed in favor of a single large basin. The only question is, what took so long? "You used to need a place to soak the silverware, but today that's totally not necessary," Higgins said.
In furniture, postmodernism, which burst onto the scene in the `70s with the shockingly playful Pompidou Center in Paris, is back in a big way. Original vintage pieces from the Memphis group founded by Ettore Sottsass, famous for their quirky forms, multiple colors and whimsical flourishes, are commanding record prices on both coasts and in Chicago, says Rod Parks, owner of Retro Inferno in Kansas City.
Lighthearted postmodern dinnerware designs and graphics in vibrant colors are on the rise as well.
Interior designer Ben Sundermeier, owner of High Cotton Home Furnishings in Kansas City, says interiors are getting fresher, less fussy. "The things we see coming are more natural, a little bit of green. ... We just uncrated some lamps that have almost a raw wood finish and beautiful natural paper shades," Sundermeier said.
"In wall coverings, it's back to grass cloth, back to organic textures like raffia or handmade paper," he said.
Sundermeier says Benjamin Moore's environmentally friendly paints are at the top of his "In" list for `08. "They have beautiful, surprising color rendition," he said.
What trend is Sundermeier happy to see go? "Faux painting," he said.
Old World cabinetry in wood or painted finishes that look like furniture make the kitchen seem more like the rest of the house.
Copper and brass fixtures and hardware offer a warm respite from cold stainless steel and brushed nickel.
Big single sinks are supplanting divided styles.
Natural cleaning products and hand soap in fruit and herb scents go better with cooking smells than floral or antiseptic scents.
Source: Geri Higgins, Portfolio Kitchen and Home
Blue is Pantone's color of the year (a medium blue tinged with iris) and a force in kitchens (clear French blue and cobalt).
Yellow will become big in interiors for the first time since the `70s, first as an accent, then as a dominant color.
Light wood stains will push out "Pottery Barn" dark stains; hints of unstained, "raw" finishes will appear.
Source: Michelle Lamb
Hands-free faucets, activated by motion sensors, provide the efficiency and hygiene of public restrooms.
Big walk-in showers are displacing oversized jetted tubs.
Stacked stone is the style in tile for the new year.
Stone tubs are the new status statement, if money is no object.
Source: Tony Shapiro, Dorfman Plumbing
Postmodern furnishings with their unexpected forms and exuberant colors are winning over some designers and home dwellers who rejected the look in the `80s.
Primitive patterns and abstracted botanical motifs are coming on strong in fabrics and tableware.
Hidden compartments will be built into chairs, ottomans, tables and sectionals to keep personal electronic devices close at hand yet out of sight.
Grass cloth: It's back, but with finer texture and in more colors than before.
Sources: Ben Sundermeier, High Cotton; Michelle Lamb
Oversized chaises and chairs are getting ever bigger and cushier.
Formal-looking dining sets blur the difference between indoors and out; chairs have seat and back cushions.
Source: Jackie Hirschhaut, American Home Furnishings Alliance
Hold the fourth garage? The uniquely American obsession with supersized homes, spawned by the real estate boom of five to 10 years ago, is at a crossroads. When home values were increasing 15% a year or more, homes became short-term possessions for many. Trading up to ever-larger digs every few years became a habit, much like always driving late-model cars.
Newsweek real estate correspondent and author Daniel McGinn isn't speculating on whether the national preoccupation with square footage and "must-have" amenities will change as a result of the real estate bust in some cities, but he notes it will be "interesting" to see what people do with homes they never intended to live in long enough to remodel but find themselves forced to stay in for the foreseeable future.
© 2008, The Kansas City Star.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.