Home furnishings get a jolt from bright colors

Color choices in furniture over the past decade have been mostly "brown, brown or more brown," said Louis Slone, owner of Slone Brothers Furniture in Longwood, north of Orlando.

"People are tired of brown. We've been ramming it down their throats for years," he said. "They're ready for a change."

Ready or not, we're getting it.

Bright color is making quite a splash in the furniture market, said Jaclyn C. Hirschhaut, spokeswoman for the American Home Furnishing Alliance in High Point, N.C.

"In home furnishings, we've had a long period of neutral colors in wood and upholstery," she said. "With concerns over the gloomy economy, consumers are looking for a spark of brightness — something that feels like fun and makes them smile."

Some new designs feature hot pinks, oranges and yellows. Others come in cool but lively blues, greens and turquoise.

"In a tough, uncertain economy, people's homes become their haven," said Kris Kolar, vice president for interior design at Robb & Stucky Interiors. "Bright colors make their haven a happier place."

None of these experts is advocating a total home makeover in lime green or fuchsia. Instead, Slone expects homeowners will be looking for unique, colorful items to perk up their living spaces. With that in mind, he is stocking up on pieces such as an aqua-lacquered bar, a deep-red sideboard and sectional seating in a combination of white, yellow and black.

"Using colorful accent pieces is an effective and inexpensive way to add a little lighthearted whimsy to an interior," said Hirschhaut, who spotted a flood of blues and purples at the most recent furniture market in High Point.

Kolar agreed. Inject color, but in small, whimsical doses, she said. Homeowners may add a doormat printed with flip-flops, a bed painted yellow to team with a turquoise chest, or a drum table accented with polka dots.

As long as those dots aren't brown.

Bring on the bright

Individual, colorful pieces give rooms an instant lift. Here's how to add accents with flair and confidence:

• Choose pieces with flexibility. A colorful chest can sit in the foyer today, in a guest bedroom tomorrow.

• Choose a color that's a personal favorite. You will find a spot for it somewhere, because you'll love it unconditionally.

• Use a single bright or whimsical piece in a room with neutral colors or traditional furnishings. Color and whimsy are most effective when they are unexpected.

• Coordinate accent colors with existing colors. Add bright yellow bar stools to a pale yellow kitchen, for example. Or a coral dresser to an aqua bedroom.

• Don't take yourself too seriously. It's your home; decorate in a way that pleases you.

• Break a few rules, inject a few surprises. Nothing is more intimidating than a pristine room.

• Don't be afraid of making mistakes. When all you're adding is a single, inexpensive accent, you can afford an occasional oops!

Furniture that adds

a colorful flair

Though it certainly wouldn't fall into the category of inexpensive ways to add color to a room, the painted furniture offered by Russell & Mackenna (russellmackenna.com) definitely would make a statement. The site features furniture suitable for nearly every room in the house in 33 striking colors, from lime green to hot pink to orange. Upholstered chairs are also an option, and the company offers lamps (starting at $230) and pillows (starting at $68) in vibrant fabrics. Our faves: Crazy Daisy Mojito and Sassy Stripes Melon.

Home furnishings get a jolt from bright colors 06/05/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 5, 2009 4:30am]

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