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SPRING Edition 2020

Hot Design Trends for 2020 • Farmhouse Style Northern lighting ideas • Corral all those beauty products

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Hot Design Trends for 2020 Farmhouse Style Lighting for our Northern climate Corral all those beauty products

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Hot design trends for 2020 Jura Koncius The Washington Post

Whitney Robinson is editor-in-chief of Elle Decor magazine, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Previously style director of Town & Country, Whitney appears on the Bravo show Best Room Wins. He joined Washington Post writer Jura Koncius for The Washington Post’s Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt:

Q: Are dark colors still the “in thing” for wall paint? A: In a word: yes! There was a stigma around painting walls a dark color for a long time. I think it came out of the ‘80s when rich reds and chocolate browns ruled the day, and people thought that it made rooms feel small. Dark colors actually have the opposite effect in small spaces as we see in the magazine all the time. We are loving rich eggplants and purples, teals and blues, and bronzes and greens. Q: What are your thoughts on the longevity of subway tile? A: Long live subway tile. It’s the easiest and cleanest way (and most cost effective) to transform a bathroom or kitchen. You can use it in big ways (a whole room) or small (a backsplash), it complements a variety of metal accents (gold, nickel, brass, etc.) and it’s coming in really cool colors now. Our November cover has a kitchen covered in turquoise subway tiles from wall to ceiling. It’s a WOW. Q: We are building a house in Florida and looking forward to decorating with (tasteful) coastal hues and themes. Coastal never seems to go out of style, but I’m wondering if it does tend to change with the trends? A: I’m all about vernacular design. That is to say that a coastal house should “look” coastal just as a city apartment should look “city” (no bamboo armchairs in a Georgetown townhouse, for instance). Palm trees and pastel colors pulled from the beach never go out of style. Q: What are the design trends you think will be big in 2020? A: The big trends in 2020 actually have nothing to do with colors or styles in my opinion. The big trend we are focusing at Elle Decor has to do more with how design makes you feel and how it can improve your life: make you richer (can painting a wall a certain color make you more productive, for instance), make you smarter, make you sleep better, make you happier. There’s a term for it: Universal Design, and we’re dedicating a lot of column inches and space on NORTHERN HOME | SPRING 2020

cont. on page 4


“ A: Long live subway tile. It’s the easiest and cleanest way to transform a bathroom or kitchen. cont. from page 3

our website to the designers and architects who are creating a better future. My favorite stories are about a deaf architect who is reimagining the sidewalk of the future and the best home products for people with a range of disabilities.

Q: I have a mid-century modern home and would like to find some appropriate furniture. I don’t have the budget for highquality vintage pieces, but I also don’t want to buy West Elm’s whole mid-century modern line. Any suggestions? A: One hundred per cent, a flea market. Remember, when a lot of mid-century furniture was being mass-produced, it was supposed to be priced for everyone, not just for a select few. So I think going the “new/old” route is a good solution for you. And remember the most important thing: You don’t have to buy everything at once. Collecting quality pieces over time is always a good idea. Q: Please tell me these trends are falling out of style: Mason jars being used for everything but canning; words on step risers such as “We do forgiveness,” “We are kind to others” and so on; shiplap boards inside the house; and wooden word art on the walls such as”Be Happy,””Live Laugh Love” and so on. What is new and fresh? A: I’m with you: no slogans on your walls. Save it for the classroom. And rooms that look pulled straight from a catalogue (no one is that organized). I do think eventually all trends come around, though (I’m living for shag rug in winter to be honest). What’s new and fresh? Decorating that is reflective of you and your individual style. Q: Our whole house is white with white walls, beige carpets and white trim. It’s all very nice and warm and fresh, but I want a dark, cozy bedroom. Any specific color recs? I was thinking maybe a deep green. We live in a forest and have large windows. A: Bring that forest in! Go into the woods and pick the leaves and color match a sample. I love the idea of a green bedroom. Really deep browns, burgundy and ambers could be an incredible accent. 4

Q: What are your thoughts on the longevity of subway tile?

