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COVID-19 and the Future of Interior Design

COVID-19 and the Future of Interior Design

The design business relies heavily on interpersonal connections between clients and designers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse with peers via Zoom and teleconference.
Just as creative as designers are with color, styling, and interior architecture, we also can be just as innovative with how we conduct our business. Technology has been key to allowing us to do our jobs.

During a recent Emily Morrow Home Designer Pro-Gram Zoom discussion, one design team in Chicago explained how they were able to use FaceTime to “walk” their clients through the Chicago Merchandise Mart to show them looks they were recommending for their project. I asked how they were able to express the quality or texture or value of the products they’re selecting when the end-user can’t hold or feel it in person. Their response to me was that trust played an important role. That answer shouldn’t surprise anyone who understands the relationship and trust between design pro and client.

TRUST AND TRUE VALUE

Trust is at the heart of a great design project, as well as a design professional’s reputation. A client must trust a designer when it comes time to spend more on a particular visual or finish. Providing samples has long been a necessity to assure clients they were spending more money to get something more substantial. Sometimes it is “exclusive” or sometimes it’s a much better product, either by touch or weight. Because design consultation is considered a discretionary item, in today’s turbulent times, more and more designers are having to justify their work and price their services in ways that don’t seem to exceed the value they are bringing to their clients. More than that, designers are being asked important questions about the “why” behind their choices. Now more than ever before, designers are also being pressured to provide products that are “better” in terms of how and where they are made. As such, designers are working closely with retailers to learn the facts about where a product was made and by whom. Designers understand they have to have peace of mind that once installed, there won’t be pushback.

Because product knowledge is so important, sales associates must be ready to speak openly, easily, and with confidence about products. Designers are asking all of the right questions and providing solutions to their clients. One thing in particular that designers do best, both in commercial and residential design, is to put the human needs first. Today, consumers are demanding to know what each product contains.

OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Homeowners were quarantining at home and seeing the various cracks, chips, and fading materials that they cannot wait to replace or update. Flooring is no exception. We saw an immediate uptick in online sample orders during the first weeks of the COVID-19 quarantine. The idea that homeowners would be interested in home improvement after spending unprecedented time at home seems obvious in retrospect, as does the color and design trends that are now gaining traction. There is currently a desire for calming and soothing color palettes, as well as bringing cheer into a space. Blues, squad, greens, and warming earth-tones are all trending upwards. Beyond comforting and soothing color palettes, there is also a desire for bringing health and nature into interior spaces. One way to bring the health and nature themes into the home is through the use of natural materials, such as hardwood flooring that is light, matte, and has cleaner grain. Trends indicate this style of flooring will outsell dark or muted wood floors. Floors that are plasticized, still will have their place in the market, but in a head-to-head comparison for a quality custom built home, hardwood floors will take first place. If it looks and feels close to nature, it is going to be an easier sell to homeowners than the plastic-looking materials. From a broader trend perspective, healthy homes are homes that you would consider luxurious and beautiful. I fully expect that healthy homes, even if located in urban areas, will include hardwood as a primary building material.

Because product knowledge is so important, sales associates must be ready to speak openly, easily, and with confidence about products. Designers are asking all of the right questions and providing solutions to their clients. One thing in particular that designers do best, both in commercial and residential design, is to put the human needs first. Today, consumers are demanding to know what each product contains.

 

HOME IS THE NEW WORKPLACE

One final trend we are seeing during the past few months is that working remotely is the new corporate norm. This provides numerous opportunities for us as flooring providers and interior designers. We must help homeowners define spaces within their home more definitively. There is the resting “oasis” space and the “work” space. If homes are now our sanctuary from the work world and our work worlds are now within our sanctuaries, what shifts are going to happen as a result? We also expect to see more merging of commercial and residentially styled products that perform under the pressure of daily wear and tear. Commutes are now taking place just across the kitchen or just across the hallway from the bedroom. With the merging of spaces, we will see an uptick in the quality of the finishes being used. If you’re now spending longer days at home working, designers and homeowners are trending strongly already toward a preference for anything that lasts longer and looks good longer.

 

 

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How to Care for Your Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Floors

***This post has been updated from August 2018

By Kate Toburen Kranzlein, Marketing Specialist for Emily Morrow Home

 

Do you want to take care of your new hardwood floors so that they last a lifetime? (They can with the right care, by the way!). Simply keep them free of dust and debris, no wet mopping, and no harsh chemicals. “Less is more” is the best rule of thumb!

Now that you know what to do, let’s talk about what not to do to your hardwood floors to keep them looking pristine.

