Home furnishing trends for 2006

Deborah Holmes
"A house is more than a place to live in; it's how you display yourself to the world."

That quote comes from a publisher at Domino,Condé© Nast's upscale lifestyle magazine.

She was speaking at the October 2005 International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, North Carolina, but she might as well have been talking about decorating during the high Victorian period, some 120 years ago.

Storehouse table and chairs
The Concerto table and chairs from The Storehouse are a contemporary take on your grandmother's favorite space-saving table. The table, with a hand rubbed distressed black finish, retails for $1,199, Side chairs complete with backs reminiscent of Chinese rails, sell for $299 each. (October 2005).

Back then ...

Back in those Victorian times, the industrial age brought a new-found wealth of machine-made furnishings the middle class.

Homeowners showed off their prosperity and status by cramming their parlors and drawing rooms with furniture and knickknacks. Egyptian, Turkish and Oriental ornamentation were featured in richly colored wall coverings and fabrics.

This exuberance in furnishing was more than a status symbol -- it was an outward display of an emerging interest in other cultures.

... And today

Once again, today's homes have become a place to express personality.A majority of homeowners describe their style as "eclectic", saying they are willing to mix and match on price, quality and style, according to Domino.

It's a trend that lends itself particularly well to older homes. Part of the fun of having an old house is furnishing it in part with history -- that chair from grandpa that's perfect for a stairway nook -- and new-found treasures that are define your style.

Sources for furnishings range from local antique stores to upscale boutiques. And even big box retailers are getting in on the act.

"Today's consumer," notes Kelly Petersen, advertising director of Hearst Corporation's new Weekend magazine, "is just as likely to run into Target on her lunch break as she is to go into Saks Fifth Avenue."What's more, Petersen and other magazine executives say, the hunt for home furnishings is continuous and evolutionary.

Furniture makers respond

Furniture makers are responding to these trends by offering a growing range of reproductions of vintage furniture in styles spanning the 1700s to the 1960s. Designers also are taking their inspiration from vintage styles and adding personal touches.

The Concerto dining room table from The Storehouse (pictured above) is a modern take on the traditional drop-leaf table. With its two leaves folded, the compact table top is 63 inches long, but only 21-3/4" deep. With its classical pedestal base, it's perfect as a buffet. Fold out one leaf and it becomes a writing table with a drawer to store stationery. Fully open, it comfortably seats six.

The Thorsen Dining Table and Blacker House Dining Chairs pictured below are heirloom quality pieces from Stickley's new Pasadena Bungalow Collection. The furniture draws its inspiration from the works of Charles and Henry Greene, renowned California architects of the late 19th century who are generally credited with bringing the Arts & Crafts movement for the American west. The sapelli wood used to make the furniture comes from Africa, has a cedar like aroma and the strength of mahogany.

Stickley chair

stickley table

Blacker House chair is named for a Pasadena house. It retails for $1,311. The Thorsen Dining Table is similar to a Greene and Green masterwork table. It sells for $4,569 (October 2005).

drexel chair

The Spencer Slat Back Arm Chair from Drexel Heritage offers traditional good looks. Prices start at $619 (October 2005) and the chair can be personalized with different upholstery and finishes.

hickory arm chair

hickory side chair

Classic design elements and clean lines make these Joseph chairs from Hickory Chair suitable to a variety of decors. Use them around a dining table or as an occasional chair. The side chair retails for about $1,400 while the arm chair is about $100 more (October 2005).

Can a mass retailer like Target really offer something for a vintage house? Yes, if you follow the mix-and-match model of design. For example, this sweet little folding table might be a perfect resting spot for a cup of tea or a favored plant. The woven top is made from a native palm of the Philippines and the frame is metal. List price is $29.99, but Target sells it for $17.99 (October 2005).

Target table

Square split-weave folding table from Target could slip into a variety of decors. It sells for $17.99 (October 2005).

No one would accuse these folding chairs from Target of being fine furniture, but they can be a stylish alternative to institutional folding chairs at you next holiday dinner. Target sells them for $139.99 for a set of two (October 2005).

Target chairs

About the Author
By Deborah Holmes, The Old House Web

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