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Polished Casual: The Up and Coming Look

Never underestimate the power of furniture. Yes, it adds beauty to your surroundings, comfort to your home and helps you organize, work, dine, play, sleep and relax. If all that weren’t enough, it also has the ability to help connect you to the most important people in your life.

(Photo courtesy BHG)

The connecting power of furniture was outlined beautifully in a recent presentation by Better Homes and Gardens editors Amy Panos and Joseph Boehm, speaking on the topic, “The Heart of the Home: Helping Women Furnish Their Homes for Fully Connected Living.”

The path to connected living is achieved through an up and coming look that Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) describes as polished casual. “Polished casual is the look that everyone wants today,” said Panos, Senior Editor of Home Design. “Polished casual is less about symmetry and perfection than it is about comfort. There’s a thoughtfulness in arranging your rooms to look elegant in their simplicity.”

What is polished casual?

1. Polished casual is personal. Rather than making your home a showcase, polished casual lets you be yourself and expresses who you are.

A soda bottle collection on a mantle adds a personal vibe

(Photo courtesy BHG)

2. Polished casual has a dash of quirkiness. Add an unexpected element like a quirky accessory, metal industrial barstools or a chalkboard in the dining room to keep the family organized, as seen in this photo below…or even  a red chandelier in an otherwise traditional dining room!

A chalk board in the dining room adds a dash of the unexpected

(Photo courtesy BHG)

Unexpected whimsy makes a traditional décor delightful

(Photo courtesy BHG)

3. Polished casual is layered with patterns. To give the look of depth and a layered look that’s a key to polished casual, mix patterns and colors you wouldn’t expect to be together like suzanis mixed with lattice mixed with solids. Mix colors like red, green and natural. Just be sure what you put together is not repetitive or predictable. A great example is seen in the mix of pillows in this living room:

Layer unpredictable patterns in pillows and accessories

(Photo courtesy BHG)

4. Polished casual is “spontaneous and tossed off.” Give a sense of ease with natural materials, baskets, open storage and simple solutions like these baskets to collect clutter and valuables lined up on beneath  a sofa table, while the top shelf is lined with books:

Baskets beneath a sofa table give a casual but clean look

(Photo courtesy BHG)

“Open floor plans,” said Boehm, “are the architectural expression of polished casual.” The most desired attribute of homes today—after updated kitchens—are large, open family rooms. That’s why one of the top remodeling jobs these days is taking out walls and expanding spaces, said Panos.

Open floor plans, however, do present a challenge to the connectedness that we strive for at home. If we’re not careful, the open spaces will feel cold and push us apart. That’s where furniture comes to the rescue. What do open floor plans mean to furniture?

1. Open floor plans mean sectionals. “There’s been a huge resurgence in sectionals as more open floor plans come about,” Panos said. “Sectionals really help define the space. They become an island where everyone gathers to relax, watch movies, play games and study.”

Sectionals are an island for family gathering

2. Open floor plans mean game tables. “We hardly ever see a great room without some kind of game table surface,” said Panos. “It can be something simple like a small round table with mix-and-match chairs or a modern table with traditional chairs,” she said.

3. Open floor plans mean desks Smaller-scaled writing desks are especially conducive to open floor plans. These smaller footprints fit with ease in family rooms and kitchens for a place to do homework or bills but not be isolated from the family.

Writing desks fit with ease in public rooms, keeping the family together

4. Open floor plans mean statement lighting. “Over-scaled, dramatic lighting can become a focal point other than the flatscreen TV,” Boehm said “Lighting that is large punctuates the space.”

5. Open floor plans mean open and closed storage. “People are hungry for storage solutions,” said Panos, “especially in the family room. They are looking for a place to store books and games that is a combination of open and closed storage. Modular pieces are great to give you a perimeter of storage around a room and provide a focal point as well as storage.”

Modular storage provides room perimeters & focal points

6. Open floor plans mean drop zones at the door. “If you’re not lucky enough to have a mud room, what we’re seeing is a chest with some closed or open storage at the door,” Panos said. “It doesn’t have to be a complicated or costly solution. It can be something simple like a low bookshelf for storing shoes, or a drawer or tray for holding phones, keys and change.”

7. Open floor plans mean flexible furniture. Furniture must be great-looking, versatile and hard-working. Must-have flexible pieces, according to BHG: Occasional chairs, benches, loveseats or settees, bachelor’s chests, a side table, slipper chair and a small-scale chandelier. These pieces can be moved from room to room, place to place and house to house and serve a multitude of beautiful purposes for connected living.

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  • Lyra August 28, 2012, 4:51 am

    I saw the sectional sofa with the round blue striped ottoman on here but could not find the source where the sectional actually comes from. Do you know the brand name or can give m a link where I could find it. I am shopping for a new living room set and LOVE the look of this sofa. Thanks!

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