Cleaning

While using a vacuum is physically easier to use when cleaning hardwood floors than a traditional broom or dry mop, vacuums can oftentimes damage the surface of your floors. To avoid this, do not use the beater bar on the vacuum because that can scrape and dent your floors. Also, vacuums can create denting if dropped. Using a dry mop with little moisture is one of the best ways to dust your hardwood floors. Swiffer Wood Cleaner and Bona Floor Care have products which are gentle and ideal for Emily Morrow Home hardwood flooring that removes the dust and debris of everyday life without leaving a dull or sticky film to attract more dirt later.

No harsh chemicals, furniture polishes, or wood waxes should ever be applied to Emily Morrow Home’s hardwood floors.

Additionally, wet mopping your hardwood floors can lead to long-term water damage due to the overexposure to moisture on the porous wood*. A better option would be a dry mop or Swiffer mop.

*Knowing this, keep your house’s air moisture levels consistent to ensure that warping and cupping do not occur

Shoes

Try to avoid walking on your hardwood floors with high heel shoes. High heels create a lot of pressure in a small area which can create indentations on the hardwood floors.

Moving Furniture

If you move any furniture, use soft gliding pads underneath to reduce any scratches or indentations. Otherwise, if you move furniture, pick up the furniture completely off the floor and gently place it back on the hardwood in the desired location. Do not drag or scoot furniture across your hardwood floors.

Pets

The Emily Morrow Home hardwood collection is pet-friendly, and our durable construction proctects against most everyday scratches that your excited pooch or feline might inflict upon your floors. With our UV cured Aluminum oxide finish, our hardwood floors can stand the test of your pet’s “Scooby-Doo” moments. We caution you, though, in remembering that long exposure to moisture can damage hardwood floors. So, if your sweet angel has an accident or spills his or her water bowl onto your floors, you will want to wipe it up as soon as possible.

Bottom Line

Hardwood flooring is strong and tough, and it can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. We hope these simple care and maintenance tips will keep your Emily Morrow Home hardwood floors looking gorgeous for years to come.

 

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The Definition of Luxury Hardwood: Emily Morrow Home

Don’t mistakenly equate “luxury” with “expensive”. It’s more about a customized look… and it’s currently what Emily Morrow Home’s customers desire and designers demand. “Interior designers work with demographic groups that generally are higher earning households, and their clients generally are hiring the designers to help create an interior that adds to their overall quality of life and pleasure,” said CEO Emily Morrow Finkell. She explained those clients are hungry to create a space that’s completely unlike the interior next door. These custom options, from cut to color, help differentiate high-end hardwood. Morrow Finkell says that having a range of format offerings is essential to curating a luxury line. “Having a variety of options,” she echoed, “either custom or herringbone are essential.”

Below is the interview recently conducted between Emily Morrow Finkell and Floor Covering Weekly for their 2020 FCW Luxury Issue

Q1) What defines high-end hardwood: the cut, finish, design, etc.? Please explain. Why are these attributes important? 

A1) The definition of high-end hardwood certainly should be looked upon in the same light as diamonds since they both begin with the “cut”… the more precious the part of wood that is revealed by the cut, the harder it is to achieve that particular cut, the more desirable it is. Quarter-sawn veneers and select grades of North American white oak are among the most timeless requests in the world of luxury hardwood especially if it’s domestically-grown and domestically-harvested, it leaves no doubt of its origins. Today’s consumers insist on knowing how it’s made, if it is “safe” for the end-user as much as it is for those in the factories, think of this material almost like the entire “clean eating, farm to table, organically grown” version of hardwood flooring. Colors and finishes for the flooring need not hide or disguise the beautiful flecks, grain and medullary rays of the material but rather allow the natural eye see and appreciate it for its natural beauty. Some of the color influences are also drawn from other natural materials like “limestone”, salt, plaster, natural linen, jute, hemp and the natural-neutral colors of wool. The colorations, although subtle are critical that they are “just right”, not too gray, not too yellow, not too pink, not too green…but “just right’ in almost every light source. Beyond the cut of course is the size (thickness, width and stability) of the plank…keeping in mind that having a variety of options, either “custom” or “herringbone” coordinates are essential. 

Q2) Why does wood sell well at the upper end? 

A2) Wellness, holistic homes and “healthy” living are major catalysts. Although it may sound like I’m repeating the same thing if you listened in to my presentation on Thursday for NWFA’s “Changing Market Trends”…you’ll begin to understand that it is a BIG TREND…and no one else seems to be talking about it, except me…so that is an indication that our industry is focusing on other things that they perceive as a higher priority. “Hipsturibia” and “holistic residential ares” are designed and constructed with the natural materials, although the per square foot price tag is on the high end, it is a trade off for what these consumers’ value over those from 20 years ago, who wanted the maximum square footage “McMansion”. Those who wanted “McMansions” probably loved their “Big Macs” while today’s homes are “conspicuously comfortable and natural” just like the uber-organic “Whole Foods” deliveries brought to their doors. 

