It's about time! Clocks have finally emerged as one of the most functional and decorative objects in the home.

According to Phil Miller, executive vice president of the Howard Miller Clock Co., "We're seeing a demand for clocks that do more than tell time. Clocks have become tables, cabinets to display treasured objects and even dramatic sculptures."Interior designers such as Marshall Watson agree. "Clocks have come to be viewed as exciting design elements in the creation of a room," he said. "More and more interior designers are opting for boldly imaginative clock designs that become an eye-catching focal point for a room's decor."

He pointed out that one of the most interesting trends over the past years has been the emergence of "clock furniture."

"Because of the tremendous range of styles, shapes and sizes of today's clocks, it's easy to find one that will not only fit every design setting from traditional to contemporary, but that will perform more than one function."

Examples:

- Clock tables, which have an over-scaled clock built right into the tabletop, are the rage. The Howard Miller Clock Co. calls theirs the "Table Time." They say the "clocktail" tables are replacing the traditional cocktail tables.

- A grandfather clock serves as a curio case. This curio clock design was sparked by the increasing demand for furnishings with multiple functions. Carole Greenbaum, accessories buyer for Wayside Furniture, says customers are buying up these curio clocks like mad.

- A tall floor clock becomes a wall that sections off a room.

- A brass-and-glass triple chime clock, with its dimmer switch and lighted mirrored back, gives a feeling of sculpture in the home.

- A world-time clock, with a map of the world on its face, tells time internationally.

- A bright, durable injection-molded wall clock for children boasts of large, contemporary hands that make time-telling fun.

According to "Better Homes and Gardens" executive furnishings editor Denise Caringer, sophisticated consumers are looking at "basic" objects in a new light. They are buying clocks that are not only beautiful and well-made, but ones that say something about the people who choose them.

She continued, "A clock can reflect a reverence for tradition, or a sense of humor. It can project an avant-garde approach to design, or a love of the whimsical and novel."

The Howard Miller Clock Co. offers these suggestions for choosing clock furniture:

1. Select something out of the ordinary. Guests can have the "time of their lives" while gathered around a clock-faced table.

2. Choose innovative clock designs for more contemporary environments. Materials might include sleek brass and glass, colored injection-molded plastics - and even neon.

3. Pick out clocks with outsized proportions. They will help to create a highly dramatic, individualized statement.

So, isn't it about time you discovered the clock (or clocks) that will add dramatically to the decor of your home? And there are hundreds of styles to choose from. Why, at Howard Miller Clock Co. alone, there are 275 styles. For information about them, write 860 E. Main St., Zeeland, Michigan 49464 (616) 772-9131.