Transitional Style – the new black or just plain boring?

Transitional style design is an emerging trend gaining momentum in furniture and interior design circles. It is neither traditional nor contemporary but a blending of the two. Definitions for this vary …

Traditional with a twist. A bridge between traditional and modern. Postmodern. Contemporary for people who don’t like the word “contemporary.”
- McClatchy-Tribune article

Transitional style is hot because it

takes the stuffiness out of traditional styles and the coldness out of modern to create an environment that is personally meaningful.
- tidg.ca

Transitional style is clean, serene, minimalist, and inviting. Simple, uncluttered, and sophisticated. Timeless, classical, and tasteful.

Neutral Colors & Contrasting Textures

Colors are neutrals and earth tones – ivory, taupe, beige, and tan. If you don’t like the word beige (it got a bad rep in the last century), try vanilla, pewter, wheat or sandbar. Color is actually very important but subordinate to the neutral. Isolated splashes of color are common: “There may be bright orange, but only in the bookshelf or on a pillow or a piece of sculpture.”

This “absence” of color creates more opportunity to work with texture in terms of fabric choices for accents, etc. Typical transitional fabrics?

  • Chenille
  • Corduroy
  • Mircofiber suede
  • Leather
  • Cotton
  • Twill
  • Denim
  • Raw silk
  • Tweed
  • Woven reeds
  • Woven rope

- interiordesign.lovetoknow.com

Clean Furniture Design

Transitional furniture design combines both straight lines and curves.

The look balances both masculine and feminine attributes for a comfortably contemporary design. The scale of the pieces is ample but not intimidating. A lack of ornamentation and decoration keeps the focus on the simplicity but sophistication of the design.
- HGTV online

Which brings me to …

Comfort

Yes comfort. Transitional style is “inviting”. “Transitional is about lifestyle, not design for its own sake.”

Minimal, Tasteful Accessories

Carefully chosen. “Transitional rooms always have art – good art…” albeit in an understated context.

The new black? Or just plain boring?

See HGTV’s transitional style interior design portfolio for more examples. I like this slideshow better as it leans more to the contemporary. Boring or the new black? You be the judge. My verdict is that it’s smart. The smart homeowners decor choice, one that will both age and show well, especially if you are interested in selling your home in the near future. The trend may be to make a personal statement with your decor but …

Catlin worries these personal statements will date quickly and alienate future buyers. “You have to think how it’s going to translate for the next owners,” Catlin said. “You may love your dark green countertop, but the next owner’s favorite color could be yellow.”

That’s why Catlin advises homeowners who care about resale to choose more neutral colors for floors, countertops and other hard surfaces, using easily changeable paint and accessories to infuse personality.
- The hottest remodeling trends for 2011

Sounds transitional to me …

The latest remodeling trends

Found an interesting report on Remodeling Trends from the recent National Association of Real Estate Editors Conference

Spending on Remodeling

The experts are predicting a slight and short-lived decline in renovation spending, in line with other national reports and studies.

Tips for working with renovators

  • don’t be afraid to vet your contractor – go ahead and ask the tough questions,
  • specify everything in your contract, and
  • check your contractor has the proper insurance — including workers’ compensation – else you could get saddled with the liability.

Remodeling Trends & Homeowner Demand

“Nearly every panelist mentioned the pervasive influence of TV design shows”. In other words, the media is heavily shaping and influencing consumer demand. Popular trends include:

  • the rise of the outdoor living space
  • home kitchen and bathroom remodels are taking longer because of the selection process – more choices = more time
  • radiant heat floors
  • green flooring (cork or bamboo)
  • more cultural diversity in color schemes
  • pot-filler faucets, and
  • energy-saving appliances or accessories

But the single most striking trend?

“the urbanization of cities”: in essence, more and more people are moving out of the suburbs and into cities … [and] the new urbanites, apparently, are renovators.

… city dwellers are willing to spend freely on their smaller spaces. “A survey we did a couple years ago,” Wilkinson said, “noted that people who live in condominiums spend the same amount of money renovating their homes as people who have driveways and backyards.”

Source: Remodeling the American Dream, Inman News.

Interior Designers vs. General Contractors

In response to a recent post Interior Designers vs. Decorators vs. Political Commentators, Stephanie from Bungalow Insanity commented:

… interior design professionals need to do a better job of helping the public understand what it is that they “do” and how it is that they add value to a building/renovation project.

She makes a great point – I hope someone out there (like the American Society of Interior Designers) is listening.

Meanwhile the public confusion continues, as this news story about prominent Visalia, CA interior designer David E. Gonzales in hot water with the California Licensing Board illustrates. Gonzales was doing project management for the implementation of one of his designs and maintains he was only helping find subcontractors to “make things convenient for the couple”. But

… the Tulare District Attorney’s Office maintains that whatever title Gonzales went by during the Ortegas’ project, he essentially was working as a contractor, taking the couple’s money and paying subcontractors for their work and materials as well accepting a fee for doing it … Unlicensed contractors in California can face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to Tulare County Superior Court records.

