The big bang: Get the most out of large decor pieces

Elaine Markoutsas
Universal Uclick

Fashionistas know all about statement pieces – especially accessories like the perfect piece of jewelry, scarf or handbag that totally makes an outfit. We don’t talk about them as much in the context of home decor, but of course, they exist – and can be pivotal in kicking up the design of a room.

And that’s the beauty of shopping for a singular sensation. It can be as large as a sofa or bed, a chair or side table, bedding, tableware, a faucet, tub or even hardware. Size doesn’t necessarily matter. The price can be high end – or not. The main thing is that the piece makes a difference – which, as Bernie Sanders might say, is HUGE.

Furnishings may be standouts because of color, shape, pattern, texture or materials. Some are unabashed showoffs; others quietly attract – especially upon closer observation, perhaps because of subtle details, like an unexpected mix of materials, a silky finish, a striking trim or a quirky, seemingly random painted foot on a chair.

Introducing pops of bold color usually spells drama, and we see it time and again in an otherwise neutral space. But the impact of a violet sofa, for example, is amplified in a design that trumps that color with all kinds of shape -- namely “bubbles” that cover the entire surface. The three-seat sofa, designed by Sacha Lakic for Roche Bobois, is clad in 3-D or proprietary 4-D stretchy fabric over padding that gives it shape.

A simple modern form in a long, track-armed sofa called Grey, engages in colors like turmeric or a rich teal/turquoise, further appealing in a tactile, textural felt. At Interior Define, a made-to-order e-tail company in Chicago (which also has a brick-and-mortar showroom), you can customize size, feet, arms, and fabric (from available stock) at a lower price point than competitors. Kiln-dried hardwoods, quality foam and down filling are standard.

Pastels also have been making a mark in home decor from furniture to housewares. But imagine the impact of a pink or blue in the kitchen, especially with a large appliance. One of the most buzzed about introductions at this year’s Kitchen and Bath show was from the French manufacturer La Cornue. The company teamed up with Atlanta-based designer Suzanne Kasler, whose Couleur palette for its super luxe classic range includes pink, mint and a pale blue-green.

Adding pattern creates another dynamic. Again, it can be explosive, as in a dominating wallcovering pattern or impactful as a piece of art. The art deco-influenced Victor lacquer cabinet from Roche Bobois is such an example. The simple two-color version in red or bittersweet and cream is a showpiece, and the high-gloss finish adds to its glamour. Variations of the pattern are available, some in multiple hues, like two shades of orange and brown.

Geometry comes into play in the form of dimensional objects, and one of the coolest introductions at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York is a clock by deconstructivist architect Daniel Libeskind. The designer deviates from conventional shape, alluding to “the labyrinth of time,” on his sketch for the angular, disarming timepiece: “Time is not circular; it veers sharply to mark the event as unexpected -- as the clock itself.”

Equally intriguing is the teaming of a geometric pattern with an overlay of florals, a device that has been cropping up in textile and rug designs. The effect of a watercolor of large-scale abstract florals adds softness as well as movement to a fretwork backdrop. Jeff Leatham, the very highly regarded floral designer at the George V hotel in Paris, designed a colorful range of silk and wool carpets for Tai Ping.

While a rug may anchor a room, it also can be a considerable expense. Bed linens, on the other hand, are easier on the budget. Changing out monochromatic duvet covers and pillows for patterns can shift the vibe from bland to wow, particularly with large-scale designs in high contrast colors. A medallion print in navy on white from Serena and Lily pops against a neutral linen headboard.

Stripes – either on walls or on furniture – are can’t miss, kick-it-up-a-notch options. But one chair that stood out at the spring High Point furniture market played them unexpectedly – a pinstripe cladding the upper frame of a traditional chair, and cabriole-ish legs, one foot going totally rogue in red paint.

Patterns inspired by nature are perennial hits, and this year palms are especially popular (they were a persistent theme in Parisian textiles). A bold-scale print called Wild Thing from Flavor Paper celebrates a jungle-y vibe that can be as daring as you choose. Interior designer Ghislaine Vinas created a version of the iconic banana leaf paper when she was researching tropical Indochine style and couldn’t find her vision.

Butterflies also are favorite subjects, and though they fill dinner plates and fabrics in beautiful colors, one of the most enchanting treatments is 3-D – a swarm that flutters from the canopy into the globe of the Nymph chandelier from Koket. And beehives sparked a design of bookshelves for Roche Bobois, with the outlines constructed of black nickel.

Dimensional patterns add another layer to design, and metal offers a suitable medium. An art nouveau-inspired floral design carved into the sides of Bernhardt’s Sasha chair, then clad in German silver, lend lustrous beauty. Hardware like the Lenny Kravitz-designed Trousdale collection for Rocky Mountain, speaks an edgy language with deep carvings in hand-cast metal, and a new collection of faucets by DXV (American Standard) are all the more thrilling because they actually are 3-D printed in stainless steel.

Our interest in natural materials remains piqued, and stone continues to offer enormous potential for designers. A set of small brass side tables by designer Kelly Wearstler is so much more special with turquoise and quartz tops, whose natural veining rival anything manmade. And the simple shape of a mushroom top is transformed with alabaster in a lamp called Tartufo by Anna New York. It’s available on brass or polished nickel.

Sometimes it’s the simplicity of design that speaks volumes. A bench by Brooklyn-based Katy Spengler has an almost Shaker-like, spartan look. Its frame is unadorned pale wood. But its upholstered linen top (or your choice of fabric) is plumped with down, sectioned into “seats” with leather straps attached with gold ball fasteners, creating a quartet of plump poufs that invite taking a load off.

That such eye candy delights goes without saying, but comfortable seating in a statement piece almost seems like a perk.


Items can be found at local stores and these online retailers:

■ Alessi, (for online orders)

■ Anna New York, (check website for retailer locations)

■ Anthropologie, 800-309-2500,

■ Bernhardt, 866-527-9099,

■ Bunakara,

■ DXV/American Standard, 800-227-2734,

■ Flavor Paper, 718-422-0230,

■ Interior Define, 872-802-4119,

■ Katy Skelton, 912-306-0003,

■ Kelly Wearstler/EJ Victor, 855-295-3559,

■ Koket, 571-288-5269,

■ La Cornue, through distributer Purcell Murray, 800-457-1356,

■ Roche Bobois, 212-889-0700,

■ Rocky Mountain Hardware, 888-788-2013,

■ Serena & Lilly, 866-597-2742,

■ Tai Ping, 212-979-2233,

■ THG USA, 954-425-8225,

■ Tom Dixon, 212-228-7337,

■ Walker Zanger, 818-280-8300,