A host of fresh, exciting new lifestyle choices went on display at this year’s January Furniture Show (Birmingham NEC Jan 22 – 25) – the UK’s annual furnishing industry’s showcase.
The place to glean all the latest interiors trends for UK homes, the four day trade show plays host to some of the most prestigious names in upholstery, cabinet furniture, beds, lighting, flooring, accessories and fabrics.
And each sector has something new to offer for 2017…
A celebration of wood in all its glorious shapes and forms was evident at this year’s show, representing a marked move away from the sea of oak that has dominated the British interiors market since the demise of pine.
Fall in love with acacia, pine, beech and mountain ash timbers which are set to add a warmth and richness to British homes. Sometimes it’s cross sawn, distressed, etched or even loosely painted for extra interest – or even a combination of several finishes in one multi-tonal piece.
In its more contemporary form, cabinet furniture basks in the subtlety of fine design – whether in classy, high gloss finishes or through allowing the natural beauty of wood to shine through in understated curved designs combined with elements of pure white. But watch out too for an emerging trend in cabinetry – alluring antiquity. Sure to have the fashionistas flocking, this hot-off-the-press look makes classic antique shapes hip again, presented in either mixed wood finishes or audaciously bright paint. Last year’s trend for wood with metal – in both its rawest industrial form, to a more moderated look for urban chic-elites – was once again in evidence, much of the wood being upcycled to offer panache with provenance.
Retro with a twist continues to be another look in its own right. Compact styling with those tell-tale 60s angled legs came together with on-trend finishes and colour in an eclectic nod to the G Plan era.
Signs are that ‘shabby chic’ is making a welcome return, offering a soft and comfy look for the home. Low seats and loose coverings provide the perfect solution for modern yet practical upholstery and work well for family homes and contemporary apartments.
High back chairs in bright, velvet or patterns were popular, combining classic with contemporary style. Designed to maximise unused corners of the home, occasional chairs are perfect for creating mini havens of comfort; or to create a focal point in a room.
Detailed edging, particularly piping in contrasted colours and studs were drawing the eye as were brightly coloured fabrics, particularly teals, yellows and earthy greens. Mixed scatter cushions were seen across the show, creating a playful mix of fabric and colour. Tapestry-style florals, tribal patterns and soft leathers, again combining classic and contemporary, was a clear trend.
Modern retro is still on the scene with updated 60s and 70s style upholstery. Thin diagonal legs and low backs on sofas and chairs featured heavily across the show. With velvet still a big player in furnishings, brands have started to experiment with it, mixing colours and textures. A combination of primary coloured velvets with wool mix plaid fabrics and tartan patterns broadened the appeal and created a cosy and sumptuous look. Light grey and silver velvet sofas added a touch of glamour to the show and worked well with glass furniture and statement mirrors.
The industrial look is still big in homeware however, many brands have toned it down. Rustic and reclaimed were mixed with greys and whites, demonstrating a much softer look along with a wealth of chrome, glass and heavy rope. The vogue for mixed wood could be seen across all furniture and accessories while the popular coastal look breezed across the show, accessories completing the themes. Glitz and glam was right out there too with wow factor glass pieces and show stopping mirrors.
Glitter pictures with silver and glass frames brought some Hollywood moments to the NEC adding a touch of pizzazz to home furnishings. High-end hospitality pieces were also there in force offering unique designs for those who love entertaining in style – be it with beautiful champagne, wine and drink holders or stunning culinary show pieces. A fabulous array of choice on the cushion front offered a further way of updating a room with an eclectic mix of fabrics, patterns and colour all there to create layers of texture and wow factor.
There was yet more glitz and glamour on the lighting front where two key trends emerged. Focal pendant lighting was shown in the form of extra-large chandeliers or ostentatious floral glass balls while extravagant tripod spotlights in polished metals also made an appearance. Open metalwork lighting – in copper, bronze, silver or even matte black – teamed with giant Eddison bulbs are still on trend for 2017. At the other end of the spectrum, floor lamps took on bright shades, such as citrus yellows, mixed with wood bases which work well for a Scandinavian look.
The softer the better, when it comes to cushioning the feet. Polypropylene fibres still lead the way in carpet construction with rich lustrous textures highly sought after. Continuing from last year, greys are still the colour of choice with every conceivable shade of grey on offer – including ones with a lurex yarn to add a completely new dimension. If you want to buck this trend, ‘au natural’ is a big hit – think 100% wools, undyed yarns and sustainability; or why not speak loud and proud with geometric designs and striking shades which continue to pave the way forward in rugs.
As the rise in popularity of upholstered beds continues to grow, they are fast becoming the most important piece in bedroom décor. From contemporary greys and taupe’s to the 2017 colour of the year – green – upholstered beds are now an attractive centrepiece. Floor standing headboards are still a prominent feature and bring individuality into bedroom design. If you’re into your technology it’s all about electric ottomans for the year ahead.
Traditionally at the forefront of new interiors trends, fabric continues to offer almost unlimited possibilities for upholstery and soft furnishings. Velvets, in all manner of styles and finishes, remains a popular choice with moquettes providing the genre with pattern – particularly small scale geometries – colour and decorative texture. Elsewhere, naive handblock-style indianesque prints in knocked back shades of spice and saffron or subtle blues and greys were in evidence. And matching the mood for a more natural environment were chunky herringbones, textured jacquard and ethnic weaves. Traditional British cloth continues to offer the market timeless and classic elegance.