If you’re approaching this story with a critical eye, we get it. Trends should always be taken with a grain of salt. It’s all too common in this fast-paced world of ours to see fads boom in popularity then fade into obscurity just as fast as they came in. That’s why a bit of healthy skepticism can be good when it comes to the hottest trends—especially in the home. If you bought a shirt at the peak of a fashion trend but it quickly becomes decidedly uncool, you can choose not wear it anymore. With a house it’s not so easy.
Still, not all trend cycles zoom in and out at the speed of light. Some can hang on for decades or even become new classics . Everything has to start somewhere, after all.
So, when we start to see a new trend rising to popularity on the homefront , no matter how much we love it at that very moment, we seek a second opinion (and a third and a fourth). The South’s top interior designers are able to help us sort through the rubble and find the trends that have a high potential for longevity.
In 2023, we’ve been bombarded with so many good contenders thus far. While designers are excited by some emerging trends, they’re thoroughly turned-off by others, and still hesitant to embrace even more. For example, some designers take pause at decor trends like maximalism , synthetic countertops, and too much rattan. However, there are a good few that designers think will stick around.
These are the 2023 home decor trends that interior designers think are the diamonds in the rough.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: All whites and grays are a thing of the past . Instead, designers recommend pops of bright color.
“For the longest time, we were working with a lot of beige, white, and gray,” says Anne Hammett , a designer out of Charlotte, North Carolina. “Now, I've had clients that used to want to go very neutral, these clients are now saying they realized that they really like color and they want to do color.”
However, since as we’ve said, the times are always changing and the trends with it, Welch says that it may be smart to incorporate pops of striking color in manners that are easily replaceable like in rugs, pillows, window treatments, and inexpensive art.
“When we're talking about the bones of the house, I always try to think of those things as being a marathon. And then the sprints can be if you want to do something that's on trend,” says Oklahoma City-based designer Jennifer Welch . “If there's a really hot color, incorporate it as throw pillows or an art print—something that's easily replaceable—but not an original piece of art or a lamp. That way, the bones of your house are maintained for well over a decade.”
As such, Welch recommends being careful with what colors you choose. For example, the color of the year may not be an everlasting shade, but blues and greens are a safer bet. Red also may be a good choice, Hammett tells us.
“Red got a bad rap from the 90,” she says. “But I think red will make a comeback.”
Natural Materials and Wood
Rather than painting over our wood, it’s finally time to let that natural wood shine, especially but not limited to lighter tones. Northern Virginia-based designer Sarah McCarty is seeing the trend slowly take hold in the kitchens.
“ Wood color is making a comeback,” says McCarty. “You might see fewer white kitchens and more wood tones. It’s the lighter woods, but also some of the darker woods, too.”
Welch too, is seeing an uptick in wood’s popularity, but she looks low for proof. She says that the boundaries for what’s “in” on the floors are expanding to include a wider range of wood tones, even mixing them together.
“Wood floors are definitely going lighter, but I love that you're also seeing all different shades of wood out there,” Welch tells us. “You can see a beautiful walnut or a beautiful ebonized wood up against a softer, lighter colored natural wood floor. And I think mixing wood finishes has a real balance to it. When it's done properly, it adds so much warmth to a space.”
Hallelujah—wallpaper is here to stay! Patterned and textured wallpapers have seen a heyday in 2022 and designers are confident that they’ll continue to be popular in 2023 and beyond.
“Wallpaper can instantly tell a story. It is one of those game-changing things for a room,” Hammett raves. “So I do not see wallpaper going away. Wallpaper is sticking around.”
She predicts that chinoiserie patterns will be especially popular this year for wallpaper and has observed many brands producing it lately. We all know how much Southerners love our chinoiserie knick knacks and keepsakes, so it’s safe to say that this is one motif we won’t tire of on our walls, either.
However, not all uses of wallpaper are made equal. Welch says that one use that will likely prove to be a fad is installing patterned wallpaper on the ceiling. While it’s a creative idea, she laments that wallpapered ceilings create an unbalanced room.
When it comes to your hardware, unlacquered brass are the words on everyone’s lips in 2023, but don’t count other living finishes out this year.
“I definitely think unlacquered brass will stick around for a while,” says Hammett. “People talk about living finishes, like unlacquered brass and polished nickel, because they can patina and give you an instant kind of character where things aren't so pristine and perfect.”
If you decide to take up the brass trend, these designers warn you to make sure you stick to the unlacquered kind. Welch laments “a very bad brass” on the market that’s shinier and though it requires less care than the live kind that can patina , it can have the unfortunate side-effect of making your home look outdated.