Q: What are you thoughts on faux interior brick as an accent wall? We live in a rowhouse, so it’s plausible that it was original, but of course it would not be. It seems like the materials have come a long way. But would it be cheesy to add this to our 15-year old home? A: I’m torn. I love the idea that you want to add history to your space and bring it in line with the architecture of the rowhouse. But in this case, I would add texture with wallpaper. There’s so many beautiful and historic patterns that can add age and drama and tell a story that isn’t a faux material. Q: Do you think chintz is coming back in a big way? Is 1980s design a thing again? A: Chintz rooms aren’t my personal aesthetic, but I was a big fan of the late Mario Buatta’s and I have to say that a big bouffanted flowery chintz’d room puts a big smile on my face. Is ‘80s design now a thing again? I think ‘80s everything is a thing again. Excuse me while I lower my Depeche Mode soundtrack in my Reagan Red living room. Q: Do you think the whole decluttering organizing thing will continue in a big way? A: I have big respect for Marie Kondo but I am an unabashed hoarder, maximalist, and collector and always will be. I think we’re seeing a return to stuff, and I’m all for it. Q: We have a townhouse with bones that are a bit more traditional than our taste, so we’re slowly making changes. It’s a narrow space and the main floor has a single large space with both the living room and dining room. The space is divided visually because the dining space has a chair rail and other molding, then there is a column on the wall between the two rooms. We’d like to take all that down. Will we regret taking away the delineation of space? A: How long do you intend to live in the space? If it’s longterm, I say make bold choices now. You can always put up drywall if you change your mind. Design (even architecture) is not permanent. SPRING 2020 | NORTHERN HOME

Embracing farmhouse style, minus the monograms and kitsch Mari-Jane Williams The Washington Post

Southern or farmhouse style is certainly having a moment. Many homeowners crave a cozy retreat, particularly as the outside world feels increasingly harsh and polarized. And the style, long a staple in rural areas, has become an aspirational look for urban homes as well, in part thanks to HGTV and shows such as Fixer Upper that have brought the aesthetic to a broader audience. Some would say, though, that the overuse of the look has pushed it into kitsch territory. For anyone who loves those cute sayings and can’t imagine a kitchen wall without the stencil proclaiming “Live, Laugh, Love,” by all means, you do you. A home should be, first and foremost, a reflection of your own style. But if you want to implement that cozy, rustic style in a subtler, more classic way, listen up. Kim Leggett, of City Farmhouse in Franklin, Tennessee, author of City Farmhouse Style, says the key is to keep things simple, relaxed, natural and unfussy. “Rooms don’t have to be cohesive with each other” in a farmhousestyle home, Leggett says, “and I think that’s part of the attraction for designers and homeowners. We’re all so busy that when we come home, we want to walk into a space that feels warm and cozy.” Here are her suggestions, taken from a phone interview and an email exchange, for creating a comfortable space with a farmhouse vibe - minus the cliches. • Say no to mass-produced pieces Part of the kitsch problem, Leggett says, is that a lot of big-box retailers sell mass-produced items to capitalize on the farmhouse trend. But in reality, the style is best created with authentic pieces. “It’s just more of a storied approach to design,” she adds. People have been trained to go in that cookie-cutter direction because it’s all over social media, Leggett says. Instead of searching Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration, Leggett suggests turning to books and magazines from 10 to 20 years ago for a more authentic version of the aesthetic. Leggett likes Architectural Digest, Country Living and other shelter magazines, or books such as “New Farmhouse Style” by Terry John Woods. Then shop local antique shops, flea markets and thrift stores to find items you love. When choosing furniture, go with a minimalist approach, Leggett says. “Farmhouse style is not formal or fussy. Select furnishings that are simple in design with straight lines, kind of like the Shaker-style furniture.” Items made with brown wood are showing up in homes again, Leggett says. “Shunned for years as ‘too dated’ by designers and home decorators, these classic pieces are making a strong comeback,” she writes in an email. • Keep it neutral “Most design mistakes are the result of color,” Leggett says. She suggests keeping the walls white. She likes Dune White from Benjamin Moore and Pure White from Sherwin-Williams, saying they work well in both large and small spaces and complement both white and gray upholstery. Leggett prefers white sofas to keep things light and bright. Although

