Fall decor: stylish, functional, comfortable

By Kim Cook

Associated Press

Unfettered from dated conventions that urged us to pick a decor style and stick to it, more and more designers and retailers this fall are blending decorative elements and playing more loosely with the color wheel.

In some cases, the result is a polished, edited space that still has compelling aspects — unexpected material, furniture or color choices. In others, the finished room is a study in eclectic exuberance, with singular and often witty hues and style components.

And there’s one piece in this design puzzle that fits no matter what the style.

“This fall, we’re seeing a shift toward comfort and functionality,” says designer Charlotte Dunagan of Coral Gables, Florida. “Clients are looking for beautiful spaces that are also livable and inviting — not only aesthetically captivating, but also extremely comfortable.”

Stephanie Sarkies, design director of Pembrooke & Ives in New York City, concurs. The cozy “hygge” factor now popular in homes is also reaching hotels and restaurants. “In the hospitality sector, there’s a big shift toward mental and physical wellness — the idea of interior spaces enabling mindfulness and togetherness,” she says.

John Cialone of Chicago’s Tom Stringer Design Partners says clients are savvy to big-picture concerns like energy efficiency and sustainability, but also want designs to address simple things like getting a better night’s sleep or improving air circulation through good furniture placement.


“Lush fabrics like velvet and mohair, luxurious armchairs covered in shearling and boucle, and faux fur or cashmere area rugs are some of the trends popping up in design showrooms worldwide,” says Dunagan.

“The aim is to create a curated space with purpose. Interiors are shifting away from stark white, museum-like spaces and incorporating a cozy, sexy feeling. Think herringbone and patchwork, earthy shades and organic shapes.”


Art Deco has gained ground over the past couple of seasons, and we’re seeing pieces across more affordable price ranges. There’s channel upholstery, Chanel-style quilting, curvy profiles, polished metals, and color combinations like glossy black with white, rich red or soft makeup-y hues.

New pieces for PB Teen include a channel tufted daybed and a glam ceiling fixture swathed in fine chain. At CB2, find champagne-hued velvet barstools, a shapely velvet sofa and faux-shagreen casegoods. West Elm’s got Rosanna Ceravolo’s linear, carved media console, in a crisp citron hue.

There’s a popular transitional look that never gets too far away; call it Manor House, or, as Pottery Barn is terming it this fall, “Chateau.” The retailer’s launching a collection influenced by European architecture and materials. Wrought-iron and wood furniture in tones of charcoal or dove are paired with easy, weathered-look textiles like jacquard pillows and linen upholstery.

Newton Paisley has a wallpaper collection based on the Carolinas, with indigenous birds, butterflies and flora depicted in colorful patterns.

Global maximalism is still riding high, with embroidery, silks, chunky weaves, carved woods and hammered metals from South and Central America, India, Asia and Africa. And while the midcentury modern wave continues its strong churn, some designers are seeing slight shifts in the current.

For decor with an industrial yet refined look, see the finely knurled hardware collections from Buster & Punch.