Tips and Guides

RL Picks: Design Trends from A to Z

Find more decorating ideas for your home with our alphabet of interior styles

Styling: Coni Tejada

Read the original article ("Design Trends: A to Z") in the January 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 


Don’t create an accent wall by just painting it a different color—make it more interesting by filling it with art that shouts—try a series of paintings, framed photos, or one huge mural.


Crystal chandeliers came back with the Neo-baroque trend a few years back; give this luxe look an update by going for more sophisticated black crystal. 


The autumnal touch of lapis, deep greens like teal and peacock, and silver-grays are comforting and cozy accent colors for the bedrooms, and are a nice surprise when used in our typically warm country. 


Eliminate those joints, splits and nail heads on furniture and built-in storage. Make the surface squeaky-clean and flawless-looking by overloading it with putty and spray paint. 


This unexpected green hue is back. Oz-green works best on accent walls, or in smaller decorative elements like throw pillow covers and vases. Offset this rich hue with a background of gray, or stark black and white.


The rich texture of animal skin works best as bed throws and foot blankets. With the strong campaign on animal rights, fake fur made of polyester and rayon are as good as the real thing.


The most royal color is back. Yellow-gold is still the classic metal accent for the sophisticated home. Too intimidated? Start with small pieces, like lamps (modern in shape, for contrast), or dramatic, tall vases. 


Bold red can do wonders for the quirky home. Too shy? Try it in small doses, like a single red dining chair, a coffee table or console, or even an accent wall. Hot shades to try: scarlet, fire engine red, red tinged with a bit of pink, or simple primary red. 


Low electricity consumption, dimmable, and changes color according at will—the ambience of LED (light emitting diodes) is perfect for places of rest and relaxation. The downside is its cost, but consider it an investment, as it lasts 20 to 30 times longer than an ordinary incandescent bulb. 


Furniture and accessories made of glass and plastic make good conversational pieces especially if they come in rich jewel tones. The technique is, use a maximum of three tones (less is better), for example: you can combine ruby, purple, and topaz, and not more than that. 


Technologically advanced household objects such as water closets, cabinets and kitchen modules with doors that close gently or seats that drop without a sound have now come of age. These designs come with premium prices but they are worth it. 


The mother of all faux surfaces, laminates in the market now have different variants that mimic opaque finishes at very reasonable prices. They are easy to install and often, appear neater than the real thing. 


The Asian fusion of the 1990s gave way to more exotic accents for the modern home. Mosaics, intricate wall patterns, and other exotic furniture pieces can add more drama to a typically ascetic contemporary home.


Clean lines, seamless terminations and a flawless paint job on walls and furniture pieces. Though streamlined and very masculine in appearance, maintenance for this look can be a challenge. 


Open shelves are not only good for storing china and other accessories since they don’t harbor roaches; they are also good as display spaces for travel souvenirs and photos. 


Though plastic is probably one of the least eco-friendly inventions of the 20th century, polymers have been used to make the most iconic furniture pieces in recent times. Polymers are easily molded, durable, and mostly weather-proof. 


Simply put, these are rooms that work for either gender. Especially with bedrooms, a dark masculine room with heavy pieces can spell drama if accented with very feminine accessories. 


The “New Shabby” look is actually composed of new pieces that are refinished and given a patina to look old. The style thrives on classic silhouettes with modern mechanisms and materials. 


Easy to apply and even easier to remove, stickers are the most practical and contemporary wall decorations in the market now and are definitely a better alternative to wallpaper.


See-through furniture pieces are perfect for small spaces. The function is there, without the heaviness of the bulky furniture pieces. 


Characterized with the use of glass, plastics, stainless steel and sleekly upholstered pieces, this rather cold style works well in condominiums and apartments. Warm it up with wooden floors and shag rugs.


The deep blues are back. When paired with black and gold, these very dramatic tones are good even in small personal spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms.


Fluorescents are still the best alternative for incandescent bulbs; but choose those with a luxurious yellow glow that will give you warm, luxurious-looking light sans the heat and high electric wattage consumption.


Break the monotony of the four-legged look of ottoman stools and tables by choosing those with this deceptive classic base—X-legs. This leg style works well with both metal or wooden furniture.


Bright lemon and other citrus colors are best for generous or open spaces. Warm and fresh, this color is a younger version of the Mediterranean-inspired yellow-ochre hues of the 1990s. 


Animal prints, particularly animal patterns, can provide more life to a contemporary interior. They work best as throws and throw pillows. 


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