Coming Home

There are lots of predictions for home trends in 2021, but we decided to spotlight the ones that will help you focus on creating your ultimate refuge and refresh your home for the year ahead.

The Sherwin-Williams color of the year, Urbane Bronze, takes center stage in this on-trend bedroom.

Social distancing in the time of a pandemic brought most of us up close and personal with the way we live in and design our homes. No matter how sprawling or sparse, we have been rethinking how to make our living quarters more functional, beautiful spaces that reflect our lifestyles, experiences, histories and personal taste.

“People are spending more time at home. That time has unveiled their unfiltered perspective of their environment. Some loved it, some hated it and some just wanted to freshen the look up a bit,” explains Kay Rains, head of the Design Studio at Koontz Furniture and Design. “This translated into a manifestation of a tailor-made, comfortable and cozy look and feel.”

“Warmth and welcome,” proclaims Paula King, owner of the chic retail boutique Agapanthus. “That’s what people are craving right now.”

King says her clientele are looking for creature comforts and ways to elevate their home goods, from investing in plush new bath towels to make you feel like you are being pampered in your own personal spa to adding luxe touches in the form of interesting stemware and furnishings. 

“Personalization and a return to incorporating local touches are also in demand right now,” King explains of everything from monogramming to the popularity of Agapanthus’ exclusive Ocala-themed pillows and custom tea towels.   

Blocker’s Furniture reports that customers are taking advantage of the opportunity to personalize their choices, from well thought out home office furnishings to custom upholstery and individually tailored items. While this approach takes more lead time, clients are willing to wait to have custom solutions that fit their space and achieve the specific design goals they have in mind.

Both Blocker’s and Koontz also encourage splashing out with color.

“Instead of the classic neutral upholstery colors like tan or gray, try something dramatic in a rich jewel tone,” Blocker’s designers offer. “Colorful furniture will give your room a pop of personality.”

Rains advises that the popular blue and white color scheme is still going strong as well and further encourages her clients at Koontz’s Design Studio not to be afraid to be bold.

“Rich magentas, teals, burnt oranges, vibrant yellows and a host of others are being paired together or infused with a neutral palate to create a fresh exciting look,” she asserts.

Paint One On

Paint is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to transform a room. It can give a space a certain “wow” factor when bold colors are employed or used in unexpected ways. Colorful statement walls have been growing in popularity, but we also are seeing a trend to highlight ceilings. A soft blue or blush hue can give a bathroom a cheery or serene vibe and can also provide subtle contrast and add depth to any space. Benjamin Moore suggests Buxton Blue HC-149, Iceberg 2122-50, Bird’s Egg 2051-60 or November Skies 2128-50 to evoke the feeling of an open sky or spa environment.

There’s also a case to be made for a dramatic dark ceiling. A rich navy or deep black will blur the boundaries of the room to create an intimate, comfortable and enveloping feel. Black Ink 2127-20 was used in the elegant dining room featured on this page. Continuing the color down part of the walls and framing it with contrasting white accents gives the space visual drama, highlights architectural features and can modernize a traditional dining room.

Open Plan

An interesting trend that has been building in popularity for the last few years is replacing upper cabinets in the kitchen with open shelving. We love the way this creates an open and unencumbered look and also allows our most utilized items to be close at hand or most beautiful items to be on display. It also encourages us to pare down and only hang on to the essentials and create a sense of order in those lower cabinets.

The artful white woven basket, pictured at right, is handmade from natural grasses in Tanzania. It is available through, a mission-driven nonprofit fair trade charitable organization that offers ethically-sourced, artisan-made products from around the world that celebrate each artisan’s cultural techniques and traditions, bring attention to social justice and human rights issues faced by their communities and was founded by women to empower women.

You also can shop similar items from Dunnellon artisan Mary Blanchette at

Vintage Vibe

While everything modern farmhouse is trending, antique, vintage and rustic china cupboards are in high demand. And if you’ve visited Pinterest lately, you know that there are a lot of creative folks breathing new life into these traditional pieces with a fresh coat (or several) of paint.

