What’s new for 2006? Several trends are in the making and progressing through a long term. These include New Urbanism, remodeling, sustainability and fresh contemporary looks achieved by mixing elements.
Let’s take them one at a time.
The revitalization of cities—or urban environments—is
happening all across America. The rehabilitation of older homes
and buildings creates fresh new spaces within a historical framework
that are upscale and trendy. In many reclaimed older urban interiors,
a few, simple pieces of furniture with fresh colors and fabric go
a long way to taking a space and making it lively and new—a
fresh start for a renovated space.
This New Urbanism trend started several years ago and is now coming
into its own. The concept promotes the creation and restoration
of diverse, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities—housing,
work places, shops, entertainment, schools, parks, civic and worship
facilities essential to the daily lives of the residents, all within
easy walking distance of each other.
There are approximately five hundred New Urbanist projects planned
or under construction in the United States alone, half of which
are in historic urban centers.
New Urbanism is raising the quality of life and standard of living
by creating better places to live. New Urbanism involves fixing
and infilling cities, as well as the creation of compact new spaces.
The sense of community, neighborhood and the minimization of vehicular
traffic with its inherent pollution and costs make these communities
very appealing to many age groups. Although the projects are completed
on a large scale, or building-by-building, the heart of New Urbanism
is the remodeling of older spaces to create fresh new spaces.
In 2003, the home remodeling market in the United States was estimated
at $214 billion. With interest rates starting to rise again, homeowners
are taking a serious look at whether it’s best to move or
remodel. Many are deciding that the advantages of remodeling are
• Relocation can be avoided. This is a major reason why most
people remodel. Business location or residential neighborhood, friends,
school and proximity to shopping and services may be so advantageous
that there is no desire to uproot and move.
• Changes in an existing plan can take place one at a time,
over a period of time, with much less pressure to accomplish than
in new construction. There is time to live with the idea, plan it
out carefully, execute it in a way that suites the owner and control
the size or extent of the remodeling or redecorating project.
• Remodeling and refurnishing can be accomplished in stages
or in parts of the structure and by various individual or teams.
A general contractor or remodeler may do the work, or the owner
may hire the various professionals as their own general contractor,
or may elect a complete or part do-it-yourself approach.
• The cost may be less than new construction, depending on
the extent of the remodel or refurbishing, who does the work and
how it is accomplished.
• Handsome parts of the building—the “good bones”
of the architecture—can be kept while upgrading wiring, plumbing
and fixtures, and updating cabinetry, floor, wall and window coverings.
Older homes often have more rooms, but are smaller in scale, so
the removal of walls promotes a contemporary lifestyle while keeping
the charm and character of the vintage architecture.
Kitchens and bathrooms are the top two remodeling projects for most
homeowners. Updated cabinetry, fresh décor in wall coverings
and window treatments and new flooring and furniture in the kitchen
can make the entire house feel new again. Bathrooms are often remodeled
to enlarge spaces or add luxury. A recent trend has been to remove
the bathtub in favor of spacious water-wall showers with upscale
materials and high-tech features. Redecorating the bedroom(s) often
goes hand-in-hand with bathroom remodels. Custom bed linens and
window treatments, carpeting and accessorizing, reupholstered or
slip-covered seating and even new furniture is a major direction
in the remodeling arena.
Of note is that the only housing sector that has not shown much
growth in the last few years has been “Affordable/Starter
Homes.” This statistic seems to indicate that older or previously
owned homes are the better bargain—typically more square footage
and more finished space for the money with landscaped and fenced
yards than new homes. It also is an indication that money is generally
being spent to redesign existing spaces rather than to invest in
Sustainability is now more than a buzzword. It is a way of viewing
all aspects of life from specifying rapidly renewable resources
such as bamboo, reeds and grasses, to guarding indoor air quality
(IAQ) against toxins and unhealthy off-gassing fumes. It is the
wise selection of long-lived materials to ensure that the furnishings
will not become dated or wear out sooner than the budget allows
It is also encompasses the concept of being careful and conservative
with one’s personal resources—to save rather than to
spend in order to ensure the personal survival or sustaining of
life for self and family. With the “negative savings”
(more debt than savings) phenomena in America, this trend deserves
a close look.
Sustainable concepts may be common knowledge for tomorrow’s
consumers. They may well require that window treatments, for example,
be energy conserving, that upholstery be comfortable and livable
for the long run, that area rugs are flexible and handsome. Sustainable
interiors are those that do not become tiresome but maintain a fresh
Sustainability also reaches into the realm of transgenerational
design. As the occupant ages and is less able to navigate, but desires
to maintain independence, the ability to be sustained in their personal
environments is a key factor in the planning of both new and remodeled
spaces. There are more than 100,000 people in America today who
are over 100 years old. As that figure inevitably increases, sustaining
a healthy and manageable lifestyle for the aging generation should
be a part of the sustainability issue.
Fresh colors and fresh decorating ideas form the final major trend.
For example, sliding panels are appealing to many new homeowners,
especially younger ones just starting out who have limited financial
resources to furnish and decorate their homes. Panels systems can
be used to cover many different types and sizes of windows. Although
sliding screens are centuries old Japanese treatments, they are
fresh again in new textiles and in contemporary colors.
Bold bright color combined with a clean, contemporary look is a
fresh approach, combining the Mid-century Modern style of the 1960s
with the lavish fabric trends of the 1980s. This unexpected duo
creates energy and excitement.
Clean interiors are a major trend for 2006, combined with elements
of Pac-Asia—the influence of Japan and the Pacific Rim and
the interior of Asia. The revisitation of Mid-century Modern cleanliness
such as the look of shoji screens and bonsai horticulture is made
livable and appealing with the addition of traditional furniture.
This eclectic approach is unique and a different sort of freshness.
Interiors in need of refurbishing during 2006 may demand a new look:
a combination of both traditional elements and backgrounds with
contemporary or modern styling. The room for creativity thereby
expands into a world of eclectic and unique interiors as fresh looks
for a fresh new year become your reality.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor
of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several
books including Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors:
An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for
Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion,
education and merchandising.