Ready for your home to look oh-so 2011?
It shouldn't be too hard because the on-the-horizon trends are all about making it more optimistic, functional and personal.
To help us discover what's new on the home front, we talked to a few internationally recognized tastemakers.
New York interior designer Vicente Wolf travels the world, linking the places he explores with the spaces he creates.
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"People aren't redoing rooms every four years anymore," said Wolf, who wrote and photographed the instructive new book Lifting the Curtain on Design (Monacelli Press, $50). "People care about their personal point of view and what comforts them."
Sarah Richardson is a Canadian designer who got her start as a prop stylist and set decorator. Her show, Sarah's House on HGTV, details home renovations room by room. She bounces ideas off sidekick Tommy Smythe, who accompanies her on jaunts to antique stores and salvage shops.
"Going for vintage ups the ante on what you can achieve," Richardson said. "If you don't mind the challenge of never knowing what you might find, the quality is typically better, and prices are lower than what you'd get new."
Roni Jaco of Kansas City travels the globe looking for ethically made handicrafts and textiles for her online store, the Loaded Trunk (www.loaded trunk.com). Her itinerary next month: Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. She has left 10 days of wiggle room, so maybe Laos and Cambodia, too.
"Although we're connected technologically, we've become so disconnected from where things for our home come from," Jaco said. "Just as we've become more engaged in where our food comes from, we're starting again to wonder about the people who make things for our home. We want to know their stories."
Sizing up salon style
We're referring to a method of hanging art, not hair salon art.
"Salon" is the French term for drawing room.
Instead of restraining yourself to a gallery wall with coordinating frames, there's something delightful about a confident floor-to-ceiling mishmash. It makes a room feel lived in and -- here's the word again -- personal.
Jaco's living room walls contain a melange of pieces from her travels, including antique prints and photographs. "When you like things, they just all seem to go together."
Lightening up the kitchen
A streamlined kitchen will never go out of style. But "Ye Olde Kitchen," as Wolf calls Old-World craftsmanship, has had its day.
"A kitchen shouldn't look like it's more than 150 years old when your home isn't," he said. "There's fakery to it, and dark cabinets can be depressing. A kitchen is like an operating room: You want it to be clear and bright so you can see all the details."
In addition to good task lighting, Wolf prefers white cabinets or lighter woods.
Toning down hardwoods
Although espresso and dark hardwood floors have been the norm for years, we're noticing a little lighter look for the surface you walk on.
"You're starting to see two-tone and gray finishes," Wolf said. "Like driftwood."
See a driftwoodlike finish in flooring by Bois Chamois Vintage Hardwood Flooring of Delaware (www.boischamois. com).
Back to bulb basics?
Victorian, Edison-style and squirrel-cage bulbs are surprisingly hot little numbers despite the shift toward CFLs and LEDs.
No, not for all your lighting needs, but perhaps for your decorative clear-glass and bare-bulb fixtures so that you can really see the filament.
Carbon-filament light bulbs debuted in the 1890s and stayed around the house until tungsten transformed the industry.
New carbon-filament bulbs offer one-third of the light at 10 times the price, according to Rejuvenation lighting catalog. "But they make any fixture ethereally beautiful."
Find an Edison Squirrel Cage-style Bulb ($18.95 by Bulbrite) at Amazon.com.
No, we're not talking 1980s geese in bonnets. We're seeing casual, toned-down finishes on furniture.
"White wash instead of pure white," Sarah Richardson said.
Currently, country includes the grayed-out Gustavian and Belgian furniture available in catalogs such as Restoration Hardware and Wisteria. Well-worn woods vs. exotic ones create a rustic elegance, Richardson said, and will stay around a while.
At Wisteria.com, find a gray console cabinet with Gustavian reeded detailing for $1,399.
We will be seeing more golden upholstery fabrics and furniture finishes, even a little brass.
Add some flair with a few gold-leafed papier-mache bowls by Chicago-based Up in the Air Somewhere (http:// upintheairsomewhere.com); $68 for large, $24 for small.
The "who knew?" factor of upcycled house goods will be even bigger in 2011, according to those at Etsy, the online marketplace for handcrafts. Look for plastic bags turned into bowls and bike parts into clocks. Richardson is seeing more recycled-content countertops.
A turquoise mini file box made with vintage record album covers by FreeStyle Gifts of San Francisco ($38, www.etsy.com/shop/FreestyleGifts) could be used for coupons, recipes and at a wedding as a guest book box.
Let it slide
Sliding doors have gotten a stylish makeover, thanks to offices and hip urban lofts. More barn-style wooden doors will make their way to basements, closets and bedrooms. They can save space or conceal a large area for privacy. And they fit any size opening.
"This goes to show you there are so many options beyond traditional doors and drywall," Richardson said.
Canadian company KNC makes the wall-mounted Crowder Round Track with exposed wheels and hardware (www.kncrowder.com).
We think -- and hope -- 2011 is when we confidently pair Grandma's chairs with a modern chandelier to create our own personal style.
We like Richardson's recipe for a tasty mix: "Masculine and feminine in equal parts. You don't want to alienate anyone. Light and dark, and old with new, also both in the same amounts. That way the room is not a time capsule, but then it's not trying too hard to be cutting edge."