Q3) What are the benefits of choosing a luxury wood?   

A3) Key themes for my brand and products have been “custom options”, premium cuts as well as timeless designs and colors. Knowing the higher end consumer’s desires and design styles has proven to be beneficial in curating the collection. Knowing the “whys” certain colors and finishes were trending upwards, and understanding that I didn’t want to be everything to everyone, but my particular segment of consumers.”Tendencies” and behaviors are the key, like in playing doubles tennis, when you see your opponent at the net reaching overhead with their tennis racquet, you should expect there to be a tennis ball coming at you right away.  Interior designers work with demographic groups that generally are higher earning households, and their clients generally are hiring the designers to help create an interior that adds to their overall quality of life and pleasure which includes what can be best described as the “spiritual” need to have a place that exudes who they are, unlike the interior of the space next door, unique. “Customization” and “experiential” both helped craft and define the collections of EMH hardwood. A love of travel, having a curiousity about the world and a desire to bring the most natural and healthful materials into a space, are at the heart of EMH and EMH for Louis A. Dabbieri. Without seeing some of the places I was inspired by, it’s still possible to imagine the colors of the Serengeti or the cloud of gray dust and blur of zebras and wildebeests when clicking on the videos showing the “Design Journey” for styles named “Tusker”, “Great Migration”, “Serengeti Spirit” …just to name a few. Taking those experiences and translating them into colors and finishes that leave no doubt that when looking at the flooring you are indeed seeing those very things in your minds’ eye. 

Wellness has been a huge priority in the Morrow-Finkell household as you already know, I’m a breast cancer survivor with now a daughter who’s a Covid-19 survivor and it goes without saying that everything we have touched, everything we have brought into our home has to pass a series of criteria: where did it come from? Who all has been in contact with it? What are the ingredients? How long would a virus or bacteria last on it? Where does this go when its useful life is over? Knowing that viruses live longer on plastic than they do on wood is one statistic many consumers will not forget after this pandemic is over. Living better, living longer are a priority over living “large” and brandishing designer handbags. Today’s consumers are living with health and wellness foremost in their minds. It isn’t your imagination that it’s the millennials, Gen-Y and Gen X’ers who have been the most outspoken for the “more senior” family members to “stay home and wear a mask”, while standing outside their windows or delivering their groceries to them. It’s the same consumers who are the recipients or soon to be on the receiving end of the ‘“transfer of wealth” already documented in various reports. 

 

RESEARCH EXCERPTS FROM ARTICLES CITED BELOW:

The researchers behind the new study tested the virus’ life span in a 71-degree-Fahrenheit room at 65% relative humidity. After three hours, the virus had disappeared from printing and tissue paper. It took two days for it to leave wood and cloth fabric. After four days, it was no longer detectable on glass or paper money. It lasted the longest, seven days, on stainless steel and plastic. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-can-coronavirus-live-on-surfaces-how-to-disinfect-2020-3

According to Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, smooth, nonporous surfaces like doorknobs and tabletops are better at carrying viruses in general. Porous surfaces — like money, hair, and cloth fabric — don’t allow viruses to survive as long because the small spaces or holes in them can trap the virus and prevent its transfer, Graham told Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-can-coronavirus-live-on-surfaces-how-to-disinfect-2020-3

Wellbeing

The health of individuals – mental and physical – society as a whole, and the wider natural environ- ment. Growth in demand for a healthy outcome is driving innovation across the real estate sector.

Environmental, social & governance (ESG) criteria

A generic term used by investors to evaluate corpo- rate behaviour against a set of non-financial perfor- mance indicators including sustainable, ethical and corporate governance issues such as managing the company’s carbon footprint and ensuring there are systems in place to ensure accountability.

COLDWELL-BANKER-REPORT

Watch for housing developments focused around wellness, “hipsturbia” neighborhoods, and communities catering to active seniors, millennials, and LGBTQ. When it comes to luxury condos in big cities, we are already seeing more buildings offering unique hospitality and services for pets and children, as well as five-star hotel-condo models. New definitions of luxury are emerging, creating greater diversity within the marketplace. A one-size-fits- all approach to connecting with tomorrow’s affluent consumers is not the future of our business!

Tax law changes in 2018 that limited deductions for state and local taxes provide further fuel for buyers to move from places like New York and California to Florida and Arizona.

Another recurrent theme is the broad concept of wellness, which has come to mean much more than spas, pools, and exercise rooms to include everything related to holistic well-being. Increasing focus on green design is giving rise to rating systems that certify buildings as eco-friendly, while similar certifications are taking root to score buildings’ wellness.

