Bold wallpaper is back in vogue.

By Kathy Dean

Buying a house is just the first step in setting up a home. Once you have the address and the signed papers, the real fun begins – making it your own. That’s the point at which thoughtful design can transform your new place into a comfortable sanctuary that reflects your lifestyle, aesthetics and values.

Of course, a solid house is the best foundation to build upon.

“I find that buyers are trying to stay away from complete demo projects,” said Steve McKenzie, principal of McKenzie Design and co-owner of steve mckenzie’s interiors and lifestyle store. “They’re looking for homes that have great bones, without major electrical or plumbing problems, so they can spend money on creating the décor they want, and not on new roofs, all new wiring and plumbing, or new HVAC units.”

He noted that one current trend – outdoor living – has been gaining ground. Many people work with their designers to create multi-purpose outdoor living spaces for entertaining, cooking and lounging. It’s the perfect way to expand square footage without building an addition to the house.

La Cornue range with brass and stainless steel.

Rick Anthony Bonner, Creative Director and Interior Designer at Insidesign, a full service design service specializing in residential interiors, said that he expects wood to be hotter than ever.

“Wood is going to be a very important trend,” Bonner predicted. “We’re noticing a lot of interest in products that show wood grain coming through with natural, oiled and low-sheen finishes, especially on cabinetry and flooring.”

One of the more exciting incoming trends, he added, is the variety of texture coming into homes. “I think we’ll see lots of texture in fabrics, furnishings, tiles – everywhere,” Bonner said. “A personal favorite of mine is the super dimensional glass tile that’s available in frosted and glossy finishes.”

According to Greg Ansley, more and more millenniums are looking for quality in construction and design, whether it’s in their house, their furnishings or their décor. Ansley is owner of The Collective, a co-op of local artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs that’s part of Krog Street Market in Inman Park.

Multidimensional tile work is popular in kitchens.

“Often, the things their parents didn’t see as important or thought of as old-fashioned seem to be of great interest to our shoppers,” he explained. “Things like blue and white porcelain, silver and anything odd or unusual.”

Customers are always on the lookout for wall art, interesting storage and accessories that make a statement, Ansley said. Since The Collective features the wares of local artists and artisans, it’s a good bet they’ll find it there. And there’s always a great demand for vintage and handmade items.

He’s also seeing more exciting choices of color as people make bolder and bolder decisions about claiming their spaces as their own. “We offer a lot of neutral accessories, and our customers seem to use them and make a statement with their wall colors,” Ansley said.

McKenzie echoed the current shift toward color, saying that there’s definitely a tendency for clients to move away from white kitchen cabinets. Today, there are a lot more requests for soft greys and blues. Pastels are making a great comeback, too.

Outdoor rooms remain popular.

“Wallpaper is also back with a roar! There’s just so much use of wallpaper in décor today,” he added. “It’s been amazing to see blue-and-white continue to grow in strength – and there’s no signs of it slowing.”

Another hot trend is the use of more mixed metals in kitchens and baths. “Everything does not have to match,” McKenzie said. “You see gold leaf mirrors with brushed nickel hardware in the same bathroom. There are stainless steel hoods in kitchens with brass or copper trim. Even the new La Cornue ranges have stainless and brass mixed.”

These days, some of the most interesting updates are happening in the kitchens and bathrooms, according to Bonner. Eye-catching backsplashes and range hoods are a few touches that can really make those rooms stand out.

Ansley agreed, and said that many of his customers are choosing items from the shop’s vintage, antique and new home accents to add appealing focal points to their bathrooms. “The smaller space makes a statement easier, and a lot of our customers are using vintage containers mixed with locally grown succulents and air plants.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.