Architects and furniture designers have long been inspired by the fashion industry.

Charles and Ray Eames, the husband and wife team who were active in the mid-20th century and who designed the iconic and timeless Eames chair, often used fashion to influence their designs.

Frank Lloyd Wright was known for his forward-thinking modern residential designs, but his furniture, windows and textiles were heavily influenced by fashion.

“Typically, everything is inspired by the runway,” said Tiffany Helmrichs, a residential blueprint and home interior designer and owner of Dubuque Home Designs. “The trends come from fashion designers, and then, interior designers will run with it. They kind of run hand-in-hand.”

While some might wonder how the COVID-19 pandemic could influence home and interior design, Bobbi Jo Duneman, an artchitect with FEH Design in Dubuque, said it has had a huge impact.

“The trend in terms of fashion and home design with the pandemic is really interesting,” she said. “We’re spending so much time at home, so decorating our homes has become even more important. People are liking brighter colors and taking more risks.”

Bright colors and bold patterns was not something that Duneman or Helmrichs were seeing a lot of prior to about a year ago. But they’ve seen a huge spike in clients looking to add color to their homes.

“Taking risks is really easy to do in fashion, but it’s harder to do in our homes because we’re talking about resale values,” Duneman said. “But people are starting to do it, to bring more color in and using that color to brighten up their living spaces.”

Helmrichs gives a lot of credit to the creative minds of fashion designers for the inspiration that spurs home design trends.

“They tend to be more of the innovators,” she said. “They control the colors, the texture, the florals. All of those pieces that come into home design like wallpapers, accent pieces, patterns and materials — they’ve all been inspired by the fashion industry.”

Duneman said 1970s colors, like avocado green and harvest gold, are making a comeback, as well as oranges and greens.

“Avocado green has a kind of richness to it — an undertone that is more subtle,” she said. “And the Pantone color of the year always sets a starting place for color palettes a lot.”

This years Pantone color is Ultimate Gray, a color Helmrichs is seeing in interiors as part of a nature palette.

“This year earth tones are big — bringing the outside in. People are looking more to nature,” she said. “In the past, people were inspired by getting out and seeing things. Now, they’re at home more, and they’re finding these nature-inspired designs calming — ocean blues, forest greens, those inviting and warm colors.”

Duneman, who recently moved into a home in Dubuque, finds inspiration through travel — particularly in the Pacific Northwest, where nature is king.

“One of the reasons we love the house we ended up buying is that it had great windows and really great views of the landscape,” she said.

Key neutrals in fashion — khakis, dark blues and shiny whites — also spill over into home design.

“Warm colors just create security for people,” Helmrichs said.

But bold colors are giving warm colors a run for their money.

Duneman said moving into her home inspired her to leave the neutrals behind.

“We used a lot of neutrals in our previous home,” she said. “We got into our new home, and we weren’t afraid to take those risks and really make it our space. If you like a color, bring it into your home and enjoy it.”

Helmrichs always has discouraged her clients from thinking too much about the possible future owners of their home.

“People always thought about the next person is going to want,” she said. “That has definitely shifted since the pandemic. People need to enjoy where they are and love their interior. They’re doing everything there now — working, teaching school, living — so it should be an inviting space.”

Helmrichs said almost all of her clients get inspiration from fashion, whether it’s a color, a texture, a pattern or a particular accessory or piece of clothing.

“They’ll bring in stuff from Pinterest or Facebook with colors or designs,” she said. “They don’t even know where it came from, but they like it.”

Duneman said traveling, looking for those little quirky things that speak to you or even going to art museums is a great way to get inspiration, and that people shouldn’t shy away from those bold colors and patterns if they like them.

“COVID and the pandemic has given us a little bit of space to express ourselves authentically without worrying about what other people think,” she said. “Maybe when we come out of it, we’ll be a little more authentic with ourselves, too.”

Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.

Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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