High Point Market: Home Decor Trends 2010-Beyond

Keeping up with the latest trends in fashion is one thing but in your home… Sure, you might like picking up some new seasonal accessories, but the big pieces, you buy to last. (To do otherwise would get expensive in a hurry!)

That said, foretelling the future of home decor is more than just fun–it’s a way to make sure that the pieces you buy today will still be the pieces you love tomorrow. After all, without a clear understanding of where the furnishings industry is headed, it’s hard to tell if a piece is destined to be a classic or more likely to be a flop. That’s why we sent two lead writers to High Point Market. There, they discovered three emerging trends you’ll want to bring into your home. What’s more, they’ll explain how you can bring those trends home even if you’re not in the market for new furniture right now. Over the next few days, we’ll look at some gorgeous pieces for your home office, but for today, let’s look at what designers and manufacturers are unveiling and how you can keep your home up to date without spending a fortune.

At High Point Market 2009

Trend: Storybook pieces

As you might anticipate, green was everywhere at Market 2009. Recycled/reclaimed and re-purposed were big buzzwords, splashed on every brochure and stall sign. Where the manufacturer selections really shone, though, were in the booths that offered something beyond just taking a standard railroad tie and turning it into a dining room bench. Instead, one manufacturer offered pieces that actually had life before being turned into gorgeous console tables and storage pieces. From the genuinely time-worn to the well-loved, these pieces combined two big trends: sustainability and one-of-a-kind. Turns out, manufacturers think people are ready to bring home something that either isn’t or doesn’t look mass produced.

This original Apothecary Chest was imported from China. From Circa Imports

This original Apothecary Chest was imported from China. From Circa Imports

How to bring it home:
Pieces with back story can be a little expensive (though we think they’re generally well worth the price tag). If an official storied piece is out of the budget right now, though, you can hunt thrift shops and consignment stores. Best choices are pieces that had a former life doing something else entirely–like the chest of drawers with beautiful detailing that you convert into a office storage piece on casters. Pieces don’t need perfect finishes, and in fact, a patina or bit of distress adds to the piece’s charm. Old school furniture, business pieces (like factory tables) all offer a wonderful dimension to a space and can often be picked up at great prices.

Then, tell your own story about a piece–if you don’t know its history, make one up. No one will ever know that leather chair in the corner didn’t originally call the town’s old library home. For inspiration, think J Peterman or Wisteria catalog. We saw a lot of tags that told romantic tales of coming upon a piece sitting “just so” in an old Indian marketplace.

Trend: Rustic Glam

We’re big fans of the bling–you’d have to be on a site called GirlyPC. But, there’s something about downplaying the glitz ever so slightly, letting it get just a little bit rough and tumble, that bumps up the sophistication and takes Glam a step further. Tarnished mirrors, less-than-glass-smooth finishes (like the desk that almost looked like it had been carved from graphite with its subtly shiny finish–sadly, that shop wouldn’t spill its finishing secrets to our intrepid, and curious, reporters) and patinaed leather all had the look of family heirlooms from a decidedly more tasteful Kardashian. It was sinisterly sexy and kept the space from looking like it was trying too hard (the way mirrored chests sometimes do).

It was all about the bling at the Design Workshop booth.

It was all about the bling at the Design Workshop booth. The Warsaw, NC-based company can be reached at 910-293-7329.

How to bring it home:
These sophisticated pieces will really make a space and it only takes one or two to elevate the style of a room. That said, you can diy the look by heading to stores like Habitat’s ReStore for old glass doors to turn into distressed wall-propped mirrors. (This is an easy one–buy Krylon’s Looking Glass paint, apply two coats, and rub some off with steel wool. Then, apply a coat of oil-based wood stain before sealing the whole shebang.)

Trend: Artisanal Flare

Handmade was a huge trend and we saw it at all price points. From mismatched drawer pulls to square nails to delicate metal trimming, it looks like the bespoke furniture industry has manufacturers feeling inspired. The stuff that was well done was generally spectacular and oozed quality. The stuff that wasn’t, well, didn’t. (This wasn’t necessarily indicated by price point–we saw some quality stuff that wasn’t expensive.) These aren’t the kind of pieces you’ll want to buy online–rather, make sure to take the time to examine them in person before buying. Like all new trends, there will be a rash of copycats and you want to make sure that the piece you buy is well made and sturdy.

European Reflections offers hand-crafted mirrors painted in an Old French Technique.

European Reflections offers hand-crafted mirrors painted in an Old French Technique.

How to bring it home:
There’s nothing like investing in a quality artisanal piece, but you can also get creative and add a similar touch to a piece you already own. Instead of buying a set of drawer pulls, hit up Ebay for odds and ends you love. (Stick to the same finish for easy coordination, or, if you’re feeling bolder, venture out and really mix and match.) Add specialty molding to the fronts of drawers. Give the feet of a piece a special paint treatment to make the piece look especially custom. Punch a pattern in thin metal sheets and apply them to the apron of a table. Let your imagination run wild with ideas for customizing your home and making that special piece of furniture truly one-of-a-kind.

