Comfort and nature leading the trends for interiors
by Cheryl Cook
It’s the time of year when most just want to hunker down and think of spring. While I’m not going to hustle you out from under your cozy blanket and encourage you to go enjoy the seasonal charms of snow and biting winds, you could make good use of the time with a little home-beautification planning.
To assist with this, let’s look at some of the top decorating trends. What’s new and fun, and what looks like it might be here to stay?
It’s easy to poke fun at the wise folks who choose the various “colours of the year” for us. I always imagine someone sitting in a lab coat, pondering swatches in a test tube, but that can’t be right. There’s no quicker and easier way to change a room’s outlook than colour. Whether you’re painting a room or just switching up some accents, this is a great way to breathe new life into a space.
This year, many of the companies who declare a colour of the year have chosen deep, bold blues and fresh greens. I can really get behind these choices simply because they are easier for many people to use in their homes than some of the choices in previous years that strayed into areas such as pink. I love pink, but there aren’t many decorators with clients who really want to go for it with the dusty rose these days. We like to look at it on Pinterest, but putting a crushed velvet, blush-pink sofa in the living room? The average person isn’t going to make that sort of commitment.
Blue and green, on the other hand, are perennial favourites, echoing the world around us and working beautifully with natural tones like wood and stone. Deep, rich navy blues and paler, fresher greens both find themselves perfectly at home with two of the trends in home decor that are showing no signs of slowing this year: coastal colours and tropical prints. The bold blues also pair beautifully with most metals, but in particular warm golds, brasses, and bronzes.
Coastal colours work wonderfully in a neutral or light space. Take your cues from beach glass, lush foliage, sisal mats, and natural materials like cotton and linen. You can add the tropical element right into a coastal look, or go with it all on its own. Tropical prints on your cushions, drapery or upholstery are a great way to inject them into your space without dominating it. You can also consider small spaces like powder rooms as candidates for a splash of tropical wallpaper.
Photo Credit: Bigstock/New Africa
While there are only so many tones and colours we can expect to see in hardware, recent years have offered a lot of choices for those of us looking for something away from the traditional chrome and nickel. Gold and shiny yellow brass made a roaring comeback, and are still very well suited to some situations. Brass taps are often perfectly at home in a heritage house, and pairing gold tones with simple modern designs can add a dash of sophistication to a kitchen.
But black and dark bronze really seem to have settled into a comfortable place and the use of these may not be shifting for some time. When something becomes more widely available, it becomes more affordable, so having a stunning matte black faucet to contrast with white tiles is now a more accessible choice, and dark bronze hardware can help achieve an enduring, classic look.
The beauty of quartz
Quartz countertops are definitely a must-have when designing a new kitchen. But will your hard-earned money be wasted on something that is out of style in five years? I’d say this is unlikely, provided you choose a subtle, timeless pattern and colour. Quartz is a gorgeous workhorse, being easier to maintain and more stain-resistant than granite, while having a price that’s more manageable than something like marble.
A large, single-level kitchen island is currently more in vogue than dual-level islands. The latter was popular in recent years for its ability to visually separate the prep area from the higher seating area, but many now prefer one large, single level as it opens up the space for food prep. It also creates a visually cleaner look in the room, and a single slab of quartz or granite can add a very luxe look to your kitchen.
In the bathroom, dark colours are increasing in popularity, from black faucets to black framed shower doors. But it’s not stopping there. Deep, dark tones on the wall, from dark greys and blues right down to charcoal, are becoming more popular. A word of caution here: this trend works best in rooms with abundant natural light. If you have only a small window—or no window and poor lighting—using a dark colour can end up making your bathroom look drab and suffocating.
A great way to add a bit of dark colour to your bathroom is through coloured tiles. From black subway tiles to deep blue Spanish-style tiles, this is a great option that doesn’t require you to coat the entire room in darkness.
The biggest trend that seems to have everyone talking is one that I think we can all enjoy—simple comfort. Drawing from the popularity of Nordic traditions such as hygge (the Danish concept of cozy and comfortable) and lagom (the Swedish concept of less-is-more sustainable living), more and more designers and retailers are showcasing a look that is paired back yet comfortable all at once. As with many things that look simple, there are a few tricks to making it look effortless.
Before bringing this look into any particular room or space, consider the key elements. The main colours are typically neutrals: off-white to pale beige or greige. To this you can easily add small dashes of colour—think deep blues or natural greens. That’ll keep the guy from the colour-of-the-year lab happy. Overall, however, the palette should be quiet and simple.
For materials, stick to natural elements such as cotton, linen, sheepskin, and wood. The preferred tones for wood are bleached or ashy—which is not to say if you have dark wood floor or accents, you can’t achieve this look. Each home is different and that’s a good thing.
Accessories should stick to the colours and textures above, so ditch the high gloss, metallic pieces in favour of softer, more natural materials. Rather than splashy colourful patterns, go for subtle prints and textures.
Biophilia describes our innate human need to connect with nature, and when it comes to your home, it refers to bringing that natural feel indoors. Overall, biophilic design looks to incorporate greenery and vegetation, natural light, natural elements, and natural materials into your home’s design.
Much of this connecting with nature, we are already doing when we create homes. We put in large windows to give us a view of the outdoors. If we have a particular feature we love, like a body of water nearby, we point our homes at it and try to see it as much as we can when indoors. We look for southern exposures to allow plants to flourish and reduce our reliance on artificial lighting. Natural light is a key to biophilic design. In other spaces, such as offices and shopping or leisure areas, they may do the opposite, limiting access to natural light. This keeps glare off computer screens and gamblers in a casino focused on the game in front of them without any cues as to the time of day.
But understanding what we do about the importance of exposure to natural light, especially in the colder seasons, as well as the health benefits of being in nature, it’s no wonder designers and decorators are encouraging people to allow these elements into their homes.
Biophilic design is a natural partner for the simple comfort trend I mentioned previously. Scandinavian design is well known for using light colours on floors and walls to maximize natural light. If you have heavy draperies that crowd your windows, consider replacing them with light curtains, hung higher and wider, to allow the windows to let in the maximum amount of light.
The inclusion of plants and greenery is always popular. Don’t just add a spider plant to your bookcase in the living room. Think about hanging pots in your kitchen, or perhaps even a vertical wall of herb planters. In your bathroom—provided you have good lighting—imagine groupings of lush ferns and tropicals, soaking up the humidity.
You can also think of adding elements like water to your home. Recall that lovely feeling you get when sitting next to a babbling brook. Adding a tabletop water fountain to the space where you most like to relax can have a wonderful, calming effect.
Trends come and go, but we can look to a future where natural colours, light, and elements join to create a welcoming and warm space.