Warm colors hot for home

'Cocooning' lifestyle evidenced in warm colors, use of historical relics

People are looking for the smaller rather than the bigger and the warmer rather than the colder in home decoration this year.

Small prints and the American country look are fading in popularity, said Pam Foster owner of Pam Designs in Craig, but French Country will always remain a classic because it's a comfortable look and easy to live in.

According to Irene Nelson, owner of Irene Nelson Interiors in Steamboat Springs, people are looking for darker, richer colors, antiques and good reproductions this year. They're also going for the handmade, especially in fabrics.

"People want the earthy feeling of textiles -- cottons, wools and natural fabrics," she said. "People are cocooning. They want the reassurance of the timelessness of antiques."

The hallmarks of a memorable wedding -- something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue -- are also the cornerstones of this year's home decorating trends.

"As Americans continue to focus more on spending quality time at home, how their houses look and feel will become increasingly important," said Todd Imholte, president of Environmental Graphics. "This 'cocooning' lifestyle will be clearly evinced in warm color palettes, nostalgic accessories and classical textures."

One of the hottest colors this year is golden yellow, which complements the equally popular jewel-toned purples, blues and greens. Americana-inspired dark reds and blues will remain popular as well in 2003.

According Foster, hot colors for walls range from light to deep yellow and gold tones, salmons and reds, and light and deep sage green tones.

"A vivid periwinkle blue is beginning to sneak back in and mostly in conjunction with a buttery yellow," she said.

Woods for furniture are leaning more to the cherry, mahogany, and walnut rather than oak and hickory.

Old neutrals are out, being replaced with harvest golds, terracottas and avocados.

But decorating a home in warm, feel-good colors is just the first step. The next step is to make it your own by incorporating family pieces that evoke fond memories of the past.

"Antiques, heirlooms, photos and items we treasure are greatly influencing our home decor," said Sharon Hanby-Robie, interior designer and spokesperson for the Wallpaper Council. "Laying Grandma's old piano scarf across the back of our sofa, for example, helps keep loved ones part of our everyday lives. It also gives us a much-needed sense of belonging."

Florals, botanicals, tropicals, paisleys, damasks and classic stripes will be particularly visible in wall coverings, upholstery, area rugs and murals.

Foster said this year's hot new design is tropical.

"Lots of palm trees in all shapes and sizes in wallpaper and fabric," she said. "Many accessories are available in those designs."

If you re-decorated last year in zebra prints, don't throw it out yet. According to Foster, animal prints continue to be popular this year and hints of the Orient are cropping up in design and could be what's "in" next.

The colors mauve and country blue are definitely out, Foster said.

With people suffering from an economic recession, the emphasis is on remodeling this year instead of building, she said, and the kitchen seems to be the first room to get attention.

"People are unbelievably focused on the kitchen," Nelson said. "They all seem to want to upgrade to professional grade. It's almost ludicrous."

Nelson attributed the popularity of kitchen remodeling to a new focus on family meals and cooking at home.

Running a close second behind changes to the kitchen are changes in the bathroom.

"People are getting more into the luxury of a private bath -- spas, whirlpools, saunas," Nelson said.

The average master bath has tripled in size since the 1930s. What was once designed as a water closet is now becoming a sanctuary from stress.

In that line, more and more people are moving furniture into their larger bathrooms to increase the feeling of coziness.

Bedrooms aren't the focus of attention this year, but small improvements can make big differences.

A change in lighting can make all the difference in how a bedroom looks and how it is used. Consider replacing the main lighting fixture with a ceiling fan or chandelier or adding directional or floor lights to highlight plants or antiques to direct the focus in a room.

As bedrooms become larger, so does the focus on them as places of quiet to get away.

The focus in bedroom furniture is turning toward the romantic, European influence and moving away from a matched bedroom set.

"The current trend in bedroom furnishings is leaning away from the standard set of a bed, two nightstands and a few dressers all of the same style and collection, towards a more romanced and eclectic combination of pieces to create a personal refuge or escape," said Greg Mononen, product developer for Arhaus Furniture. "People are adding romantic elements to their bedrooms in their furniture, wall colors, fabrics and accessories," he added.

Accessories are the focus of this year's bedroom remodels. People are using pillows, throws, duvets and other accessories to create an atmosphere of romance.

In the big scheme of things, people are building smaller and using glass only to take advantage of views -- not just for the sake of having windows.

"We went through a view-crazy phase, now we're getting a more reasonable balance between inside and outside," Nelson said. "I've certainly been promoting it. (Lots of windows) are such a huge problem. It's an energy inefficient way to live."

People are becoming more space conscious and realizing that bigger isn't always better, she said. People are putting more emphasis on space planning and making more efficient use of space.

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