Finally, there is a widening recognition of the increasing influence of several demographic groups in the luxury home market. 

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) estimates the worldwide wellness market to be worth $4.5 trillion, with the strongest growth coming from the spa industry, wellness tourism, and the emerging industry of wellness real estate,1 which has taken flight by responding to rising demand for buildings that support the holistic health and well-being of people who live and work in them.

“Luxury is the trend leader in wellness, but developers are starting to leverage the benefits to create more affordable smart-healthy homes and neighborhoods,” says Scialla, noting the sharpening focus on wellness at the center of new home conception, design, and creation.

With luxury goods, the craft origins, high-quality materials and small production runs that characterise the industry, assist audit trails. We can see who and how things are put together and the possible side effects during the manufacturing or distribution process.

The total number of luxury consumers is expected to reach 480 million in 2022, a 20% increase from 2015. As opposed to conspicuous consumption, social status today

is signaled through the consumption of experiences rather than material goods. By 2023, the experiential segment is forecast to account for nearly two-thirds of the total $1.2 billion luxury market.

Universalis Rift and Quartersawn White Oak Herringbone Floors are representative of timeless materials that never go out of style and are built to last a lifetime
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Emily Morrow Home | NWFA and FCW | Adapting to Changing Demands

Adapting to changing demands as featured in Floor Covering Weekly
Monday, May 4, 2020
By Morgan Bulman

[Chesterfield, Mo.] The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only disruptive challenge the hardwood floor industry has faced. For the second day of the NWFA’s first-ever virtual Expo, a session tag-teamed by Emily Morrow Home CEO Emily Morrow Finkell and Anderson Tuftex’s director of brand strategy Katie Ford outlined how to stay steady with wood in an unpredictable marketplace.

Define your business
“Our industry is continually being disrupted,” shared Morrow Finkell during the online webinar. “We have to accept that change is constant and that it really is up to us to adapt and evolve.”

Some of the biggest complaints listed by Morrow Finkell included internet sales, fake wood, cheap imports and the uncertainty of a post-coronavirus retail market.

“Ask yourself some tough questions: What is unique to your business? Who are you hoping will buy your products? Do you know how others see you? What types of products best fit your business and your customers?” she posed, while offering listeners to review and define their value disposition.

Elevate wood’s qualities
Authenticity as a business is key, especially in order to sell an authentic product. Morrow Finkell revealed one of the most important qualities of wood is its natural authenticity, especially considering the current wellness culture consumers are living in, particularly in light of COVID-19.

And although industry professionals have a tendency to get hung up on who to sell to, whether its Baby Boomers or Millennials, “the wellness initiative is huge for every one of these demographics and will continue to expand,” she said.

In fact, Morrow Finkell referred to the Global Wellness Institute, which reported “health and wellness” is now a 4.5 trillion-dollar market and that 134 billion of that amount is devoted to holistic-oriented real estate. This can include anything from available exercise equipment to sustainable building materials like flooring.

“Designers almost always advise their clients to go with natural materials, nine times out of 10,” she noted. Wood has always been the top, coveted flooring visual, but as the market becomes oversaturated with lookalikes, Morrow Finkell believes there’s untapped potential in offering premium, high quality products consumers are starved for.

“Wood is synonymous with wellness,” she stressed.

“Hardwood is truly timeless,” but a great way to stay on top of changing market demands is to keep tabs on what customers are looking for. And, right now, there are three aspects to keep tabs on:

1. Light and neutral colors: Plaster, jute, wool, linen and muslin – this is what has inspired the light and ultra-matte colors of Emily Morrow Home. “Organic is a huge buzz word,” shared Morrow Finkell. Natural, organic and plaster-inspired color palettes are trending.
2. Dark statement stains: Interiors in general are trending light – white cabinetry, light fixtures, fabrics. For these home choices, dark woods offer a great deal of contrast, revealed Morrow Finkell.
3. Premium cuts and graining: When it comes to wood, quality sells well. “If you have a premium brand, you need to have a premium sample experience,”. To receive free samples of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood, simply text EMILY2 to 900900.

 

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While Quarantined…Where do you go to find inspiration for your designs?

A serengeti sunset is beautiful until you figure out that in the distance is a burning prairie in Kenya, photo credits – Emily Morrow Finkell August, 2019.

