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… Looking ahead

The 2010s  I  Products offering energy and comfort control with multipurpose use will be a big part of home design this coming decade

Kim Cook Associated Press

Among designers, retailers and homeowners, there’s little consensus on where home decor and design are headed except that the watchword will be “ease.”

Whatever our personal style may look like – whether we embrace the past, with traditional furnishings and warm colors, or go sleek, functional and space-agey – a simple, beautiful space “is the design equivalent of comfort food” in tumultuous times, says Design Public’s head blogger, Becky Harris.

Some experts think we’ll want tailored, uncluttered living spaces – a refuge from the muddle of life outside. Others think we’ll find comfort in surrounding ourselves with the stuff of travel and memory.

Monica Letourneau, Savannah College of Art and Design’s interior design chairwoman, sees a middle ground, in which old family photos are used decoratively “but displayed in a clean, organized, contemporary format.”

Likewise, color mavens foresee a split personality. Gen Y, one of two influential demographics, prefers “the fantastical colors of the World Wide Web. Bright, escapist colors,” according to Dee Schlotter of Pittsburgh Paints.

At the same time, aging baby boomers, the other big trend-driving demographic, will seek respite from the “chatter” of the world in “cooler, calmer shades of taupe, gray and grayed-down brown,” Schlotter says.

She also thinks that a heightened interest in craft and craftsmanship will inform color: “We’ll see patinaed, worked-on colors of leather like reds, browns and blacks.”

Many think decor will gravitate toward what Verena Paepcke Hjeltness and Scott Boylston, design professors at SCAD, call, “handmade, unique quality items that will last for decades, creating less waste in the process.”

That could mean glamorous, sumptuous, rich fabrics and luxurious furnishings. Or the trend could take the form of repurposed industrial-style furnishings, with wear and imperfection part of the appeal: Raw, rougher-textured materials. Aged wood. Steel.

“Think clean white walls, a pine farm table, a mix of dining room chairs all painted the same color, and a mid-century industrial Paris flea-market light fixture,” says Harris.

“It’s a look that has roots in the Shabby Chic era from the past 10 years, though now it’s less shabby.”

Other trend notes:

Kitchen drama: Viking has introduced a purple range, and Amana has a deep blue fridge. At Kohler, there’s a matte black faucet; at Ann Sacks, a sparkly gold-flecked glass tile. Bosch is showing metallic laundry sets, while Elica offers a jewel-like range hood.

As Gayle Butler, editor in chief of Better Homes and Gardens, says, “The kitchen’s not just a room, it’s an experience.”

Look for more sofas and bench seating around tables for dining, working and other family pursuits as the kitchen continues to become one with the rest of the home.

Lighting: From light-infused wallpaper to fabrics and work surfaces and even concrete, lighting technology will wow us this decade. Design-friendly LED leads the way, and solar applications will improve.

Aging in place: In 2010, one in four Americans will be 55 or older. Many designers and manufacturers are employing Universal Design principles, developed by engineers, architects and designers at North Carolina State University to make spaces and products user-friendly for everyone.

For homeowners who don’t want to give up style for safety, think touchless faucets; trim kitchen drawers instead of cupboards; pullouts; task lighting and sensor cooktops. In bathrooms, look for nonslip floors, shower seats and grab bars with a sleek and stylish, not clinical, look.

Smart sustainability: Green’s no longer a movement, it’s part of the design lexicon. Even the most traditionally styled home will have modern amenities, and sensors in appliances and in the home itself to track energy use.

Technology will give us more flexibility in where we put entertainment systems, computers, even fireplaces. With alcohol-based systems, a cheery blaze can be placed on a coffee table or hung on a wall.

The home office: It will continue to evolve as it gains even greater prominence. We’ll see the home office integrated into the rest of the home and looking less “business-y”.

The work surface may be a table rather than a desk. Files and storage will utilize furniture rather than stock office pieces.

Thinking small: There are expected to be more households over the next 10 years without children, so living spaces are likely to become smaller.

As a result, “homeowners will be inspired to personalize their living space with small but inspired projects,” says Andrea Piontek, senior stylist at Olympic Paints.

Think splashy backsplashes, new wall colors, upgraded small appliances, perhaps new window treatments, gorgeous hardware.

And beyond 2020? Cool ideas currently in the works include:

Home farms: stackable ecosystems in which you can grow a variety of food.

Digital snowglobes: Images can be stored in the globe; give it a shake to change the photo.

Digital message boards: Scribble a note, then drag it onto a family member’s photo; it’ll be sent to their mobile device.

Command central: a sensor-equipped kitchen tabletop that lets you cook, eat and work all on one surface at the same time.

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