No longer reserved for the tops of old ladies' sofas or for dresser-top doilies, lace is making its way back into homes as a decor trend this fall.
The key to making this delicate handicraft more modern than matronly, designers say, is focusing on pattern and not fabric. Intricate chinoiserie dishware, metallic textured coasters and bold floral wallpaper are just a few ways lace can give a sophisticated touch to your home.
"You can celebrate it and can without guilt put it on your bed and still be seen as someone in line with what's modern," said Kevin Sharkey, editorial director of decorating for Martha Stewart Living.
These product images courtesy of York Wallcoverings show its Lace Rococo wallpaper, and Geometric Flower wallpaper. Lace is making its way back into homes as a decor trend this fall. (AP photos)
Lace can also balance a room by softening or "humanizing" pieces that could otherwise be cold or harsh, says Vern Yip, a judge on HGTV's "Design Star" and designer of the HGTV Urban Oasis 2011.
"I love that level of detail," he said. "Lace automatically brings texture to a space, visual as well as actual."
One of the most popular and easiest ways to incorporate lace into your home is through accessories.
Yip loves the perforated metal and porcelain hurricanes and tealight holders from West Elm ($8 to $17), and the fanciful, cascading metal lace and flowers of the Garland pendant light from Artenica ($79) as simple, elegant pieces that make a crisp yet warm statement.
Throw in some smooth white stones to balance the frilly pattern of designer Talila Abraham's black lace decorative bowl ($98, MOMA Store), or try a pop of lace on unexpected items like night lights and even a container for fireplace matches ($9.95, HomArt), said Kelley Carter, senior home market editor for Real Simple magazine.
A project in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living shows readers how to make bold trivets or coasters by gluing lace in metallic colors to one side.
"We're really looking at lace in new ways and with a younger approach. ... Here we're taking the lace off the dress and putting it on tile," Sharkey said.
Lace on your walls might sound like overkill, but the patterns making their way onto fall wall coverings feature subtle colors like rose, pink and taupe.
Even bolder statements like white or cream lace on deep blue, black and brown backgrounds stay clean and simple so they don't overwhelm a room.
"Other lace designs are tone-on-tone, so at first glance they read like a damask or other overall design," said Gina Shaw, vice president of product development at York Wallcoverings. "But modern flourishes like a matte lacquer finish add dimension to the pattern."
Try some lacy dishes or stemware to bring an air of sophistication to your table without breaking the bank. The key, again, is pattern. The Martha Stewart Geneva and Lisbon dinnerware collections at Macy's, for instance, update the look with large graphics and a crisp black and white palette.
"You're looking at a lace pattern without knowing you're looking at a lace pattern," Sharkey said.
Pair the dinnerware with Martha Stewart's Petal Trellis champagne flutes, etched with delicate latticework, or Vera Wang's wine glasses in the Vera Lace Bouquet pattern, also at Macy's, for an air of understated sophistication.
There's no shortage of pillows inspired by the lace trend, and they come in all manner of fabrics and patterns - shimmery silk damasks, burned-out velvet and laser-cut suede. Just pick your style and color.
Yip suggests giving sheer linen window panels a try - ones with intricate lace patterns for a modern look.
"They lend a really light, airy effect but it's not actual lace itself," Yip said.
Finally, as Sharkey said, don't be afraid to throw some lace on your bed in the form of a patterned duvet or sheet set. Just don't overdo it, and stick to modern colors such as turquoise, chartreuse or honeysuckle.