There's something about the end of one year and beginning of another that begs the question: What's changing?

When it comes to home furnishings, it's no different.

Most people have more than a passing interest in how much their personal spaces reflect broader home furnishing trends, something that reflects society's mood.

Bold and optimistic

So, what's in and what's out for 2014?

"Americans seem ready to infuse their surroundings with optimistic, bold, mood-changing color," says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance.

Intense blues dominated among furnishing colors introduced at the fall High Point Market for furniture in North Carolina, she says.

While Hirschhaut acknowledged global color authority Pantone's recent prediction of Radiant Orchid as its pick for 2014 color of the year, she also called it a cousin to blue. And she noted Benjamin Moore Paints' choice of a lighter shade of blue, called Breath of Fresh Air, for its 2014 color of the year.

When it comes to neutrals, gray continues to get top billing, Hirschhaut says.

In addition, all the gold and bronzes being seen suggest they will pass silver as the decorating metal of choice. That's true whether its an iridescent finish on fabric and leather, bronzed hardware, metallic wood or something else.

At Morris Sokol on King Street, design consultant Christ Fulp is seeing gray, too.

"The color gray is huge in fabrics, paint and wood stains," he says. If an items comes in two colors, gray and another color, the gray sells first.

Sectionals is something else that is popular, and they sell as fast as sofas, Fulp says.

Matched sets of furniture also are out.

For example, mixing dining chairs from one furniture group, with a dining table from another, is in, he says. That holds true even when their finishes are different.

Television armoires are out as homeowners place their sets on walls, over fireplaces and on consoles. Many manufacturers no longer make armoires, Fulp says.

Comfort and luxury

Leigh McAlpin, co-owner of Dwelling on King Street, says the perfect combination of comfort and luxury is on the minds of many who are selecting home furnishings. Homeowners are focusing on linen for upholstery and bedding, mohair and silk fleece for blankets and throws, and plush wool and silk rugs.

In addition, her clients also are interested in knowing who makes a piece and what their working conditions are, McAlpin says. They want to know what materials are used and if they were acquired and processed in an environmentally friendly manner. They also ask how versatile and timeless pieces are.

"Consumers are immensely interested in where goods are made and are focused on both locally made, and on a broader scale, American-made products," McAlpin says.

Duval Acker at Kitchens by Design in Mount Pleasant says one major kitchen trend is colored appliances.

Acker, a certified master kitchen and bath designer, says unlike times past, when one popular color, such as avocado or harvest gold would be widely available, there is an array of colors.

Some homeowners and designers are starting to feel that stainless steel appliances have had their day, she says.

When it comes to cabinets, the movement across the country is toward darker, richer colors, says Acker, also a member of American Society of Interior Designers. But in Charleston, white is still preferred.

"Countertops are kind of up in the air," Acker says. "Around here, we've seen enough granite to last a life time. And new quartz designs are being introduced by companies all the time. While those have the design properties of granite, they don't require the special care that it does."

At Celadon Home in Mount Pleasant, assistant buyer Grace Toland is spotting a number of growing trends, including bone inlay, brass finishes and textures such as shagreen, an untanned skin from a shark, seal or horse that has small round granulations.

She's also seeing a lot more Lucite pieces and tassels and pom pom accents.

On the way out, are cowhide and patchwork rugs and chevron patterns.

Texture may not be everything, but it's just about everywhere, says Trudy Mercy Brown, owner of bluecopper Interiors in Mount Pleasant.

At the High Point market, Brown saw everything from textured fabrics to distressed and peeling painted finishes.

The worn look will be prevalent during 2014, says Brown. It's a look that suggests the pieces were collected over time. Many of the pieces also have metal accents

The reuse and recycle trend continues to grow, Brown says. Furniture manufacturers are using reclaimed wood. Consignment shops are busy selling to homeowners who repurpose home furnishings. More kitchens and baths are featuring recycled glass or oyster shell counters.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.