Gonzales claims he didn’t know he was breaking the law and I believe him, for all the reasons above. Think about it. An interior designer is knowledgeable about “construction, local zoning and codes, experience working with architects and contractors, knowledge of construction materials”. An interior designer usually knows lots of good contractors. It seems a natural jump to coordinating the design implementation and helping clients choose and manage subcontractors. He’s been doing it for years.

Except that he’s been doing the work of a general contractor and that’s against the law without a license. It’s only because this project had quality of work issues that he came to the attention of the California Licensing Board and ended up with a misdemeanor charge for contracting without a license.

Gonzales’ story is a cautionary tale, of how easy it is to end up on the wrong side of the law … when you don’t know enough about what an Interior Designer, as well as related professions, can and cannot do.

Read the full story Designer required to be licensed.

Interior Designers vs. Decorators vs. Political Commentators

A recent opinion column by George Will is stirring up a fuss the design community. Mr. Will, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, usually does political commentary … not Home & Garden news …

But in his recent column In the new West, its interior designers vs. decorators, Will points up some, in his opinion, absurdity implicit in some of the new laws separating Interior Designers from Decorators …

In Nevada, such regulation has arrived. So in Las Vegas, where almost nothing is illegal, it is illegal — unless you are licensed, or employed by someone licensed — to move, in the role of an interior designer, any piece of furniture, such as an armoire, more than 69 inches tall. A Nevada bureaucrat says that placement of furniture is an aspect of space planning and therefore is regulated — restricted to a registered interior designer.

Placing furniture without a license? Heaven forfend. Such regulations come with government rationing of the right to practice a profession. Who benefits? Creating artificial scarcity of services raises the prices of those entitled to perform the services. The pressure for government-created scarcity is intensifying because the general public — rank amateurs — are using the Internet to purchase things and advice, bypassing designers.

The column has generated some debate in the design community, including this response from Michael Alin, the Executive Director of the American Society of Interior Designers …

If furniture is placed in such a manner that it impedes egress during an emergency or exit pathways are not appropriately marked or laid out, people will die. Should a nonqualified, noneducated person select the materials for the interior of a hospital, nursing home, school or high-rise building?

And some conservative commentary backlash.

As with anything, there are two sides to the story. I think they both have a point … the question becomes where to draw the line. When do you need the regulated professional and when do you not? If it’s a question of building materials or decisions for hospitals, nursing homes, or even public buildings, yes it’s easy to agree we want the regulated professionals: lives are on the line. But put in that context, I know what I would prefer: not just an interior designer but a designer in conjunction with a dedicated safety professional.

Let’s take the argument outside of the public domain and into the private home. If it’s a question of a designer who is involved in writing the technical or construction specifications for my home, yes I want a trained, certified, regulated professional. Hands down, no questions asked. If it’s to place furniture in my home … what on earth for?

I think where the Interior Design profession opens itself up to criticism is when it attempts to apply the regulatory brush too liberally, when it tries to regulate tasks that just need “common sense” or where there are other professionals who could provide the needed guidance to the same level or better. Who’s going block the front door with a 69 plus inch armoire for lack of an Interior Designer’s instruction? Anybody? No takers? I can see someone blocking a rarely used back door that could serve as a fire exit. But in that case, who should be called? An Interior Designer or a Fire Marshall?? I’m thinking Fire Marshall. The point is, this type of unneeded regulation does nothing to enhance the perception of the Interior Design profession.

If there is anyone to benefit from the new laws in Nevada, it’s lazy spouses. As one commenter put it on townhall.com,

Nevada, here I come. It’s the Land of Liberty. Why, every time my wife asks me to move this or that piece of furniture. I can demur, pointing out that I am not licensed to do that. Free … Free at last.

Hot Bathroom Fixture Trends for 2007

See a full review of new model shower heads on Trendir

Large round shower heads that simulate the sensation of rainwater are one of the hot trends for this year. For a full run down on what’s hot read Shower Head Trends 2007 – The most desirable shower heads on Trenddir.

Not surprisingly, showers are getting bigger (faster than we are getting bigger anyway). There seems to be less interest in adding whirlpool tubs; although they add value, people don’t have the time to enjoy them. Instead, homeowners are enhancing the experience they have time for, the shower, making it a more luxurious, spa-like experience with pulsating and multiple spray options. Hand held showers are also very popular because of their flexibility.

Read more from the original source article: April Showers – The latest trends in bathroom fixtures.

When Green Products & Green Design Don’t Measure Up

Came across a post on AbbeyK’s on interior design blog that referred to this Interior Design Magazine article When Green Products Don’t Perform.

Non- or under-performing green product alternatives are a concern for every designer and specifier. I posed the issue to some of my colleagues and heard horror stories—bamboo flooring that comes apart in high traffic zones only after a couple of years, low odor and fast drying concrete sealers that do not adhere well and chip, scratch or stain easily, cork that fades relatively quickly under UV rays.

