By Debbie Gardner
GREATER SPRINGFIELD – What are the biggest trends driving interior design for the upcoming fall season?
According to the home decor experts who spoke with Reminder Publications, two themes stand out. The first is a judicious use of trendy colors to "pop" a room. The second is the growing importance of truly personal taste when choosing or designing dÃ©cor elements – from the mix of materials in a new kitchen backsplash to the style elements and fabrics for a new sofa.
Though color may be king right now, those classic neutral tones still reign when it comes to the base canvas for any room redo, according to Sandra Dakis Fiore of Boston Carpet, located at the "X" in Springfield.
However, in 2012, "neutral" doesn't necessarily translate to walls or flooring in those all-too-familiar shades of beige.
"Grey is the new beige," Fiore said, adding that the color has been showing up in a range of hues from light to dark, often paired with those familiar and trusted beige tones in everything from carpets to wall and floor tile to textured vinyl floor coverings.
Michele Enders, upholstery buyer for Raymour & Flanigan, which has locations in the Riverdale Shops in West Springfield and on Boston Road in Springfield, concurred that subdued tones are still the most popular choice in home furnishings.
"Everything seems to be very neutral – your earth tones and your greys – which is a neutral," Enders said, adding that the trend in dÃ©cor is to accent this neutral canvas with a "pop" of color through the introduction of "a pillow or an accent chair or an ottoman."
Those accents can be solid, or a print emphasizing the accent color, Enders said.
"Tangerine Tango" has been among the top four "pop" colors for 2012 in everything from fashion to furnishings to floor coverings, according to Pantone Inc. LLC, the world-renowned authority on color and provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries.
"It's an orange with a lot of depth – to me it could be [considered] so close to [a] red, but it's not," Fiore said, adding that the shade is expected to stay popular through the fall season.
Enders said she's seeing a strong trend toward the use of what she called spice tone accents – the burnt reds and pumpkins.
"Personally I'm hearing greens are big, but I'm not seeing it, and blues – from navy to purple-y blues," Enders noted.
Looking toward 2013, Fiore said Pantone predicts "yellow will be very popular," adding that the popular shade is expected to be "very vibrant."
As Enders noted in furnishings, Fiore said greens and blues – along with dusty pinks – are expected to become strong color trends in everything from fashion to home dÃ©cor in 2013.
"With your greys you can put any color," Enders noted. "Your pumpkin looks great, your yellow looks great, so does black, burgundy, reds [and] purples."
When deciding how much of a color "pop" to add to a room, Fiore said do-it-yourselfers should keep in mind the 60-30-10 rule of interior design.
"Sixty percent is your base color, 30 percent is your secondary color, and 10 percent is your accent color," she said. "Think of it like a man's suit – the jacket and pants are your base shade, your shirt is your accent color, your tie is the pop."
She also said people should remember that the floor of a room is their "fifth wall" when it comes to planning color and design.
Fiore said the use of accent rugs – especially those that are custom designed to fit a client's space and taste – are a big way the floor is being used as a "fifth wall" in modern interior design.
"It could be a unique size, or somebody wants a rug with a look that nobody else has," Fiore said. "[An] area rug can make a statement."
She said recent clients have sometimes chosen to have shapes custom-cut and bound from traditional carpeting to get the color, texture, material or feel they are looking for in an accent rug.
Enders said that desire to personalize home dÃ©cor has been a strong trend in upholstered furnishing for some time.
"Sectionals are still big – in [different] sizes [and] styles – deep seating, tight backs, motion – in fabrics and leather. [Today's] consumer likes to have options so they can make one side [of the sectional] a chaise, or eliminate the chaise," she said.
Though furniture design going forward is still reflecting the "clean, contemporary" look, with "smaller arms and tight backs," Enders said the market still offers consumers selections of the oversized furniture popular a few years back for homeowners who still have great rooms to fill.
Furniture covering choices range from traditional fabrics to leather – still a popular selection – to the new breed of microfiber high-performance fabrics.
"They're textured now, they're printed, they [can] look like leather [and] not a lot of fabrics offer the 'cleanability' [of microfiber]," Enders said.
Getting the exact look a client wants is also a big trend in minor home remodels – such as a kitchen or a bathroom redo – according to Fiore.
"People that may even want to move – that are waiting for the market to improve – are fixing up their homes right now," she noted, sometimes with low-cost pops such as a new kitchen backsplash.
"It's a way to dress up and change your kitchen [for minimal cost]," Fiore said. "It's like jewelry for your walls. "
She said the popularity of small tiles in a variety of media from glass to ceramic to stone, wood and metal – makes it easy for clients to create a custom pattern for a backsplash, or an accent border in a kitchen or bath. Even clients who recently completed a kitchen or bath remodel are coming back in for this popular add-on, she noted.