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Friday, July 25, 2008

Ann Hurley Discusses Home Trends

Our behavior as consumers is fascinating, particularly as it relates to home trends. Unfortunately, we tend to be too close to fully recognize changes. But, when we do get a chance to step back, it's wild to realize that we, too, demonstrate trends in the home.

This post represents the convergence of three threads: the Consumer Trends at Home section of a Richard K. Miller & Associates 2008 Consumer Behavior report, observations and discussions with friends and my daughter's teacher, and a discussion with Ann Hurley, Woman of Wear-Dated and Ultron, about Home Trends.

Ann identifies three trends noticeable in the home:

+ Creating living rooms [vs. a living room] and color efficient/light infused homes.

+ Affordable luxury and greater ease of color and product selection.

+ Colored neutrals from the mixing of warm and cool in the same color scheme and material-based colors.

Living Rooms
More people today are creating living rooms-rather than a living room in their homes. We truly live throughout the entire home via the use of wireless Internet connections and many who work at home have multiple types of electronics in almost every room. This creates the need for more color efficient homes--those infused with light and life!

Affordable Luxury
One trend we see is "affordable luxury" and it's available at any of the mass marketers. The key is recognizing and coordinating products. That's also much easier today. The retailing trends tend to coordinate products into collections which help the consumer make wise choices in interior design. Everyone wants the luxurious look and feel of a fine resort or hotel in their home and it's readily available.

Colored Neutrals
The other trend we see today is the mixing of warm and cool in the same color scheme--maybe a cool sage and khaki used with an accent of a softened gold. Today we talk about colored neutrals--material based colors that represent natural materials or substances--take note of the multiple metal finishes available in the market today-- warm to cool based --red to green tinted-- brushed, high luster, or anodized. These trends influence the colors selected in our homes. These are often referred to as complex neutrals--a colored neutral influenced with many colors. Neutral may sound dull but not these new colorful neutrals. They range from sage green or golden wheat to cirrus blue and many colors in between, but still tend to give a neutral foil or background to the interior color scheme.

The notion of rooms in a home reconfigured for better living intrigues me to no end. My daughter's teacher observes that, in her 20+ years of teaching, she considers the biggest culprit to learning and behavioral issues coming from the lack of communal spaces where families come together to interact. Large sprawling houses mean that the inhabitants occupy different ends, only occasionally meeting in the middle.

RKMA reports, according to Albing International Marketing, that the dining room is morphing into a 'multi-use space within the American home.' In my house, the dining room - except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's - is where my daughter does her work. It's close to the kitchen, so we can supervise. Lately, I've removed half of the strange stuff [projects and miscellaneous constructs] she has created to make room for me to spread out a bit, and do work while she is busy. It's a relaxing work space.

The report says that dining rooms are evolving into home office spaces. The dining room table easily transitions from conference room table to work station or school room. Possibly even all at once, making this a true full family communal workspace.

Family rooms, too, are morphing into "whole-family office[s]" in reaction to those large sprawling houses where family members each go off into separate directions. They now come together in that space.

At the same time, the kitchen remains an important gathering hub.

Regardless of what's happening with the economy and housing, these home trends remain relevant. Perhaps even more so as we figure out how to do more with what we have, and want what we have to be as inspiring, effective and comfortable as ever for us and for our entire family.

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