Failures such as these sour both the designer and client on green products and green design in general … we have found that it is incredibly important when a building is beginning its ‘journey’ towards sustainability that the first green products are successful.

My thought isn’t that this isn’t just a problem for designers, it’s a challenge for anyone interested in “going green” and promoting environmentally friendly alternatives. The green product is supposed to be “the good guy” – you want green products and green design to succeed. After all, you have to go out of your way to find and research green products, buy them, and usually pay more for them. Maybe you even tell your friends about them. To have them turn out to be a bust, well, it’s disillusioning.

So how do you prevent Green product failure?

The Interior Design article recommends you

  • Use green products in established categories and that have a track record
  • get “word of mouth” recommendations
  • request product testimonials from manufacturers
  • ensure proper installation & maintenance
  • try before you buy – ask for product samples
  • find a forum where green products are discussed, such as list serve Big Green

From personal experience and other research:

  • don’t use green alternatives where they won’t perform well
  • don’t go low end – “you get what you pay for”.

I would also suggest look for ratings and reviews on green products. If you are interested in trying green products, you are probably an early adopter and may well be the one writing these reviews … but they are out there if you look …

Do Blog Searches for products you want to try

You may stumble on a houseblogger who has tried it out and learned from the experience. Keywords to use would be the brand name and type of product. Then ask questions on the blog posts.

Visit Green Review Sites

The Green Home Guide offers editorial reviews on green products & services – “unbiased reviews and advice from professionals and homeowners like you”.

Five Limes – community / consumer reviews and ratings on green products and local stores and services.

Finally, back to the blog post that got me on this topic, AbbeyK makes a good point: if your green design product ends up in a landfill before it’s time, it “can end up not being green in the long run”.

Eco-friendly stylish furniture from sustainable wood, twigs, reeds

Furniture made from reclaimed wood, sustainably harvested wood, and twig inspired pieces & accessories and are very fashionable right now. In the home décor world, green is the new black, so to speak. “Green” furniture was once only found in trendy, cutting edge stores but now more mainstream retailers like Crate & Barrel are taking notice.

Lockport Chair from Crate & Barrel

“I think it’s all part of this back-to-nature movement,” said Betty Kahn, spokesperson for Crate & Barrel. “Now, it seems very important that people just feel, inside or outside, that they’re going back to nature. People want to live green and this is part of that.”
Julie Young, Times-Dispatch

Crate & Barrel have just introduced a new line of furniture made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled fill.

Twisty Stool from VivaTerra

If you enjoy the look of wood, you should check out the VivaTerra catalog online. It features a wide range of striking pieces made from sustainable wood (the Twisty Stool made from Monkey Pod wood is a favorite, right), reclaimed woods with a more rustic feel (weathered hardwood salvaged from old houses, railroad ties, teak planks, barn beams), and twigs. See more at VivaTerra …

Looking for custom and one of a kind pieces? Or feeling crafty enough to make your own? Then check out the Twig Furniture Directory which features unique furniture made by artisans and how-to resources. Also check out this tutorial on How to make twig furniture on instructables.com.

Design your kitchen or bathroom online collaboratively

MyDesignIn is a new online design tool that can help you get ready for your next remodeling project. Use it to create to create an “interactive blueprint” for your renovation. The steps:

  1. collect images from other sites that you would like to integrate into your design – either products or design ideas,
  2. drag-n-drop them to your floorplan, and finally
  3. sharing it with others in your social network or with professionals for feedback.

According to the founder, …

“As a former contractor, I’ve seen firsthand the frustration many homeowners experience as they weed through piles of home design books, catalogs and magazines trying to find the right way to convey their thoughts to architects and designers,” said Ramsay Hoguet, founder and CEO of DesignIn, Inc. “MyDesignIn makes it easy for them to create custom floor plans filled with their favorite brand-name products, letting them bring their ideas to life quickly by taking advantage of product research and design ideas from the community.”
MyDesignIn Press Release

Watch this space for an upcoming in-depth review.

Go Green With Style – The 2007 Domino Green List

Domino magazine has partnered with treehugger.com to produce their 2007 Green List, which celebrates companies and products for your home that are not only eco-friendly (either made from rapidly renewable resources, responsibly grown, recyclable, or biodegradable) but irresistibly stylish too. Winners include:

Explore more on domino.com.

6 Interior Design Trends for your Home 2007

Everybody’s got a forecast or prediction for decorating and design in 2007. Here is CNNMoney’s list:

  1. Trim in bolder, deeper tones
  2. Engineered stone countertops
  3. The wrought iron fence
  4. Glass tiles over ceramic
  5. Your refrigerator or freezer in a drawer
  6. Recycled or unusual woods

View the full photogallery and details on CNNMoney.com. Nice!

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