By Susan E. Campbell
The quest for healthier, cozier homes is driving residential interior design trends, say two Saratoga-based professionals.
“The move to more natural, organic materials is driven largely by health concerns, just like food trends,“ said Shelly Walker, owner of Finishing Touches Home Decor in Wilton. “We are using more stone, copper, concrete, bamboo and wood in residences now, along with non-toxic organic fabrics. Parents don’t want their children exposed to toxins and gasses.”
Beverly Tracy, founder of Beverly Tracy Home Design in Saratoga Springs, agrees that color selections and textures are influenced by the trend back to nature.
“We are adding the rich colors of the ocean, the mountains, the trees,” Tracy said. “Gone are the grays. These are replaced by luxuriant colors like green and taupe, perhaps with a purple accent.”
“Green shades from avocado to emerald green to rich khaki are not only from nature, but also very vibrant,” Tracy said.
Tracy said she brought one client an oversized, tufted, green velvet couch, updating “a generic room with white walls and tan furniture.”
“These clients are lively, social, vibrant people who wanted to express who they are through their home,” she said.
Walker used black velvet on a set of facing love seats in front of the fireplace in the black and white marbled foyer of 46 Union Avenue Condominiums in Saratoga Springs. Julie Bonacio wanted “an old Saratoga feel” to the space and gold fixtures and accessories added to the vintage charm.
For the upscale model condo at that address, a 2018 Showcase of Homes entry, Walker decorated with dark emerald green velvet sofas, camel colored leather chairs and ivory wing chairs, she said.
Black is back, too. Walker said to look for black walls, furniture and cabinets, as well as plumbing fixtures and appliances in the “black stainless-steel finish that clients love because it shows no fingerprints and is easy to keep clean.”
Like the condominium developer, some clients are very specific in what they want the end result to look and feel like. “Others say, here is the budget. Show me what I need,” said Walker.
Some people don’t think that they have a specific design personality. “But as I walk around the house and take lots of photos, I get a sense of what that client’s style is,” Walker said.
Tracy said whereas home decor had been defined as more “contemporary and minimalistic,” a current buzzword for the industry may be “maximalism.”
“This style blends luxury and sustainable fabrics and materials in a way that’s comfortable and feels like home again, not like a sterile office,” Tracy said.
To achieve a more homey style and “a feeling of escape” from the client’s work or school or busy lives, Tracy likes to “layer personal items and colors that feel authentic to them.”
She may select a color from among the client’s favorites, or the color of their eyes, or even something out of their children’s artwork and build upon that.
“We start with what the client lives with and enhance that by adding accents and layers, such as pillows or an accent wall,” Tracy said.
Walker said wallpaper, specifically bolder colors and geometric designs, are being used more widely now to add color and texture or as a feature wall. So is tile. An endless array of colors, textures, sizes, shapes and finishes are available, she said.
“Bathrooms are tiled up to and including the ceiling today,” said Walker. “And big patterns are popular again.”
Layering is also a way to enhance the home with items that are highly personal, Tracy said.
“I’m getting tired of empty counters,” she said. “I call it ‘having no soul,’ when there is no appearance of history or authenticity in the home. Nothing seems personal.”
Interior design is becoming more meaningful and relatable, away from the generic catalog–inspired, do-it-yourself approaches, the experts say. Clients are no longer willing to sacrifice comfort for the sleeker, cooler profiles that have dominated.
“Gone are the furniture pieces that look good but don’t feel good,” Tracy said.
Original artwork is trending among Tracy’s clients.
“Within the trend of a luxury is a new emphasis on art,” she said. “Art has always been important in our homes, but now we’re surrounding ourselves with authentic pieces.”
Original art could include children’s pieces or family photo galleries, mixing up black and white with color and living plants, which add both color and a natural, healthy element, said Tracy.
With real estate on the move and out-of-towners relocating to the County, Tracy said the influx of many different ideas and backgrounds is likely to influence Saratoga style.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Tracy.