Photos and words by Kari Langsdorf Rasmus
During the long, cold days of winter, I pine for a visit to warmer climates–ideally under the guise of a “work trip.” Furniture and décor markets in Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas all sound appealing when the temperature dips below zero. But sometimes this Midwest woman needs to be quintessentially Midwestern. Or, in other words, frugal.
The Minneapolis Mart
Just down the road is the region’s premier permanent showroom for home décor, accessories, gifts and clothing. The Minneapolis Mart, with its 140 showrooms and over 5,000 represented lines, is an easy trip and a good resource to the trade for the tried and true trends. So, with warm, flat-heeled boots, a notepad and camera at the ready, I headed to the Minneapolis Mart to learn what was considered “hot” in the Midwest.
Before I proceed with the trends, I must admit to another Midwestern trait–practicality. While there are larger markets in Atlanta and Las Vegas, what sells in other regions of the U.S. doesn’t always take off in the Midwest.
New trends can be exciting, but sometimes they rightfully fizzle before being accepted. Midwesterners often wait to see if trends have staying power before literally buying in. Some may call us square or behind the times. You silly coastal fools, the joke’s on you. We look at you as the Midwest guinea pigs, letting you work out the kinks before we determine if a fad is actually a look worth cultivating.
As it happens, much of what I found at the Minneapolis Mart looked familiar in that déjà vu-y kind of way. You could glance around and see new twists on old ideas, which make change somehow easier to embrace. Here is a cursory glance at what the Midwest is buying in décor.
Let’s just call a spade a spade. This is the look made popular by the immensely loveable Joanna Gaines. Why is this so popular? My theory is that it is “accessible decorating.” If you break it down, what do you find?
Windmills, recycled tin, bare bulbs hanging in baskets, birdhouses–things a DIYer could make in a weekend. But when many of us try to do it ourselves, it proves harder than it looks.
Need proof? Ask my husband how long it took to make our upcycled light fixture. So if you have other plans this Saturday, know that you can buy these items ready-made.
If you replaced the cotton with wheat stalks or dried sunflowers, much of this décor could be created using local “finds.” But with the demand being placed on these pieces at antique stores, you might opt for the new creations.
This market display shows mixed and matched items for a handmade look. With neutral colors, this look remains calming even in its chaos.
Related to the Farmhouse look is the recycled trend, the difference being that recycled is not a “look,” per se. It is actual recycled material.
Recycled items can work in the farmhouse, warehouse or penthouse. It all depends upon that with which it is paired. Creative people around the country are finding ways to make something old new again. Like this trend? I do. I can love a new piece and the earth at the same time.
Furniture and accessories made from recycled wine barrels were hot ticket items at this year’s mart.
These rugs are made from recycled bottles. Great for entryways, you can hose them off when they get dirty.
Recycled metal provides dimension and interest to an otherwise nondescript picture.
The land of 10,000 lakes means that there is a décor style dedicated to outdoor and woodsy living. But as one vendor stated, a lot of those cabins could use an update. Without breaking the bank, she suggested bringing in new art and lighting to get an ontrend North Country look.
These whimsical animal pieces are replacing more traditional prints.
Edison bulbs and hanging light fixtures can bring a quick change to a cabin, infusing it with a warm glow.
A peek into summer trends, we spotted an array of colorful pillows with outdoor themes.
Small mantle clocks, clocks that take up a wall, clocks made out of wood, clocks made out of spokes–you name it. Everywhere I looked, there were clocks.
I find this trend funny and ironic. I mean, how many young people even wear watches anymore? It seems that many use their phone to tell the time. Yet, who loves the look of clocks? Those millennials that don’t wear watches.
Not only that, but many of these oversized clocks have a distinctly old world look to them. I’m not a psychiatrist, so I dare not analyze this seeming oxymoron, but I find it interesting.
Midwesterners are often thought of as color-adverse. I disagree. Ask any self-respecting woman of a certain age to dump out her purse and what will you find? Lipstick. Or, at the very least, tinted chapstick.
With our long, white winters, I think we crave color—we just use it judiciously. Within a room, we give our eyes places to rest and then delight with pops of color. You can’t visual it? Think of it this way. I wouldn’t dream of wearing bright pink blush with blue mascara, deep red lipstick, purple eyeliner and green eye shadow, but deep red lipstick on its own is classic.
These pieces are each handcrafted. The paints and metal are hearty and durable enough to withstand our weather. But feel free to use them inside for a fun accent.
Think of this as art with a purpose. Since most pieces are paired with white, the color isn’t too overwhelming for those that just want little infusions of color.
This vendor only displays their handmade Turkish textiles and pottery in Las Vegas and Minneapolis. She claimed that the Midwest is not afraid of color and texture, so this market was a natural fit.
Perhaps it isn’t a surprise that many of the showrooms were devoted to Scandinavian art, pillows, rugs, furniture, china and the like. The bleached woods, bold woven rugs and throws, vibrant pillows and simple candle holders give Scandinavian design a 20th century update.
Growing up surrounded by Norwegian food and culture, I’m proud to see the continued use of quality design. If you doubt that this is a trend, let me say just one word: IKEA.
The simple lines of the candle holders have been around for half a century. The colors may change, but the style endures.
My grandmother had several beautiful rosemaled plates that I admired as a child. That influence is still felt when I look at the vibrant colors on the less stylized pottery being made today.
Hand loomed throws add beauty and warmth to any home décor.
“Buy Local” not “Bye, Bye Local”
If winter seems like it will not leave, consider taking a trip, a shopping trip, to one of your local stores. According to the Mart vendors, most of these products can be found in the FM and lakes area at locally-owned stores. If you can’t find what you want, talk to the area merchants. What separates us from the internet is our customer service. If we know something will sell, we will stock it and call you when it arrives, and stand behind its quality. After all, we are your neighbors.
There were so many pieces I wanted to bring home, but this miniature airstream trailer that doubles as a cooler topped my wish list.
Kari Langsdorf Rasmus