Toronto’s Interior Design Show, held in January at the Metro Convention Centre, was smaller than usual, and maybe, for the same underlying reasons, the brashness was gone. The designs were quieter and the technical developments were confident and progressive without flashiness. Just as interior design is rooted in supporting human comfort, I was reassured by what I saw – solid design following the important trends in quiet forward motion.
The trend statement was clear. Four boxes all have to be checked to get the attitude right. A mix of textures, neutral colours or a tonal blend, layers, a feeling of softness if not actual sink-in softness itself.
It was demonstrated at the first step through the door, front and centre, in the Caesarstone booth. The tones were light to deep warm neutrals. They were expressed in many materials, each with its own texture and character, as a balanced kitchen cabinet wall with a centred island.
For a little background, Caesarstone has been as synonymous with quartz counter-tops as Kleenex with tissue. But the brand has just expanded to embrace genuine natural stone slabs and porcelain, the dinnerware and tile material relatively new to the 4’ x 8’ slab-sized materials market.
So, here was a view into a kitchen with layer on layer, texture on texture, all tonally blended. Grand and stimulating and quiet at the same time. Not to leave out practical, you could set a hot pot straight from stove top to island top without scorch or scratch. Every material was available in a polished, flat, rough or smooth finish texture.
Softness was very popular with IDS visitors. At Montauk, the sofa maker whose name was built on large comfortable sectional sofas, six or seven show-goers were lined up along the light grey sofa. Every time one or two stood up another pair sat down. It was never unoccupied. Designer Danny Chartier told me that people should not sit on a sofa, they should sit in it. IDS attendees certainly liked the idea.
I appreciated the roundly shaped sofa with a trio of circle-top tables in the adjacent display at the Montauk booth because it demonstrated all the design directions in my recent Divas at Home posts. The metal table tops were three variations on a sawed log texture, the three heights overlapped, the legs were light and the shapes round, the colours were not quite the same shade of greyed beige.
There are the four boxes: 1. Neutrals 2. Textures 3. Layers 4. Softness. Check all the boxes and you have the look.
You know who else got it absolutely right? Miele. A leader in premier household appliances, their products excel in durability, performance, ease of use, energy efficiency and, of course, design. Their booth’s kitchen wall was an easy-on-the-eyes flannel grey. With perfect integration, the cabinet fronts and appliances were nearly indistinguishable, door next to door, one a cabinet and another a stove, a refrigerator, a cutlery drawer or a warming drawer, all sharing high gloss faces. The 7000 Series Minimalist line appliances have glass fronts that glide open with handle-free soft-touch openings.
Carpets checked the boxes too. At Weavers Art the colours modulated around the new off-white, a warm muted ivory unbleached wool shade, and the cooler oyster white that has been the dominant carpet neutral for quite some time. The change in textures formed the design. Combinations of naturally dull wool, lustrous silk, shiny rayon and stiff-ish linen fibres defined the patterns’ shapes through their inherent natures.
The linear pattern of gleaming gold through plush ivory is ideal for the glamour room. A deconstructed menswear plaid in neutrals fits the homey room. For the living room, precisely colour-matched contrasting textures form large-scale patterns that disintegrate toward the borders and create a quiet base for elegant furniture.
As for softness, all Weaver’s Art carpets, exclusively woven in the country best suited for each design, are as soft as blankets. Add custom colouring and there is little wonder why they have been favourites with designers for years.
Bathrooms are so important to the comfort of a home, aren’t they? Bathtub designs continue along the fluid shape direction, friendlier to body curves, softer on the eye than rectangular ones. The new style for ribbed vertical surfaces was represented by the neoclassical fluted oval tub in the Riopel display.
Shower heads and handles are ever more like jewellery particularly evident at Vogt. In recent years we have seen gold and matt black join the silver-tone selections. Now deep blue and green faucets have entered into the mix. I love the drama of matching these dark colours with tonal dark stone or tile behind them. Green marble, making a comeback, can have a green shower set with a matt finish, very plain, no gold or silver outlines to complicate the layering.
The black fixture on the black wall still looks strong. Note that floor tiles are going mosaic small again. It is looking new in black on black or colour on colour, relying on the texture of small pieces for the interest.
Small-tile patterning that owes a debt to exotic cultures brings the new maximalism into bathroom design.
Patterning is popular in the way floor planks are laid too. Traditional herringbone is expanded to mosaics here as well. While the colours are still predominantly in the soft light greyed tan shades, there are important new textures and materials just as we saw everywhere else. For instance, leather planks appear in three different textures to clad both walls and floors at Torlys. Ostrich with its little round bumps, Crocodile and classic hide. Now do admit a leather floor is softer that tile or wood. You might worry that the Spanish leather mood might tempt stiletto-heeled Spanish dance stamping or tango glides on the new library’s leather floor. But Cam Bowen assured us that the finish is tough. So, here is our story again – texture, neutral, soft and it’s up to you and your designer to layer the elements beautifully into the room setting!
A long standing member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Lois Macaulay holds a 1st place award for residential design 2018, 2nd place for 2017 and 2 presidential citations for contributions to the profession from ASID. “I love creating beautiful settings for extraordinary women--and men,” she says. The strong fashion/design connection in these posts owes its source to her first career as a fashion designer, coordinator and national fashion magazine editor.