Staying in has become the new going out as we retreat into our homes for warmth against the financial chill.
After years of nights out and weekends away we are rediscovering domesticity, making our homes more than just a place to sleep.
But interiors trends are also becoming polarised: some seek the reassurance of classic good looks with relaxing colours, a haven of peace and quiet; others hanker for excitement, with new shapes and happy-hippy hues.
Keeping costs down is the key, says fashion lecturer Kevin Tallon. He leads the pioneering Design Laboratory at Central St Martins art college and edited its inspiring, just-published manifesto
New Blood: Raw Trends 2009/10 (£14.99 from www.anovabooks.com).
The recession is making designers more resourceful, reports Tallon. They are using cheaper materials, such as paper, moulded plastics and expanded polystyrene, or re-using ones that have been thrown away - boxes, bottles and even old clothes. "Value comes from their creativity and their time," he explains. "Beauty doesn't have to come at a price."
Joss Debae, features editor for Mix Future Interiors, consultant to Interiors Birmingham, the big trade show, agrees. "Yes, young designers and students are really pushing the boat out," he says. "Overt display - decadence even - is a form of escapism during this economic climate." Visit www.interiorsbirmingham.com.
Digital downloads are the next big thing, with design accessible directly from the internet, as instructions, printable kits and so on. These are pioneered by a dynamic young co-operative called Kithkin (www.kith-kin.co.uk).
'Good design and attention to detail don't have to cost'
Luxe for less is the motto for the high street, as big stores compete to
bring us beauty on a budget. At Matalan, buying controller Roderick Williams is launching a range called Influence.
"Good design and attention to detail don't have to cost," says Williams. His brand is fuelled by a clutch of design celebs. These include TV presenter/designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, whose flamboyant black-lacquered mirrors, satin bed linen and embroidered velvet cushions are typically baroque. Merchandise will be in store next month.
Also next month, Sainsbury's is launching Tu Home, the odd name for a nice - and huge - new range. "This will be exceptional quality at affordable prices," promises head of home buying Claire Sollis.
Customers are cutting back on "big ticket" items, reports Anna Rigby, head of buying, furniture and lighting at John Lewis. "But people will still want to 'refresh' their homes." Accordingly, sales are soaring for wallpaper, cushions, lamps, paint and services such as the store's "express furnishing" (curtains and so on within a week).
Make it last
Many of the maestros who monitor trends say that "longevity" could be this year's watchword. "Our new collections concentrate more than ever on long-lasting materials and design that doesn't date," says Theo Williams, creative director for Habitat. Look for simple contrasts of materials and finishes, with lots of telling textures that won't date quickly.
Our experts' tips
"Print images off the web and paste them into a vibrant wall collage. Think Fornasetti with bizarre contrasts of scale." Joss Debae, Mix Future Interiors (www.globalcolor.co.uk)
"Make sure your home is properly insulated - a small outlay brings big savings." Fionnuala Johnston, design manager at B&Q (www.diy.com).
"Give old furniture a lick of gorgeous glossy paint." Louise Smith, colour and
design manager for Dulux.
"Go for black - it's super-sophisticated and needn't be expensive." Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, designing for Matalan (www.matalan.co.uk).
"Use colour for a shot-in-the-room - pair raspberry with mint, yellow with lime,
or major on a warm red." Mockie Harrison, design studio manager at John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com).