Designer talks new opportunities at Las Vegas Market

Chris Barrett is discovering that these uncertain times are a catalyst to change and growth.

“Homing, nesting and cocooning are top-of-mind for homeowners in a time when travel and social life have been curtailed,” she said. “People everywhere feel the desire to reimagine and change their space as they reinvent themselves. This desire is keeping me busy.”

Barrett is the owner of Chris Barrett Design in Palm Desert, California. She was one of five award-winning designers in a panel discussion about the future of design, sustainability and new opportunities during the biannual Las Vegas Market, held Jan. 23-27 at the World Market Center.

“Over the past two years, people have come to realize how important their home is,” she said. “They want it to be an environment that will stimulate and be more creative, yet relaxing.

“One of the best ways to do this is to have someone look at your home with a new set of eyes. That person can look at the many items in your home and ask how much those items mean to you. The idea is to keep what is really important or has sentimental or family value and then consider giving away or getting rid of items that aren’t important to you anymore.”

Barrett said once the space is cleared and cleaned, then reimagine.

“Most homeowners are reimaging or looking to create a home office space with some privacy,” she said. “That’s the most prominent change that I’m seeing in homes these days. And keep in mind that you don’t need a large home to create that office. It can be reimagined inside a small hall closet and you don’t need to spend a lot to accomplish this.”

Also important is a homework space for children along with an area to study rather than being scattered around the house.

“Some of what homeowners are reimagining have become a real challenge for me from what I have done in the past,” she said. “But I’m enjoying it. I figure it out and make it work.”

One of the changes Barrett has seen over the past five years is that homeowners are moving away from large classic pieces of furniture to items that are clean, comfortable and inviting, thus creating more open space. Her mantra has become “I don’t do heavy.”

“Newer furniture can be mixed with vintage furniture that makes the home more interesting and gives it a sense of history,” she explained. “Those classic pieces last forever and that’s the same element my clients want in their more modern furniture. I personally like furniture with clean lines that have back pillows and seat cushions that are durable and sit well.

“At the same time, I’m looking for performance upholstery and fabrics that are easy to clean and can stand up to children and pets and prolonged use. That fabric should be friendly to the environment, sustainable and can even be recycled. The good news is all of those requirements are available and the selection is limitless.”

Barrett’s recent move to the desert from Los Angeles has enabled her to continue her design philosophy she refers to as quintessential California: natural Mediterranean light, spaces that morph easily between indoor and outdoor living, and refined palettes electrified by the occasional jolt of strong color. It’s a design that creates space and is fresh and understated.

“The desert wants neutrals, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring,” she said. “My home is cream with pops of green, black. It’s not stark; it feels homey. Anyone can add color by way of throw pillows and other accessories. And those colors are easy to change. Go from a green pillow to a purple one. I have a pink vintage pot that sits on my dining room table and my vintage coffee table is multicolored. This is what I like and that is what I share with my clients. Make yourself happy and comfortable in your home.”

According to Barrett, the future of the design business and the designer has been taken over by the internet. Where before a person wanted to touch the furniture or sit on it, everything is now online for the most part. Barrett makes suggestions based upon her knowledge of the client’s needs and that person accepts what Barrett is suggesting.

“They know that I know what is best for them and accept it online,” she said, smiling. “There is color, light, pattern and scale. It’s a matter of fusing color combinations, multicultural reference points and hand-crafted elements into a singular vision. It is a balanced look that is both dramatic yet restrained.”