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Hard-surface floors, earth tones among interior trends

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by Steven Diegel

SBJ Contributing Writer

While changes can be very gradual, area interior designers said that new trends in home designs steadily appear in today's market, especially in home interiors.

Colors have always been one of the more noticeable changes in fashion and design, easily adaptable to the times and often indicating the underlying emotions of the time.

"We are very much into earth colors right now, especially the greens and the browns," said Marilyn Raines, president of the Missouri Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

Raines said that these color preferences ÐÐ as well as yellow undertones ÐÐ began gaining popularity several years ago, and may stem from many attitudes currently held by homeowners.

"We are very much into saving the earth as a nation, and (that attitude) kind of filters over into what is in fashion," she said.

Floors reflect changing tastes over the years, with many homeowners preferring hardwood or tiled surfaces often accented with smaller rugs. These have proven both attractive and utilitarian, being easier to clean and maintain than the standard carpeted floor.

"You are seeing much more hard surfaces on the floors with a throw rug," Raines said. "It is so easy to take care of and so permanent, for if the rug gets dirty you can just take it and clean it."

Painted walls have been the fashion of recent years, though some designers expect wallpaper to supplant that in the near future.

"There has been a trend for more painting, but I think people are going back to paper," Raines said. "It is easier to clean and take care of just like a vinyl coating on the walls that you can just wipe off."

Other more permanent trends have proven popular, including the conversion of rooms into so-called media rooms.

"The big thing today is media rooms, with the big TV and the chairs lined up around them," said Betty Inmon, owner of Inmon Interiors, adding that these rooms play a much greater role in the home and serve as a gathering point for the family each day.

Inmon said the media room features a larger-than-average room with the primary attention focused on an entertainment center or home-theater system.

Much of the remainder of the room is centered around the surround-sound speakers and other entertainment equipment.

Raines said that a trend to include more windows has also started in

recent years, as better insulated windows keep out the cold while allowing more light into the home.

"People have been able to purchase some wonderful windows in past years," she said. "They want to see out and don't want the view to be covered up."

Additional features such as higher ceilings, built-in bookshelves and alcoves have been around for some time and can help give a home a little extra flavor.

"They have always been there," Raines said. "These are nice architectural features ... that give the room a little something special."

Raines said that many new trends begin in the higher-end homes, where owners typically have the means to make the move to new fashions and products.

"The higher-end homes set the pace for what is coming," Raines said. "They buy the latest products, which others will eventually add to their own homes."

Inmon and others remained uncertain what to expect in the future.

Inmon said she believes new advances in technology ÐÐ such as the home computer and entertainment center to continue to influence the design of the home, as would an expected shortage of wood-based products.

"With the scarcity of wood in the future, the furniture will likely be different, but I am not sure what" direction the market will take, Inmon said.

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