I’m focused on beautifully crafted rotary dimmers and toggle switches in aged brass, weathered bronze and gunmetal. For outlets, I’m favoring oyster or black inserts, and aged brass or black cover plates. In some rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom, the recessed round outlets are very popular. In the bathrooms, laundry room, and anywhere an outlet is hidden behind a headboard or dresser, I’ve reverted to simple, neutral-colored outlets and cover plates. Go to Forbes & Lomax and Buster + Punch’s websites for a complete offering of great-looking options. Here in Canada, go to Casson Hardware to see products from both of these brands, plus you’ll be supporting two local entrepreneurs.
You know this category is huge because you see miles of pale oak floors in almost every home we show these days. The engineered floor market has exploded, with even tile and stone suppliers going into the business of wood flooring. The trend is definitely pale woods with very little graining. Some companies, like Denmark’s Dinesen, frequently pop up on design blogs and seem to be the current darlings of the design world. It’s really just the look of these floors that we want. You can find pale oak plank floors in a wide range of prices, widths and lengths from local suppliers. The longer the boards, the more expensive. If you want very little grain, ask for “select” and “rift” or “edge cut.” This will eliminate the knots and cross-graining. But if you’re going for more rugged country style, then you want “rift and quartersawn.” I have personally used Moncer Specialty Flooring, PurParket and Stone Tile to supply engineered floors for myself and clients. For solid hardwood, we use the local lumberyards and wood suppliers. I toyed with doing a chevron parquet floor in my new kitchen but, in the end, I decided to stick with plank flooring in 5½”-wide boards. It will be a better transition with the original, narrow hardwood floors in the living room that will be sanded and oiled to blend with the new kitchen floor. In the rest of the house, we’re keeping the beautiful old fir floors, and sanding, patching and staining throughout. We’ll need more fir for patching, so we’re having it milled locally to match our existing floors.
Blinds & Window Coverings
Drapes are back. Beautiful patterned fabrics and wallpapers are so big right now that I cannot imagine not wanting to try lush floor-length drapes in at least some rooms. But behind every drape, I’ll try to hide a simple blackout blind (for the bedroom), or a dimout blind for principal rooms, ideally on a handheld control. In some rooms, I want to go back to the old matchstick and rattan roll-up blinds on simple cords that we used to use in English country–style rooms.
Wood Built-Ins & Case Goods
There was a time when a painted kitchen or bathroom vanity was the only option for many designers and their clients. Those days are gone. Wood kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities in pale oak, rich walnut, mahogany and fruit woods have emerged as favorite choices. I’m seeing more cabinet doors inset with woven cane, and I’m hoping to incorporate cane in my new closet door sliding panels. Tracking down that source is on the hot list now. I’m still opting for painted kitchen cabinets, but mixed with some wood elements. That’s the other big trend: to mix painted cabinets with wood bases, islands, work tables and some cabinet doors.
Our next issue is all about kitchens. In that issue, we’ll focus on what’s new in appliances, hardware and finishes. There’s so much to learn about, like the new sous vide feature offered with some stoves, and the steam ovens that so many of my friends swear by.
Maybe it’s decision fatigue or just a craving for simplicity at home, but I’ve opted not to do some of what I see is popular in reno tech. No automatic light dimming system that drives me crazy. No single sound system that extends through the whole house. No totally wireless AV system. (They never work. Hardwire where it matters most, which is almost everywhere.) No stove that I can’t just turn on and off. I don’t want to take an online tutorial on how to use my own oven, and I don’t want to be told when dinner is ready. I want to poke that bird and pop in the thermometer 10 times and decide for myself when it’s done! Did I say bird? Yes, there will be a turkey in an oven this Christmas. I just don’t know which oven, in which kitchen… yet! And no — we still don’t have heat at the lakehouse. But soon, I’m told. Fingers still crossed…