When it comes to the home, trend can be a tough concept. Should you stay on track or attempt to be ahead of the curve? The answer depends on your business. Think about your customers. Are they more traditional than avant garde? Is she more likely to buy a patterned pillow than a paisley sofa? Does he come in a few times a month, the latest magazine or blog post in hand, looking for the “latest thing?” Does her wardrobe come from department stores or quirky boutiques?
Always remember that it’s more important to really know your customers and buy with them in mind than it is to always be at the vanguard of style. While you never want to get complacent with comfortable looks and lines – your loyal customers deserve better – don’t buy something in hopes it will be a hit. Trust your instincts. Almost any “trend” can be adapted to suit your customers’ taste and style.
For fall/winter 2010/2011, there’s an interesting twist. Lives are more public than ever with social profiles everywhere, yet people want to enhance their private spaces since they’re still spending more time at home. Look for rounded pieces built for comfort. Staying in more can lead to forms of escapism through movies, internet access, gaming, etc. Furniture that blends technology with comfort is in demand. Most folks don’t want the look of the Starship Enterprise in their media rooms, even if they demand similar technical capability. A similar idea takes the comfort of interior furniture outside, which advanced materials making it possible to enjoy living room comfort on the patio – year around.
A different take on escapism is looking back to what’s perceived as simpler time of either family 1950s sitcoms or 1970s childhood motifs. In many cases, these ideas manifest through Technicolor palettes or retro prints. Yet another form of the same idea adds the element of nature and escaping the city. This brings raw materials, soft florals and an earth-toned color scheme into play. It also makes rural looks chic again – as long as they’re done with an updated twist. An empire chair done in distressed leather or a classic chandelier crafted from weathered wood, as examples.
Multifunctional is also important as people look for pieces that are both decorative and useful. That’s in part because of downsizing and in part because people want less – less clutter, less consumption. Creative design means simple doesn’t have to be boring, and repurposed doesn’t have to be too rough or kitschy.
When it comes to color, don’t give up on grey; charcoal is more important than true black. Browns are still prominent, but they’re organic and more nutmeg than chocolate. Purple is around as both an accent and a modified neutral – a dark eggplant can be a rich background tone, while lavender is more interesting than beige yet just as soft. Blues are tropical, leaning toward aqua, teal and turquoise as both background and a punch color. Don’t be afraid of color. Keep in mind that some people are “colors” while some are “neutrals” no matter what’s perceived to be the currents style. There are tones to suit anyone. Someone who owns a dozen pairs of khaki pants might light up at the prospect of violet bedding while the lady known for loud outfits might be most comfortable in a camel and peach living room. You just never know until you talk to your customers about not just what they think they want, but what makes them feel most at home. That discussion is as much a part of your job as ordering product, maintaining inventory and managing payroll – and can be more fun.