Whether it’s a touch of European kitchen flair or Asian-inspired feng shui, an exotic look is just an accessory away.
A stylish enhancement could encompass evoking that spring fling in Paris, a memorable grand tour of Germany, a recollection of a blossoming Asian afternoon or just a fancy for unique modern styling.
Those looking to join the foreign-fashion culture club don‘t have to venture far from the beaten path.
An item picked up on holiday is enough to start a decorative collection for that special corner in your home, says Calgary interior decorator and home-staging specialist Lesley Jones.
“When they’re decorating, they don’t want it all to be something they bought from a shop. Personal possessions are big.
“Having that feeling of your own personality coming out in your house is quite important.”
Jones says the days of themed rooms have faded.
Although Asian inspiration is still found in small doses, home fashion sense has progressed toward a blend of contemporary and traditional styling.
“That can be timeless as well,” says Jones. “But a lot of customers are looking at including some of their own pieces in that, but, once again, bigger pieces and less. Those pieces can be quite effective in a space, but don’t go overboard.”
Accessories can easily translate a feel for a far-off design, but the most influential European approach these days is being found in the kitchen.
Roland Michely at Zen Living is finding more clients are asking for a clean, European style when it comes to kitchen and bathroom renovations.
“The upper, urban (clients) look for more of the contemporary European-style designs,” he says. “It’s very clean lines; not a whole bunch of little profiles on the doors. The handles are very clean-looking; not a lot of curves with bar pulls,” says Michely.
Though traditional door styles are still being produced in their custom cabinet shop, Michely says customers are looking for a cool transition between kitchen storage and appliances.
“The new cooktops don’t even have knobs or handles on them anymore. It gives you a very clean finish.
“People tend to go toward colours like plain white, with a high-gloss finish, and certainly a lot of glass being added into it,” Michely adds.
Sabri Thabet, consultant and head designer at Euro Kitchens, says their German-designed kitchen units take into account style as well as convenience.
“When they are making the kitchen, they are thinking about the space,” says Thabet.
“They don’t look at the kitchen as a cabinet, they look at it as part of the furniture that is in the house.”
Utilizing a unique, frameless hanging system, the German design does away with screwed-in cabinets adding to the sleek, clean design.
The lack of hardware also enhances the storage space and offers new solutions for corner areas and other tight spots in the kitchen, Thabet says.
“You don’t need the pantry within the kitchen, taking five feet on each side. When you go with the German solution for the corner tall unit, you delete your pantry and you gain more space and storage.”
Sticking with that minimalist, simple approach has also drifted to other areas in the home.
Jones says homeowners and renovators are staying with classic designs and neutral colours that will stand the test of time.
“People want a more contemporary look nowadays, and that is the European style in quite a lot of areas,” she says.
“I was recently in France and certainly it’s cleaner lines — less is more,” adds Jones.“People still want a glamorous look but definitely less than they wanted before. Larger pieces and a lot of small clutter items.”
But if you must throw in some foreign flash, whether that be African tribal masks, Japanese Samurai swords or that unique ornament gathered during your last European vacation, don‘t be too overpowering.
“I always say to my clients, spend your money on a few good pieces that you can change it out with soft furnishings, such as cushions and curtains. Things that don’t cost too much money,” says Jones, adding that if all fails, grab a paintbrush.
“You can really jazz it up with paint. Paint is the best thing you can do — and it’s the leastexpensive, as well.”