The style of home furnishings has become less traditional and more about comfort and casual living as more American homes have adopted open-flowing floor plans. There has been a strong push recently by interior designers to go more modern and minimal with decorating. Modern, sleek designs can be seen everywhere from restaurants and hotels to residential interiors. Is it really possible to have comfort and a modern look together? The answer is absolutely yes! Explore the style trend that can be called ‘American Modern.’
WHAT IS IT?
During the ,80s and ,90s, most homeowners revered traditional furnishings and that included designs from around the world. French and English Country were very popular and styles from Tuscany and exotic locations were also a major influence. Now it seems the vintage looks of the ,30s, ,40s and ,50s are making a huge comeback, but with a slightly more comfortable look and with quality construction.
Furniture styles in the Spring ‘08 Relish trade publication were explained by critic Gary James: “Today’s American designs have one foot firmly planted in the past and another stretching toward the future. One look emphasizes the characteristics that make American designs shine: simple lines, natural materials and quality workmanship. The other look provides a more modern element, either a design touch, such as an eye-popping finish, or an unexpected function.”
There are many pieces that are excellent representations of this new modern version of styles from the past. Cooper Classics (cooperclassics.com) is a dependable company that offers classic mirrors and matching tables. This company, based in Virginia, is now offering updated styles along with its traditional collections. Its dynamic Sunburst mirror is a showstopper and its new, sleek Cordova tables also complement any style you may already own.
Each silhouette is classically styled; timeless like your favorite little black dress that never goes out of style. Choose the combination that suits your design personality to create a distinctive living space with ultimate style and flexibility in mind. The crisp, classic lines work particularly well in the Lowcountry’s coastal region combining the new ocean look with contemporary style for any room in any home.
The Postobello Couture Collection, from Drexel Heritage, exemplifies the American Modern style. Sold at Timeless Interiors in Bluffton (timelessinteriorshhi.com or (843) 837-8088), it is carefully crafted with the utmost attention to detail and quality. Postobello Couture offers distinctive pieces for almost any room in your home. Designers gave deliberate thought to creating pieces with a free-spirited nature in this collection. Traditional elements easily marry with contemporary ones, giving you freedom to mix and mingle different pieces to create a style reflective of your own personality.
Chelsea House (chelseahouseinc.com) is another well-known traditional company with antique reproductions and exquisite accessories, including new introductions designed by Thomas Jayne. The new designs embrace a sleeker minimal look. An example of style, quality finishing, and functionality is the Diamond Cabinet from Samuelson Furniture (samuelsonfurniture.com). This established company has been producing fine traditional furniture for two generations. Manufacturers, such as these and many others, will be offering modern introductions for this year and many can be seen in a number of furniture stores and interior design studios in the Lowcountry.
Rowe now offers a “green” line of sofas called Eco Rowe (rowefurniture.com) that is constructed with regenerated fibers, duck feathers and down, and also offers hemp fabric, along with bamboo and cotton blends.
There are many outstanding new collections introduced by American designers and it is worth taking the time to search them out. It is apparent that our casual lifestyle has been taken into consideration with most of these new lines. Barbara Barry (henredon.com) designs a collection that consists of simple elegant curves reminiscent of the ,30s and ,40s. There are very few furniture collections more artistic than hers. Barry’s Grace Lounge Chair, for example, makes a beautiful statement in almost any room of your home.
Larry Laslo has some impressive “urban glamour” designs for Ferguson Copeland (fergusoncopeland.com). With more than 50 designs in this collection, Laslo focused a great deal of attention on silhouettes, materials and finishes. He certainly knows how to give leather a dressed-up designer look. Nicole Miller’s furniture (nicolemillerfurniture.com) is more contemporary than traditional, and the looks are striking to say the least – dynamic pieces, such as the metropolitan bed from the Ritz Collection and a cocktail table with curved base and glass top, add pizzazz to any conversation area.
Thomas O’Brien and Alexa Hampton have joined forces with Hickory Chair (hickorychair.com). Hampton creates transitional pieces that have an upscale look but are young and versatile in a fresh, new version. The Roberts sofa easily transforms into a daybed, and Hampton’s Breck chair is reminiscent of the ,30s and ,40s but with a fresh off-white finish that looks sexy and irresistible.
O’Brien seems to be inspired by antique classics and puts a somewhat whimsical modern twist to his pieces. The Darlington Oval Desk is a geometric puzzle that is crafted from mahogany, and his unusual but somewhat surprisingly functional take on a French antique is called the Hallings Secretary. Either of these items would serve as interesting conversation pieces for a special place in your home.
J Banks Design (jbanksdesign.com, (843) 681-5122) offers a range of items reflective of the American Modern design and is conveniently located on Hilton Head. The company’s collection includes casegoods and upholstery pieces that are clean, lined and elegant. The line is available in nine fashion-forward lacquer finishes, or a variety of traditional stained finishes in the customer’s own material and the exclusive J Banks Collection fabrics.
The company’s furniture line presents a perfect fit for vernaculars or any design style, including coastal retreats, rustic mountain cabins, sleek SoHo lofts, or the even the most traditional of residences. Comfort is key to the success of the line, and combining over-sized structures with rich, vibrant colors and upholsteries makes for a look that’s chic, transitional and truly original.
Another Hilton Head store with impeccable options for the American Modern motif is Marco Polo (marcopolohhi.com, (843) 681-7400). While Marco Polo features traditional rattan and wicker furniture, you’ll also find contemporary accents mixed in. You really don’t have to get rid of all your old furniture. Lamps, mirrors and pictures can update your look. Or, just add a more contemporary coffee table or ottoman. One of Marco Polo’s traditional rattan companies, Ratana, has added a line of contemporary outdoor wicker. Straight simple lines, smaller profile and sleek, flat-weave wicker replace the traditional style.
Accessorize With A Modern Flair
If you have noticed that the overstuffed bookshelves are not going to work with a new modern sofa and chair, it is time to do a little work. With the cleaner lines and updated looks, you may need to update some of your accessories.
The best solution is to remove all accessories, then decide what you really want to use and what you could give to your adult kids or a charity. Some items may have sentimental value and may be used elsewhere in your home. Framed pictures of family members should be saved but maybe not all of them have to be displayed. This is the perfect time to organize and minimize clutter.
Explore the latest trends in accessories and you will find lots of items from nature, along with larger pieces, to add to the drama of the modern look. Make a statement with color and select accents that create a color scheme that works with your new furniture.
No Need To Panic
There really is no need to panic and feel that you should trash all your current traditional furniture. Many of the new modern pieces look amazing mixed in with other styles. The eclectic design approach is here to stay, and it allows everyone to express their individual preferences and create very personal looks for their home. Spend time with the latest catalogs, magazines and Internet sources before you buy. As you need to remember with any important furniture decision, look for quality and make sure you get the comfort and function your family needs.