Gone are the days where you have to choose one type of metal and make it a consistent theme throughout the home. Mixing metals is not only acceptable now, but encouraged, and McCarty says that she is seeing it more and more among her clients. However, Welch warns that mixing metals only looks good when you do it the right way .
“If a client wants to mix metals, which you would have to do to have a well curated home, you can choose a satin nickel faucet or an unlacquered Brass faucet. Then, with your door hardware and throughout the house, you could do a matte black and perhaps the chandelier has some brass detail. All of those metals can live well together,” Welch says. “I recently saw a house that had a black sink and brass faucet . They also had chrome and glass hardware on the cabinets. That is not good and that's not mixing metals properly . Not all metals mix if you just throw them in there.”
Some may argue that traditional decor never fell to the modern stuff, but even still, it’s seeing a resurgence more than ever. McCarty and Hammett have both noticed that clients are asking for traditional decor at increased rates.
“Traditional style design is coming back and it kind of goes with the whole ‘ granny chic ’ vibe that's going around,” McCarty reveals.
With this traditional push comes the formal dining room which has long made way for modern open floor plans. As traditional style becomes more popular, so does having a dining room, especially one with traditional decor, McCarty has observed.
Welch says that while traditional decor is certainly on the rise, many homeowners are requesting such in a more architecturally modern space.
“People are taking the components they liked from the modern era,” Welch says. “Everybody used to want modern and it seems like that's toning down a little bit. Now, people are wanting some modern components in the architecture like oversized windows—everybody loves all the natural light— and tall ceilings, but with traditional furniture and furnishings.”
In this case, the whole design might be labeled as transitional—a fancy way to say that the decor is traditional and the architecture is modern. Traditional decorating has withstood the test of time, especially with this resurgence, and is sure to do so again moving forward. Add to this some modern sensibilities, and designers think we’ve got a trend that’s a keeper.
Jewel Box Laundry Rooms
The laundry room is the new powder room in 2023. That is to say that it’s a jewel box space where designers are seeing people want to have more fun with the design. Don’t worry though, your bold powder rooms are still in style, but now laundry rooms are catching up. In the past, they’ve often been neglected, but not anymore.
“I have seen more requests for laundry rooms which people don't always focus on because guests don't necessarily see it. Now, people are wallpapering in the laundry room and putting pretty colors, patterns, and prints in there.”
If you have the mobility and space, Welch says that she’s also seeing people move their laundry machine and dryer into their closets for convenience.
Mixing Old And New
Southerners would never let any old designer tell us our heirlooms and antiques are uncool, but it’s still nice to hear that what we love is appreciated by others as well. Designers say that what makes a home dynamic and decidedly cool in 2023 is mixing old things in with new ones.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to mix a classic piece with new furnishings, it just makes it feel so much more curated and timeless,” says Welch.
Part of this trend may be a healthy dose of inspiration from the past, reflects McCarty. Pieces indicative of mod mid century design may be especially desirable, Hammett tells us.
“Vintage and retro is coming back which is very cool,” McCarty says. “People are upcycling existing furniture to make what's old new again, and also antique shopping to look for those things of the past that stir up nostalgic memories.”
Sustainable Furniture and Decor
“There's a push to try and not be quite as wasteful,” reveals Hammett. “Whenever I buy accessories, I try to source vintage antiques from thrift shops which is actually an environmentally friendly thing because it's not encouraging mass production. I despise mass produced junk that will probably end up in a landfill. It just doesn't have a lot of charm or character.”
The surging antiquing industry is just one example of homeowners adopting sustainable sensibilities into their decor. This trend may also present itself in homeowners keeping more and more plant-life in the home and on the retailers’ side in the use of more natural materials or by installing eco-friendly technologies.
“I live in Oklahoma City so oil and gas is a huge part of the economy here,” says Welch, “but I've seen clients moving towards things like putting outlets in the garages for the potential of having electric cars . I also have clients that are using solar panels.”
Last but not least, Hammett says that the most popular trend she has observed is having a game table .
“ Mahjong is huge here in Charlotte,” she says. “Most furniture companies, if they don't already have one, will be producing game tables. That's one of my most requested items right now.”
We theorize that the game table trend may be connected to the current rise of the formal dining room . For so long, the dining table has been a catch-all for games, crafts, working from home, you name it. Now that people want to re-designate that space for formal dining, these game tables can be used to play games or suit any other needs that should arise.