HIGH POINT — The home furnishings industry is headed into 2022 in a world that continues to change rapidly, including consumers’ tastes, preferences and shopping habits.
Into a world where one size and one style definitely does not fit all, we asked industry leaders in the design and manufacturing community to forecast the style trends they thought would be most important this year.
Missy Vanderburg Strear, vice president of merchandising and product development for Theodore Alexander, believes that the secret formula for retailers will be to incorporate many different styles and trends onto their floors while maintaining cohesive colors and finishes.
“I am seeing this really elevated style that incorporates many trends into one space, and while the styles are completely different, consumers are mixing and matching to create one of a kind looks in their spaces,” Strear said. “I would encourage retailers to diversify their floors with many styles that blend well together and create that unique feeling for the consumer.”
Among our forecasters a few styles rose to the top, with agreement that consumers will be focused on creating calm and nature-driven spaces that will help keep them ready and energized to face the world whether working at home, in the office or a hybrid of the two.
Back to nature
Blurring the lines between home and nature tops the list for 2022, as consumers continue to yearn for outdoor spaces and bringing outdoor themes indoors.
Libby Langdon, interior designer, author, product designer and makeover television personality, anticipates that more furniture with textures resembling nature and outdoorsy schemes will be very important on the retail floor.
Del Starnes, president and COO of Taylor King, agrees, noting that designers are gravitating towards wood frames, wicker, and greens and browns in preparation for the year. Strear, too, has seen those shifts and believes earthtones of coffee, olive, ivory and gray paired with woods that celebrate natural grains will be a focus for consumers as they look for ways to bring the harmony of nature into their homes.
Warm and refreshing neutrals also evoke the serene feeling of nature, providing consumers with a sense of relaxation, rest and comfort.
Sandi Mowry, president of sales at Hooker Furnishings’ Sam Moore brand, has seen the warm neutral palette really grow in popularity over the past three markets.
“Consumers want to feel cozy as they spend time indoors,” she said. “And warmer colors such as carbon, khaki, dove and caramel give that warm and fuzzy feeling.”
Langdon agrees that neutrals will certainly be on the rise this year, but she sees black and white as the foundation for the look. Mixing black and white with other neutrals adds a contemporary look in a transitional sense, she notes, and allows a combination of new pieces with old pieces and the ability to inexpensively revamp older product by adding fresh black and white accents.
“Spicing up those extra-loved pieces by adding black to metal finishes, on tables, lampshades, lighting, door handles, house hardware and other accessories is a low commitment way to introduce black into a space and be on trend,” Langdon said. “I have learned how to take things that are already there and give them a new look with just cosmetic things.”
Take a seat, please
The feeling of relaxation, rest and comfort goes beyond color, though, to include durable and comfortable seating as well.
Caroline Hipple, president of Norwalk Furniture, says 2022 will be the year of the Netflix sectional. Over the past 18 months, people have spent more time entertaining themselves at home than ever before, and Norwalk has observed how it is affecting the products consumers are shopping for.
“There is a great demand for generous comfortable seating that will last and give people that perfect space to binge watch their Netflix shows,” Hipple said. “We are still in this little-not-so-little time of uncertainty from supply chain and Omicron lingering, so in all cases you have to think cozy, family and work from home.”
Having large sectionals that have lots of different components to fit a room will be essential this year. The possible variation of looks allows consumers to go rich and luxurious, to dark and cozy, to colorful and cheerful.
Hipple also predicts that another key for retailers selling large sectionals will be to take a different approach to shape. The jellybean shape was popular in 2021, and Hipple sees curves important in 2022 as well, applying the curvaceous shapes to sectionals’ more traditional right angles.
American interior designer Thom Filicia, known for his role as an interior design expert on the television program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, sees sofas as an important component to home design in 2022.
He thinks that people have really begun to discover the importance of design in their homes and how it can make them feel safe, happy and healthy. As people “nest” at home, he says, they also want to live and entertain in a sophisticated yet comfortable way.
Shades of happy
While neutrals may continue to be strong for the upcoming year, Starnes does not believe that retailers should disregard color. He expects that consumers are looking for ways to reflect happiness in their home, using contrasting colors in new ways, whether it be bright, cheery colors or rich, saturated hues such as navy blues, emerald greens and burgundy reds.
Taylor King’s Garrett sofa blends the bold navy blue with natural-finished legs, allowing the sofa to blend well with other neutrals in the home.
Another manufacturer with an eye on a big blue pop of color this year, Hipple anticipates that blue is back as consumers look to surround themselves in calming spaces. Colors such as cerulean and marine blues — as if one is sitting in the Bahamas and can see 42 shades in the water and sky — will be used to increase relaxation and spirit in the home.
Sense of adventure
Using color and home furnishings to evoke a sense of destination locations such as the Bahamas and other getaways is a trend Langdon is watching for 2022.
“Hotel resort shic” she calls it, explaining that consumers will be basing their looks on beautiful hotel rooms they wish to stay in or the places themselves, such as Santa Barbara, Calif., or Italy.
