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Furniture as Fashion
by Terry Canup

Fashion is a fluid target. Keeping up with the latest looks can be challenging.

While furniture in general is timeless, how furniture looks is specific to a time period. Furniture is actual as fluid as clothing fashions. A chair may be a chair, but is it traditional, contemporary, transitional, industrial? All of these names pertain to how it looks. Every year, there are major furniture markets where the latest fashion trends in furniture are rolled out like runway models for buyers to ogle and choose. What will be the latest treat for the showroom floor? If you look through the years you can see the styles change. Sure, you can still sit in a chair from 1972, but, would you want to. That depends of course on whether anybody is looking at you. That chair may be the most comfortable one you own. You may not want anybody to see it though, like your favorite T-shirt. Fashion serves many purposes. In furniture, it tries to keep up with design and technology trends in room layout.

  Lighting and furniture play key roles in your
Example of using indirect lighting and darker tones to make a room feel warm and cozy

You can make a room feel warm and cozy by using subtle modifications to the decor. First, you can employ darker colors. Next you can decide to use warm lighting. That is lighting that casts a diffuse warm light. This has become more important with the dominance of fluorescent and LED lighting in the market place. Each type of lighting has what is called a "color temperature". This term goes back to color film photography and is measured in Kelvin or K. It has nothing to do with the brightness of the light, which manufacturers state in Watt terminology. (although, technically, the Wattage is not a direct corollary to its brightness, and it should be stated in candle power)
You can control how people feel in your room by
                your lighting and furniture
Example of using direct lighting with a warm color temp to make a room feel cozy

Everyone has seen the relative brightness ratings in Watts on light bulbs, but the color temperature is almost never stated. It can be equally important to your perception of the room. In color film photography, cameramen controlled this by using filters on their camera lenses, or in a more complex way on the lights themselves. Ever notice when you go into an office totally lit by fluorescent ceiling lights, that it feels very cold and stark?
Note how harsh blue-white florescent
              lighting makes a room feel cold
Note how harsh blue-white florescent lighting and little or no furniture makes a room feel cold

Fluorescent lights put out light in the blue or green range. This in Kelvin terms is referred to as "cold light". Old, incandescent lights produced light more in the yellow range or in Kelvin terms "warm light". Now that fluorescent lights dominate the market, it becomes more important to pay attention to your room lighting. You can do this with furniture versions of filters, principally this is done with lamp shades. An amber shade on a fluorescent bulb can produce the warm color tones of an incandescent bulb. Likewise, changing to ivory, burgundy or green shade will alter the light output.

Using free standing lights produces more comfortable lighting than unfiltered ceiling lights. Dedicated spot lighting can also add influences and effect the observer's senses. Combined with these lighting techniques, what style of furniture you use will also have an effect. Plush earth-tone to dark furniture that has smooth curves to it gives more of a feeling of invitation than straight line lighter furniture.
Subdued color supple leathers can make a room feel
Subdued warm colors and supple leathers can make a room feel inviting

Supple leathers and microfibers invite you to sit down and be comfortable, while tightly woven, firm looking, vinyls and fabrics give more of a business or 'stay in this room a short time' feel. A business that wants to move people through its waiting rooms quickly can use fluorescent, unfiltered, light from the ceiling, combined with firm, stark (straight line) seating to prompt people to move on. Doctor and Dentists offices on the other hand, who want to make their patients feel at home and comfortable, might use ambient and free standing lighting with more appealing seating options to give that warm feeling.

Consider the statement you want to make with each room. Is this a room in which you want people to stay, or is it a transitional room that you want them to move through? Do you want them to catch their breathe upon entering or want them to unwind and relax? Use, lighting, colors, decorative accessories, and furniture to produce the results you want.

Here is an excellent tutorial on Kelvin light color temperatures from Eagle Lighting. Explore our design suggestions on our Pinterest pages

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