In the 1990s, cozy homes gave way to sleek designs and less room for clutter. In the 21st century, sophistication is still the word of the day, but homeowners are finding that some pattern here and texture there can bring warmth and style to living spaces without being lavish.
For a bit of lightness, plastics manufacturer 3form uses a silk-screening process with its earth-friendly Ecoresin material. In the Varia product line, these image layers of grass, bamboo, leaves, textiles, and papers bring a graphic element to the company's translucent panels. With the workability of wood, installers can cut 4-by-8- and 4-by-10-foot sheets for use as backsplashes, room dividers, cabinet door insets, shower doors, and more.
“Instead of being an opaque surface treatment, the panels allow homeowners to close off an area without blocking the light,” says Kirby Rea, 3form's vice president of sales. Vice president of design Jill Canales agrees, noting that design inspirations range from nature to vintage lace.
3form's designs can also be found in Pella Corporation's Designer Series windows. Between-the-panes resin panels snap in, offering privacy and subtle pattern. Soon, Armstrong also will market a line of 3form-made panels as room dividers, but in the meantime, the company has other graphic products to offer.
“In the past, we have seen ceilings as a big remodeling tool, especially in older homes,” says Ann Miller, product design manager for Armstrong's ceiling division. “There's been growth in this category during the last five or six years with people again looking at doing something beautiful to their ceiling.” The company's Wood-Haven line brings the warmth of wood planks to any room's “fifth wall,” and Tin Look paintable decorative ceilings recreate old-world charm.
Underfoot, Armstrong also offers a new flooring line called MIYO — short for “make it your own.” Perfect for play areas, laundry rooms, and elsewhere, the 16-inch square vinyl tiles come in funky patterns and colors. The beauty of the tiles is that they're not permanently adhered to the original floor, and thus can be removed, replaced, and redesigned on a whim.