In the ruthlessly chic field of interior design, everyone has their own ideas - so why not make 1999 the year to start respecting your home environment and find out whether you're a dedicated minimalist, a sworn magpie or something in between. Who cares that fluffy pink lampshades are out this year? The main thing is to have some fun - either that, or you could play it stylishly safe and follow the advice of the style gurus:
Caroline Burstein-Collis Director, Browns Living
"Unlike with your clothes, you can't change your home's wardrobe every year, but in 1999 we can afford to loosen up a little. Interiors have recently been very clean and minimal and, although this helps to clear the mind, it would be good to have a little more colour through items such as plants and cushions. Having said this, everyone is different and some people enjoy being surrounded by familiar clutter. The important thing is to make sure you have things in your house that you love."
Head of design at Habitat
"The trouble with homes is that you can't really talk in years, as you can with fashion; but there are several trends at the moment. The first is a popularity for modular products - those that you buy several of and stack together yourself: storage, screens, flooring and even lighting. Another trend is for things that are multifunctional. People are constantly bombarded with a kind of fantasy world of how to live - but the reality is very different. To be realistic about what their home is like or could be like, people will be choosing items that are essentially practical - steps that fold to become a chair, or loft lamps that can be hooked on to any area of a house.
"I hope that people will feel modern as we approach the millennium. At the turn of the last century the public was apprehensive about the future and tended towards comforting, organic shapes such as those of Art Nouveau. This time people will be more confident and proud of embracing technology with distinctive lighting, hi-fi and cooking gadgets. There may also be a trend for futuristic retro design."
Head of Designers Guild
"Natural and interesting textures in white, pale brown and ecru will be balanced with pale iridescent colours of aqua, chalk grey, pale olives and smoky mauve. There will be no frills or clutter but, instead, clear, clean lines together with vivacious images from oriental inspiration."
Editor, `Elle Decoration'
"The whole nation has become more home-savvy. First it was sorting out your clothes, then the interior decoration, and in 1999 it will be the turn of the garden. The idea of designing an outdoor room will materialise, with furniture that you can wheel in or out. Attention will be given to sheds, huts and garden hideaways as well as the layout of the lawn. Conversely, nature will extend into the home as people turn back to real fires in the house.
"White will still be the main colour but it will be a soft, new-dawn, spacey kind of white rather than a bleak white. Accessories will still verge on the modern ethnic. Where lots of modern design in shops such as Browns Living and Nicole Fahri takes its inspiration from items such as African milking stools and simplifies this down, in 1999 we will be looking for the real thing."
Co-owner, The Cross
"The theme for this year starts with some fantastic sap-green glassware from Belgium and lots of leaf-inspired plates - tropical leaves, lilies and waterlilies and so on. At the other end there will be lots of pale colours, including leather pouffes in pretty shades of ice blue, pale eau-de-Nil and off-whites. Into summer, there'll be a permanent holiday feel with deep pink, bright turquoise and canary yellow."
Robin and Patricia Silver
Owners, The Home
"The most important thing this year will be that people are looking for quality and will be willing to pay more for things that are well designed than for things that are a bit junky. Colours will be subdued and solid rather than bright, plasticky and transparent, and dark, grainy wenge- wood - which has a rather African feel to it - will be more popular than sycamore, maple and other paler woods.
"Kitchens will also be prominent in the home. Last year, having watched the River Cafe cookery programmes, everyone wanted the double-handled mezzalunas, but found them difficult to operate. This year there is a new kind that you hold in one hand and, for an inexperienced cook, they are much easier to handle. Since tea is set to overtake coffee in popularity, there will be all kinds of tea-making and tea-drinking equipment in the shops."
Deputy editor, `World of Interiors'
"1999 will probably see an emphasis on hand-made, individual pieces. As the general public's levels of luxury have increased - everyone can now pop into Debenhams to buy a pashmina shawl - there is no clear definition between the top and the middle of the market, and so the top end is having to distinguish itself by returning to the crafts tradition.
"The fascination with early Modernism will probably continue; but now that you can buy versions of Modernist designs everywhere from IKEA to Viaduct, the theme is less romantic than it was a year ago.
"The main thing is that you should feel relaxed within your home, so have a bit of everything you like in there. The new tendency is for people to raid every century for the best it provided and put all the different pieces together in one house."
Accessory buyer, Heal's
"Whites, greys and creams with accents of darker colours such as aubergine and navy will be the theme for 1999. Texture is still very important, and the use of natural materials - wool, leather, suede, linen, slate and metals. There will be no coloured patterns as such; ceramics will be mostly white with raised designs."
Buyer, contemporary furniture, Liberty
"There is a trend towards all things Scandinavian and Liberty has bought into those countries, renowned for their beauty and creativity. The pieces for 1999 are typically Scandinavian in form, material and craftsmanship, and are both functional and aesthetic. Bought to fulfil the individual's spatial needs, the resulting collection is simple, high quality and natural with a nod to architectural influence.
"I believe there is also a trend for beautifully crafted and individual pieces for the home. This is why Liberty has revived its "One-Off" department, which opens next month. The idea is that the home is a sanctuary that surrounds us with beautiful objects to inspire and give pleasure to the mind and body."
Fabrics buyer, and Jill Webb, furniture buyer, The Conran Shop
"Colours around the home this year will be aubergine, indigo, Indian red, eggshell and eau-de-Nil, and all fabrics will be textured. Sheer linens and organzas will have fine details within the weave of the fabric rather than patterns.
"Over the last two years, furniture trends have swayed towards dark woods but, despite changing trends, The Conran Shop continues to select clean, minimal, high-quality furniture in blond wood with natural finishes.
"The belief here is that we should follow our own line and let other people copy us, rather than the other way round."