Fall decor: Feel-good vibes and personality
For keen serial redecorators, it’s time to start thinking about an autumn refresh. This fall, interior designers say there’s demand for eclectic styles, interesting prints, rich hues and warm textures.
The trim, tailored lines of midcentury decor have been ensconced in the home furnishings marketplace for several years now; versions of iconic pieces can be found in all big-box retailers. Has the beloved style peaked?
Some designers see an easing of the fever, but that doesn’t mean mid-mod is going anywhere.
“It has saturated the market,” says designer Elizabeth Stuart, of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. “(But) I think the interesting thing is that unlike the ‘industrial’ look, the midcentury ‘comeback’ has proven not to be just a fad but an awareness and a respected way of designing.”
Christiane Lemieux, who founded the home-design and fashion brand Dwell Studio and now runs the custom furniture retailer The Inside, sees change coming.
“Interiors have been clean, midcentury-inspired and fairly generic for the past few years, (but now) people are craving the ‘new and more.’ Enter maximalism, specifically through the lens of British design, which is experiencing a major revitalization,” she says.
Elaborate patterns, ornamentation and luxe materials are hallmarks of that style. Designers like Miles Redd and Ken Fulk are known for their layered, curated interiors.
“The beautiful thing about maximalism is that it’s entirely personal,” says Lemieux. “You’re encouraged to choose pieces that visually express your individuality. My No. 1 maximalism tip: Strive for personalization over perfection, and you can’t go wrong. The more you mix, the better the result.”
She has introduced a chintz fabric collection at The Inside. And at August Abode, there’s a Notting Hill-inspired chintz wallpaper collection.
In his furnishings collections, British designer Timothy Oulton melds respect for history with a moderncool, slightly rebellious vibe. He takes classic pieces like tufted leather chesterfields, steamer trunks and Deco-era chandeliers, and plays with scale, incorporates a cheeky flag print or reinterprets a saddle or aviator’s chair as seating.
If you’re not comfortable going to the max, there’s another emerging look that finds the sweet spot between “lots” and “little,” and that’s maximal minimalism. This allows you to keep your clean-lined aesthetic while adding just a touch of something bold. Maybe it’s wild throw pillows. Or oversize art. Or a collection of objects — but instead of covering every surface, you display them in a contained way on a sleek shelf.
All the feels
“Shearling and boucle and velvet, oh my!” says John McClain, whose studio is in Orlando, Florida. “Deep, cozy textures are cropping up on more than just pillows these days — entire sofas, chairs and headboards are sporting luscious upholstery reminiscent of lambs, puppies and ponies.”
These materials create a calming, homey feeling, he says. He suggests also adding a hide rug, faux-fur throw or Nordic knit pouf for a fashionable look.
You’ll find seating from CB2, Houzz and Article upholstered in soft, nubby boucle. West Elm, Target and World Market are among retailers offering poufs with Scandinavianstyle patterns.
McClain is excited about some new, warm grays, like Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl, Dunn Edwards’ Foggy Day and Sherwin-Williams’ Repose Gray.
“Adding layers of darker, moodier colors on top of this new gray leads to a sophisticated and almost sexy feel for fall,” he says.
Benjamin Moore color and design expert Hannah Yeo notes another chic combo: “From pale buttermilk to rich gold, yellows are making a strong visual statement. Soft yellow mixes well with gray and warms up wood tones.”
And Los Angeles designer Jane Breegan favors colors that “appeal to the emotions.”
“I see fall’s color trends moving toward darker, deeper hues like dark teal, maroon, plum,” she says. “These colors create a relaxed atmosphere that contrasts the bright, electric tones of spring and summer.”
PPG’s color of the year is Chinese Porcelain, a dusky navy. Fashion’s fall collections from Armani, Philip Lim, Christian Siriano and others featured the hue in variations ranging from quiet grayed blues to vibrant cobalts.
Complementing all the rich blues, teals, berries and greens are the metals, and designers say mixing them up is the way to go now.
“Mixed metals definitely infuse an eclectic balance this fall,” says Breegan.
Rose gold may be on the wane, but brass and gold accents are trending, as is matte black. Silvery nickel and steel are always in. The mix isn’t solely about material or color; it’s also about finish. Matte, polished, antiqued and brushed give home decorators many options to provide interest and depth.
How do you decide which to use? McClain’s trick: repetition.
“Create a rhythm through themes,” he says. “For example, appliances and plumbing fixtures are stainless steel, cabinet hardware and light fixtures are brushed brass, and all door, hardware and window frames are matte black. Then punctuate your metal mixtures with picture frames, lamps and accessories.”
GE Café’s new appliance suite lets you customize knobs and handles, for example. “One of my clients opted for copper accents on her stainless appliances for fall, and plans to change again for spring,” McClain says.
Surfaces with personality
“Wallpaper is having its day,” says Joan Craig of the New York architectural and interiors firm Craig & Co., citing papers with natural textures, customizable hand painting and smallscale prints.
“Beyond rooms, we’re lining ceilings, cabinet interiors and bookcases,” she says.
Terrazzo has found a home in many designers’ hearts. “It’s been around for 10,000 years and it still looks modern,” says Craig.
An interior by John McClain Design.
The Inside’s slipper Chair covered in an updated chintz fabric