Then there were the trends we’ll be skipping…

Room Packages

These were being sold hard to buyers because of the “ease” they offer consumers. After seeing the packages in person, we’d sum them up in one word: soulless. Sure, some of them were actually quite lovely, but none of them looked like they’d ever feel lived in. You know your home should evolve over time and purchasing one of these packages isn’t a quick, easy way to get a room “finished” but rather a ticket to a vapid space that represents neither you nor your needs.

Borrowed Credibility

Ick. Just ick. Sure, celebrity partnerships that result in a “signature label” are nothing new. But, there was an extra edge of desperation to the lines that wanted to copy spreads straight out of the magazines right down to the placement of the dog’s leash. Some partnerships make sense. Amy Butler-designed rugs? Sign us up. Others just smacked of despondency, especially when the salesman tried to sell us on the pieces’ “no-brain buy” status for consumers just looking at the label.

Phony Distressing

Nothing is quite so cheesy looking as an obviously brand new piece of furniture with a “distressed” finish. Mind you, we think faux distressing can be done really well–these pieces, on the other hand, deserved the air quotes. This wasn’t a faux finish, it was a fake finish and it won’t fool anyone. Pieces that had chings taken out of them at carefully measured intervals, or gouges dug out with something clawed (making that two grand console table looking like your cat’s been using it as a scratching post isn’t really a must-have look for us) say desperate to follow a trend, not time-worn family heirloom. Skip ’em.

High Point Market 2009

All in all, High Point Market 2009 was amazing. We were delighted to hunt through the wares and find some fabulous office trends (watch for these over the next few days) and even more delighted to get to meet some of the actual furniture manufacturers. By and large, everyone was so lovely and enthusiastic about what’s ahead for 2010 and beyond. (Sure, there were a few sales people who wanted to talk more about how slow the economy is, but many others were delighted to talk about the innovation they’re seeing and the things they’re excited about.)

It was also really clear how mixing in a few new pieces with the old will be easier than ever this year–so many of the pieces we saw were highly adaptable and would be a lovely addition to a space of any style. More than ever, manufacturers don’t expect consumers to toss out all their furniture every three years and it was obvious more of the pieces they were showing had been made to really last both with top-quality construction and with classic lines.

We hate that it took an economic downturn for manufacturers to catch on that we don’t want disposable home furnishings, but it was reassuring to see they’re getting the message loud and clear!

{Featured, High Point Market} {9 Comments} {October 21st, 2009}

A couch in the office?

Home office couch

Image by Emdot on Flickr


After posting the most recent home office inspiration board, I received an email from a reader wanting to know about a couch in the home office. Here’s what Juanita wrote:

“Jessica, I really liked your recent mood board, but I was surprised to see you included a couch. I guess I just think couches belong in the living room, not the office. Am I way off base, here?”

Thanks for asking, Juanita, and I bet you’re not the only one wondering about that! Here’s my thinking.

If you have a small home office, you probably won’t have room for a couch and there’s no reason to fret over its lack. But, if you have a large space, there are a lot of great reasons to consider bringing in a couch:

  1. It makes for really comfy seating for guests and you get to enjoy it, too. When I’m working on a project and need a break, I often curl up in the big comfy chair in the corner with my sketchpad. (My office isn’t big enough for a couch.) Having a seating area that’s not at my desk is a boon to my creativity because it means I can still be working but not in the same “Working” mindset that my desk inspires.
  2. A couch is easier to decorate around than several occassional chairs. Many home offices incorporate guest seating, and a couch makes great use of space if you were planning on two or three chairs. (Obviously, if you only have room for one chair, even a loveseat is out of the question.) In a pinch, you can often squeeze an extra person onto a couch but you don’t get that flexibility with chairs (if you have a three-seater couch, you’ll usually have room for four, if you have three chairs, you won’t have room for four).
  3. A couch looks more “homey” than typical office occassional chairs while still looking polished and professional. In other words, when you do have clients in your office, they won’t think a couch looks too casual. (And those chairs sold for offices–ick!)

Really, for me, it’s a question of space–if you have the room for a couch, I think it’s a smart choice because it’s more flexible and more comfortable. It does tend to be a high-er end look (for instance, partner-level lawyers offices often have couches) which is why it can be a little uncomfortable for some people. But, the truth is, a couch usually isn’t much more expensive than a similar number of well made chairs (a three-seater couch vs three chairs, for instance) and the end result is a clean, cohesive look.

So, Juanita, and anyone else who was wondering, that’s why I think a couch absolutely has a place in the home office under the right circumstances.

