Oh, please get over it

Supersize McMansion furniture needs a good shrink. Glossy espresso-stained wood should lighten up. High-priced overhead lighting fixtures ought to come back down to earth. Coral should be tossed back into the ocean. And the Hollywood Regency revival is losing its movie star allure.

Entering what is sure to be a year of consumer sobriety on the home front, we polled design professionals to find out which trends are coming to an end, what household objects should get kicked to the curb (or, better, donated to charity) and how to replace them with an eye on aesthetic and economic value.

“If I hear one more client say they want a huge chandelier over a table, I don’t know what I’m going to say,” says Joe Lucas, co-owner of the West Hollywood store Harbinger.

Like many designers, he prefers a more dialed-down version of luxury. Pamela Shamshiri, a principal at the L.A. commercial and residential interiors firm Commune, concurred and summarized a better look as: “bling replaced by craft, and something made in a factory in China replaced by something made by hand in California.”


Natural materials may have gained favor in home decor, but the use of coral is ebbing. “Painted, natural, embroidered, OK, I got it!” exclaims L.A. interior designer Linda Allen. “I’m coraled out. Can we date 2007 to 2008 the Coral Era, please, and get on to other organic items as accessories?”

Adds L.A. designer Betsy Burnham: “I doubt I’ll ever stop wearing it around my neck, but I just don’t want to see it embroidered on any more guest towels.”

Her favorite alternative: turquoise. “I’ve seen wall tile in real turquoise at Ann Sacks, which is to die for,” she says, “and for my own dining room I’m coveting Marjorie Skouras’ Empire chandelier, a classic shape executed in turquoise.”

Hollywood Regency style has lost luster too.


“All those lacquered Chinese Chippendale chairs -- enough already,” says L.A. designer Nathan Turner. “A beautiful antique has just as much Hollywood glamour.”

Brooke Hodge, curator of design and architecture at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, declares reflective wallpaper “too flashy for these tough times.” Amy Kehoe of the L.A. design team Nickey Kehoe concurs: “Put the damask to rest and be inspired by the glamour and refinement found in nature. Look to Viennese patterns rooted in Art Nouveau for wallpapers and fabric.”

Some other outs and ins for 2009, as proposed by the pros:

Room design

Kenneth Wingard, accessories designer and retailer:

Please, in the kitchen, no more granite countertop. It came into vogue in the ‘80s, and it makes a place look dated instantaneously. I am pushing for an orange Formica comeback. If you don’t think you can pull that off, then honed white marble is always beautiful, soapstone or poured concrete looks great in rustic homes, and Corian gives a simple look that does not dominate any room.

Kristine Paige Kamenstein, Jackson Paige Interiors:

Residential kitchens that look like commercial restaurants. A kitchen chock-full of stainless-steel appliances is cold and old. Viking and Blue Star have a number of custom finishes that give a warmer, fresher look that can integrate your appliances with your cabinetry or add a fun pop of color to your kitchen.


India Hicks, interior designer and TV personality:

Any overhead lighting without a dimmer, especially recessed bulbs that illuminate the center of a dining table as though some sort of surgery is about to be performed. Worse yet is when the cruel illumination is directed on some surgery already performed on the person sitting opposite you. As an alternative, bring back lovely table lamps.

Susan Corry, interior


TVs above a fireplace are not chic. They should be ergonomic -- centered at your line of sight, not above your head. Instead, move them to another wall.


Ryan Brown, designer and cast member of the Bravo reality show “Flipping Out”:

New complete sets of furniture. Nothing is worse than a room that looks like you pointed to a page in a catalog and said, “I’ll take it all!” The solution: Take your time. Start with the main piece of furniture in the room and make it special -- maybe vintage or antique. Add subtle accents from there.


Craig Olsen, designer and


I am so tired of seeing the oversized sleigh bed. If you have a team of Clydesdales, drive this old chestnut straight to the barn. Try something that brings pizazz back into the boudoir, like a headboard of soft gold-leaf leather with a nailhead design.

Little cubed ottomans are o-u-t. Hexagons and ovals will lead the eye straight to the piece and make the room remarkable.

Kim Alexandriuk, interior


When a midcentury modern house is furnished with midcentury modern furniture, it can be somewhat sterile and have no soul. I would take out the Eames chair and replace it with something rococo, like a Louis XIV bergere.


Preston Lee, finalist of Bravo’s “Top Design” and co-founder of

The days of DVD and CD display tower racks are over! Anyone who owns hundreds of discs should be required to purchase storage books for them and toss the plastic cases. It saves space, keeps you organized and allows you to grab your music and movies when you are on the go.

Meg Joannides, owner of

I can’t stand to look at another shag rug, especially synthetic ones. Instead go for unique, eco-friendly alternatives such as hemp or hand-tufted wools.

Suzan Fellman, designer and retailer:

Good God, how does a zebra print translate onto a cowhide rug? There are superior floor treatments, in a reasonable price range, that do not pretend to be something that they are not. I would opt for an Arzu Firuz vinyl carpet with laser cutouts that create a great pattern for the floor and are so easy to maintain.

Alegre Ramos, designer and retailer:

Red coral accessories are not only overused, they are definitely not eco-friendly. If you like the branched look of red coral, try wood that has fallen naturally off the tree. I installed a fallen branch chandelier hung with crystals in a dining room, and it is unique, eco and beautiful.

Deborah Sussman, a partner in the graphic design firm Sussman/Prejza:

Out with scented candles. In with beeswax from Rolling Greens or delicately hued, hand-turned twists at Ajello Antonino & Bros. House of Candles. Both are in Culver City.

Katrien van der Schueren, owner of Voila! gallery:

Enough with these outrageously elaborate gold frames! An elegant yet simple hand-finished wood frame would do a better job of bringing out the art. Framing should enhance artwork, not hinder it.