Thanks to Thom Filicia and the Queer Eye guys, everyone wants a home makeover these days. So much so that K Mart extended Martha Stewart's contract until 2009--assuring that her coveted $12.99 bath towels will be available at the discount retailer for many years to come. Other mass-market retailers are ramping up their home-decor products too. Target just added Rachel Ashwell's Simply Shabby Chic collection of bedding, bath accessories, curtains, table linens and throw pillows to its lineup of designer goods, which include home products by Michael Graves and Isaac Mizrahi. LaZBoy has enlisted the help of fashion designer Todd Oldham to put some retro chic into its recliners, and Office Depot is selling a line of home-office furniture and desk accessories created by the Discovery Channel's Home network star Christopher Lowell.
Why all the great design at great prices now? "These days quality means having a little bit more of a sensibility to it," says interior designer Thomas O'Brien, who has created an inexpensive line of bedding and bath products for the Chicago-based department store Marshall Field's, as well as a collection of vintage-inspired lamps for Visual Comfort Lighting.
"Martha Stewart's products at K Mart definitely raised the bar in many ways," says O'Brien. "Now consumers want affordable home products where the design, the packaging and the colors are better."
Another key is adaptability. Ashwell's line is designed so that sheets, shower curtains and slipcovers can blend in with existing home furnishings. And Oldham's LaZBoy furniture and accessories--which he calls "personality amplifiers"--are multifunctional. A retro-looking sofa transforms into a bench, a settee or a chaise, and sectionals can be arranged in any configuration imaginable. No need to fluff these pillows.