Tag Archives: design trends

I’ve just returned from Salone de Mobile in Milan Italy.

I know, lucky me!

It’s been a goal to attend this show for several years, so finally manifesting it is fantastic and was a feast for my eyes and my soul (not the mention the Italian feasts my mouth got to enjoy).

This “super show” (over 400,000 people) is the premiere exhibition for furniture and kitchen and bath design and products.


Here are my top 10 Milano moments for (I hope) your inspiration and fun:


1.Black is the new black

Poliform closet in black
This Poliform closet and island are all about the beauty

Seriously, the amount of black I saw had me longing for other colors. And the black I’m talking about is from products featured in the exhibits, not the wardrobes of the fine fashion mavens who go to (or live in) Milan.


Featured were black on black, black with white, black with brown, black with brown and white and, even still, a small amount of black with grey.


Grey has run its course.








For that desire for color, the dominant choice (if you can call it that) is yellow. 

cool black and yellow bag
I am where design is


Honestly, not excited (at the moment) but I get it. I didn’t groove on brass when I saw that showing up at KBIS in 2013.


Black can be a harsh color. It’s dense and heavy, so hopefully, that’s grounding for people.


I can see adding an accent touch in with medium brown, especially if that brown is real walnut.









2.My love of metallics is front and center. On trend. Metallics are the new neutral

Metallic and texture on cabinets
Metallic and texture in cabinets at Salon de Mobile

And I couldn’t be happier about that. These gun metals and antiqued shades can be brought in with strong hardware. So, hey, closet industry – we need rods and we need accessories. Otherwise, oil rubbed bronze is going to have to be the choice for “blending” and “disappearing” into closets – unless we’re designing with doors.


3.The Lighting is to Love For

Oh lighting! Let’s continue to drive ourselves and our industry forward so we’re brought into projects at blueprint level. Then we can specify where we need whips, outlets and access.


Lighting up closet spaces not only looks uber cool, it’s a real component of making life easier. As we age, and things are harder to see, lighting drawers, shelves, sections, all with a sense of style, is essential. Be gone little puck lights. We’ve loved you so, but LED’s are shining brightly now.


4.Sometimes You’ve Gotta Walk Alone

I walk a lot of trade shows “solo”. When I’m at KBIS or NEOCON, I’m typically there by myself, often wishing I had someone to bounce ideas off of and share design opinions.


Touring Salone de Mobile was a team effort with two fellow closet designers (Sally Hart from Clever Closet Company in Australia and Lee Kaufman from Gotham Closets in Manhattan). And doing this was fantastic AND it showed me that I need balance. Some floor/show time collaborating and ideating, and some alone, focused on the mission of what trends I see and what turns me on.


5.Prosecco is the Answer to Everything

At the risk of sounding like this “trend research and networking” trip was all fun and frolic, I feel compelled to share our mantra – which became “Prosecco is the answer to everything”.

Tired feet –  sit – drink Prosecco

Waiting for colleague – cafe – Prosecco

Walking through a booth and you’re thirsty – take them up on their offer for a complimentary glass of Prosecco.

Deciding where to go next – needs direction provided by Prosecco.



6.Mix and Match is Where It’s At

Mix and Match is Trending
Mixing colors brown and white

I mentioned seeing black with brown and black with white. I also saw brown with yellow. Black with yellow. Brown with seafoam green (yes, seafoam!).


And this mix and match approach goes beyond changing the color of an island. Put on your designer sunglasses, be courageous, and propose something a bit more “mixed up”.


You can do this in a simple way by adding an accent section or set of doors in brown or black to predominantly white project. Then the color can be changed out without destroying the whole project when trends transition from seafoam to kelly green (yes, that’s coming!).







7.Traveling with Colleagues Changes the Whole Experience

I love being a part of something bigger than myself. And collaborating with two other design pro’s created an experience that was bigger and deeper than I ever could have achieved solo. You have similar professional interests, so it makes selecting what to do and see and where to go pretty easy. And that allows for more meaningful, specific conversations that provide help both personally and professionally. I highly recommend it.




