Spring 2013
Home Sweet Home By Heather Johnson Durocher

No more tcotchkes. Clear the clutter. Here are trends that are coming home to roost in the home decor category.

Today’s technology allows us more ways than ever to discover different ideas for decorating our homes, whether it’s by peeking at Pinterest boards or, as store manager Jeff Wright experiences often while interacting with customers, snapping photos of what we do and don’t like and then sharing them via tablets and smartphones.

“It’s really made it easier,” says Wright, manager at Between the Sheets, a Los Angeles home décor showroom, of how he’s able to now better grasp what shoppers are looking for when switching up their home space. Specifically, Wright says he’s able to truly capture customers’ personalities by looking at the photos they share, which translates to finding more quickly what would work best in their homes. And this is especially important this year, he says, because self-expression in the home is one of the top trends in home décor for 2013.

“It’s very personalized,” he says. “And with them showing us pictures of their homes on their iPads, and we can see what they’re wearing and what they’re driving, we can match that. You’re getting a look inside who they are and what they do.”

From picture frames, vases, lamps, candles and clocks, to intricate art, wall hangings, sculptures, small furniture pieces and throw pillows, home décor options are varied and can alter the look and feel of home depending upon an individual’s style. Read on for what Wright and other retailers, vendors and industry leaders expect to sell well throughout the year.

1. Clean & Simple

BungalowBelt1-copyModern and contemporary is an appealing look for many shoppers, Wright says. “The trend is clean, slick … they’re buying maybe just one art piece rather than several,” he says. “They want less clutter—they’re cleaning up their ‘tchotchke act.’ It’s the ‘I don’t-have-time look. They don’t want all these decorative pillows on their bed—now they want two clean rows of pillows and one that is a statement piece that goes with their art.

Gina Samarotto, principal designer with Samarotto Design Group in Poughkeepsie, NY, agrees. “Clean, streamlined design is making a comeback,” Samarotto says. “Gone are the busy florals and cottage looks, and in are geometric patterns, sleek furnishings and a minimalist approach.” This cleaner look trend also means more silver and less gold products, Wright says. “We’ve had to widen our range of displays to include more silver,” he says.

2. Pops of Color

luludi6Hot color accents are big this year, and green is a top hue, says Samarotto. “Pillows, throws, frames, tables, table textiles all make a statement in an otherwise color-bland room,” Samarotto says. “Especially hot this spring will be bright Kelly green, which was named the 2013 pantone color of the year.”

Wright, of Between the Sheets, also has noticed the importance of color, both in what customers are telling him and also the bedding, accessories and home décor items filling his store. “Last year it was orange, this year it’s green. It’ll really catch on by the end of the year,” he says.

Michael Aram, home décor designer with a flagship store in New York, NY, believes any bold color can make a great statement. “I feel that color should and will remain neutral in our home environment, but that pops of color such as orange or other bright colors found in nature are wonderful,” Aram says.

Beth Lorentz, vice president of product development for manufacturer Midwest-CBK, says her Cannon Falls, MN-based company’s home décor lines touch on vintage feminine, industrial urban, desert canyon, coastal living and Mediterranean Tuscan—all with a focus on the mixture of neutral colors and pops of color.

“Each of the collections is based on neutral colored foundations including grey tones, black, browns, ivory and taupe, and utilizes pops of color to provide personality and energy to the overall look,” Lorentz says.

3. Traditional (With Just a Bit of Bling)

MarkFeldstein3-copyFor Dallas-based manufacturer Olivia Riegel, classic and elegant remain important features. This is seen with the company’s line of picture frames with designs that incorporate elaborate combinations of handset Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones, hand-enameling and other distinctive materials.

“The standard thing that sells all year long are the clears and the whites—they go in anyone’s home because they’re clear stone,” says Michelle Cox, Olivia Riegel vice president of operations, of the company’s bejeweled gifts and decorative accessories for the home. “It’s very traditional and a very big part of our line. It’s always a good seller.”

Store owner Wright says crystal is selling well in his L.A. showroom. “Crystal is huge—bling is still happening,” he says, adding customers like the cleaner looks. “We have crystal candlesticks and vases—they’re shiny but not gaudy.”

4. Texture & Cool Designs

MoMAWholesale-copyLisa Rose, designer for Adams, Mass.-based manufacturer Rennie and Rose, creates placemats, table runners, throw pillows, all retailing between $40-$90 depending upon size. The company has two distinct styles: light and bright coastal products, and Frank Lloyd Wright designs (Rennie and Rose holds a license to create products featuring the famous architect’s designs).

Pillows come in two different sizes: 18-inch squares and 24-inch squares. “We are very into the arts-and-crafts type of look,” Rose says, “and we have the license to the Frank Lloyd Wright textiles. We’ve been very successful with that.”

Their coastal products, meanwhile, incorporate “brighter, lighter colors,” she says. “There’s a dramatic difference between those two—the coastal and the Frank Lloyd Wright—and with the coastal, it’s shoreline, shells, nautical, things that look very beachy. You don’t even have to have a shoreline home to have that look. Some people want to bring that look home with them.”

Rennie and Rose’s coastal look features a few different kinds of fabrics, including a linen that has a burlap look to it with stripes and a grid kind of pattern. “It all fits really well with that kind of line—comfortable casual,” she says.

For texture, look no further than Kevin O’Brien Studio, a Philadelphia, PA-based designer of hand-painted, silk velvet home décor pieces. “We do it here in Philadelphia and we do all the designs ourselves,” says Angela Romano-Vosburgh, manager at Kevin O’Brien Studio. “They’re original designs that Kevin drew himself.” The velvet used takes on various looks depending upon the design. For example, there’s the “ombré effect,” which consists of having one color strong on one end of say, a pillow, and then fades into another hue toward the other side. Metallic prints also are hot, as is the color emerald green, the latter of which is used to create “a super saturated and really lovely” look against the velvet.

The studio, which is 25 years old, creates 12 different styles of pillows. “Color has become important in people’s homes, and we do color very well,” Romano-Vosburgh says, “and also texture is important. Kevin does a lot of sketches from nature, though we’ve moved into more modern contemporary designs. We have a little bit of both.”

5. Local & Meaningful

Sagaform3-copyShoppers want to do more than decorate their homes—they want to create sanctuaries and spaces that truly reflect who they are and what’s important to them.

“People are looking for meaning and design potency in all aspects of their daily lives,” Aram says. “It’s not just their furniture, drapes and wall colors. They are looking for excitement and dynamism in everything from their frames to their salad bowls to their paper towel holders. Every choice is becoming an opportunity to make a statement about who we are and how we choose to express ourselves.”

Shoppers seeking meaning is evident in the kind of art they’re choosing, Samarotto says. “Artwork is hopping right now with homeowners looking to trade up their wall décor for pieces from local artists, or artists they know,” she says. “They’re not always expensive—the trend is toward signed prints or one-of-a-kind pieces in all price ranges.”

Featuring décor in your home that was handcrafted, either by someone your customer knows or is someone with a connection to your area, is indeed important, says Dan Merns, founder of MerchantFuse, a network connecting retail and wholesale businesses. “People are discovering the quality and fun of these unique and often one-of-a-kind items,” Merns says.

So whether you decide to stock local artists or pops of color in your store, the trends seem to imply that home still rules the roost for most gift stores.

Heather Johnson Durocher

Durocher is a northern Michigan-based journalist who writes frequently about business for newspapers and magazines. She has contributed to USA Weekend, Woman's Day, Parents and American Baby. Visit her website at HeatherDurocher.com

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