Mowry and Hipple also have observed this renewed desire for travel and adventure in consumers, and they expect the demand for animal prints and global inspirations to be on the rise as another way to bring the outside world into the home.
Mowry predicts globally inspired looks will continue to be strong in 2022 and become a real staple in the design industry. Consumers will continue to decorate their homes with Kuba cloth looks, rich colorations from around the world, foliage patterns and fresh florals.
Hipple said that Norwalk plans to reflect wildlife in its product with animal prints that suggest lions, tigers, bears and zebras, to bring that touch of exotic into the home.
Performance + sustainability
Fabrics, textiles and covers are more than just color and print.
Mowry feels that performance fabrics this year will be more necessary than ever before. As home schooling numbers spike and parents pull children from daycare now that they work from home, it is more essential to have furniture that performs amid spills and extra wear and tear.
Starnes says retailers should be prepared to offer customers machine washable covers for their furniture investments, as a removable cover for that much-loved sectional is easier to clean and maintain.
The word performance no longer means just long-lasting and easy-to-clean; in 2022, the word has come to reference being sustainable and friendly to the environment as well. Recycled yarn and plastic bottles used to make threads are increasing in importance, especially for younger consumers.
Strear says it is incredibly important for retailers to understand that sustainability is not a fad and is here to stay. Consumers are shopping with an eye for longevity and quality in their purchases, she said.
That long-term view of furniture for the home is giving vintage and antique furniture already in a home a new role in a new purchase decision.
William White, CEO of Gabriella White, the parent company of Gabby, has noticed an increase in younger generations struggling to find modern furniture that matches the aged pieces they cherish and have recently inherited as family heirlooms.
“Our designers tell us they want pieces that can blend with their clients’ family heirlooms,” said White. “This is a best-of-both-world’s scenario, where the sentimental can be paired with Gabby’s contemporary style and create a beautiful and harmonious aesthetic.”
Furniture that features mercury glass, velvet-lined drawers and gold-colored brassy accents will be perfect details for new pieces that will blend well with grandma’s table and grandpa’s rocking chair.
Along with finding modern furniture that pairs with vintage and antiques, Mowry thinks consumers will be looking for new furniture that looks as though it were found at an antique market.
Modern vintage styles are on the rise, and that trend is expected to continue well into the new year.
Details make a difference
Filicia believes another trend retailers mustn’t ignore for 2022 is the consumers’ new attention to the details of their home furnishings.
People are paying attention to the little things, from the detail on hardware of doors to the lines of sofas and rugs. Filicia says it will be important for consumers to customize even the smallest details of their interior, whether through hardware, finish options, upholstery options, leg details or door fronts.
At Gabby, White also sees the value in detail and is adamant that, when it comes to selling furniture, it truly is all about that thoughtfulness. Retailers should be prepared to outline the fine points of the product to their customers, looking at details such as grooves, finishes, drawer pulls, curves on legs and even the materials used.
White says retailers also should be on the lookout for classic-inspired pieces such as cabinetry with extra storage. As people combine different lifestyles of work, social and relaxation, having that extra storage without taking up extra space, while keeping a neat and sophisticated style, will be a necessity.
“We can never have too many storage options,” said White. “In the fall 2021 offering, we included two new storage pieces: the Elsa and Elba cabinets. The Elsa cabinet, with its glass doors, adjustable shelves, rattan details on the backside panel and drawers, and finished off with antique brass hardware is subtle, visually appealing and functional.”
In addition to extra storage capacity, White says people will be looking for multifunctional products, too. People will not only be looking for items that serve as a table and seat, but also multipurpose items such as cabinets that can hold collectables, offer storage or become a personal library.
When it comes to multiple function, White predicts the revival of the skinny table. For the consumer who wants to maximize space without cluttering the home, these narrow tables have versatile uses, do not have a deep footprint and can be used virtually anywhere in the house.
As in 2021, Strear says textiles and textures will be very important to consumers in 2022, especially soft and cozy upholstery. Consumers will naturally gravitate towards soft fabrics that create warm vibes in the home.
Starnes also believes that, just as people love to snuggle with a soft blanket, they will want to immerse themselves in comfortable and soft upholstery.
Manufacturers are applying soft chenille, smooth velvets and a blend of bouclés into upholstery fabrics to create that cozy comfort.
“Textiles have evolved so much for the past few years, and the market is waking up to a myriad of options out there to have textural and luxurious, yet cleanable and livable textiles in their homes,” added Filicia. “The layering of texture in interiors in general is going to continue to be big, and retailers showing products this way will resonate with consumers.”
It may not be furniture, but it is certainly the backdrop and foundation for it. Consumers are giving new notice to their floors, ceilings and walls.
Again, a low commitment way to transform a space, Langdon expects peel-and-stick wallpaper to make a comeback this year. It is a simple way to take existing furniture and give it an entirely new look in front of bold wallpaper.
Filicia noted, “People are paying attention to all their surfaces, including their walls and ceilings. Wall covers, wall murals and artwork will thrive in 2022.”
People are looking to fill that extra white space in their homes while also keeping a balanced look that will not be overwhelming to the eye.