8.Does Fashion Lead Design or Does Design Lead Fashion?

Armani fashion lives forever
Fashion first and forward at the Armani Museum in Milan Italy


It used to be that fashion lead design and it would take months, if not years, for those trends to reach the US consumer market.

Now I see them as neck and neck (or couch and couch if you prefer). Because things can be shared so quickly in the digital environment in which we live, trends can be translated almost instantaneously. So if you want to see what’s going to be happening in hard lines (home furnishings), take a look at Vogue or any runway fashion show online.

9.A Top Insider Logistics Tip

If you ever attend the show, stay close to the “Lotto” train station in Milan. It will get you to almost any place you want to go in just one train trip. No transfers. Huge time saver and peace of mind creator.

10.Luxury Drives Design

SMEG art as appliance
SMEG luxury appliances as art.

Face it. We’re in luxury business. People all over the world survive without organized closets and high functioning kitchens.

And as a closet professional, function is top priority. As is practicality. And those design engineered solutions are of the utmost importance.

But when it comes to what’s featured, romanced and exhibited at the largest industry show known to designers, it’s the luxury elements that are featured. We do now see these elements translated into tech (which is just another flavor of luxury in many ways). But the delicious colors and textures and combinations are luxurious. And that’s a big part of what draws nearly a half million people to this show.

It’s a show that I hope you get to go to. It’s worth every element of energy invested – including really comfortable shoes and multiple bottles of Prosecco!




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Color affects almost everything in my life.

My mood.

My choices.

Even my thoughts.

I’m not about “the little black dress” or the “crisp white blouse”. In fact, in my closet, neither of those items exist.

There are colors that I gravitate towards (in fact, people close to me could rattle off the top 3 without giving it a second thought). But that doesn’t mean that I only find those palettes appealing.

I love seeing what’s coming in color trends and how I can incorporate some of them into my life – and into my closet.

Here’s what I see trending as I wander through the city nearest to my heart – Chicago!


Metallics are still charging ahead.

They’ve gone from “trendy” options to foundational options, which, quite frankly, I love. And I have loved for decades. My wardrobe neutrals are brushed silver/grey tones and softened copper tones. Way jazzier and expressive than black.

Edgier Hues

The power of pink goes beyond “Pink” the entertainer, but performs in the same powerful way that Pink does when she’s on stage.

And the color is moving towards being accepted as “gender neutral”. That means that my godchild (Hey Cody!) can feel confident wearing the very on trend shirt I gave him that is totally pink. Now if I could just get him to shave the beard and mustache…

Pink Has a Sister – Mauve

Banish the image in your head of the 80’s Mauve Mother-of-the-Bride dress. Because while mauve feels like “an old” color, it’s also new. You can clearly see both in this photo of a Marshall Field’s (I know, it’s Macy’s. I don’t care) floor that has mauve stone installed during the 80’s and how it meshes with the latest clothing display featuring Mauve.

And we can update the mauve not only by pairing it with brass or rose gold, but add some texture for a reptilian win on a gorgeous handbag.

Blue is Still Big

Yes, blue is still everywhere. And I’m ok with that. It’s showing brighter and more geometric.

In its softer shades, it pairs wonderfully with brass (I know, brass!). Brass started to first reveal itself in 2013 at KBIS. Now it’s major mainstream.


Ed Sheeran references aside (I’m obsessed with “Castle On The Hill”) technology has allowed sheer clothing to make amazing strides.

We’re seeing all kinds of looks that have intricate detail or strategically placed cut-outs that create looks we’ve not been able to wear before.

So, do you see anything you like?

Any favorite that you just feel compelled to bring into your closet?

I hope so, because fashion can be so much fun.

Yet I don’t want you just stuffing your closets full of clothing. Well designed closet space changes lives.

