feature story

Interior Design

Four celebrity designers share their insights into decorating trends.

by Shelley Urban

    They have television shows and appearances, books, and stylish lines of home furnishings and accessories to their credit. And these four designers, whose dazzling smiles we routinely see on Home & Garden Television (HGTV) or beaming from bookstore shelves, also bring plenty of real-world experience to the design table.
    From their wealth of work, these interior design experts, who include interior designer Barry Dixon; designer and TV host Kim Myles; architect, designer and TV host Constance Ramos; and architect, designer and TV host Barry Wood, tell us that the need to be nurtured and safe will drive consumer choices for 2009 and beyond. Use their insights to guide your styles of fresh and permanent arrangements this year.


2009 interior trends overview
• Color will be a source of comfort, especially those hues in the yellow to yellow-orange range.
• Cautious decorating choices will lead to safe, eclectic mixes.
• Clutter and fussiness are out; clean and contemporary will expand.
• Young people will express themselves with affordable retro furnishings, especially midcentury modern pieces from the 1950s and ’60s.
• Open, multipurpose great rooms will dominate.


safe havens call for eclectic mixes
    “The scarier the world seems, the more we want our interiors to be nurturing, comforting and calm,” reports Mr. Dixon, of Barry Dixon Inc. in Warrenton, Va. Achieving a comforting quality occurs, in part, with a nurturing color palette. “Warm hospitable tones—in the ‘Helios’ gamut, such as yellow, orange-yellow and smoked salmon—will be important.”
    Mr. Dixon also notes that “rich chocolate brown” will be a prevalent hue for homes, as well. “Brown is a neutral that we often overlook, but almost any color pairs with it, and it holds up well.” Brown, then, is a safe choice, and safe choices are what consumers are making these days.
    The need to play it safe with decorating decisions during this time of uncertainty also translates, according to Mr. Dixon, into a stronger focus on eclectically mixed interiors. “With eclectic mixes, which may include different periods and styles together or antiques paired with new items—anything is fair game—we don’t have to be too committed, fiscally or otherwise, to a particular style,” he relates.
    Therefore, an eclectic style affords decorators two benefits: they can start with or add a few pieces at a time and don’t have to invest significantly all at once, and they can easily change and refresh with one or two new pieces as needed, so the looks never become tiresome. “It’s a safe approach to decorating,” Mr. Dixon points out.
    “It’s also an easy way for people to make their interiors personal. Homes should reflect the character and lifestyles of those who inhabit them.”


Barry Dixon Interiors
In addition to regular appearances on “Good Morning America” and various Home & Garden Television (HGTV) shows, Barry Dixon’s work has been featured in countless magazines including, just in 2008, Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Veranda and many more. But the newly published book, Barry Dixon Interiors, written by Brian D. Coleman and with fabulous photographs by Edward Addeo, is the first collection of Mr. Dixon’s exquisite interior design work to be published. Barry Dixon Interiors is available from booksellers everywhere. For more information about Mr. Dixon, his home furnishings collections and his interior design work, visit www.barrydixon.com.


flowers for the eclectic home
    Floral compositions for the eclectic home will be on a grand scale although small coordinating pieces also play a role. “For example,” describes Mr. Dixon, “I love tall branches arranged with a cluster of roses. But I also like to position another bunch of the roses, on a smaller scale, nearby, so there’s a balance of large and small.”
    He also believes in making interiors relative to their locations, and florals can be critical to that. “Arrangements should bring in the colors and elements of the season so that the home is interconnected to that which is visible through the windows,” Mr. Dixon explains. He recommends branches, berries, mosses, rocks and other organic-inspired materials that would naturally be found outdoors.
    Kim Myles, who hosts the show “Myles of Style” on HGTV, shares Mr. Dixon’s view of eclectic décor and its related floral accents. “I like the idea of loose free-form arrangements of branches, especially curly willow, pussy willow and salt cedar, for eclectic rooms,” she shares.

comfort in the contemporary
    In addition to eclectic décor, Ms. Myles is confident that contemporary interiors will come to the forefront as well. “There will be a distinct return to comfortable, unfussy [living],” she assures, “so I think contemporary style will continue to gain footing, as will eclecticism.”
    While she notes that both design styles have been popular in the past, Ms. Myles points out that today’s versions are different. “These looks are becoming more refined,” she explains, “because people are becoming more design-savvy.” Over time, especially with the interest in earth-friendly living, Ms. Myles thinks the tendency toward contemporary and “unfussy” may evolve into a resurgence in Japanese minimalism.
    For now, though, Ms. Myles reports that contemporary styles will embrace clean but soft lines (although “nothing frilly”) and will involve layers and texture, and color palettes will tend toward neutrals. “Earthy tones, such as caramel and moss, always work well,” she suggests.
    Ms. Myles, who regularly incorporates florals into her show’s makeovers, recommends stylish pavé designs for contemporary spaces. “The clean look of pavé is always classic yet fresh,” she shares.


