RadioBDC Logo
Systemagic | Goldfrapp Listen Live
Cover Story

12 hot home design trends

By Christopher Muther
Globe Staff / October 6, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

The sifting and distilling began months ago. The 87 showrooms at the massive Boston Design Center began receiving new furniture and fabrics for 2012, and the staff began the arduous task of poring over thousands of product photographs to compile its latest trend report.

What they saw, along with home design staples like florals and prints, was a surprising color on everything from couches to coffee tables: purple.

“We couldn’t believe how much purple we saw,’’ says Julie Rogowski, vice president and general manager of the Boston Design Center. “I walked the whole building today, and there was purple everywhere. Pretty much in every single window I saw it on fabric or on furniture.’’

The Boston Design Center is generally not open to the public and admission to the showrooms is restricted to professional designers - with the exception of the BDC’s Plush program, which allows the general public access for a $275 annual fee. But such trends quickly make their way to the Crate & Barrels and Targets of the world. Which means that soon, homes around the country will be awash in Prince’s favorite color, as well as these chic new interior design trends for 2012.

in the buff

Neutrals are a design staple. But Rogowski says that taupe is standing above its beige brethren because of its flexibility and range. She says its popularity can also be attributed to the fact that it can be used as a backdrop for a wide range of louder colors (hello purple and orange). “Ask a hundred designers to describe taupe, and you’ll get a 100 different answers,’’ she says. “It’s a really basic foundation color. It comes in grays and browns. But it’s an incredibly versatile option that fits into most color schemes.’’

Dusk backdrop and chair from the Mark Alexander Artisan collection, sold at the Calvin Fabrics showroom.

get green

Green is a perennial home-design favorite, but it has a chameleon-like tendency to transform itself from year-to-year. Recent color trends included Mediterranean blues, reds, and greens. But the green for 2012 is more yellow and acidic, and has become bedfellows with some unlikely colors. “We see it with a lot of pinks and blacks and colors that you never would have seen it with before,’’ says Rogowski. “It’s much more active this year.’’

Rosa Chinensis wallpaper in Arboretum Olive from the Royal Collection, sold at the Osborne & Little showroom.

navel gaze

Orange has been creeping onto accent pillows and small accessories, but the color is set to take over entire rooms in 2012. In a recent phone interview, TV design guru Sabrina Soto said it’s one of the many bold colors that people use as they start to grow more comfortable expressing their personalities through paint. But you won’t see it in everyone’s home next year. “I’ve hated it all my life,’’ confesses Rogowski. “So it’s interesting that it would become a trend. If you have a bold personality you use a lot of orange.’’

Perennials outdoor and indoor fabrics from Webster & Co. Ltd, sold at the Webster & Co. Ltd showroom. lighten up

Mesh and woven furniture is generally restricted to the patio during warmer months, and then cruelly shoved into storage for the remainder of the year. But more and more, woven furnishings and pieces with interesting cutouts are being worked into living room designs. “It adds a lot of transparency,’’ Rogowski says. “The idea is to really give volume without weight. You might get a bigger piece of furniture, but it’s open at the bottom, it gives it a lighter look, and people are less afraid of giant furniture if it doesn’t feel quite as massive.’’

Triad chair from the JANUS collection, sold at the JANUS et Cie showroom. a study in contrasts

The combination of black and white dominated the runways in New York last month during the Spring/Summer 2012 fashion shows, and it is now extending its reach to home decor. The color combination is a perpetual favorite in homes, but Rogowski says for 2012 it is returning with new, bolder, and unexpected patterns.

Chloe fabric from the JANUS textiles collection, sold at the JANUS et Cie showroom.

blooms’ day

Florals are a staple for every designer now and then, and in the five years that the Boston Design Center has been releasing its trend report, the buds frequently bloom on upholstery. But for 2012, the flowers are growing wild, sprouting in unexpected places, showing up on bathtubs and tiles. “We’re seeing really wild and outrageous color use,’’ Rogowski says. “These are styles that are out of the 1940s, but far more modern and bold.’’

Jacqueline Vine wallpaper in Thassos Tumbled from New Ravenna Mosaics, sold at the Tile Showcase showroom.

around the world

It’s exotic travel, without the pricey airfare. After going through all the new offerings at the Design Center, Rogowski says homes in 2012 will take on an international flavor, without looking like the inside of a Polynesian restaurant circa 1962. Think subtle hints of worldly style sprinkled into modern decor. Accents could take the form of an antique Chinese buffet or a zebra-print pillow, a memory of travels past (or travels yet to be). “It helps a room become warm, inviting, and exotic,’’ she said.

Storage Coffer from reclaimed 125-year-old Northern Elm, sold at the Jia Moderne showroom.

go for the gold

The economy may be in the dumpster, but the design world is experiencing dreams of luxury. One of the emerging trends for 2012 is a fondness for tony, late 19th-century furniture and accessories. Think Newport mansions. It’s reminiscent of the excess and wealth of the period, but the furniture itself is quite classic. These are opulent, but stylistically safe investment pieces, the Birkin bag of home decor.

French giltwood mirror with convex glass circa 1950, sold at the Trianon Antiques showroom.

built tough

Look for designs targeted at busy, active, and not always meticulous families. Rogowski says that she’s noticing a new breed of elegant furniture that is designed for durability. “It’s sofas that you can sink into, coffee tables that you can put your feet on, and carpet that can stand up to dogs,’’ she says. “It’s for people looking for a no-stress environment. More and more people with children are aware of their surroundings, so this was something that was bound to surface.’’

Statuette floor lamp from the Barbara Barry collection, sold at the Baker Knapp & Tubbs showroom.

rough and tumble

Perhaps not a trend likely to explode in popularity in New England, but there has been a rise in the number of products that give a nod to ranch culture arriving in Boston Design Center showrooms. Inspired by the ruggedness of frontier life, the pieces include details such as hammered copper, rivets, and wood trim. “I assume if you have a summer home in Maine you would use more of this,’’ Rogowski says. “But I think the average home might add one or two of these items here or there.’’

Wood flooring by Itlas Wood Flooring, sold at the Paris Ceramics showroom.

simply elegant

Just as fashion runways have seen a return to the minimalist chic of the 1990s, home decor is following with glamour appearing in an understated way. The designs may appear clean and sleek, but the materials, such as zebra wood and Belgian linen, add a touch of elegance to the simple forms. “It’s most likely a reflection of the state of the world,’’ Rogowski says. “Some people are feeling self conscious about displaying ostentatious living rooms.’’

Vanity and storage from the Nuvo collection by Vanity Flair. Sold at the Billie Brenner Ltd showroom.

Christopher Muther can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther