By Melissa Kossler Dutton
(AP) — Clear the way for acrylics.
Furniture makers are using the see-through material for everything from couch legs and bed posts to tables and footstools.
It’s a way to add drama to a room without overloading it, said Sheila Schmitz, an editor with Houzz, an online source of interior design photos and decorating ideas. She said acrylics are being used to update many different kinds of furniture, to fit any budget.
“It’s really very versatile,” added Michelle Lamb, editorial director with The Trend Curve, an industry observer in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. “Because it’s clear, it can become a showpiece or just an accessory.”
The pieces are lighter, stronger and less expensive than glass, said Tara Donovan, style director at Wayfair, an online home goods store. “It’s more malleable and easy to work with, so it can be worked into more shapes,” she said.
Acrylic is ideal for small rooms because it doesn’t make the space look or feel crowded, Schmitz said. “It can be a functional piece that doesn’t add visual clutter,” she said.
Clear furniture also can make small spaces feel more open and inviting, said Karen Mills, an interior designer with Interiors by Design, Inc., in Lenexa, Kansas. “It’s lighter and brighter,” she said. “It bounces that light around, whereas darker pieces soak up all your sunlight.”
Even something as simple as an acrylic chair can make a statement in a room, as designer Philippe Starck proved more than a decade ago when he introduced his Ghost Chair — a clear replica of the classic Louis XV armchair, Mills said. The chair helped launch the resurgence in acrylic furniture, she said.
Now, you can find clear chairs to fit any room.
“There’s probably an acrylic chair for just about any taste,” Schmitz said.
Add a vibrant cushion, and clear chairs — along with benches and footstools — can become the centerpiece of the room, Mills said.
“When you put fabric on it, it just looks like it’s floating. It adds a touch of fantasy,” she said. “It’s fantastic.”
Acrylic really shines when accessorized with pops of color and texture, agreed Emily Arnow, editor at AllModern.com, an online furniture store. “It’s there, but not really there, so it’s a great complement to bolder pieces that are also there to make a style statement,” she said. “The key to decorating with clear acrylic is playing with perception and contrast.”
Clear legs on couches, chairs and cabinets can “create a look of suspended animation,” Lamb said. “It may take you a second or two to realize what’s going on. Once you figure it out, you can’t stop looking at it.”
Or if you prefer, the pieces can take a backseat to other furnishings in the room. “You’re getting the function without taking up much visual space,” said Donovan.
Designers often use acrylic when they want to highlight another exceptional element in the room, she said. Clear tables are a way to accentuate beautiful carpets, she said. Clear chairs will not detract from an ornate desk or a special dining table.
Acrylic’s “unique silhouettes can be truly magnificent, allowing them to act as the focal point if you want a statement piece — think acrylic table or grouping of ghost chairs,” she said. “Yet their transparent appearance can also be very delicate if the space has really vibrant pieces such as a vintage rug or piece of art. Ultimately, it’s all about how you pair the acrylic furnishings within a space and where you want the focus to be.”