What the neighbours are up to…

We asked local professionals to give their opinions on the hottest trends or best sellers for key rooms in today’s new or updated homes. Here’s what they shared with us from some of their recent projects:

Movie Magic:

Imagine having your own movie theatre at home. More homeowners are incorporating a home theatre into their home designs to bring entertainment to them.

“The screening takes place on your schedule and you can pause the film as required to visit the washroom or grab a drink and a snack,” says Jess Carter, systems specialist with uberHome. “You are guaranteed the best seat in the theatre and don’t need to contend with strangers talking or shuffling past your seat during the movie.”

Carter notices the trend now is more toward carefully designed mixed-use spaces in the rec room and family room, rather than dedicated home theatres, with flexible seating arrangements, lighter decor, and discretely placed equipment.

A flat-screen TV is still a main component of these rooms, especially since they have come down in price. However movie options now include internet-based sources in addition to traditional DVD’s and Blueray.

When designing the room, Carter says the dimensions can have a big effect on the sound of your home theatre system. Other features to consider are a cabled network connection, the location of your power source, and the proper cables.

He recommends homeowners consult with a system specialist with many of these decisions, especially if they are unfamiliar with the topics.

Design and Décor Details:

Home design and décor is influenced by several factors, including fashion, economics and the environment. According to Pam Tower of Tower Interiors, design shows and magazines still play a big part in what homeowners choose for their own style.

“When people see it done, whether on TV, in magazines, or in model homes, they are attracted to it much more than if they only saw a sample,” Tower says. “It really helps them to see how things could go together.”

As for this year’s trend, Tower says
there are a number of must-have items: Damask prints for traditional and contemporary spaces, big bold prints or floral prints; chrome; textured linen fabrics and embroideries; Ikat fabric patterns; mosaic tiles for kitchen backsplashes; wide-plank hardwood flooring; hand-planed wood flooring and furniture; thick counter tops; and carrera marble counter tops and tiles – are all hot items thus far into 2012.

In colours, Tower sees grey is the top neutral and orange is the current hot colour. Blue, yellow, purples, eggplant, teal and red are popular, too. For wall covering, wallpapers with damasks and florals, bold colors and patterns, textures, metallic shine and sparkle are the big trends.

In furniture, what’s old – or at least looks old – is new again. “The new trend is a reclaimed look.” Tower says. “It looks like the wood that would be reclaimed from the bottom of a lake, or a barn, and it is used to make furniture and kitchen cabinets.”

Regardless of their tastes and preferences, homeowners can work with a professional designer or decorator to help them make the final decision a stress-free process.

Light up a Room:

Mary Kyd, a light specialist with Atlantic Lighting in Wolfville, says lighting for many homeowners is an afterthought. But it should be a primary consideration, given that it provides function, comfort and highlights architectural features.

“A lighting fixture is part of the room. It provides the right amount of light in the correct place, but it is not fully successful unless it works with all design aspects of the room: colour, furniture and atmosphere.”

She says neutrals are playing a big part in lighting trends this year, although glass chandeliers in vibrant colours are popular, too. Chrome still rules the market, but the new brass that is antiqued and brushed gives fixtures a classy look.

While energy-efficiency might be top of mind these days, that wasn’t always the case. Kyd says a lot of designs now include new lamping technology such as LED, GU24 and CFL.

“When CFLs came out several years ago people would not even consider them for decorative fixtures,” Kyd says. “Now it is accepted by all lighting companies from the economy products to the very high-end products.”

Homeowners should do their homework when choosing lighting options. Research designs in magazine and books, and consider how you and others in your family will use the space. More importantly, ask for help when you need it.

“Recognize that choosing a light fixture is not simply putting a fixture in the center of the room and hoping it will give you enough light for all activities. Realize that lighting needs to be a considered decision,” Kyd says.

Best Bathrooms:

Elegant but simple. That’s the biggest trend in bathroom design and appliances, according to Tamara Stein, sales consultant with Better Baths. She says clean lines with a timeless look will stay current.

As for the appliances, one-piece toilets are definitely the trend. Two-piece toilets with the enclosed side so you can’t see the trap are popular, too. Under-mount sinks with a solid-surface countertop are trendy, while vessel sinks are still standard in powder rooms. Custom showers with freestanding tubs are big, as are soaker tubs. “People are getting away from the air systems and just going with simple soakers,” Stein says.

For taps and faucets, Stein says brushed nickel or stainless are still a simple and popular choice, but chrome is making a comeback. “People seem to be going back to chrome, as it is clean and has a great shine to it”.

Flooring Factors:

While hardwood still makes up a big part of the flooring market in the province, Darrell Cooke of Vintage Flooring says cork is quite popular because it’s durable, soft, warm and low maintenance. It can be installed over existing floor and doesn’t cost any more than hardwood. It’s also great for homeowners with back pain since it’s softer to walk on.

Those factors often make it the perfect choice.

“It’s great for any room in the house.” Cooke says, adding that in the 10 years he’s been installing cork floors he hasn’t had one complaint from customers.

Hardwood works for many homeowners, too. Cooke notices a current trend for hardwood with wider planks. Anything 3 ¼ inch and wider is better aesthetically, he says. While a lot of homeowners like the darker colours, such as browns and even charcoal greys, he says hardwood with a more rustic, wire-brushed or hand-scrubbed look are most popular.

“They have a little more character,” he says, noting that any new scratches or marks made on the floor will only be hidden by the scratched look.

Carpet is a popular choice in the bedrooms, keeping hardwood or other floors for the common areas and Wool is a good choice for long-term wear. As for ceramics, larger tiles are trendy, as are those resembling faux slate.

But whatever the choice, Cooke suggests homeowners make the initial investment and purchase quality flooring that will save them money over the long run.

“Any flooring can look good in a display rack, but the finished project may look quite different. People may think they’re saving a dollar, but if the finish wears off in three or four years, you’re not really saving any money.”

Kitchen Party:

The kitchen is often the centre of the home, so many homeowners choose to invest quite a bit of time and money in them. Nina Boulanger, kitchen designer and interior decorator with Cabinetworks, says right now white or grey cabinetry is popular, as are flat panel or shaker doors, or those with glass fronts so dish displays can be prominent.

Cabinetry can also include floating shelves in the upper cabinet, drawers with accessories such as pinboards, roll-out trays, pull-out garbage bins or pegboards. Other popular features are quartz countertops and under-mount sinks or larger single bowl sinks.

Kitchens are designed with the home-owners in mind, and should feature items that make everyday tasks easier and more efficient.

She has one suggestion for homeowners looking for a new kitchen, “The design process could take a day or two, or it could take months, so they should keep the old one in place until a design is totally confirmed and ready to go.”


Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent has been working as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, The Coast, the Daily News, National Review of Medicine and Lawyers Weekly. She also works as the editor of Ocean Resources/Earth Resources and Atlantic Boating News

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