Old Hollywood glamour and elegance is making a comeback this fall. Much like a classic movie set, home accessories and furnishings are warm, woodsy and elegantly retro.
"Overall, the fall home fashion look is more formal than the Mission look we've been seeing. Furniture is sleeker than last year, and there's a return to '40s-inspired armchairs ... perhaps in chocolate suede, with a rolled arm that's not overstuffed," says Bombay Co. spokeswoman Cathy Pringle.
"And a luxurious faux mink throw draped over the ottoman. Then there's dinner served on an organza-covered table set with crystal and silver and iridescent blue glassware, creating a mood that's very steeped in Hollywood glamour."
What's out is chi-chi beige glazed walls, all those overly-fluffy and floral examples of the '90s Shabby Chic movement and those ostentatious collections of decorative plates, gilt cherubs and huge empty urns on marble pedestals.
Style guru and tastemaker Colin Cowie, whose cable TV show, "Everyday Elegance with Colin Cowie," begins its third season Oct. 18, gets right to the heart of the new design mentality. "While the '80s and '90s were about accumulating and displaying everything you owned, this year is all about good editing."
Cowie's suggestion: "Be ruthless. Throw out the bunnies, turtles, owls, cherubs and distressed faux-finish furniture, and put all those lavish serving pieces in the closet if you aren't going to use them."
He also advises people to keep tables uncluttered if they want to look like they're up to speed on decorating trends.
Michael Baker, spokesman for the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, agrees, and says there shouldn't be anything but a big candle and a single book on the family coffee table so that the table can actually be seen.
The idea of decorating like an Old Hollywood set designer (potted palms have replaced ficus trees) has been so hot this year that the Pacific Design Center recently invited the public to see its 2,500-square-foot set of a '30s Hollywood bungalow created by the Art Directors Guild and House Beautiful magazine. All the newest nuances, from Mission chairs to wrought-iron sets are there as a reminder that the past is our present.
Reproductions of retro looks were even the theme of the hit sitcom "Friends," in which actress Jennifer Aniston convinces co-star Lisa Kudrow that their new apothecary coffee table from the Pottery Barn catalog is an actual antique, not a copy.
"That apothecary table, a large rectangular mahogany coffee table with numerous small drawers, has been a best-seller since it was featured on an episode (plus reruns) and has been included in the new fall catalog," says Pottery Barn spokeswoman Jennifer Drubner.
Tips for the season
As the leaves turn red, gold and orange, the experts offer some ways to feature the new fall look in your home.
For a quick way to freshen up your decor, Cowie suggests, remove any wallpaper and paint an entry hall or powder room totally red or pumpkin. Shy types may want to go with green. "Not just any green," says Baker, "but celadon green, which is the shade of celery."
Baker likes celadon as a replacement for plain white or beige walls and thinks it encourages that continuing trend to bring the garden inside the home. To complete the look, think about water fountains, dark wicker and rattan and black wrought-iron furniture as indoor accents.
And instead of overdosing on rose bouquets, go for a simple hothouse variety such as all orchids. A single spray, whether it's real or silk, is a best bet, says Cowie.
Pringle is keen on faux fur throws tossed over the sofa or bed, a stack of velvet pillows, and nontraditional chandeliers or candelabras made of iron with crystal beads or colored crystal drops.
"Yes," Baker adds, "gold and gilt chandeliers and brass designs with tiny pleated shades are out. But there are plenty of traditional things -- from Asian accessories to Tibetan rugs to club chairs. Even sea shells are still looking fresh." However, he says, the throw rug should be silk and have a geometric design. And if you want to be really fashion-forward, forget the sisal or leaf-shaped rugs and go for a shag throw rug in a solid color."
Like other retail furniture stores, Pottery Barn didn't zero in on one specific era. Says Drubner: "We've tried to appeal to everybody's taste, but we've found that people love that loose-fit look of slip-covers in solid velvet, chenille or twill. And I'd say that anything in chenille or velvet -- whether it's a pillow or throw for the coach, chair or bed -- is one of the quickest ways to update your home, especially in dark autumn or jewel tones."
If you're in the market for living room furniture, start with a new coffee table, they say.
According to Cowie, "The coffee table should be the jewel or focal point of the living room."
Pringle comments that it's easy to find dramatic coffee and end tables this season, often with carved pedestals featuring exotic animals and palm trees, as well as walnut-stained bamboo trunks and dark wood tables inspired by world travelers.
Baker suggests a simple look: "The newest looks in coffee tables have a mid-century modernism, made of glass and chrome, or of very dark or very blond wood with a refined and streamlined silhouette."
Chrome in the bathroom
Moving beyond the living room, these experts report that old-fashioned chrome bathroom fixtures have upstaged brass and gold; that bedrooms continue to have bright white wood accents with handmade patchwork quilts, or a more masculine look with dark wood and manly plaid bedspreads instead of comforters and dust ruffles.
"There's even a trend," says Cowie, "to those really thin, simple hotel bedspreads that suddenly seem clean and inviting."
The bed itself has changed, too, and dainty brass beds have been replaced by less shiny metals in rustic designs, while the sleigh bed continues to be a hot sleeping arrangement.
In the kitchen, it's wrought-iron and glass tables and chairs, or farm tables in white or blond wood with colorful ladder-backed chairs.
* Celadon green, brown, taupe, orange and red
* Leather, velvet, organza, damask, faux animal prints
* Walnut-stained bamboo and wood, also '50s blond
* Chrome, pewter, black wrought iron, tarnished brass and silver
* Nontraditional chandeliers with colored glass beads, arc lamps; decorative sconces, candelabras
* Sheer or velvet panels on decorative rods
* Beds that have a sleeker silhouette without ruffles, and hand-stitched quilts
* Faux mink throws, shag throw rugs, chenille or velvet pillows, oval mirrors, candles, fountains and anything with a well-traveled motif, from Asia to Morocco and the isle of Murano
* Distressed, painted furniture
* Overly frilly comforters and dust ruffles
* White and beige walls, and wallpaper
* Gold bathroom faucets and fixtures
* Traditional chandeliers with pleated lampshades and teardrop crystals
-- Los Angeles Daily News