she generally recommends antiques and one-of-a-kind items, this is one area where she says to buy new. You want your seating to be comfortable (to match that laid-back decor), and newer pieces are better for everyday lounging. Warm up the neutral walls and furniture with colorful accessories, including pillows and area rugs. “A rug is the best place to start if you want to incorporate some color,” Leggett says. Because it’s on the floor, it’s a little more subtle than putting a bold color on your walls. She likes vintage or Persian rugs with some wear or fading that give the sense that they are timeworn. Shop antique or vintage stores, she says, and look for somewhat muted colors. • Make textures and accessories the star “Accessories are the jewels of the space,” Leggett says. But choose them carefully. They should be conversation pieces, rather than generic items purchased online. “You have to get out and visit places where you can find these things,” she adds. “The thrill of the hunt is part of the story, and these things will be more meaningful.” But don’t go overboard. Edit the accessories to create the look of a carefully curated space. Instead of a cliche saying, either in a frame or painted on the wall, assemble a collage of vintage portraits or prints in interesting frames. A special mirror over a large piece of furniture is a great way to create a focal point and make a space seem larger, Leggett says in an email. The not-going-overboard advice also applies to the current shiplap obsession. Leggett says that although shiplap can add texture while still being fairly minimalist, it should be used sparingly unless it is in a period home. It’s more difficult to change than wallpaper or paint, and when the trend fades, it could make contemporary homes look dated. If you want to incorporate some shiplap in your home without overdoing the look, she suggests using it in a kitchen cont. on page 15



cont. from page 4

Q: My new-to-me house still has its 1950s pink bathroom. What kind of shower curtain should I get to match? I’d like something like what it would originally have had, but none of the “pink bathroom” pictures I can find online seem to have shower curtains.

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A: Please never change. There is nothing better than your 1950s pink tiled bathroom, and I love that you love it. In this case I would go the clean white shower curtain route as it contrasts the best. Or you could do black, which is more of the era. Polka-dot would be amazing and cheeky.

Q: How has Instagram changed the design world? A: It’s not so much Instagram for me as it is the camera phone. I feel fundamentally like the camera phone has literally changed the way we see the world around us, in most cases in a supersaturated color scheme, through a 5 1/2-inch piece of vertical glass. I see the rise of maximalist design completely as a result of the camera phone. In the design industry I think Instagram has allowed more people to call themselves designers than actually should, and showcase a very narrow body of work, and that’s disappointing.

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Lighting considerations for our Northern climate Melissa Rayworth THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

When home designer and builder Marnie Oursler talks with clients about building their dream homes their No. 1 request is having bright spaces with lots of natural light. But during the winter months, it can feel like that brightness and light is in short supply in most any home. Once the sparkly holiday decorations have been put away, and the daylight hours are still way too brief. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can “do in a single day to hedge against the winter doldrums,” says Washington, D.C.-based interior designer Josh Hildreth. We’ve asked Oursler, Hildreth and interior designer Jessica Wachtel of GTM Architects in Bethesda, Maryland, for advice on easy decor changes that will brighten up any room. 10

LIGHT FROM BELOW Hildreth suggests taking a cue from the design style of Nordic countries, where winter days are short: Try painting wooden floors white or cream, or bleaching them to a light shade of brown. “When you use sort of a wonderful cream colour or white on a floor,” Hildreth says, “everything put against it pops.” Even heavy, dark wooden furniture will feel more contemporary and less formal. Also, Hildreth says, if you have heavy rugs or layered rugs on the floor, consider removing some of them. Although we tend in winter to want to warm our floors, having more bare floor can help open up the space and make it feel fresher and brighter. Oursler and Wachtel also suggest

swapping out dark rugs for lighter and brighter ones. It’s an easy change with big impact. MAXIMIZE YOUR LIGHT We think of adding warmer, heavier curtains in winter, Wachtel says, but removing heavy draperies will let in more natural light. Also, she says, consider using brighter light bulbs at this time of year, and perhaps even taking out a ceiling fixture that has just one bulb and replacing it with one that has several bulbs. You can use a dimmer to make sure the room doesn’t get too bright, but you’ll be able to brighten the space as needed. Another practical trick: Add large mirrors to amplify natural light during the day and lamplight at night. Oursler made her office feel brighter by adding cont. on page 11 SPRING 2020 | NORTHERN HOME

cont. from page 10

Anything you can do to elevate a space, will make a room feel brighter because it will feel bigger.

