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December 27, 2005

Decor trends lean toward luxury

By Betsy Lehndorff, Rocky Mountain News Manrico_cashmere

Real luxury will continue to dangle out of reach for most shoppers in 2006. Cashmere sheets worth thousands of dollars cover a bed at the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, Italy.

At $5,800 a set, you probably won't be able to afford the ultimate luxury of the year - cashmere sheets. Donald Trump will have them. You won't. But that won't stop you from wanting them.

Your hunger for luxury will continue to shape the way you shop and decorate in 2006.

"It's become embedded in the culture that everyone is entitled to a little bit of luxury," says Candace Corlett, principal consultant at WSL Strategic Retail in New York. As a result, you can expect to see more and more luxurious-looking or designer-like items available for sale, especially at big-box stores.

But oh, the guilt. In 2005, the world has been scoured by killer waves, hurricanes, earthquakes and war. Reach for the beaded throw pillows on aisle 3 and you could feel a twinge of guilt.

So marketing experts, like Corlett, are encouraging their retail clients to spin promotions that make shoppers feel as if they are contributing to the betterment of society. One example could be a line of children's bedroom furnishings inspired by youngsters' drawings. A portion of the sales will go to Save the Children.

Here are more trends you can expect to see around your home:


• Colors will continue to be muted in 2006, although there will be plenty to choose from, says Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone color trends forecaster. During a recent talk at the Merchandise Mart, she tells designers: "Life is tougher now. Shoppers want less excitement in their lives, and colors that are less vivid."

The living room

• Free, stick-on wallpaper samples from York Wallcoverings will let you test patterns, textures and colors before you buy. Available at home improvement centers and paint stores.

• A plasma TV screen above the fireplace will replace the French Impressionist painting you used to hang there. Architects are advising their clients to be sure to stake out wall space for these screens.

• Colores Origenes is the first line of 70 Behr paint colors inspired by the growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States. Colors include Mango Jugoso (Juicy Mango); Azul Cielito Lindo (Lovely Blue Sky), and Chayote (Chayote Squash).

The kitchen

• Multipurpose kitchens will proliferate. These are efficient spaces where you can cook, entertain, watch TV, do laundry and go online. According to Kitchen Solvers, the secret is to hide your washer and dryer in cabinets that match your kitchen.

• Soapstone countertops showed up in a kitchen at this year's Parade of Homes, and is a hot new trend, designers such as Laurel Quint and Kristi Dinner say. The material scratches easily, but looks natural and blends with any decor.

The bedroom

• Manrico Cashmere in Aspen sells a set of king-size sheets for $5,800 and is touting Donald Trump as one of their customers. His association with the product will inspire average folks to upgrade as best as they can.

• Eating in bed is back. Owners of super-sized homes are installing fully equipped snack bars in their giant bedrooms. Saves a hike to the kitchen, according to Margie Rowe, senior marketer for ShowHouse by Moen.

• High-tech bed frames are available to support thicker and heavier mattresses that consumers covet. Eventide, created by Knickerbocker Bed Company, supports more than 1,000 pounds and comes with globe-shaped casters that glide over thick carpeting.

The bathroom

• Super-clean bathrooms are a must as germ phobias break out everywhere. Swan Corp. makes a 36-inch-by-96-inch decorative waterproof panel that do-it-yourselfers can install in bathrooms, eliminating grout between tiles.

• American Standard bathroom sinks come with Scotchgard Protector by 3M, making it easier to clean up after morning tooth brushing and shaving.


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