“Myles of Style”
Kim Myles made her first appearance on Home & Garden Television (HGTV) as a competitor in the second season of the popular “Design Star” series, which is part design-makeover and part reality-competition. Each season’s winner is awarded a show on HGTV; “Myles of Style” is the prize for Ms. Myles’ “Design Star” victory. “Myles of Style” airs regularly on HGTV, and some episodes are available for viewing online. To see them, and to read more about Ms. Myles and her show, visit www.hgtv.com or www.kimmyles.com.


nurture with color
    While she notices a trend toward contemporary design as well, Constance Ramos, an architect, designer and host of HGTV’s “Color Correction,” says midcentury modern is a new twist that’s favored by younger homeowners. “There are lots of pieces of furniture available from the 1950s and ’60s, and now they’re considered ‘antiques’ by younger buyers,” she reports.
    These shoppers, who frequent thrift stores and even buy reproductions, appreciate that the mod pieces help them express their personalities. “The midcentury mod look allows homeowners to use funky textures like velvet and [faux] fur and bold graphics on fabrics and walls, and they appreciate creating this tremendous visual stimulus,” she explains.
    Florals, which Ms. Ramos often uses to put the finishing touches on her “color-corrected” rooms, should be bold and graphic, like the rooms themselves. “Gerberas and all kinds of daisies are naturals,” she points out.
    While Ms. Ramos sees young people moving toward these retro interiors, she also concurs that nurturing environments will rule, and color is one way that will be achieved this year. “Wall color is an easy and inexpensive way to change the mood of a room, and consumers are getting more bold about using it,” Ms. Ramos points out, “so I expect to see more [non-neutral] hues as we create places that feel cozy and safe.”
    She is quick to point out, however, that color is perceived through emotional experiences, so the colors that feel nurturing and safe differ for each of us. “For example,” she shares, “I had a client who wanted to use yellow in his home because his mother’s kitchen had been yellow, and that color felt comforting, like home, to him.”


“Color Correction”
An original member of ABC Television Network’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and a regular on Home & Garden Television’s (HGTV) “Designers’ Challenge,” the fabulous work of architect and designer Constance Ramos is well-known among TV viewers. On her new show, “Color Correction” on HGTV, Ms. Ramos helps homeowners fix their “color disasters” with complete room makeovers. “Color Correction” airs regularly on HGTV, and some episodes are available for viewing online. To see them, and to read more about Ms. Ramos and her show, visit www.hgtv.com or www.constanceramos.com.


safety in numbers
    Architect Barry Wood, who redesigns three homes per episode via 3-D computer graphics for the HGTV show “Hidden Potential,” says he doesn’t spend much time following trends; instead, he designs homes the way his clients want them. But he has noticed, in both his work on “Hidden Potential” and at his design and development firm, b.wood Architects in New York City, that homeowners are opening up their spaces. “People want to ‘come together’ in tough times, so they’re making their public spaces—kitchen, dining and family rooms—more open and communal. And this idea will continue to expand,” he reports.
    These massive “great rooms” are ideal for entertaining and for family members to maintain a sense of closeness during day-to-day activities. “For example,” Mr. Wood points out, “parents want their children within eye-shot while they’re working in the kitchen.” As a result, clients regularly request open kitchen designs, often complete with workspaces such as islands or corner tabletops, that transition into the rest of the home. “Kitchens are becoming multipurpose,” he confirms.
    In addition, the desire for wide-open spaces, perhaps in conjunction with the “outdoor living” movement of recent years, has led to products that allow homeowners to almost completely eliminate the boundaries between indoors and out. “There are now bifold and trifold glass doors that, weather- and climate-permitting, open fully to allow homeowners to further expand their great rooms to incorporate outdoor spaces,” Mr. Wood describes.
    Such open spaces can be decorated in practically any manner although, as Mr. Wood shares, he prefers modern, contemporary styling. Accessorizing with florals, whatever the aesthetic, will likely call for multiple compositions that contribute to an overall sense of cohesion. Floral arrangements may also be helpful in defining different regions, or zones, within the great room.


“Hidden Potential”
Architect Barry Wood, who started b.wood Architects in New York City in 1999, made his television design debut on TLC’s wildly popular “Trading Spaces.” Today, Mr. Wood hosts “Hidden Potential” on Home & Garden Television (HGTV). In each episode, would-be homebuyers are shown three homes in need of renovation. Then, Mr. Wood (pictured at right in red with his signature Macintosh laptop) shows, in moving three-dimensional animation, how each home could be fantastically redesigned on the buyers’ budgets. “Hidden Potential” airs regularly on HGTV, and some episodes are available for viewing online. To see them, and to read more about Mr. Wood and his show, visit www.hgtv.com. To learn more about his work, visit www.barrywoodnyc.com.


Contact Shelley Urban at surban@floristsreview.com or (800) 367-4708.


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