{Featured, Home Office Decor} {Comments Off on A couch in the office?} {October 6th, 2009}

Custom Mood Board: Old World Office

Bethany needed a custom mood board for her home office. She writes:

Jessica, I just got permission from my boss to work from home three days a week (yay!) and now need to set up a great space to work from home in. I’ll be using our FROG [Finished Room Over the Garage] which has no closet, slanted ceilings, and is about 20×30. There’s one window on either end and we’ll be installing skylights so the space will get more natural light.

My style is classic/traditional, and I’d love something old world–you know, old libraries, leather chesterfields, rich wood tones. My husband and I have also just started a business, so he’ll be using the space as well, and we’ll be meeting with clients here. So, we’ve decided to spend whatever it takes to get the space perfect–we know that having a great office, in looks and function, will pay off.

Since my husband will be working here, too, it can’t be *too* girly, but I do want it to be feminine and warm.

The activities we’ll be doing in the space mean include a lot of computer work (we’ll need room for three workstations and two laptops), and we’ll need lots of product storage, file storage, and book storage.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Thanks.

How delicious does that sound–a giant room with plenty of natural light, decorated like an old English Library. Yum!

Since Bethany and her husband will be meeting with clients and providing a high-end service, I wanted to bring in a tiny bit of glam to the space as well (in the form of that gorgeous chandelier). And, she definitely doesn’t want anything modern, preferring warm wood tones and cozy furniture. Also, they already have two guest seating chairs and two desk chairs (so, that’s why there are no individual chairs on the board). Bethany also specifically asked for no area rugs, but if you’d like something perfect for your office space, I’m digging the idea of a wool felt rug like this one.

So, here’s what the office will look like:

home office decor

  1. This gorgeous bubble chandelier brings a touch of playfulness into the space, plus it’s not girly like a traditional chandelier but is far more interesting than a ceiling fan.
  2. The trestle table does double duty–it’s a great place to spread out with a project, or meet with clients, plus it’ll serve as our occassional laptop work station. In my own office, I have a big dining room table like this and it’s perfect for everything from lunch meetings with my assistant to a space to storyboard ideas (or cover with materials for these mood boards!).
  3. These lovely library prints come in six options and are 16×12″. I’d buy all six and hang them in 24×20 (white) frames. They’ll be unique and smart-looking. Another option is purchasing one (or more) of the calendars from the same site and framing those photos as prints. (Since the 2005 calendar includes a photo of the Hereford Cathedral Chained Library, that’d be my pick.)
  4. This enormous library will give them plenty of storage space, especially as their office has room for four (tho I think two will be more than enough). At 16″ wide, and with the cupboards below, they won’t run out of space to stow stuff any time soon.
  5. This antique kidney-shaped desk has just the right dose of feminine for the space, plus it’s got all the drawers Bethany craves.
  6. This 1780 desk is nice and big, providing Bethany’s husband with room to stretch out. Again, plenty of drawers will help keep those office supplies stowed away.
  7. Hand scraped teak flooring will give the room gravitas and elegance, and for the wall color, I love Morning Fog from Sherwin Williams in Matte. White accessories and trim will bring a brightness into the space, and a darker gray for accessories like a throw for the Chesterfield or a rug will pull everything together while keeping the space serene.
  8. The owl clock has a wonderful sense of whimsy and an owl is the perfect choice for “old world” style because of their prim and proper image.
  9. Fabric roman shades in ivory are an elegant touch. In many offices, I’d suggest something darker, but Bethany only wants to filter the light, not block it, and because of the office’s location, privacy isn’t a concern at all. Plus, if Bethany takes my recommendation and puts the large storage units on either side of the windows, there won’t be room for curtains, so this gives the windows a tidy look.
  10. The Edward from Chesterfields1780.com is more than just a great-looking, traditional piece. It’ll give them a place for office naps, or an additional spot to work with a laptop. Plus, the hand rubbed leather finish definitely says old world library.
  11. This pair of steampunk table lamps will bring the desks together and shed plenty of light on the workspace.
  12. And, it wouldn’t be a GirlyPC office makeover without a touch of green. In Bethany’s case, these easy-to-care-for succulents are perfect, plus the urn they come with has a vintage patina.

That’s how we’d bring an Old World Style to Bethany’s gigantic office space. The new room will be bursting with elegance and storage space. And if you happen to be in the mood for a board of your own, click here to score some home office decorating advice for yourself.

{Custom Mood Board, Featured} {4 Comments} {October 5th, 2009}

Hi! I’m Jessica Zee, editor of GirlyPC.

I’ve been working from a home office for nearly five years and in that time, home organization products have gotten a lot more attractive. But, unfortunately, the technology we're using... Hasn't.

I’ve set out to change that in my own home office and wanted a place to talk all things pretty-home-office.

Welcome to GirlyPC! Enjoy your visit.