Mandy Bucci, owner of The Mustard Seed Collection, is an expert in period and design elements of vintage furniture and is always on the hunt for distinctive pieces, which she restores and paints herself. Bucci is also the exclusive Ocala stockist for Annie Sloan Chalk Paints.

“She’s the Martha Stewart of home decor, but in paint,” she explains of Sloan, who started in the UK and recently expanded to the U.S. market. “It’s easy to use and you don’t have to know how to paint.”

But Bucci is also willing to teach you, through workshops and classes she will be offering beginning this month.

For details, visit

Luxe Living

“Our customers are looking for a little luxury and some creature comforts,” King says of her clientele at Agapanthus.

However, she’s not talking about excessively opulent or over-the-top items. Because we’re now spending more time in our homes, we want to imbue them with some special touches. Bathrooms are somewhat of a sanctuary within our homes and are often in need of a makeover. Many homeowners are finding that by upgrading their linens, adding rich color to cabinetry and updating fixtures and vanities, they can achieve a tranquil spa-like aesthetic. The understated yet elegant fixtures in the Graceline Collection (pictured above), available at the Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Ocala, add warmth and a touch of modern sophistication.

Another stylish upgrade is statement-making glassware and barware. The ornate details and vibrant hues of the VIETRI “Regalia” Collection evoke the natural beauty of intricate geodes and each handcrafted piece is beautifully gilded with 14-karat gold by Italian artisans. These unique, hand-blown pieces are available at Agapanthus and are sure to elevate your next cocktail hour to a higher level.

“These towels literally are the softest ever!” reports blogger Ebonee Mashae about the Matouk towels she found at Agapanthus. “My favorite feature about these towels is once you use the towel and hang it up, it dries quickly. That is a feature of a very high-quality towel; most towels stay wet for a while due to polyester or other synthetic ingredients.”

Au Naturel

We’re seeing many people turning away from minimalist, pared down interiors, which can feel cold, in favor of a softer, earthier look utilizing natural materials such as wood, rattan, cane, jute, leather, organic fibers and house plants, as well as earthy handmade pottery and ceramics. Injecting such natural influences into your spaces can create a calming effect.

“Bringing the outside inside is something for us all to consider in any interior space. Something organic and natural adds to the comfort and pleasure of being inside,” offers Linda Trice DeWolf of Trice DeWolf Studio Interior Design. “Use living plants or cut flowers—there’s nothing like the real thing to add sculptural versatility to any room.”

“And soften hard lines…there are no straight lines in nature!” she continues. “The unexpected use of containers, typically used outside, make great accents. Incorporate ‘nature’ patterns, scenes and designs, including animals, insects, floral and leaf motifs.”

She also recommends live edge and distressed natural woods and advises mixing smooth and rough textures.

Layering natural fabrics and textures while pairing distinct pieces also can help achieve an earthy look. Try layering a wool carpet over a larger jute rug, add a rattan or wicker piece of furniture and, to create dimension, incorporate interesting textured pillows and throws. 

“Our clients hear me discuss the importance of adding texture to a space over and over again,” explains Jennie Holland of J Holland Interiors. “Truly understanding what exactly ‘texture’ within design means is key as it influences the overall tone and visual weight of the room, which makes a space feel more inviting.”

Holland says there’s been a huge focus on rattan, sisal and seagrass in recent years, but advises that there are many other ways to add texture beyond baskets and rugs.

“Layering fabrics can be a simple solution, but there are less obvious ways to utilize texture,” Holland notes. “You can find it on furniture pieces (think shagreen and metal-wrapped pieces), lighting, accessories, wallcoverings and even with the use of live foliage. These details can add layers of texture that help keep things balanced yet interesting—like it’s been curated and collected over time.”

For many, the move towards a natural look also comes from an interest in sustainable decor. Many individuals are thinking more about the environmental impact of home design and natural fibers that are sustainably produced without causing further deforestation. Younger consumers especially are seeking out ways to shop sustainably and invest in quality pieces they can keep for years. Look for materials that are certified sustainable by their manufacturers to ensure you’re buying pieces you can feel good about.

