A Model Approach: Design for the Times

Decor Direct is Breathing New Life into Model-Home Staging and Residential Design across the Shore

Written by Kristen Hampshire  |  Photography by Grant L. Gursky

Imagine entertaining guests in a fully appointed gourmet kitchen, then relaxing in front of the fireplace in a welcoming, open living space that accommodates movie night or book club — or whatever you want to do to unwind at home — in a space that’s perfect, from its color schemes to its furnishings, fabrics, artwork and accessories.

This is ultimately the goal of a model-home design team: to deliver decor and furnishings selections that offer functionality, personality and a feeling of, “I can see us living here.” And it’s about navigating a fine balance between introducing the latest design aesthetics with timeless style that can grow with a homeowner, evolve with the times and stay relevant for years to come.

Embracing Earth Tones

Designer Susan Herring is seeing a warming trend in color palettes. “Greens are super popular, with a comeback of sage green, even in kitchen cabinets,” she said. “After COVID and everything going on in the world, people want comfort.

We work to choose furnishings that are comfortable that most people would love to have in their homes — and add color as opposed to only a neutral palette,” said Nelly Arnold, president of Décor Direct in Rehoboth, a firm that offers model-home decor along with residential design services for individual clients.

For example, at Schell Brothers’ Hailey’s Glen community in Lewes, Décor Direct capitalizes on a “modern style that is approachable,” said Arnold, relating that the aesthetic is natural, textural and woodsy. “We create spaces that support the mission of the community, which is in a beautiful, wooded setting with larger lots and very family-oriented.”

An airy, open feel is appealing across the board and an objective for builders and homeowners alike. Also, more clients are requesting furniture selections that allow for flexibility, so they can rearrange pieces when they wish to achieve a fresh look, Arnold stated. “Overall, we see a focus in the industry on being able to change furniture around, so as designers, we want to choose pieces that do not have to be laid out exactly one way to the inch,” she said

Far From Neutral

Décor Direct looks for furnishings that are comfortable and that most people would love to have in their homes — eschewing a neutrals-only philosophy.

Form and Function​

Décor Direct expertly incorporates the latest design aesthetics while embracing elements of timeless style and good taste.

Here, Arnold and decorators Susan Herring and Jaime Senard share at-home-inspired looks that are emerging — and sustainable.

Down to Earth. While clean white and grays are still popular, designer Susan Herring says there’s a warming trend. “We are seeing more natural tones — and greens are super popular, with a comeback of sage green, even in kitchen cabinets,” she said. “After COVID and everything going on in the world, people want comfort. Back to nature is what I’m seeing.” 

Warmer Woods. Rather than all white, designer Jaime Senard notices more clients are leaning toward wood cabinetry. “It brings in that natural element,” she offered, adding that warmer floor tones are also on the scene. The look is still clean and accessories are carrying the color. “Rather than adding too many heavy materials, clients want their personality to come to life with colors in accent pieces like art and pillows.” 

Solid State. Rather than incorporating an influx of bold patterns, Arnold sees a preference for solid colors and monochromatic treatments. “We’re seeing more muted patterns and solids,” she said, relating that coastal communities with views do not want to take away from what’s on the horizon. 

Remember the Jewelry. Herring calls drapery “the jewelry” because panels and sheers truly complete a room. “We’re seeing drapery come back in a pretty serious way with all of our clients. It’s that finishing touch that makes a house feel like home.” CS

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