It started with a few hardwood slabs. A few years later, says Ernie Hershberger of Homestead Furniture in Mount Hope, the furniture maker’s Live Edge line is hot, hot, hot. Each piece captures the raw beauty of solid hardwood slabs, preserved by Homestead artisans in a high quality finish. A metal or other base complements the stunning surface. Deployed as tables, bar tops and more, these are statement and accent pieces you might look for out of Boston, New York, or San Francisco.
“ We barely keep up with demand,” Hershberger says. “Right now there are 50 sample pieces leaning against the wall in the showroom. It’s special. It’s unique.”
The range of modern styles from fine producers in Holmes County might surprise you. What the folks at Homestead see and make available through custom work for design clients and furniture shoppers is a trend toward “transitional” furnishings. That is to say, they’re neither traditional nor strictly “hard” contemporary (glass, chrome, metal tubing). Rather, there is more wood, more fine lines, both in natural-finish and painted styles. Hershberger notes that the old days of furniture “suites” are gone, in favor of personalized, eclectic mixes in which customers express their own tastes and personalities. Once-typical big-grain oak furniture in traditional styles—while still here for those who love it—no longer dominates. These have been replaced by the more modern and more personalized, including statements such as the Live Edge creations. Eclectic is big, as customers and designers look to mix and match interesting pieces. This is easier to do with more complementary transitional hardwood styles characterized by crisp, refined lines.
Another example of modern style is the use of sophisticated color treatments, such as black with silver highlights, dark grays and dark earth tones. Cool colors are “in.” Grays of all kinds—Homestead has as many as 20 different gray finishes—continue to be popular. Updated styling also means taking the traditional and tweaking it. Finely detailed distressing, for instance, is a sophisticated effect that works well on clean-lined furniture. Details include multiple stains and colors, gold and silver highlights, and sheens.
Hershberger uses the term “bespoke” for the Homestead approach, likening it to fine tailoring. This customized experience includes a showroom with three floors of hardwoods, upholstery, mattresses and accessories; a 40,000 square-foot factory with tours to see Amish craftsmen building your custom furniture; and even a 4-acre arboretum of species trees, for inspiration, education and relaxation.
Ten miles away in Millersburg, Steve Monroe, designer for Mullet Cabinet, agrees that variety, clarity and creativity drive the choices of shoppers and designers.
Monroe has been in the design industry for 20 years and keeps up with everything. “We never rest on our laurels. We see what’s new out there, what’s exciting, and give people what they want,” Monroe says. He also sees an increasing shift to clean lines and transitional looks that are neither traditional nor modern—fewer heavy moldings, a more refined, classic style.
Cabinetry as furniture is part of this creative trend. Anything can be made as a stand-alone piece, like a kitchen island with bun feet, an entryway or kitchen hutch, or a vanity in a powder room or master bath—very popular right now.
Also modern and transitional is the mixing of tones in a kitchen: contrasting an island with perimeter cabinets, such as a recent glazed white kitchen with a dark island. Monroe says that people are more adventurous now. Design lovers are online, researching Houzz or HGTV—they see things and get ideas. There is an enlarged visual environment for developing one’s own style.
“ In the old days,” he notes, “you chose from six cabinets, three woods, five doors. Now people want to do their own thing. It’s a lot more fun than it used to be, to see the changes!”
Door styles tend to have less framing these days, a lighter look, with “very fine moldings, light colors, grays, whites and off whites with gray glazes. Finer grained woods. Beautiful grays are in, including warm grays. Warmth always lasts. White kitchens. White and black never go out of style.” Monroe says that blues, blueish greens and cool tones are also trending. “We do a lot of blues in places like laundry rooms. Feel better about doing the laundry,” Monroe says.
Painted cabinets can be used in very modern as well as transitional styles. Mullet recently concluded a new Northeast Ohio kitchen that was “high gloss, no visible grains, very slick, and with a use of chrome. Cleaner lines than the customer had had before—less clutter.” This is a trend, too, with baby boomers looking to simplify and often seeking a sleeker, more modern style.
Whether your taste is sleek, modern, urbane, or transitional, take a country drive and you’ll find what’s new.