Noble Passage Interiors has answers for today’s homes
WRITTEN BY GREGG L. PARKER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Noble Passage Interiors in downtown Madison monitors the pulse of trends in home furnishings, which are shifting dramatically for most consumers.
“Our store is constantly changing. We’re a little more ‘refined Bohemian’ than the look of your average furniture store,” owner Deborah McDaniel said. “We buy for all cultures, which reflects in our store.” She selects most merchandise at market in High Point, North Carolina, but constantly receives shipments direct from England, India, New York City – even Shanghai.
The contemporary shopper is not afraid to experiment with color for living-space seating and case goods, McDaniel said. Younger clients at Noble Passage like bolder choices like fuchsia, teals, mustards and dark green. Older shoppers lean to greens, gray, beiges and light blue.
McDaniel said durable yet attractive upholsteries, like Crypton, that stand up to family life are in demand. Sofas in gray, beige and even white are predominant. The majority of seating is in solid colors. “Patterns are in the art. Art is bigger than ever,” she said. “‘Updated traditional’ with a playfulness is what people want.
“Lamps are art. Lamps have a lot of personality,” McDaniel said about the latest in lighting. Lampshades use a myriad of different mediums – silk, linen, cutout patterns with hanging crystals, burlap and metallic.
Floor lamps usually make bold statements. Many homeowners use globes and/or bulbs with rustic or vintage finishes. For the ultimate in lighting decadence, sphere lights merge circles of metal bands to form a globe with lights interspersed, often with crystals that multiply the brilliance.
While battery-operated candles are popular for background accents, McDaniel said real candles are making a comeback. “Small, scented candles are huge right now,” McDaniel said.
Homeowners’ tastes have changed the most drastically when it comes to dining rooms. Comfort and function are the priorities. Formal settings in dining rooms must yield to function and family-friendliness, McDaniel explained. Consumers want to have comfortable seating instead of hard-bottomed chairs, and they will even use benches, settees and banquettes. The formal dining room might be a bit smaller but amped up for conversation. “People like to linger and enjoy each other’s company,” McDaniel said.
The traditional dining room table no longer is only cherry, mahogany or glass but has more than 20 categories of material and up to 80-something finishes, along with custom paint the owner chooses. “Traditional isn’t gone – just blended in,” McDaniel said. “Casual elegance is important.”
McDaniel said consumers are building somewhat smaller kitchens with intimate dining nooks, and the room often has open access to a television or audio system. “Kitchens are meant to be used and not just looked at,” McDaniel said.
Additionally, people want to easily transition from indoor to outdoor. “Outdoor living areas are popular with comfortable seating, a television, rugs, accent tables and plenty of outdoor lighting,” McDaniel said.
Today, most interiors use hardwood flooring, with medium to dark tones at the top of the list. For window treatments, “clean lines are a must” with a preference for panels in fine fabrics that blend with the surroundings, she said. Heavy hardware and cornices are gone.
In the bathroom, the marble look is in demand, according to John Baker with Huntsville Granite & Marble. “People want quartz products that look like marble but are stronger.” Many homes have full-length, glass-walled showers with benches, seats and curbs that match countertops.
“The trend for greenery is big,” McDaniel added. “If you don’t have a green thumb, you can buy life-like, preserved boxwoods or lemon grass and place those with candles, wine casks or Oriental foot baths. Succulents are big, and you can’t tell the difference.”
Homeowners continue to use antiques but primarily as accent pieces – not the dominant theme. Vintage antiques mix well when used in a playful or even practical setting with other furniture.
Glass and mirrored compartments are common fixtures, and glass vases embellished with mosaic patterns of colored glass are a mainstay. These accessories are “just a little twisted and not what they used to be,” McDaniel said.
Feathers often appear in contemporary decorating – maybe a single, brilliant plume from a peacock, or framing in a shadowbox or as paintings. “Feathers are fun and have meanings to some people,” she said.
On a more personal note, shoppers like the one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces at Noble Passage. VSA and Made in the Deep South are top popular designers. Deep South melds multiple vintage pieces into one jewelry creation.
Noble Passage Interiors: 204 Main St., Madison
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