Emerging from the multitude of new designs, new materials and combinations of materials that were introduced in 1950 were two definite trends in the 1951 furniture picture.
The most important was the tremendous renewal of interest in French Provincial furnishings which was apparent in all segments of home furnishings including furniture, floor coverings, fabrics and accessories. Formerly available only in the higher-priced merchandise, consumer demand brought it down to the moderate-price level during the year.
The small scaling, warm finishes and simple graceful lines of this style, when combined with typical Provincial fabrics, make it ideally adaptable to the smaller, informal homes of today. Conversely, when used with handsome brocades, velvets or metallic textures, this same design becomes formal enough for the most sophisticated city apartment. Blending equally well with both 18th-century and 20th-century designs. French Provincial pieces are often used as accents in an otherwise traditional or contemporary room.
The other important trend in furniture design during 1951 was the development of finishes that clearly show the grain and texture of the wood. To accomplish this, dark mahogany and walnut were finished a few shades lighter but still retained the mellow tone of a traditional finish. The bleached finishes, on the other hand, were softened to permit the natural wood colour to show through, and depended upon the figurations and the texture of the wood for decorative interest.
Traditional woods such as cherry, walnut and maple, usually associated with Early American and French Provincial designs, appeared in several contemporary lines which marked another new departure.
Of significant importance was the professional acceptance of blending traditional styles with current ones that were being created in the U.S. and Europe. When both are of fundamentally good design and used well together, the result is an interesting room characterized by great individuality.
In view of the Korean war, there was a trend away from corn- bining strategic metals such as steel, copper and brass with wood, and manufacturers concentrated on new finishes and plastics to make their table tops stainproof and burnproof. In a great many of the 1951 furniture lines, metal hardware was completely eliminated, with wood drawer pulls or louvred drawers taking its place.
Fabrics followed the general trend to informality, and adaptations of authentic Provincial patterns in modern colourings were greatly in demand. Many of these designs were based on French Provincial motifs, while others took their inspiration from the early days of rural U.S. or from the American south. west. Damasks, antique satins and textures, interwoven with nontarnishable metallic threads, were foremost in the more formal styles. The year 1951 also witnessed a revival of fabric design of Italian Classic, Directoire and Greek origin. Shown in black or other dark colours on white grounds, they were used mainly in combination with elaborate wrought-iron furniture.
Sheer casement cloths that permit privacy and at the same time allow the daylight to filter through were noted in many New weaves and textures. Some of these were shown in all-cotton, sheer linen, rayon and cotton or cottons and combination weaves interwoven with washable metallic yarns. Nylon, orlon and other synthetics in both upholstery and drapery fabrics were much in evidence. In contemporary designs, the trend was to smaller patterns, and the earth tones, greens, browns and russets, were predominant.
Floor coverings kept pace with the furniture trend to in-formality, with designs leaning heavily toward casual patterns, long-wearing sturdy textures and small, unobtrusive abstracts. Colourwise, tones of green, beige, gray and cocoa were most in demand.
Because of the shortage and high price of raw wool, most of the manufacturers introduced carpeting in a combination of wool and carpet rayon or in all rayon. Textured cottons in wall-to-wall carpeting also made important news on the fashion front. Shown in a wide range of dark and light colours, the 1951 crop of cottons won well-deserved popularity in the moderate-price brackets. Available in sculptured patterns as well as pile effects, these cottons were claimed to be as long wearing as all wool.