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Personalized look is in

Trends for 2008 include "me" spaces, luxe patios and space-saving furnishings.

By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF, Times Correspondent
Published January 11, 2008



Bye-bye, minimalism.

Hello, earth-friendly interiors, fabulous patios and cozy, layered personalized decors. Green design, with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living and more individualized decorating, is the hottest home design trend for 2008, industry experts say. Whether you're redecorating your house or simply dabbling in a little room rearranging, here's what to strive for: the Personalized Living Space.

The last few years have offered everyone a primer in modern-speak, from the Marcel Breuer chair to the Isamu Noguchi lamp. Some fashionista types took it to heart and streamlined entire living spaces. The rest of us just added an ultra-mod accent or two.

Now, expect to see a warmer, more layered look that reflects our personalities, says Linda Cox, a senior design consultant for Robb & Stucky in Tampa. Watch for this trend among baby boomers, Cox says, "because it will reflect their experiences growing up as well as their interests, from politics to travel."

The great outdoors

Boomers make up the primary demographic for, a company specializing in furnishings and accessories for the home, inside and out. Of the 15 outdoor furnishing collections this year, a record-breaking 10 are new designs, says Chad Howard, director of public relations and business development for Frontgate.

"People are continuing to take extend their interiors outside, even those who live in places like the Midwest," Howard said of the new lines, which include furniture groupings inspired by Miami's Delano Hotel, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and a line created in partnership with Coastal Living Magazine.

Cox agrees: "By and large here in Florida, we've all become much more interested in the idea of the outdoor room. Who doesn't want to spend more time outside?" And environmentally friendly, "green" products for the home -from rugs to furnishings to accessories -will continue to gain mass appeal in 2008, she says.

Eclectic enthusiasm

Watch for trends that are more global and offbeat like "antiques from China and Africa, not just France and England anymore," Cox says. And expect the unexpected, even from mainstream companies. "There's a big push toward polka dots this year," says Howard. "Our Coastal Living line has them in the (outdoor) rug, umbrella and accessory pillows."

The big blue iris

Pantone Inc., the international authority on color, recently anointed "blue iris" as the 2008 color of the year. Who knew colors competed in pageants?

This balanced shade of blue-purple is a winner that transcends age and gender. "As a reflection of the times, blue iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast," Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said on the company's Web site. "Pair it with deep plum, red-brown, yellow-green, grape or gray."

Everything to scale

Monster-sized furniture dominated homes big and small over the last few years. Nothing like walking into a small condo living room dominated by a sofa only Bigfoot could love. Though the big stuff will still find a place in McMansions, expect to see a scaling down of furniture, Cox says, especially in smaller homes. "We'll also see more and more of what Europeans have been doing for years, using space-saving furnishings that offer multiple uses, like an armoire that doubles as a linen closet."

Lofty influences

The urban loft, with its wide open spaces and all-encompassing living areas, has influenced suburban dwellers everywhere. Call it the "great room" or "multipurpose family room," but a space that encompasses many functions is definitely a continuing trend in 2008, Cox says.

No space in a house will go wasted, Cox says. "I have clients tell me that they want to get the most bang for their buck in their houses."

An office in any room

Thanks to wireless technology, space-hogging home office furniture will exit as portability becomes the norm. Basically, Cox notes, "the right coffee table can work as an office because you can tuck your laptop in the drawer." Watch for those particle board home-office pieces that once commanded an entire room "by the side of the road," Cox jokes.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

[Last modified January 10, 2008, 23:49:39]

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