When asked recently by a member of the press, “Where are you finding creative inspiration during the quarantine?”…and my first thought was that there really wasn’t a creative moment in this whole adventure of staying at home. Then it dawned on me…I had been going back through photos of our treks, clearing out memory cards from my camera and one in particular was from our 2018 trip to Kenya. As any good photographer would do, I didn’t immediately “delete all” but instead “viewed all”…and am “keeping almost all” of the images. So many of the photographs are astonishingly beautiful, causing me to ask myself “how in the world did I miss this one?”. You know how it is when you first get home from a trip, there’s a rush of activity, the usual stuff you have to do when you’ve been out of pocket, and for us, when we got home from Kenya we moved right into product development of the new Emily Morrow Home hardwood styles, all of which were inspired by our travels, many of which were the Safari, and then we ran right into winter market. Quite honestly I never really got a chance to sit down and absorb all the photos I had taken, only a few of the ones that fit the story line of my products. Now that time has elapsed, and now that I have some spare time to do this, I’m amazed at the phenomenal images that have managed to go unseen until this week when I found them, they are treasures. One of my favorites is this shot. I just love the textures, the mix of colors, the contrast of the gorgeous sunset and the threat of danger from the fires. It’s amazing how immediately one image can call to mind such a rich blend of sights, the smells, the sensations in my memory banks. Once again, I am so inspired!

 

Enjoy the journey!

Emily

P.S. Share your favorite travel photos with me at emily@emilymorrowhome.com

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Emily Morrow Finkell for NWFA | WOMEN INSPIRING OTHERS 

Emily Morrow Finkell for Hardwood Floors Magazine NWFA | WOMEN INSPIRING OTHERS 

The February March 2020 issue of Hardwood Floors celebrates the talented and dynamic women in our industry who have gone before us and worked amongst us. They smoothed the path, opened doors, and showed other women the way forward. I am so inspired by these women and would not be where I am today without their wisdom and guidance. Looking back on the lessons I’ve learned, and taking stock of how many influential and passionate women have inspired me never to stop growing, I hope what I do today will inspire others in the same way. While my career has gone through a series of changes, I know my journey would not have been possible with the support given to me by women in the industry.

THE VITAL ROLE OF WOMEN IN FLOOR COVERING

I’m fortunate to have a unique perspective on the power of women in flooring history, starting at a very early age. Growing up in Dalton, Georgia, I’ve witnessed generation after generation of women entrepreneurs acting as trailblazers and role models. If you’re familiar with the history of carpet, you’ll know it all started in Dalton along “Peacock Alley” with the crafting of hand-tufted chenille bedspreads, an industry started by extraordinary women like Dicksie Bradley Bandy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the great depression, Dicksie and her husband’s country store had given credit to their customers who had no money to pay for the goods they needed, only their possessions, what they could make or grow themselves. The country store eventually became indebted to their suppliers and although there was no way to recoup the money from their customers, Dicksie and her husband were determined to repay every dollar. Determined to find a way to raise the funds, she boarded a train to Washington, D.C., carrying a suitcase filled with hand-tufted chenille bedspreads to sell to large department stores. She came home with enough money to repay her suppliers AND with enough orders to give several families an income for their craft. That simple cottage industry grew and evolved to the point where Dalton is now known not just the “carpet capital” but as the “floor covering capital of the world”. 

In this industry, not only are many of my peers women, but the majority of our customers are as well. We speak of “Ms. Consumer” as making more than 91% of the purchasing decisions for the home. With the purchasing power of women in the United States ranging from $5 trillion annually, we certainly MUST consider “her” in our business decisions, and we certainly MUST consult women on what goes into a new product launch. 

WOMEN INSPIRING OTHERS

As I look back on my career path, I am grateful to the incredible women who so generously opened doors and encouraged me to go further and do do better. One such women was Evelyn Myers. In 2001 I had moved back to my hometown of Dalton from Carrollton, Georgia where I’d practiced interior design for 12 years. Although I was known in Dalton as Emily Kiker, I was not known by most as Emily Morrow, the interior designer. I did however know Mrs. Myers through my own mother and in some of our exchanges, she shared some of her upcoming “design-related” endeavors. It was that same year, 2001, Evelyn Myers invited me to be a guest designer in her “Judd House Designer Showhouse”, which would provide valuable networking opportunities with our local community, other designers and architects. If not for her invitation, I might not have had the change to meet the many contacts who later became my colleagues and bosses at Shaw Industries. 

Emily Morrow Featured in Atlanta Magazine November 2001 The Judd House owned by Evelyn Myers and the Myers Family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSONS IN RESILIENCE AND PAYING DUES

Looking back, some of my early jobs were excruciating. One example was working for a family-owned women’s wear manufacturer whose owners would inadvertently exhale their cigarette smoke into my eyes causing me to leave work many days in tears. At the same time, they also gave me the chance to work with fabrics, color-ways, and the people that would be selling the apparel across the U.S. That experience was priceless. Soon I found myself training sales persons about the designs and colors of the coming collections.

