Picture your ideally designed home. Every piece of furniture, every pop of color, every knickknack on the shelf as a perfect reflection of you. Now imagine making that happen. Getting to the point of being completely happy with your decor can be a process, and sometimes figuring out how to get there seems near-impossible. Which is where Ask The Expert comes in.
At this year’s Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, Carter Averbeck (of the Minneapolis home design store Omforme) will be taking the stage and answering questions as a home design expert. “The approach is fairly simple: you listen to the homeowner in what they are trying to convey,” Averbeck says. “Sometimes homeowners have definitive questions and sometimes not. When they don’t, it’s my job to ask the right questions to help them gain the information they’re looking for.”
There are two areas where Ask The Expert will be taking place. On the main stage, the format will be a panel of designers on the stage taking questions from audience as a Q&A segment. Averbeck assures that it should be information-packed and fun for anyone who wants to have a panel of experts to gain knowledge from. The second area will be a booth that is open throughout the event where folks can sign up for a 15-minute complimentary consultation on anything to do with design for their home. Here, each of the experts will be able to have a one-on-one time with interested event-goers.
Finding the booth should be relatively easy; the Ask The Expert booth will be near the front entrances with signs pointing folks in the right direction to sign up for the consultations. Averbeck will be there much of the time with the other experts, ready to tackle your design conundrums. The Home and Garden Show booklet will have the times when the panel will be on the main stage.
Averbeck was actually approached to join the panel of experts for his repurposed aesthetic. He says, “I was participating in another event that features repurposed furniture and a scout for the Home and Garden Show walked by my booth and was elated to see such a different point of view from the other vendors that she thought I’d be a great feature at the Home and Garden Show as a vendor and speaker.”
Be on the lookout for that Ask the Expert booth, as it was designed by Averbeck using repurposed items that most will never even realize are repurposed. At the booth, Averbeck will also be sharing his expertise on how to spot good bone structure in both older furniture and architecture.
“I’ve been in the design business a long time and it is still a major passion of mine,” Averbeck continues. “As a matter of fact, I’m a nerd about design history in both interior and product design so I’m definitely owning the term ‘expert.'”
Although Averbeck won’t know the trends you’ll see at the Home and Garden show until the show opens, he’s noticed what’s been going on in the design industry as a whole. “We’ve had a good run with Mid-Century revival styles for the past ten years and now the industry is starting to diversify again,” he says. “A big trend happening on both coasts is 1970s and ’80s modernism in muted sophisticated tones. The eco trend of blues, greens, and grey still dominate the industry but also look for bright saturated pops of unexpected colors like honeyed yellows, deep crimsons and heathered blue/violets.”
As for trends he’s tired of seeing, he’s got an answer for that, as well. “As a designer, I see lots of trends that oversaturate the market,” he shares. “All-white rooms and reclaimed wood siding for accent walls are just a couple, but the key for consumers is this: if you know you are going to like the trend well past the ‘freshness date’ of the fickle design industry, then it’s your choice to make.”
With that advice in hand, saddle up for the Home and Garden Show’s two weekends (Feb. 26–28 and March 4–6) full of inspiration for your home. Even if you’ve been to the Home and Garden Show before, Averbeck insists that this year will be different.
“This year, the show is trending more towards design-related features,” Averbeck shares. “In the past, it’s mostly been about roofing, windows, and landscaping, but now there is more diversity in the vendors at the event so that a consumer now has more variety of things to see with many of those things being more accessible to obtain. I personally am excited for the Made in MN booths featuring items locally made by MN furniture and craftspeople. We have amazing talent in this state and that’s something of a treat for event attendees to experience.”
Local craftspeople and designs are featured in Averbeck’s storefront. Omforme keeps growing and redefining style by adding new local artisans making furniture and home decor items that truly rival, and in many cases, surpasses those big box stores in both design and price point.
“We are proud to be a unique stand-alone in what many folks find to be a sea of sameness in the furnishings options in the Twin Cities,” Averbeck says. “I am seeing more folks wanting artisanal items to add true personality to their homes and that’s what we are focusing on most within the store.”
The demand for repurposed furniture has grown since Omforme first opened shop. What Averbeck hears continuously is how much people are shocked at the high prices for furnishings and goods that aren’t that well made or, for that matter, unique.
“This happens when you don’t go out furniture shopping much,” he explains. “Now, people are really starting to look at the quality vs. cost factor. There’s also a burgeoning trend to not purchase mass-marketed goods for fear of looking the same as your neighbor down the street. We are a society of individual expression now and mass-marketed goods can’t address that as well as older repurposed items can. The stigma of having ‘old’ as a bad thing is becoming less and less of a problem in the minds of consumers as they search for the unique over mass-produced. They are starting to realize not everything has to be new to be beautiful. It just has to be new to them.” But repurposed doesn’t necessarily mean the shabby chic aesthetic that dominates Pinterest. Averbeck says that aesthetic has remained popular for the past 20-plus years because it’s easy to accomplish for DIY’ers and you don’t have to do a perfect job in order to get desired results.
“Our whole concept at the store is to show people that a different aesthetic can be achieved,” Averbeck says. “Those who want to repurpose but don’t have an affinity for shabby chic usually find out about us on the web or through word of mouth and it’s as if they’ve found an ally in modern repurposed goods. What I like to do is show a customer a piece of furniture, such as a chair. Then I ask them to imagine it as shabby chic, then as modern, then as their own style. It’s a way of getting them to start using their imaginations, and away they go!”
“I rarely miss the opportunity to tell homeowners to trust their instincts,” he continues. “Each of us knows essentially what we like design-wise and what we don’t but few believe in their own choices. I tell clients continuously: I’m only the guide, you are the one driving the boat. We’ll do this together.”