Tropical tones softly faded by the sun, homey cottage prints and big, bold florals brightened showrooms at the spring International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C., last month.
The hottest color combinations on the upholstered furniture that will be available in retail stores in a few months are variations of red and green tones. Lipstick and parrot, watermelon and Granny Smith apple, coral and aqua, paprika and sage, clay and grass are among the fresh-looking pairings spotted in the showrooms.
In general, the jewel tones and brights of previous markets were somewhat subdued but still strong. Washed-out Southwest-style pastels were few and far between, replaced by such vivid shades as strawberry ice cream and young lettuce.
Florals and other patterned fabrics took a bold approach, ranging from life-size magnolia blossoms and overblown peonies luscious hibiscus and sprays of lilac. Lineage showed off a glorious Provincial print -- called "Cock-A-Doodle-Do" -- featuring near-life-size roosters accented with vivid shades of red, gold and amethyst.
Look for environmental motifs on the latest fabrics from High Point, from pastoral tapestries and leafy cut velvets to sophisticated sunburst, star and moon themes.
Stripes were in every major showroom, from crisp ticking and men's shirting wovens to elegant silk and moire versions. Rich, tone-on-tone textural solids and classic two-color toiles provided quieter note. Animal prints offered an exotic diversion, especially several popular leopard and zebra patterns in a richly textured cotton chenille.
And watch out for polka dots. They're offered by several companies, including Thayer Coggin's silky black and tobacco dot and Century's elegant black and ecru version.
Neutrals made an essential statement, especially at the higher end. The newest-looking neutral shades were warm, with sand, wheat, camel, honey and khaki. Yellow tones, from butter to old gold, warmed both solids and prints. Rich browns -- mocha, bronze, tobacco and caramel -- continued to grow in importance.
One of the "newest" colors to watch is plain old olive drab. This humble shade turned up looking very sophisticated as a solid piped in black or linen white and as a ground shade for peppy florals. One downright elegant print teamed olive with ivory and a watery aqua.
We've seen a fresh interest in the 1940s and '50s bark cloth fabrics over the past few markets, and now there's a nostalgic flurry over cut velvet. Today's versions are 100 percent cotton and comfortable.
A romantic cottage style of furniture, with turned legs and cozy, overstuffed cushions, made up an important category at the spring market. Fabrics appropriate with this look included homey prints, charming ginghams, ticking stripes and plaids.
Another emerging trend is the application of clothing industry fabrics to furniture.
Bernhardt brought out a new "Ready for Wear" line of furniture upholstered and slipcovered in hand-painted or plain stone-washed denim, while Mitchell Gold's Design Line showed both stone-washed denim and prewashed khaki and olive drab twill. Ralph Lauren covered a club chair in his challis scarf fabric and a chaise in camel's hair.