Along the way, I learned about perseverance, resilience and the importance of hard work – even when it it seemed at the time like I was being pulled in the wrong direction. Balancing competing priorities had been modeled by my mother, a fantastic entrepreneur in her own right. As I began my own journey into motherhood as an interior designer, I carried with me the power of the examples and lessons that only magnified in importance over time. 

While I loved the work I was doing, after the arrival of my firstborn William, I was inspired to take a huge leap. The result was that my own interior design business was born. It was the culmination of all that I had learned and experienced up until then – and just when I thought I had it all “balanced” along comes Mary. Juggling motherhood to two small children with an interior design business taught me how to put first things first. My first design business operated in the West Georgia area for nearly 12 years, doing both commercial and residential design projects. 

Those years allowed me the experience of putting family first. It’s a lesson I’ve tried to live by since. I learned to be a mother first and foremost, and I had the flexibility and freedom to schedule design appointments around the schedules of babysitters, mothers’ mornings out, and my children’s own evolving schedules. 

ANSWERING THE OPPORTUNITY

The women in my life have taught me so many powerful lessons that I try to pass on to those who I have had the good fortune of knowing. One of the most important things I was taught is that like doors, opportunities can open and close quickly. Recognizing the opportunities requires a certain kind of “sixth sense” to know when to take them. Unfortunately, too often opportunities can seem daunting and present themselves as “risk”.

This lesson became a huge blessing as I faced a professional crossroads in 2002. Having just become a single mother, and after operating my own interior design business for many years, I was encouraged to move into the corporate world to provide the benefits my children and I would need. While there was some risk involved (would I be able to work the corporate hours? What if my kids needed me? How could I juggle my children’s activities with my travel schedule?…and much more) it was a leap that I was well-prepared to take for my family. 

So when asked if I could direct a large group of corporate professionals and juggle continually changing business priorities, I actually laughed out loud. That had become second nature to me. For years, at any given time, I had teams of painters, carpenters, flooring installers or other tradespeople going in and out of the businesses and homes of my clients, on time and budget, all while being a mother of two. Speaking of juggling priorities, one very important project, a medical arts building was being installed the very day I was in labor with the birth of my daughter. Needless to say, both “projects” demanded my attention that day but in the end, my family was only thing that truly mattered.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY

I hope that my experience demonstrates to other women – and men – in the industry that you can prioritize family and still have an enriching and successful career. That is perhaps the most important lesson of all, and one I hope to be remembered for, the same way I remember all of the incredible wisdom and support that was shared with me.

I encourage all of us to prioritize family and to allow everything else to fall into place. Following my own advice, I opted to leave a life of constant travel while working for a massive company, to instead revel in family. I chose to instead take a moment to savor my time being a new wife, a mother, and an empty nester.

When the time was right, I again took another risk, following my instinct, and formed a new enterprise, one that would eventually become relevant to husband’s own company. Who encouraged me to take that step? It was the same woman who inspired me nearly thirty years prior, my mother.

 

 

 

 

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Top 5 Design Trends for the New Year and Decade

EMH April May 2020 NWFA Top 5 Trends for the New Year and DECADE 

The roaring twenties are here and that brings not only a whole host of new ideas, new design trends, it also brings the much-needed look back over our shoulders at how trends have evolved over time. 

Why is it important to look back? It reveals the patterns that occur over a course of time that helps trend forecasters and design experts to discern what’s ahead…and thus we begin. Back in the 90’s one of my most brilliant friends led the creation of “color through the centuries” palette for a major corporation, all of whom shall remain nameless. That palette is a valuable timeline to follow how paint colors moved and changed, from warm neutrals to cool neutrals, or from fleshy pinks and grays to “peas, corn and carrots” and offered concise speculation as to “why” those changes took place. Unless you just entered the work place fresh from school, you’ll most likely clearly recall the first decade of the 2000’s. That decade was full of seismic shifts in the market, the economy and in consumers’ behaviors. The popping of the housing bubble wreaked havoc across the nation but started specifically on the west coast first. At that time, my focus was on the color, style and design development and updates on the soft surface side, which needed seriously updating. To update it meant traveling first to the epicenter of where trends initiate, the west coast. I spent not just days, but many weeks traveling up and down the entire west coast, from southern California to the pacific northwest. It was there, in that light, in those designer resource rooms and retailer showrooms that I saw the problem. Dated color lines looked old and stale in a showroom where hard surfaces had become such an important material. Frequently during my lifetime, I’ve worked in roles where I had to change hats from “product designer” to “interior designer” to “end-user”, in order to suggest or implement necessary improvements and updates while understanding how the form and function would have the most meaning and impact. For example working with dozens and dozens of retail floor stores and design studios, I’d work with the staff to pull their best selling samples of hard surface materials such as travertine, travertine nocce, granite, marble and other natural stones as well as the then “NEW” hand-scraped hardwood styles which at that time were very red, orange-red or reddish brown. Each of these hard surface materials needed to merge seamlessly with the carpeted areas throughout the aspirational “show homes” or “model homes” or else the sight line in the floor plans would be disrupted but an “off-putting” change in coloration. This goes back to the origins of what we hear all the time today as “open concept floor plans”, that truly is when we saw the shift to merging colors across all the flooring categories and no one was taking that approach in floor covering until then. It took the mindset of interior designers to demonstrate the importance of these materials needing to coordinate. Today things are both similar and different. Similar in that the materials still need to blend, different in that in some areas the hard to soft surface mix has shifted to 80-90% hard surface to as low as 10% carpet. Hard to believe while sitting in Dalton, Georgia, the carpet capital of the world.  