a large mirror trimmed to look like a window. It also gives a sense of connection to the outdoors. SLIPCOVERS AND TABLECLOTHS If your dining table has dark chairs or your sofa is dark, Oursler suggests slipcovers in a light shade. Hildreth says the same about covering a dark wood table: Since that dark table may dominate your dining room, he says, “a wonderful heavy, light-colored linen tablecloth is a beautiful idea.” The thickness of the fabric can still bring a sense of warmth, but the light colour will open up the space. Along with light-colored solids, consider bright patterns. Hildreth says patterns like colorful chintz may be returning and are perfect for brightening a room at any time of year. ADD OPENNESS AND LIFT Rearranging furniture is an inexpensive way to give a room a different feel, Oursler says. “And you de-clutter at the same time. People don’t realize how easy it is for a space to get cluttered. Once you de-clutter, the space will feel brighter and bigger,” she says. As you rearrange, consider whether any of your pieces could be replaced with something less dense and heavy. If you have a heavy coffee table or solid wooden end tables, Oursler says, consider switching to lighter pieces made of metal and glass. “You can find those relatively inexpensively, but they do make a big difference,” she says. Also, she adds, make your space feel taller and more open by adding some wainscoting painted white about two-thirds of the way up a wall, and decorate above it by adding grasscloth or paintings in that space just below the ceiling. “Anything you can do to elevate a space,” she says, “will make a room feel brighter because it will feel bigger.” CITRUS SCENTS AND CANDLES Hildreth points out that scents can also brighten a room: Potted citrus trees in his sunroom add a crisp scent throughout the winter, but candles and diffusers can do the same. The designer Jo Malone has an orange blossom candle that he says is perfect for brightening a room with a fresh citrus scent. And for a finishing touch, Hildreth suggests adding a few gorgeous coffee-table books filled with images of sun-filled spaces. A winter day will feel a lot brighter, he says, if you spend an hour getting lost in colorful images. NORTHERN HOME | SPRING 2020


How beauty pros corral all those products Elizabeth Mayhew Special to The Washington Post

YouTube beauty star Safiya Nygaard has more than 8.5 million subscribers, and judging from the video images of her workspace, her eye shadows, lipsticks, bronzing powders and mascaras nearly match that number. She realized she had amassed drawers, shelves and bins full of products - much of which she was not using - and decided she needed to get her beauty kit under control. But a great makeup guru does not necessarily a great organizer make, so Nygaard called in professionals. Enter Los Angeles organizers Joni Weiss and Kitt Fife of Practically Perfect who, along with their team, helped Nygaard sort and store her products so they would be accessible, visible, attractively contained and easy to maintain. The video of Nygaard’s makeup room transformation has been viewed more than 16 million times, making it one of her most popular features and attesting to the fact that we just can’t get enough of seeing people sort, purge and put away their stuff. Although Weiss and Fife admit that organizing for a beauty influencer presents specific challenges (all those products!), they say there are many lessons that we all can learn and apply to our own makeup drawers and cabinets. Here is some of their advice, plus tips from some wellorganized beauty pros, to help you get your own bathroom in order. • Be smart about what you keep in your space Weiss and Fife say the biggest hurdle for all of us - beauty pros included - is typically space; most of us just don’t have enough of it, particularly in our bathrooms. Furthermore, the duo says that people don’t usually prioritize their storage space by keeping the right products in key spaces. 12

“We always encourage people to keep their everyday essentials readily accessible and available. Those essentials vastly vary from person to person, but we believe that everyone should make sure that the items they use all of the time are given prime real estate,” Weiss says. It’s also important to maximize vertical space. For Nygaard, Weiss and Fife used several tall Alex drawer towers from Ikea to house her vast makeup collection. Other vertical spaces they say to consider: walls (install shelving), doors (hang shoe bags or over-the-door racks) and the shower (buy a hanging organizer that attaches to your shower head or install a tension pole shelving unit for inside your shower). • Decide if you are all in, all out or somewhere in between Whether you keep your products and tools out on top of your vanity or store them away is a matter of preference and is partially determined by your space. Weiss is an outof-sight person, whereas Fife prefers to neatly organize items on her vanity so she can see what she has. “There is no right or wrong way,” Fife says. “It’s all about how you feel in a space.” Does having clear countertops create a sense of calm for you? If so, keep them clear. Do you become easily frustrated when you can’t remember where something is? If so, maybe having everything placed in plain sight is preferable. cont. on page 13 SPRING 2020 | NORTHERN HOME

