How to Get ‘The Look’ in Your Model Home
When it comes to interior design, today's home buyers are far more sophisticated than their forerunners ― and with good reason. Their mail boxes are filled with countless home-furnishing catalogs. The Internet links them to Pottery Barn, Room & Board, Crate&Barrel and thousands of other home store editions. Even their local discount stores are styling. Target, for example, has tapped architect/designer Michael Graves to envision sleek, serviceable items from teapots to trash cans.
This marriage of image and information has led to "The Look" — the finely tuned home-fashion statement that merchandisers and home buyers seek to recreate.
The key to having "The Look" in your model or personal home? Understand the trends behind it.
Consideration #1 — COLOR
We have seen an evolution from the "Very Green '90s" to the "Browning of the New Millennium." In fact, brown is the new black. When brown is combined with green, gold or blue, it yields the latest look. Trendy pinks, yellows and purples also are appearing, but should always, always be used with caution. Unsupervised pink can undo a career.
'The Look' — Brown is the new black
Blue is on the horizon (no pun intended) as a statement for the new decade. It represents a calming influence, something we certainly can use in these uncertain times.
Look for blue's most subtle shading — such as the pale blue-green called "oxygen" — on walls. It's very popular. But know that, in general, we are seeing walls bearing stronger colors — creating an inviting envelope for our lives.
Consideration #2 — FURNITURE
Following a close second behind color are furnishing choices. In both traditional and contemporary design schemes, the choices here are news. Traditional schemes now include warm textures, such as chenille, natural linens and patterns rooted in history. When combined with leather upholstery punctuated with nail-head accents, you have "The Look."
Coffee tables that are stacked two at a time create another exciting option for gathering spaces. And while I personally can't believe it, designer recliners are reclaiming real estate in family rooms, game rooms and studies. Lazy Boy® has even created the "new recliner" with design in mind. Slipcovers are frequently part of "The Look." They're being called into action to alter, update and add interest to formally mundane furniture.
Consideration #3 — UNIVERSAL DESIGN
Another very important part of obtaining "The Look" is to remember universal design. In the United States, 10,000 people turn 50 every day. That's a very large market segment that should not be ignored.
What is universal design? Quite simply, it is a method of design that is meant to change with the buyer but should not be an obvious feature of the home. Examples include: wider hallways or doorways that allow easy access for a wheelchair; levered faucets that make it easier for arthritic hands to turn water on and off; flat bottom bathtubs which give unsteady feet a level surface on which to stand; and higher sinks, washers and dryers that eliminate the need to bend over to retrieve dishes, buckets or clothes.
Fresh lighting solutions are essential to 'The Look'
Consideration #4 — LIGHTING
Another essential of "The Look" is lighting. Whether it's direct, hidden, reflected, up, under, back, track or translucent, fresh lighting solutions are a trend to take seriously. And it's not surprising, since light symbolizes safety (a priority in our current culture) and remains a tool to achieve it. We're talking about energy being used to echo as well as emphasize architectural detail, art and special features.
An example? Chandeliers are everywhere. They can be hung from a volume ceiling in the family room over a cocktail table. In dining rooms, two chandeliers can be used over the "grand table" to create an even more elegant room. Table lamps have become jewelry for the home. Lamp bases that have crackle finishes, leather wraps or marble effects, just to name a few, are dominating the lighting world. Lamp shades made with beads, leathers, parchment and silks add sparkle and character that "The Look" requires.
Consideration #5 — ACCESSORIES
Don't forget the accents. The repetition of art pieces is in keeping with "The Look." Identical mirrors hung side by side in a dining room are one example. Another is a fine antique — either the real thing or simply the character — as achieved when TV-concealing armoires come into play.
By considering all these areas, you can recreate "The Look" in your model homes — and your buyers definitely will notice.
Doris Pearlman, MIRM, is the president of Possibilities for Design, Inc., a nationally recognized, award-winning interior design and merchandising firm based in Denver. Pearlman, who is active in NAHB's Institute of Residential Marketing and the NAHB Seniors Housing Council, is a featured speaker at Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005 in Chantilly, Va. Her presentation there will be "Solving the Paradox of Selling to Senior Women: Powerful But Vulnerable." For more information, e-mail Pearlman, or call her at 303-571-0325.
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