Winter Pick-Me-Ups / by Lyn Peterson


It’s winter. It’s interminable. It’s the kind of weather that makes me not want to leave the house, specifically the fireside. Nor do I want to be too far from the remote. All of that whining, due I am sure, to a shortage of Vitamin D; the lack of daylight hours is leaving me bereft. What warms my design soul, however, is the simple task of collating and editing my thousands (literally) of photos from the last furniture market. So here goes—five trends, fads and follies that are heating up the interiors world.


From the contemporary Saarinen Tulip Table (you’ll know it when you see it) to a classic gold-based, black leathered top table (pictured here), pedestal-based table was everywhere, and deservedly so. The shape combines functionality with sculptural beauty. A 60” round seats 10 adults with no stops and starts for annoying table legs. And round tables are forgiving in terms of placement. Squares, rectangles, all need to be on center, perpendicular, horizontal, to look at home in a room. The softness of the round table lends itself to crooks and crannies, odd corners and soft curves.


The history of inlays, contrasting materials in laid into or of an object, is very old. The Chinese, natch, have examples dating from 400 BC. Now that’s design staying power. This past market showed off contrasting details in all manner of case goods: chests, cabinets, tables, bureaus and consoles. It’s a harbinger, as if you needed yet another one, that simplicity in design is on the wane. Despite its long history and the current iterations, inlay is still evolving. TODAY, just today, surfing for readymade bath vanity options for Lusardi’s restaurant, I found black vanities with gold inlays. At the Depot!


I am a girl who loves a throw—or three. From Annie Selke’s cashmere versions to Ikea’s cottons, there’s not a room in our house that is throw-less. Even the kitchen in the country house has a vintage Pendleton number atop a rush-seated rocker. Back in the day my throws were flung artfully (I thought) over the side/back of a chair or couch as if they had landed just-so. Later my throws were tidily folded over the arms of my sofas. NOT anymore. No way. No how. Reporting in that the new look du jour is to display the throw racing-stripe-style down the back cushion, over the seat cushion, down and over the front apron period. Usually centered but sometimes appearing intentionally off-axis. You will notice the racing stripe phenom playing out in upholstery and curtain fabrication as well.


The oldest painted surfaces on earth are painted with milk paint. Because the formulation was so easy to make and use, milk paint prevailed (and still does) until the advent of commercial paint a few hundred years ago. Both milky white and clearly lustrous, white is turning up again in all manner of furniture: beds, armoires, side tables. While the milky finishes spoke of Swedish country and soft surfaces, it was the clear glossy whites that sent my heart a pitter-patter. It just looked so fresh and clean and new and right. In my early-married days, I painted several pieces of great Aunt Eleanor’s inherited mahogany furniture a glossy white. I have somewhat repressed the memory, but it must have taken forever. I only jettisoned that furniture when I moved a year or so ago. Painting furniture with Chalk White paint and then topping with a coat of clear wax is exploding all over Instagram and Pinterest right now. They’re using filters!


Pattern is on the move. When pattern first started to resurface in the design world a few years ago, it felt out of place. The patterns felt and looked forced, contrived, obvious. More recently, pattern seems to be finding its groove. The designs and colorways look real, sincere, correct. Not all doctored and manufactured like some design studio’s tortured attempt at resurrection. And there’s a pragmatic aspect: Pattern is the great concealer. Nothing hides wear- and-tear better than pattern. The late, great decorator Mario Buatta said: “Cover your furnishings with faded florals and tartan plaids. Then let the dogs loose. After a week or so you will have the “English country look.” I wish I had a pithy aphorism (they’re so popular these days) about being your authentic self when evaluating whether a trend is hot or not. But I don’t.

Just trust your instincts and give yourself time to get over “it,” whatever it may be. If you still like it in a week, or a month, then you really like it. No matter the weather!