cont. from page 12

Makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury is in Fife’s camp. “I have all my products perfectly laid out in the morning in the order I need them so that they are all easy to find and easy to use,” Tilbury says. Aerin Lauder, founder and creative director of the beauty and fragrance brand Aerin, feels the opposite: “All of my products are always put away, either in the medicine cabinet or my closet. I never like to have any clutter.” Margaret “Margo” Francois, a Tampa-based freelance style and beauty writer and the founder of the Beauty and the Beat blog, falls somewhere in between; she keeps everyday products, such as face washes, creams and hair products, on the counter and stores items she uses less frequently, such as nail polish and hair styling products, under her sink or in a drawer. • To avoid digging around, keep similar items together When organizing, Weiss and Fife suggest always grouping like items together. “Keep all your face-care products together in the order that you use them,” Fife says. And, like Tilbury, they say to strategically place your cosmetics and brushes in the order that you use them so you can grab what you need without the stress of hunting and digging around. For Nygaard, they went one step further: They grouped not only like items together (lipsticks, blushes, etc.), but also like brands together. Beauty entrepreneur and author Bobbi Brown keeps her items in compartmentalized drawers, designating one for hair products, one for vitamins, one for makeup and so

on. Lauder also groups like products together, but she has streamlined her regime so everything fits in her medicine cabinet. “I keep my skin care on one shelf and my makeup on another,” she says. • Invest in the right organizing tools, even if they’re hidden Weiss and Fife recommend buying drawer inserts to categorize smaller items and create a home for everything.

cont. on page 14

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cont. from page 13

Francois uses drawer organizers and she favors the inexpensive yet durable Sorbus Box Bins to organize the space under her sink. She likes that the washable woven baskets come in sets with different sizes and that they are available in various colors. “Even though they are hidden under the sink and I don’t see them all the time, I like that they coordinate with my bathroom color scheme, giving the room a more organized, pulled-together look,” she says. Uniformity is also important to Brown; she buys white refillable bottles into which she decants products such as mouthwash and hand soap. She then labels them with a label maker. She says it keeps her bathroom looking clean and simple. Vicky Tsai, the founder of beauty brand Tatcha, recommends using trays to corral products. “They keep everything from creeping all over my vanity,” she says. • Look around your house to see what you can repurpose Weiss and Fife love to use what they call “found items”: things you can find around your house such as glass jars and vases. They use them to store small items such as cotton balls and swabs. Tsai uses keepsakes from her travels in Japan, including the sake glass she uses to store her makeup brushes. Lauder favors pretty boxes and vessels; she keeps her makeup brushes standing up in a silver cup, which she says “allows me to see them easily and keep the brushes clean.” In her bathroom, Francois repurposed items from her kitchen: An old tiered spice rack now stores her daily face creams, and a two-tier lazy Susan turntable sits on her countertop and stores other frequently used products. • Edit frequently, and be wary of overstocking When it comes to decluttering, another beauty YouTuber, Weylie Hoang, says: “Every three months or so, I do a major clean-out. I shuffle my products around and see which ones I love and the ones I’ve neglected. If it’s an unused [but unexpired] product that has been collecting dust inside my drawer, I give it to a friend or donate it to a women’s shelter. I find that the best way to stay organized is by minimizing the amount of stuff.” Weiss and Fife point out that many beauty products and medications have an expiration date of six to 12 months (and some are even less than that), so going through them at least twice a year is a must. They also suggest relocating medications to a kitchen cabinet or hallway linen closet to free up some much-desired bathroom storage space and to also protect them from bathroom humidity. Weiss and Fife warn against buying in bulk: “It can be so tempting to purchase products in bulk, but if storage is not readily available, it’s best to avoid having a lot of excess,” Weiss says. If you do have back stock (and the space), they suggest creating a zone of “extras,” which does not have to live in the bathroom, and checking the area before heading to the store so you don’t buy items you already have. Mayhew, a Today show style expert and former magazine editor, is the author of Flip! for Decorating. 14


cont. from page 6

or a bathroom. When it comes to fabrics, look for natural textiles. “No Southern home would be complete without the warm feel of linen,” Leggett says. Use it in table runners, bedding, curtains, place mats, hand towels and more to add muted colors and softness to any room. Check out Rough Linen’s online selection of handcrafted textiles, she says.



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Northern Home - Spring 2020