Since so many of us are spending more time at home these days, it may be a good time to take a look around and see what can be done to brighten up our surroundings and add some happiness to our home atmosphere.

Clutter vs. Cottage

One current design trend is called “Cluttercore,” achieved by filling your home with beloved sentimental objects, creating a homey atmosphere that stimulates your creative side and gives you a feeling of warmth.

Perhaps add some antiques you’ve been storing, or plenty of knickknacks. Stack some baskets or books to add some height, and decorate your other empty surfaces with vignettes of curated items. Don’t think of it as hoarding—just adding charm to lift your spirits!

According to Katie Laughridge, owner of Kansas City interior design boutique Nell Hill's, “The art of achieving a cluttercore aesthetic is to create an organized mess that feels like a big hug.” And who couldn’t use a hug right now?

But many of us have embraced a simpler lifestyle that’s reflected in another of the latest interior design style trends that’s sweeping the nation, “Cottagecore.” Defined as “a romanticized interpretation” of rural country life, cottagecore incorporates soft cozy elements like traditional floral print fabrics, pleated and ruffled edges, intricate embroidery, thick wool bouclé and colorful retro velvet upholstery into a simple white and cream backdrop.

Add a rich, organic note with natural elements like fresh florals, linen fabrics, hemp curtains, cork walls or floors and bamboo, wood, wicker and jute furniture and finishes, with woven grass accents.

Incorporating live plants can reduce your stress levels and depression, help you mentally refresh and increase your creative thoughts. And caring for them can give you a feeling of accomplishment.

Introducing a few delicate accessories like vintage teacups, crystal vases, colorful dried flowers and mossy-hued accessories will help finish it off.

Since the cottage feel is popular, many DIY decorating projects are now based on the Danish concept of hygge, a feeling of coziness, comfort and simplicity that uses rustic décor like wooden candles and warm earth tones to create the ultimate oasis.

How about some winning combos to spruce things up? Use some natural materials, like plants, wood or twine mixed with bolder materials such as leather. Try simple wood and metal furnishings or accessories to give you a feel of industrial chic. Or, for a more elegant look, combine some copper or brass with luxurious velvet fabrics.

Since we are spending more time at home than ever before, more people are using divider screens, curtains and partitions to create dedicated areas for work, exercise, fun, relaxation and family time. But they don’t need to be drab and boring. Even though minimalist neutral white, beige and gray backgrounds have been trending, you can add a pop of color to make your day a little brighter. Nature’s inspiration includes bright green (trees), dark blue (water), orange and even deep ochre yellow (sunsets and flowers). Plus, softer and slightly retro shades of peach, dusky pink, frosted lilac and muted mint can be calming and relaxing.

Show a Creative Side

Handmade and artisanal furnishings are a worthy trend that allows traditions and special techniques to be preserved and brings unique beauty into any décor. Why not brighten up your home with a splash of artistry?

Talented craftsmen from around the world create eye-catching and unique custom furnishings like tables, chairs, cabinets, desks, shelves, beds, dressers and other pieces from sustainably harvested woods like mango, South American walnut, dark cherry or mesquite. Some show the unique burl (deformed grains) and some feature a “live edge” (a textured or bark-covered edge that was not removed from the wood). These custom pieces may also include wrought iron, copper, zinc or other natural elements.

They may be a more rustic style … or maybe more elegant. Some pieces may exhibit a smooth contemporary style. Others may have a stained finish to show the natural beauty of the wood, and some may be detailed and painted pieces. Weathered or washed painted finishes are also popular with custom craftsmen furnishings.

Right now, a top DIY home décor trend is chalk-painted furniture, using a matte-finish, water-based paint to create the ultimate distressed vintage farmhouse look.


Patty Mais, owner of Wild Goose Chase in Port Charlotte, said “Furniture painting is through the roof!”

Here in Southwest Florida, many transplants from other states bring old furniture pieces from “up north” with them and need to make the old pieces fit in their new home. Or they purchase old items and want to “lighten them up.”

Mais offers classes designed to teach DIY furniture painters how to transform their pieces into unique furnishings. Most use traditional or classic design styles and softer colors, but some enjoy a more tropical beach look, a country vibe or a sleek contemporary fashion.

She also sells the paint, decal supplies and hardware for students to use in class or at home. And if you’re too nervous to try and transform your own furniture, she also takes on custom projects for customers. “I do commission pieces, but would rather teach them,” she said, adding “Whatever they need, I want them to be happy. It’s all fun.”

Apparently, teals and blues are the most popular colors right now, and then yellow, even if they are only accents. Popular decals for women are florals and fish for men. Hardware finishes include popular nickel and silver, but gold is also coming back.

“Pour painting is also a big rage right now,” Mais said. Paint colors are mixed and thinned out with mediums that keep the colors separate, allowing them to flow more easily when poured on and keeping the paint from cracking when it dries. This flowing marbleized look is great for table or cabinet tops, trays or wall art.

Mais also offers a diverse selection of unique furniture, rugs, art and accessories for sale in her retail store, including some of her own creations, like painted reclaimed furniture pieces and colorful art pieces. Many customers enjoy her whimsical, fun, contemporary 3D painted fish art mounted on wood.

Another great local resource for the latest styles is Southern Design Living in Englewood. Owner Michelle Sears said, “Painted furniture is very popular here in Southwest Florida.” SDL sells nightstands, dressers, tables, chairs and wicker pieces in a vast array of colors, but right now the most popular, besides white, is navy blue. “Natural wood finishes such as teak, or a beachy driftwood, are also very much in fashion and can really warm up a room,” Sears said.

Sears, and many other local store owners and designers, attended a fall furniture show in North Carolina in October. She said that velvet was definitely the trend in fabrics, whether for pillows, sofas, chairs or other design elements. Featured colors were navy, hunter, chocolate, silver, mushroom and more. She recommends cotton velvets, since they are more “user friendly” than silk or other types.

Accent-uate the Positive

Have you noticed a surge in art pieces that offer an inspirational message, like “Be Thankful,” “Share the Love” or “Keep on Truckin’”? We all need some of that! These messages can be painted on reclaimed or whitewashed wood, canvases, trays, throw pillows—even on the wall!—and embroidered on fabrics.

Add or change out some artwork to bring in some color and inspiration. Consider a wall mural, a colorful painting, a three-dimensional artistic creation or even a quilt.

Maybe you could frame some nostalgic photos of family or your travel experiences and create a bold and beautiful gallery wall to make you smile!

“Framed local coastal maps are really big as well as framed prints depicting coastal beach scenes in various shades of calming blues,” Sears said. She added that “carved wood fish and shorebirds in natural colors are best sellers … (and) hand blown and solid glass balls in various sizes and colors are another favorite coastal accessory.”

For area rugs, Sears explained that indoor/outdoor types are most popular because of easy maintenance. Traditional sisal rugs, in various colorful tones and different shapes and sizes, provide inspiration throughout the home.

Maybe it’s time to change your style, and change your mood!

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