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Interior designers reveal the top 20 home design trends



Lately homeowners are returning to the hearth to spend quality time with family and friends. Ensure your abode is making a (positive) lasting impression with tips from local experts on the hottest trends in dwellings.

1. In new homes and remodeled spaces, Curt Stern at Jon Schlagenhaft Design notes quality over quantity. Reducing total square footage allows for luxury finishes such as custom millwork, marble or inlaid mosaic tiles, and granite or quartz countertops, as well as fabulous appliances.

2. Kitchens are the hub of the home, and islands are stylish, functional additions, says Steve Sobieski of Weisflogs Design Center. Make yours a focal piece with glazed paints or stains, a different finish from other cabinetry and oil-rubbed bronze or dark finishes on hardware.

3. Wood tones are transitioning from dark espresso stains to a more natural look that emphasizes the grain. Carlos Lopez of Design Within Reach recommends furniture in black walnut, blanched or bleached oak and teak.

4. Maple and alder are popular for kitchen cabinetry. And customization is key, according to Jon Schlagenhaft of Jon Schlagenhaft Design. Custom cabinets and bathroom vanities offer more storage than stock items.

5. For storage that doesn’t compromise beauty, Lopez suggests the Matera bed, which offers space efficiency and clean lines with hidden drawers. Sean Yoo, who designed the collection, says, "Design is about solving problems and offering solutions that add ‘value.’"

6. Now even more valuable is the mudroom, a necessity for efficient organization, Sobieski says. Beyond the typical "cubbies," these rooms house the "catch-all desk" formerly found in kitchens, more cabinetry and space to charge electronics.

7. In every home, environmentally friendly elements are must-haves. Go green with organic bedding at The Home Market, recycled glass decorative balls from Urban Abode, recycled glass tiles from Weisflogs Design Center and sustainable woods, like the Double Teak Dining Table at Design Within Reach.

8. When decorating, go for the eclectic look, a mix of styles for a finished, designed space rather than showroom aesthetic. Combine traditional with vintage or modern pieces, or consider the Louis Ghost Armchair at Design Within Reach, a French provincial form in clear plastic.

9. Along the same lines is coordinated contrast. Dawn Adamec at Urban Abode suggests a sofa and settee from different vendors, and throw pillows in contrasting fabrics, patterns, textures or colors. Another option is a dining set with a natural wood table and painted wood, wicker or metal chairs.

10. Expand your living and entertaining space with porches, decks and patios — a perfect complement to professional landscaping, says Mary D’Agostino, an interior designer who works with Trustway Homes. Fire pits and heaters make these spots comfortable nearly year-round.

11. Even outdoors, interior comforts are available. All-weather products now include furniture, fabrics, area rugs, artwork and electronics. But with Wisconsin’s unpredictable climate, it is best to take precautions, D’Agostino warns.

12. Inside, open-concept floor plans can result in a lack of defined spaces. Remedy that with area rugs, like the Little Field of Flowers Rug from Design Within Reach, featuring six die-cut flower and leaf shapes in three tonalities for movement, texture and color.

13. Color concepts begin with a neutral palette. Lopez says black and white is a mainstay, while gray is a fresh trend. Adamec lists taupe, beige, charcoal and brown. She also points to colors with a neutral tone, such as taupe or puce-tinged purples and grayish pinks.

14. Add a punch of color with blue-green, red, orange, chartreuse, lavender, fuchsia or cornflower blue. These colors are perfect for accessories, which are more affordable and easier to transition with the next trend, Lopez advises.

15. Color is an important element in bathroom sanctuaries, says the design team at Weisflogs Design Center. Sobieski recommends personalized ambiance, achieved with themes of passing clouds, sunsets, water reflections or flowing water.

16. Sobieski’s bathing spaces are transitioning from the whirlpool focus to personal, heated showers with multiple showerheads, body sprays, scents and sounds. Now available is a master system that can be programmed to "morning wake up, relaxation, after workout and more," he says.

17. Lighting is key in any space. Schlagenhaft sees a combination of antique and contemporary fixtures, with a preference for classic designs. Sobieski uses pendant styles above kitchen islands and recessed lights in open areas, with multiple circuits and dimmer switches for mood lighting.

18. When accessorizing a room, always use odd numbers and different shapes, Adamec says. She mixes textures and heights of three candlesticks, or a collection of wire architectural pieces for another version of the eclectic look.

19. Art is making a comeback, Lopez says, particularly pieces produced in Milwaukee’s significant design community. Bring art into focus with a neutral background, and ensure balance within wall space and to the scale of your furniture.

20. No matter what catches your fancy, remember, "Less is more," says Kate Barrette of The Home Market. "Begin with a few key pieces, both functional and beautiful, then add a few great accessories for an aesthetically amazing result." M