Putting your signature on the way you live is the definition of your “home.” So when it comes to trends for 2012, Americans will want cozy and romantic. No one can afford to take risks, so we will see more creativity with new twists on the tried-and-true. We’ll see more accessories and furniture that “play well with others,” pieces that easily complement or integrate with existing elements in a home, both in color, design and pattern creating our own style.

Upcoming Trends

Ode to Mother Nature
She is honest, constant, classic, and creative in color and color combinations. Ever popular are the three Bs (birds, bees and butterflies) plus dragonflies. Taking center stage will be songbirds, often pen and ink rendered in sepia tones or purples. Each of them represents flight, symbolizing escape from the frenetic travails of our daily-ness. Organic materials and natural forms include shells in all shapes and sizes, deer and moose antlers and animal horn. Plus, we’ll see faux animal skin (especially leopard), leather, fur (mostly faux), feathers and coral, for its color and free-form shape. In the flora category, look for bleached pinecones, birch bark’s black and white . . . a nice contrast to poppies, which were everywhere at Maison et Objet. Poppies are beautifully graceful, simple, and their coral-red coloration is very on-trend.

Modern Romance
Think early 1960s, Mad Men. Modern romance with layers of peek-a-boo lace, open-weave fabrics and velvets. Flirty curves and full-fabric drapes. Dreamy, floaty fashions influenced by Mad Men (visualize Betty Draper in a full skirt with her hourglass figure). Florals with romantic colors and themes. Pearlescent and reflective surfaces—mercury glass, shimmer vs. shine, soft metallics and warm metals. Romantic glows are achieved with layered lighting (floor, table, overhead and up-lights) creating a feminine mystique. Kitchen chic flaunts mid-century, ruffled aprons, tabletop and other kitchen textiles. Colors are soft with dusty hues of pinks, plum, light and darkened blues, and all values of gray.

Express Yourself
No rules! Listen to your inner instincts. Make your home YOU-nique, evoking memories like a photograph. Traditionally timeless styling is simplified, modernized and re-colored, combining architectural elements and styles from neo-classic periods. Its clean, fresh looks belie its historic heritage. We’ll be looking to the past, using its influence and updating it for the future with simplicity, color and pattern. Paired with men’s suiting patterns (Mad Men, again) and crisp white painted molding it easily transitions to contemporary or traditional. Combined with handcrafted ethnic influences, distressed surfaces and animal prints. Look for furniture painted in multi-hued stripes, patterns, and flags. Remember, “Perfection can ruin a decor.”

Internationally, cultures will be looking to their own past as influence in decor. We’ll all be integrating our own cultural heritage with those of other cultures. We will take the essence of those cultural elements, re-coloring and resizing them to create unique interpretations to fit our lifestyles of today. In the United States, we’ll reach back to Native Americans for their rich patterns and colors. Feathers and totems will hold a strong influence. Look for stacking as representation of totems. Also, look for industrial icons. Moving toward 2016 and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the indigenous peoples of South and Central America will strongly weight color, pattern and design. Flag patterns of the Stars and Stripes, England’s Union Jack, and France’s tri-colour will decorate furniture and accessories. Handcrafted ethnic influences include embroidery, jumbo knits, reverse appliqués, Suzani, paisley, ikats, toiles. Look for calico, which is trending in.

Mid-Century Vintage

Built-to-last factory parts and pieces are repurposed for function and fun. Nostalgic gears and industrial parts have become collector’s items since our factories of old have moved overseas. Look for tables on wheels, gear lamps, freezer latches, etc. Trunks were everywhere at Maison et Objet; mirrored, cowhide, or painted. Some displayed as coffee tables or repurposed as drawer chests. Trunks are a symbol of transition in our lives. A mix of textures and materials add pizzazz without commitment to color. Hues are mellowed grays, complemented with old brick, pewter, gold, kiwi and aubergine.

Architectural Engineering and Contrasts
Look for simplicity with exciting, outstanding touches of chic styling. Simple, but such elegantly casual looks belie intense behind-the-scenes engineering. Everything matches up perfectly; the ruffles, angled stripes, asymmetrical lines, pin-tucks, draping, and oversize zippers with decorative pulls. The distinction between fashion and home decor has become a blur; what you see on the runway today is in home decor tomorrow. The “it” colors are in combinations of bar-code stripes, blocking, and circles. So unpretentious, yet so outstanding. Tiresome matchy-matchy is long gone! Contrasts whip up our creative juices . . . Rustic and formal, town and country. It’s simple and elegant.

Upcoming Design

Youth of today will provide a strong impact on design, for they are resourceful and uninhibited. Their approach to the design process will result in more integrated and collaborative creations. They will draw from the best of eras, styles and world cultures to create new fusions with a mix of unexpected materials. The result will be edgier products, fashions, and interiors; all very individualistic. To quote Katherine Hepburn, “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.”

Raised on Lost and Survivor, Gen Y is embracing escapes into nature; a trend toward things homegrown. Their home is their refuge in this New Ruralism. Looking inward gives comfort, for outward is a world of uncertainty. They are rejecting bling, moving from glitz and glam to the longevity of heritage. Look for a casual approach with Adirdondack-lodge elements: antlers, horns, plaids, pinecones, birch bark. Natural materials with their imperfections (rusted, calcified, weathered) and fabrics without sheen.

Pattern blocking is an unrestrained form of patchwork. Typical patchwork is very regimented in its pattern and fabric selection. Pattern blocking utilizes random fabrics of random dimensions often pieced together in a de-constructed manner. Originally, patchwork in America used leftover fabric or scraps of old clothing. Using pieces of a wedding dress, shirt, christening dress, or tablecloth told a wonderful story of a family’s heritage.

Honeysuckle, a hot pink, is Pantone’s Color of 2011. Chosen annually by polling designers worldwide for their forecasts, Pantone predicts that honeysuckle has a broad appeal for product categories internationally, from tabletop and pillows to nail polish. Tom Mirabile of Lifetime Brands (Cuisinart, Mikasa, etc.) refers to honeysuckle as “Mad Men” pink; saying there’s a retro aspect to it that’s going to be very popular.

Trend expert Jill Sands has been involved in the gift and home world in various aspects for more than 20 years. She has owned her own interior design firm, been a long-standing member of Color Marketing Group and forecasted trends and worked with artists to create new products at Toland Enterprises. To subscribe to her newsletter, The Trend Forecaster, or for more information, visit www.thetrendforecaster.com.