As wall colors quiet down, furniture gets louder

With a new year come new trends in home design and decorating. Among them: paler walls contrasted with colorful furniture.

Coolest colors

Whisper-soft, ultra-pale shades of pink — described by designers as “blush tones” — are back. But the ’80s haven’t returned, designer Brian Patrick Flynn says, at least not entirely.

“What’s different about blush this time around is what it’s paired with. In 1985, you’d find it paired with mauve and black with tons of shiny brass accents. Flash forward to today, and blush is likely to be paired with preppy, masculine tones,” Flynn, founder of Flynnside Out Productions, said.

His favorite blush paint is Barely Blush from Glidden, which he contrasts with navy blue: “The deep, rich personality of the navy actually washes out the blush, almost causing it to look white, and the overall effect is fresh and gorgeous.”

Speaking of white walls, Los Angeles-based designer Betsy Burnham sees those coming back in a big way.

“I used to think white walls looked unfinished,” she said. “But I’ve completely come around on this one, because white is the ultimate palette cleanser. It gives every space — even the most traditional — a modern edge, and sets the stage wonderfully for layers of color in upholstery, accessories, area rugs and art.”

But while wall colors are getting softer and paler, the opposite seems to be happening with furniture.

“Strong colors on upholstery are becoming more of the norm,” said Kyle Schuneman, founder of Live Well Designs, who spent a chunk of 2013 designing his first line of furniture, in collaboration with retailer Apt2B.

He opted to create sofas in bright blues and shades of orange because “a bright sofa is no longer just for a creative office waiting room,” he said.

Top textures

“For accessories, the trend seems to be getting away from color and going more into rich textures like horn, aged metallics and linens,” Schuneman says. “The absence of color is becoming chic for smaller items.”

One texture Flynn says will have a big moment in 2014: felt.

“Ever since the handmade movement kicked in back in 2010, felt has been used in unexpected ways and in a modern fashion,” Flynn says. “What makes it such a favorite for designers is how easy it is to work with.”

An easy project for even the DIY-challenged: “I modernized the classic kindergarten felt wall in a boy’s room by covering a wall with batting, then literally upholstering it with white and blue felt, then cutting tons of felt into random objects and characters to give the kids something interactive and stylish.”

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