Remember Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia which states that an object at rest stays at rest while an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force.

Thus began the shift to coordinating carpet and hard surfaces, that previously had been done only by a few companies. Doing so shifted from a once-myopic approach to color development to a design-focused approach to product development, not just of one category, but to multiple categories so the consumer who is shopping for flooring could easily find colorations that simply fell into place during their selection process. These colors are what I classified as “Commitment Colors” (my own term rather than an industry term), meaning colors that aren’t easily changed out, but are “installed”, examples are counter tops, cabinets, hardwood flooring, and natural stone or tile. In the design world, both residentially and commercially speaking, there are “commitments” like these finishes which have a shelf life of eight to ten years at the most and the remaining colors in the market places are “fashion colors”, i.e. accessories or smaller items which can be changed out easily, frequently and relatively affordably. These items are things like artwork, rugs, pillows, drawer pulls, light fixtures and upholstery. Changing out the “fashion colors” helps to bridge the gap between the old and the new, making a “dated” interior look and feel up to date. Keep in mind, there is Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia. The law of inertia states that an object at rest stays at rest while an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced external force. The market, consumers preferences are like a massive object that will not move until an external force causes it to move. The forces that can cause a change are typically major ones, a failing economy, a change in political climate of a nation, to use a memorable example, the attack on September 11th, 2001. Following that attack, consumers flocked to colors and interiors that “soothed” and “calmed” in aquas, light blues and gentle greens. The housing market bubble and recession that followed led to preferences that became super-safe with stable colors of stable navy blue and gray. Navy blue suits, pants and jackets became essential for those who might need to spiff up their attire after having been laid off and needed to interview for jobs. Then gray entered the scene during this time frame and really hasn’t left us yet. There are still parts of the country that are just now installing gray items. These areas that were the last to adopt a new trend are always the last to leave that same trend. 

Now that we’ve looked back, let’s look ahead to the TOP 5 NEWEST trends

1) GOLD FEVER 

We have a lot to look forward to in the new decade. We are seeing “gold” in the new decade. Both the metallic gold and color gold. Wall colors are going to stay either “White Heron” BM OC-57 or “Thunder” gray BM AF-685 for a bit longer but the fashion colors we’ll see added to the spaces will include timeless favorite combinations of “navy blue and white” which just so happens to be among *my lifelong personal favorites. Also expect the gradual emergence of the buttery “Golden Straw”  BM 2152-50 or other warm colors such as the pinkish “First Light” BM 2102-70, Benjamin Moore’s 2020 Color of the Year. 

2) LIGHT-BRIGHT

“LIGHT” is a key theme for the new decade’s trends. Lightness in color is essential for the transition of the new trends as it helps make the shifts easier to manage for all interiors. Just think back to my previous color forecast which included “Sea Salt”, “French Limestone” and referenced the “Hygge” movement starting back in 2016, we can expect to see more of those light and airy trends for quite some time. Hygge is a Scandinavian term for making things calm, comforting and eliminating clutter, bringing order into the home. But like always, there will always be an opposite reaction in the market place which brings me to “maximalism”, everything and the kitchen sink. The clash of colors, the clash of design styles all require there to be one element that allows for some much going on, and that is hardwood flooring, especially lightness and brightness in color, clean without much character, longer and wider planks, and lots of color punch. 

3) SAY IT AIN’T FAUX 

Whether it’s the Hygge or the Maximalist trend, both call for one thing, and that is “real hardwood”. There’s no room for “faux” materials in this new decade…we are now entering in the wonderful world of “natural fibers, natural materials” as well as premium finishes and installation methods.  Consumers who have been eating “clean”, are on regular shipments of “organic” ingredients, are meal prepping in “glass only” containers are the same consumers who are becoming very weary of the “fake” plastic feeling of their “non-hardwood” wood look alike flooring. These are the same consumers we have all been talking about as “millennials” who at first were labeled as someone who lives with their parents but now we are learning this same generation will be the recipients of a great deal of wealth as they inherit from the boomers’ estates. The millennials do know better quality, and aren’t shy about asking questions, perhaps much to your annoyance if you’re in the retail business, but know this, if you educate them in a non-condescending way, you’ll earn their business. All of our surveys and research indicate that the millennials DO WANT to and are now beginning to own their own homes, they aren’t willing to trade down in quality, and they do appreciate “natural” premium materials. Keep in mind though that this demographic group OWNS DOGS and they LOVE THEIR DOGS…so flooring in this new MUST BE PET FRIENDLY (see trend 5)…it’s not optional anymore, it’s a must have.

