Vern Yip: Time for bold colors and tropical touches in summer decor

June 1, 2012

Judging the mood of the country by the prevalent trends in home décor, you’d have to say one of two things: We are either in a more hopeful state of mind or we’ve grown tired of feeling tired.

As always, it boils down to individual perspective. With two kids, four dogs, three different television series for HGTV, and four collections to design for HSN, I find it more helpful to maintain an optimistic point of view.

As humidity begins settling into the Washington region, you might want to consider making your indoor space as cozy as possible.

Looking at what is being touted and offered in the home décor marketplace, it certainly appears as if there’s a consensus among the top tastemakers and mass retailers that what your home needs right now is a healthy dose of bold color and a touch of graphic pattern.

In fact, ever since Pantone announced Tangerine Tango as the 2012 color of the year (think orange with a hint of red), there has been an explosion of both in home décor merchandise seeking to freshen your spaces and replace the humdrum with an infusion of vitality. With many schools about to wrap up their current academic calendars, and the countdown to summer vacations already started in many households, here is my list of the five design trends that feel right for the last glimpses of spring but that will also effortlessly ease you into a stylish summer:

Bold color : No longer relegated to paint, throw pillows and accessories, bold colors have been dominating home décor all year long and are now giving rugs, furniture and upholstery a serious face lift.

Be cautious about incorporating bold color through major pieces of furniture if you’re someone who loves to hang on to things for a while. I’m definitely not going to want a tangerine colored dining room table two years from now, but I’m growing increasingly fond of bolder upholstery choices. For those who don’t naturally embrace the warm jolt that Tangerine Tango provides, bright throw pillows may still be the answer.

For the more daring, however, check out the Club Atomic Orange Sofa from CB2. At 74 inches long, it’s ideal for apartments and tighter quarters where space is at a little more of a premium. I also love that it’s manufactured with some eco-friendlier principles that inject some “green” into all of that orange.

Leafy and organic greens: You know that you should be eating your leafy and organic greens. Now, you should be sleeping with them, too. Detailing featuring palm fronds, fern fronds, and just about any other kind of frond you can think of, is on the rise because it helps connect your outside environment seamlessly with your inside one.

Green is really considered a neutral by many interior designers these days, and it so easily goes with most anything. Outfit your bed with some new clothes to give your bedroom that resort, vacation-like feel even if you aren’t going anywhere this summer. Among the many offerings out there is Pottery Barn’s machine washable Palm Frond Organic Duvet Cover and Sham.

For me, the ease of machine-washable bedding is a must. It allows me to relax when the kids climb into bed for the occasional Saturday morning cartoon-fest with bowls of cereal in hand.

Versatile garden stools: I love people who work hard for their keep, and garden stools are among the hardest workers of all. Items that multi-task are a must in my home, and garden stools do exactly that by acting as extra seating, a place to rest your drink or a place to prop your feet.

Gang them together for a smaller coffee table in a tight space or haul them outside during the warmer months. Look for non-corroding metal or ceramic garden stools that have been designed to be usable indoors or outdoors, and you’ll eliminate the need for coasters.

Among all of the brick-and-mortar retail garden stool choices, the Martini Side Table at West Elm is one of my favorites. It is available in bold lemon or persimmon or in an easy-to-adapt white or silver.

If you go for the silver, just keep in mind that it is the only color that hasn’t been specifically designed to go outside. For me, it’s a tough choice between the persimmon or the white, but I usually default to the visual cleanliness a white garden stool brings to any part of my house. I love that extra crisp pop that a little touch of white adds to any space.

Graphic detailing: Whether you’re looking at a herringbone patterned throw, a strong criss-cross patterned throw pillow or a zig-zag rug, graphic patterns add both a sense of modernity and timelessness to any room in the house while simultaneously injecting needed levity.

Rooms can often feel too serious. Most people, after all, don’t want to feel like they live in a museum, and simple, bold patterns can add that inviting warmth to a space. For something with a slight hint of the exotic, try Crate & Barrel’s Ibiza Pillow in mango. The global textile feel adds international luxe while also remaining easy to weave in with your existing décor.

Natural mango wood: Warm with a slight gray undertone, mango wood suggests a beautiful foreign beach just by looking at it. Lighter in color and less intense than wenge, walnut or cherry, mango wood can be found in furniture, mirror frames, lamps and all sorts of home accessories.

Look for products made with solid mango wood rather than veneer so that you’ll have the additional heft, substance and durability of a solid wood product. The beauty of the natural mango wood color is that it works so beautifully with almost every other wood tone.

One of my current favorites is the Turned Pedestal Bistro Table at West Elm. At 32 inches in diameter and 30 inches high, it’s scaled perfectly for a breakfast table for two, works easily as a lamp or side table or makes for a stylish entry table in a foyer. As a bedside table in a guest room, it could also serve as an impromptu desk.

Remember that rising summer temperatures are on the horizon, and, as beautiful as it’s going to be outside, there will certainly be times you’ll want to come inside, enjoy some conditioned air and relax on that bold-colored sofa before retreating to an afternoon nap in your frond-covered bed.

Vern Yip is an interior designer and star of HGTV’s “Design Star” and “Bang For Your Buck.” Originally from McLean, Yip is based in Atlanta and New York. Follow him on Facebook (Vern Yip/Artist) and Twitter (@VernYipDesigns). His column appears regularly in The Washington Post.

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