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What's hot and not for your home in 2009

New trends The weather outside — not to mention the economy — may be frightful, but that doesn't mean people's interest in having a great home has waned much. In fact, a cool and comfortable haven can be a real benefit when ill winds blow. So what's in — and what's out — in home décor for the new year? We grilled several experts who have their finger on the pulse of décor and remodeling trends to bring you some tips on what to do, what to avoid and what to change. .

In: Mismatched dining-room chairs

"With people entertaining more of their friends at home instead of going out, they kind of want to do a quick update," says Mark Nash, a Chicago-area Realtor who annually surveys nearly 900 real-estate agents across North America for his report, "What's In, What's Out with Homebuyers."

"People are kind of over the 'matchy-matchy' look. It makes it very individual, and it's not rocket science, either." Plus, the chairs are often thrift-store finds. Or check out the relatively inexpensive chairs by CB2. Look for subtle similarities in the chairs — height, color, pattern — to give them a nice uniformity within their diversity.

In: Thumbs up for gray

"When I'm asked about color trends for 2009, I answer in one word: grays," says C. Davis Remignanti, director of catalog operations for Furniture.com. "There is an exquisite palette of dove grays, smoky blues, dusty whites, platinums and silvers that is coming on like gangbusters," Remignanti says. "It's a natural outgrowth of the recent popularity of earth and mineral tones that have supplanted the last decade's beiges and greens as the new neutrals."

One thing to be aware of, however: "This new look has emerged fast and strong and is likely to burn out just as quickly. ... I'm concerned that in two or three years, the smoky look will be as 'over' as the recent chocolate brown/robin's egg blue combination is today," he says.

In: Retro appliances

"Collectible, working appliances from the 1940s through the late 1980s" — think Coldspot refrigerators and double-stacked ovens — "have found a new niche among homeowners who appreciate their rock-solid construction and durability," says Chicago Realtor Mark Nash. "It's all about kitsch, but it's highly functional kitsch."

People are buying these older, warhorse appliances, which are sometimes available on eBay or in secondhand stores for as little as $100 — "and refurbishing and repainting them in bold colors such as metallic red," Nash says.

In: The new garage door

Garage doors have long been pretty vanilla, which is odd considering how prominent the door is on most American homes. That's changing. Now, "People want their garage door to make more of an architectural statement," says Realtor and trend-watcher Mark Nash.

Traditional styling has arrived, with companies such as Raynor now making doors with mullioned windows, faux wrought-iron hinges and latches that provide the original non-overhead garage door look. The nicer doors don't have to cost a mint; Nash says he saw one at a home store recently that was only about $100 more than a standard door.

In: Coral

Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams, says she is "starting to see some corals coming into the marketplace."

You'll see corals paired with plums and grays, and not with teals, as in yesteryear. "That's what makes the difference ... We look at (colors) a little bit differently and combine them in different ways."

In: Lighter is right

"I've been watching as furniture has been getting visually lighter and less bulky, and it's hard to miss the sense of Americans casting off the weight of the past," says C. Davis Remignanti, director of catalog operations for Furniture.com.

"More and more, furniture looks like you can just pick it up and move it without requiring the assistance of two or three kind strangers." How does that show itself? Higher, thinner legs on pieces. Fewer cushions on upholstery. "The trend is toward things that just look and feel 'light,'" Remignanti says.

In: 'Green' goes luxurious

"The eco-trend — this is just getting stronger and stronger and stronger," says Carmen Natschke, founder and publisher of The Decorating Diva. There's been a flood of "amazing companies that have come to market with (eco) products that have been luxurious." One of her new favorites? SDH Linens' Legna Collection of organic bedding. The natural silklike linens are created from processed wood pulp from Italian beech trees and dyed with nontoxic dyes, says Sophia Balestreri of the Marin County, Calif.-based Green Fusion Design Center, which sells the linens.

Still, Natschke and C. Davis Remignanti, of Furniture.com, caution that the furniture and interior décor industry as a whole has a long way to go to be truly green. That's why they're excited about today's trend toward incorporating antiques. "If you really want to hit 'green,' you need to be incorporating existing pieces," Remignanti says. And antiques "are as green as you can possibly get right now."