BY CARROL KRAUSE
Keeping abreast of trends in home décor is part of the job for Jenna Miller, interior designer at ETC for the home, the large, locally owned home furnishings store on South Walnut. “People want their home to be relaxing, warm, and welcoming,” she says, “but they also want a bit of wow factor, like an industrial chandelier or a bit of colorful artwork.”
Miller provides furniture-layout and space-planning advice, as well as color suggestions for paint, accessories, and fabrics. “People want casual interiors, not too fussy,” she observes. “They want open floor plans with a great room instead of formal living rooms. And when they select pieces of furniture, they want them to last a long time and to be comfortable.”
When making suggestions to clients, Miller might begin with a neutral background and judiciously add eye-catching elements such as columns, steampunk lamps, or repurposed vintage objects. These elements may be placed to differentiate the functions of a great room — the conversation zone versus the kitchen area versus the dining space.
“Current trends include houndstooth in a large bold pattern,” Miller says. “Brass is making a big comeback, especially antique brass. I’m seeing a lot of distressed rugs that look like antiques, which have been shaved and overdyed with bright colors.
The industrial look is also popular, mixing metals and wood with gears and pulleys.”
Rather than relying on a single formal style, as many living rooms did in years past, today’s look is increasingly eclectic, the interior designer says. People are blending items that might include midcentury modern atomic wall clocks, an antique hutch, a table lamp sparkling with faux gems, and a sofa covered with distressed leather.
“You won’t find florals or geometric patterns so much nowadays on large pieces like sofas, but you will see them on armchairs and pillows,” Miller says.
Whimsy is an enduring favorite, she adds. ETC offers several lighting fixtures designed to induce a smile: a chandelier made from antique teacups with dangling spoons; another that houses light bulbs inside various sizes of glass canning jars; and a glitzy, over-the-top chandelier with lavender accents.
Glass is hugely popular, Miller says, whether in the form of tabletops, objects d’art, oversize mirrors, or a Chihuly-style chandelier resembling a cluster of sea anemones.
“Another thing that’s a local trend right now is materials that are locally sourced, like limestone and reclaimed wood,” she adds. “It’s okay if these materials get a scratch. That just builds character and adds to the story. Objects like these explain to your friends what kind of person you are.”
When working with customers, Miller looks for a focal point that she can build a room around — a tapestry, a large light fixture, or perhaps an eye-catching armchair. Objects are then grouped to form individual areas for conversation and entertainment.
“There are times it’s not about the TV,” Miller says with a smile. “Start with a big rug to anchor the room. If there’s a blank wall, you want to put something there. Don’t be afraid of some bold pieces that will fill the space. Mix shapes and sizes, and use odd numbers. And don’t feel that everything needs to be shoved against a wall. Find your comfort — classic looks or contemporary — and go from there,” she advises.