Interested in my best design tips for designing great closet spaces? Check them out here –

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Design Trends at the Milan Show
Posted by:Denise Butchko,

It’s not often that I sit through a presentation without taking notes and thinking about how I can share the highlights with people. I have journalist genes in my jeans.

But I was so inspired the other night at  Casa Spazio in Chicago by the panel sharing insights and design trends from Salone Internazionale de mobile (The Milan show of modern design) that I went into sponge mode and just took it all in.

With insights from global traveler businessman Marco van velsen of Former (a furniture manufacturer in Italy) and Scott Dresner of Dresner Design in Chicago here are the highlights of what they saw as trends and what I see as inspiring and exciting:

Space Saving Solutions:
I almost have to sing this one! I’ve been aware of the brilliant creations of a company named Clei for a few years now. Their brilliance seems to be continuing. There isn’t much that makes me happier than well designed, functional space. This niche’ is only going to get bigger and better as our homes get smaller and smaller.

Check out this desk that folds into a shelf

Check out this desk that folds into a shelf

From “fashion” to “furniture”. This something that I love following, since furniture and home decor are the “fashion” for your dwelling while “fashion” is the decor for your physical body.

Color translates.

Textures and adornments translate.

Line and design translate.

The most straight forward example is yellow showing up as “the IT color” (according to Scott Dresner).

Yellow is the IT color

Yellow is the IT color

Integrating function and “hiding” things were also mentioned as strong trends, and ones highly relate-able to cabinetry and closets. There were lots of kitchens showing the tables actually integrated into the space and designs and others that had the tables “disappearing” as they slid into hiding spaces when not in use. Also shown were “hidden” appliances that could be revealed and accessed when needed.

Tables integrated into space and design

Tables integrated into space and design


More Hide and Seek as appliances are kept out of sight until needed.

More Hide and Seek as appliances are kept out of sight until needed.

Wood – Renewed. This interesting terminology shared by Dresner is different from “reclaimed”. It’s taking wood that is not necessarily recycled or being “re-used” but has different coloring than what we’ve been seeing the last several years. Featured were more medium wood tones, more grain and texture and changing grain directions within the same space.

Medium toned, highly textured wood

Medium toned, highly textured wood

Additional trends that our experts noted were extremely innovative design and use of materials (like an onyx couch), the return of wardrobes to store clothing items and thin counter tops.

A special thanks goes out to the River North Design District for sponsoring this inspiring event.



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Closet Design Trends
Posted by:Denise Butchko,

Three Trends From Closet Expo 2015

If you enjoy good design even half as much as I do, then you would have gotten some great inspiration from the little show that could (formally known as The Closet and Home Organization Conference and Expo).

It’s an intimate show that allows you to get up close and personal with the people who exhibit their latest and greatest for this targeted audience.

Here’s what I see as trending:

1. Lighting Everywhere – Including Inside Jewelry Drawers
Love this concept not only because it help you see things clearly, but it’s motion sensored so when you close the drawer, the light goes off. This concept also works really well for Universal Design purposes as it allows you to see the contrast between, say, your blue sock and your black sock. This one is brought to you by the fine folks at Richelieu.

Here’s a quick video demo to help illustrate the concept:

2. Return of Rose Gold

I liked this color years ago when my mom was obsessed with it in jewelry. It wasn’t your standard gold or silver. And I must say I like seeing it again. I have a penchant for copper, and rose gold comes close to a copper look. Sidelines was showing it in some prototype pieces and I hope they move forward. It looks great against dark browns.

Glide and Slide – Softly and Silently

Soft close or self close anything is more than trending. It’s claimed a permanent position in the market. The less we have to work at things, the more we like it. And we like the idea of never having to remind anyone (be it teenager or husband) to “close that drawer” again even more. We want anything that we CAN get to work for us to do so. Just a touch and it’s all back in place. It’s nearly giving you the gift of time.

Glideware has an interesting concept with this that can be used in the kitchen AND in the closet. Pretty cool, right?

And if you’d like more tips relating to closet design, check them out here:


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