*Shown Above: A natural edge laurel oak wood bowl by local artisan Kent Weakley, available at

Small Measures

While there’s always an argument to be made for big, bold wall art with its undeniable impact, there’s been a movement toward smaller, more personal art pieces in recent years.

Whether presented in carefully curated groupings or on their own, Gallery Director Ashley Justiniano of the Brick City Center for the Arts says the pieces are highly sought after by visitors to the gallery. These smaller pieces make it easy to mix fine art with photography or even quirky wall hangings and allow for collectors to easily swap pieces in and out to refresh what’s on view.

We also love distinctive handmade pottery over mass produced items, whether it be an off-kilter amateur piece just waiting to get snatched up at a local thrift store or one created by a talented local artist like Gene Hotaling, whose work is available at Brick City’s gift shop. The Shannon Roth Collection also currently has a beautiful selection of distinctive pieces created by a prolific potter from North Carolina.

Work Around

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that, given how many of us have been working from home during the pandemic, home offices have gone from makeshift workspaces to fully realized office environments. In many cases, homeowners have been converting dens and guest bedrooms or sectioning off open plan rooms to accommodate more than one workspace. This also has led many of us to realize we need new furniture, better lighting and some help setting up computer systems and printers.

“Home office design requires some careful planning to ensure your setup works for you,” advises Linda Trice DeWolf of Trice DeWolf Studio Interior Design.

This means choosing a space where you’ll feel good about spending a lot of time each day rather than occupying some random spot where you can squeeze in a desk. Things to consider could include: What is the natural light situation? Does the space provide some level of privacy and quiet (think Zoom call fails)? Are there ample outlets and are they on a separate breaker from the kitchen appliances? Are you comfortable with how close or far it is from anyone else working from home?

This also is a time to invest in some quality furnishings that are comfortable and can accommodate your technological needs but also suit your overall design aesthetic. Remember, these items may be later repurposed in the home should you wind up returning to the office.

A New Order

Decluttering is more important than ever as we spend more time in our homes. Professional organizer Leah Taylor of Really Leah explains that “people want pretty and what they need is purpose.”

“We are all doing practically everything from our homes,” she says. “Finding respite in our multifunctional spaces at the same time is a challenge.”

Taylor has noticed “a tendency to make spaces aesthetically pleasing and, consequently, we never get to the mess.”

She helps her clients organize their possessions in a holistic way, considering their emotional attachment to items, noting that “organizing may require a little counseling, a load of compassion and some virtual handholding.”

“We all need to learn how to live with less mess,” Taylor insists. “People have to be willing to eliminate more and buy less.”

And she’s happy to help.

“I believe my role is to help people feel purposeful in whatever space they enter,” she says. “I’m not a therapist, but I can be their organizing coach.”

For more organizing tips, visit 

Home Truths

Our homes have truly become our space for just about everything recently. Many people want interiors with authenticity, playfulness and a personal narrative, rather than focusing on the next big trend.

There are many ways to tell your unique story and designers and homeowners are invested in interiors that not only tell a story but speak to the people who live there.

“Each client is unique and I believe it’s important for them to participate in the creative process; that way the finished product is a true signature of what their home should reflect,” offers Suzanne Rice of Suzanne Rice Design Consultants, LLC. 

Good interior design is expressive and conveys the ideas and values of the client, which means it is not formula or cookie-cutter. It is why the phrase “Home is where the heart is” remains so popular. Our homes also are a reflection of our souls, traditions, global view, passions and outlook on life.

While we have always been proponents of shopping local and small, we also know there is an array of artisan-made goods available from worthwhile sources all over the world, including items that do good for others. While we would not presume to tell you how to spend your money, we hope you’ll consider forgoing inferior quality products that will not stand the test of time in favor of those handcrafted within our communities and around the globe. We can all aspire to be more conscious consumers and better global citizens if we stop to consider whether the items we add to our homes truly reflect our values. As we begin to prioritize ethical and sustainable practices (from sourcing and shipping to the labor force) and examine where the things we welcome into our homes came from, who made them and their impact on our planet, we can truly feel at home.

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