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DO IT YOURSELF | Decorating

Sew What? Give Home Projects a Try

With Time and Fabric, Enthusiasts Tailor Accessories to Reflect Personality


As Americans continue to adopt a more casual approach toward fashion and entertaining, home decorating trends are following suit.

With a heightened awareness of style--triggered, perhaps, by a need to update and revamp for a new millennium--consumers want personal space at home that not only looks more relaxing, but also reflects their identity, interests and heritage.

According to the Home Sewing Assn., more than 30 million women sew. They are leading the style surge, creating the slipcovers, window treatments, throw pillows, tapestry-like throws, quilts and accessories that invest the home and home office with an artisan's eye for richness of detail, texture and color.

As the millennium approaches, trends in home decorating, as in fashion, lean toward the simple and even tailored, with significant use of high-quality trims and fabrics rich in texture and color that add a subtle undercurrent of luxury.

Prioritize your home decorating projects.

Work on one room at a time. Pick a few key items that would not only benefit from a new look, but would also significantly change the look of the room. Often these include window treatments, from swags and valances to shades and curtains; throw pillows and chair cushions, especially in living, dining, family and sun rooms.

Select all your fabrics, trimmings and patterns before you begin. Purchase a yard of each fabric and "test drive" them in your home. If you like the fabrics, use them for pillows and other accessories.

Home offices are getting attention, with telecommuting increasing in popularity and almost 10 million people working outside their corporate offices at least three days per month, according to International Data Corp.

Inexpensive stackable storage baskets outfitted in matching fabric can create a modern workstation, accessorized with coordinated in-out boxes, computer, monitor and mouse covers, muslin-covered filebox holders and more.

Trends in textures and fabric patterns

Softness continues to be popular: light, gauzy organdies and burn-outs, chenilles, cotton sateen, wide-wale corduroy, even cashmere. But fabrics with an artisan look--rough, hand-loomed textiles, natural cotton hopsacking, tapestries with ethnic elements--are also in great demand.

Traditional florals and plaids are being paired and updated with more textured base cloths, from slub duck to silk, and colorations are also fresher. Classic patterns--florals and broad stripes, for example--paired in tonal grays and white create a calm oasis where pattern, rather than color, becomes a focal point. Tab drapes, again popular, could use a classic blue floral trimmed in a more casual contrasting pattern, such as an Oxford stripe.

Trends in color

White and beige have served as the neutral base for most home-decor color schemes. But gray is the new neutral in home decor, from pale pearl gray to gunmetal, in paint, fabrics and accessories. For a contemporary twist, use classic gray-and-white pinstripe to create a loose, "deconstructed" slipcover. Accent with traditional gray flannel pillows, and throw in a few extra--in red, lilac, purple, indigo or a splash of lime.

Blue, from robin's egg to periwinkle to midnight, remains a key trend. Its relaxing, harmonious quality and association with sky and water make it a favorite color in textural wovens, prints, velvet or soft denim.

Earth tones are still in demand but have evolved from dusty to lush colorations: pumpkin, terra cotta, paprika and wine, with elements of oatmeal, wheat, gold and pewter.

As a group, the bright lively colors of the '60s are "in," sending a message of whimsy. Contemporary and flashy, they appear predominantly in graphic patterns or highly textured solids. Accent palettes combining purple, fuchsia, saffron and crimson, or turquoise, cobalt, lemon and lime, are showing up on whimsical jester-style pillows and updated accent pillows trimmed in fluffy retro ball fringe. Traditional tieback drapes come to life with custom-coordinated window shades to pick up a bright accent color from the fabric pattern.

Trends in motif

Green in its many incarnations--sage, spruce, kiwi and lime--has become a very important color, but because it is so intrinsically tied to nature, it should be tied to another predominant trend in home decor: the Zen trend.

Motifs in home furnishings that encourage relaxation, particularly leaf motifs, are highly textural, monochromatic and soothing. Leaf-motif tableware, framed prints, throw rugs, mirror frames and bath accessories are everywhere.

Another popular motif is mixing and matching strong ethnic elements. It is decoratively correct to combine Turkish rugs, Native American pottery, Moroccan throw pillows and baskets from everywhere.

The Web site for the Home Sewing Assn. is

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