4) MOODY BLUE  

It’s always exciting when you see your own favorite design elements come into vogue…sort of. What happens is this, I have a few things that I have always adored, regardless of whether they are “in” our “out”. It becomes annoying when all of a sudden your most cherished thing is splashed across every magazine cover, social media post and inside the covers of shelter catalogs, making your “special” thing feel less unique. That’s the case with the massive blue trend we are seeing in interiors. You can easily find it, it’s a color of the year for several companies, from Sherwin-Williams “Naval” SW 6244 to Pantone’s “Classic Blue” 19-4052. It was just yesterday when I designated “English Royal Navy” as a color of the year, which should tell you this…some colors are going to always be around, especially colors like Navy Blue which have a universal appeal regardless of gender, of socio-economic status or design style. Navy Blue is making a huge splash because it can be “nautical”, it can be “coastal”, it can be “urban”…and it works especially well with light whites and looks amazing with brushed gold accents. For the world of hardwood, I don’t suggest you go out and get blue hardwood flooring but you do need to have an awareness that consumers are going to be painting walls this color and your offerings of flooring will need to coordinate well with it.

5) HEAVY PETTING REQUIRED

We are now in a time when it’s not a trade-up or optional add-on to have some product that is pet-friendly. Look around you and you will see an endless array of pet-friendly or kid-friendly products labeled as “performance”. They are spill-proof, splash-proof, resist fading and surface scratching. These performance products at one time had a small niche market. Companies and brands like Stainmaster, Sunbrella and Crypton blazed the trail years ago showing consumers that they can spill on fabric or carpet and the liquids would bead up and roll off. That was then and this is now. We have fashion and interior brands that have brought “performance” into the mainstream mindset where it’s now an assumption rather than a add-on that products will stand up to some form of spills and traffic. Think about our attitude towards vehicles. We are the same consumers who have a huge appetite for SUVs with four wheel drive although we rarely engage that feature. We are also the same consumers who love kitchen appliances that are commercial-grade. Gas ranges, freezers and refrigerators that have an ultra-commercial look to them, have commercial-type options but are set up for residential use is where you’ll find a majority of the activity at shows like KBIS and IBS. We have to have hardwood flooring that can be submerged in water, endure a family of kids, dogs and muddy boots now and still look beautiful after all that abuse. Thanks to innovations in technology we can have it all. Today our industry does have companies like American OEM that makes Emily Morrow Home Hardwood Flooring “OMG Proof Protection”, “WetWorx” and there are other trade and brand names for hardwood finishes that can endure. What’s next? Stay tuned!

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Domotex USA 2020 | Emily Morrow Home hosting Design Personified Lunch & Learn for Designers & Retailers

Don’t miss this special ticketed event

Design Personified | Turning Trends into Reality

Feb. 6, 2020 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM 


Emily Morrow Home is hosting the 3rd annual EMH Design Panel and  the 2nd annual Designer event at Domotex USA, February 6th, 2020.

Having an understanding of today’s trends is extremely important when helping customers with their décor choices. However, many of these “trends” can seem unrealistic to a consumer who is living in a dated home. They want to incorporate the latest looks into their décor but feel it is impossible without undergoing a major renovation.

By attending the Designer Personified panel discussion, you will learn how to tackle this challenge and more. Attendees will hear from leading designers as they share the latest design trends, discuss the difference between “trends” and “trendy,” and teach valuable “tricks of the trade,” you can use to help customers realistically incorporate fresh, lasting looks they love.

Pricing

  • $55 through Dec. 17
  • $65 Dec. 18 Feb. 4
  • $75 onsite

Space is limited.

REGISTER

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Emily Morrow Finkell 

CEO and Founder of Emily Morrow Home

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Jane Dagmi

Designers Today
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Michel Smith Boyd

Michel Smith Boyd Interiors
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Pacita Wilson

Pineapple Park
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Jenny Wagner

J. Thomas Designs
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Mark Woodman

Mark Woodman Design + Color, LLC
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Domotex USA 2020 | Emily Morrow Home to host Design Personified: Behind-the-Scenes Mill Tour

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The State of Interior Design 2020