Home & Garden

Bringing the outdoors in

The indoors is taking on the distinct look of outdoors in this fall's home decorating trends.

Shades of green, rustic looks and elements of a farmers market will play a big role in your fall home decorating. It's like a retreat to the forest, capturing the mood and ambience of beautiful wood designs and garden floral patterns.

Neutral colors such as gray and light brown whisper comfort and create an inviting place.

Pantone, the color guru, introduced Oyster Grey, Endive (a lettuce green), Woodbine (a masculine green), Coral, Lipstick Red and Purple Orchid for fall's home color trends.

Retailers say consumers may take a more conservative approach and choose chocolate and dark beiges as their base colors, and look toward rich reds and deep plums as accents to bring brighter colors into the home.

"Consumers will also see a few carryovers from spring, including purple and lemongrass," says Frank Hasper, manager at Crate & Barrel in Richmond Heights, Mo. Lemongrass is expected to become a strong fall color, paired with accents of orange.

"Accent walls are the perfect way to infuse new life into your space, and there are more options now than ever before," says Kris Keller, president of The Design Source in Ballwin, Mo. Keller has fallen in love with some of the latest wallcovering collections, from mother of pearl to slate to an array of textures. Homeowners can add a splash of color to a wall by choosing a warm gray-green, and for an accent, try a red-coral bronze or a mauve-rose.

The trendiest designs in the dining area are repurposing and upcycling furniture to create a new look with an old feel, and Phillips Furniture in Kirkwood, Mo., achieved this with its Nantucket sideboard, made from old Indian ship wood. "The trends show a great respect for family values and roots through ethnic vintage elements and colors that remind us of the past and our responsibility to sustain the earth," says Natalie Trivundza, advertising and marketing specialist at Phillips Furniture.

Also hot this fall are unpredictable mixes of styles. "Traditional pieces updated with new hardware or ornate leg styles will be a must-have in the family room or bedroom," Hasper says.

The dining room will see some changes too. Curvy chairs will add a modern twist to a traditional setting. At first glance, one might be apprehensive at the silhouette, but this chic style may become the draw behind the favorite seat in the home. Kari Woldum, vice president of merchandising at Design Within Reach (dwr.com), says, "There's definitely a trend toward beautifully upholstered dining chairs that combine innovation and shape."

Multifunctional furniture, such as storage beds (footboards with storage drawers) and media chests couldn't have come at a better time. As many homeowners downsize, multi-use furniture can seem like a godsend. "There never seems to be enough room in the bedroom for everything that needs to be put away," says Vicky Smith, president of Rothman Furniture Stores. The storage bed, from Rothman, offers a footboard with large storage drawers.

Armoires have virtually disappeared from the bedroom scene and have been replaced by media chests or media consoles. They are the perfect size to handle a 32- or 42-inch flatscreen, if you prefer not to mount a TV on the wall. They are at a perfect viewing height for those propped up in bed and they come with all the storage you normally would have in a chest. "Some consumers find it hard to mix their high-end tech products with their audio and video components," Hasper says. But a media console offers organization for both.

While leather continues to be popular, a new type of product, bonded leather has burst onto the furniture scene this fall. The price of leather furniture has skyrocketed during the past six months, and consumers have embraced this new product that gives the look and feel of leather without the high price tag. Bonded leather is a man-made product. Rothman markets it as Ultrablend, Broyhill calls it Performance Leather, and it has been seen in the marketplace under several names, such as Ultrahide, Valentino Leathertouch and Durablend.

"Consumers need to know the product they are buying is not a leather hide," Smith says. Bonded leather is a composite material made of recycled leather scraps and fibers mixed with bonding materials with a polyurethane face. Because it doesn't undergo chemical tanning, it has much lower levels of environmentally unsafe formaldehyde. Because bonded leather comes in rolls like fabric, there is significantly less waste than when using irregularly shaped hides. Rothman's sofas that have top-grain leather on the seating area but bonded leather on the backs and sides retail from $699 and $999. Comparable sofas made entirely of leather retail from $1,199 to $1,599.

What's in store for home accessories? Jeanne Spotanski, floor design director at Rothman, says, "Gray, white and taupe with touches of metallic are expected to be popular this fall. Shades of muted purple have become neutrals in rooms and add drama. And while black is still big, intense brown shades, such as coffee, are an alternative that adds elegance and warmth."

Crate & Barrel's fall collection includes brown, chunky, braided ottomans and hunky woven rugs that lure the eye and create a comfy setting in any room.

Big gold patterns and greens such as olive and avocado also will make a splash in home accessories. "This fall it's all about a fresh take on traditional styles," says Ralph Snyder, home design director for Kohl's Department Stores.

To achieve an outdoor rustic look that still works and feels good indoors, add autumnal colors with textured throw pillows, embellished table linens and botanical patterned bedding collections. Concrete side tables, usually found in outdoor settings, will be one of many showstopper pieces in home decorating this fall.