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In 2023, think richer and darker


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New design trends include fluted detailing and vibrant wallpaper

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The new year is ushering in new trends – and in some cases new takes on previously loved trends – including darker paint colours, black refrigerators and countertops, fluted panels, sunken living rooms and Victorian décor with a modern twist.

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Let’s dive in:

Richer, deeper colours. “For a long time, everything’s been white and we’re starting to see that flip with richer and darker colours,” says Karl Lohnes, editor at large of Style at Home magazine. “We’re really going to see it in kitchens.”

White cabinets will be paired with darker countertops as well as darker backsplashes and floors. “Even cherrywood cabinets will be teamed with very dark grey or black countertops. Black appliances will emerge in popularity again to help kitchens feel more sophisticated and a little more handsome as well.”

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Dark paint colours will also be on trend. “That dark olive green which was everywhere in 2022 is still pretty popular but to wake it up and juxtapose with it, you’ll see a lot of rich dark plum and burgundy colours,” says Lohnes.

Grandmillennial or granny chic, Victorian style. Gen Zs and millennials continue to look to their grandmothers for interior design inspiration, according to a fall-winter trend report from Afterpay, a buy-now-pay-later service that lets you make purchases online and pay them off over time.

Still not familiar with grandmillennial chic? It’s the opposite of popular mid-century modern home décor and is based on feelings versus any hard set of rules. It incorporates design elements that might be considered ‘stuffy’ or ‘outdated’ by mainstream culture, such as bold patterns, printed curtains, embellishments like pleats or fringe, and heirloom furniture.

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“Psychological studies have shown that engaging in nostalgic thinking not only improves mood and well-being, but it has a proven physiological response, making people feel warm and fuzzy,” says Shakaila Forbes-Bell, Afterpay’s in-house fashion psychologist.

Red Barrinuevo, principal designer at Redesign4More, predicts the popularity of wallpaper – boosted by the grandmillennial trend – will continue to grow. “Patterns are the same as granny wallpaper but with a modern twist,” he says. “They’re not as busy as your grandmother’s wallpaper but the florals and animal prints are back.”

Modern Victorian decorating is also on trend and incorporates elements like very curvy and ornate picture frames, lamps, tables and chairs to add character and history to stark modern spaces. Lohnes suggests surrounding a round Victorian dining table with modern chairs, topping a Victorian lamp you inherited or discovered at a vintage store with a modern shade and/or recovering pillows with velvet fabric and heavy ornate tassels.

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Fluted details. Fluted details, which offer a ribbed or grooved texture, are making their mark. “At first, fluting was just used in furniture but now it’s being applied to feature walls and accessories,” Barrinuevo says. Fluted wall panels are typically made of engineered wood fibres with PVC plastic and look and feel almost like real wood.

The panels are lightweight and easy to install and have a mid-century modern vibe and add “instant texture,” says Lohnes. “They’d be perfect in a 1950s or 1960s ranch bungalow and are a great decorating trick if you don’t have high ceilings because vertical lines make things appear taller.”

Sunken living rooms. Yes, another retro trend is making a comeback, especially in luxury homes that have room to accommodate a living room. These dropped rooms appear taller because the floor-to-ceiling height increases. “I think they’re coming back because they’re more intimate but they’re not the same sunken rooms from the ‘70s,” Barrinuevo says. “They might feature trendy colours and fluted walls with a fireplace. They’re beautiful if you have the space.”

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Other trends. Dressing the head of the bed with a headboard and a focal wall – created with paint or fluted wall panels, for example – complete with end tables and lamps is also on trend, Lohnes reports. In flooring, herringbone and chevron patterns aren’t going anywhere but large-format château parquet tiles – sometimes called ‘mosaic pattern flooring’ – return. Finally, the popularity of big art pieces will give way to small pieces hung as a composition.

Using colour

Colour blocking, a technique in which contrasting sections of colour are combined in a space to create interest, remains on trend and is an ideal way to introduce bright colour into your home. It can be integrated in many ways, from accent walls and doors to window recesses, trim and furniture.

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Sharon Grech, Benjamin Moore colour and design expert, shares three ways to incorporate the trend into your home:

  1. Combining punchy primary colours against a crisp white background adds vibrancy to your home but if painting a whole wall is daunting, try a smaller area. Create visual interest with contrasting tones of one colour, such as North Sea Green 2053-30 and Savannah Green 2150-30.
  2. Colour-blocked wall panelling can be used as a frame to go wild with colour, which can transform a traditionally styled space into a contemporary statement.
  3. Experiment with and embrace vibrant colour in a child’s bedroom. If your children share a space and have different ideas on colour, use stripes to stylishly divide the room. Doing so will give both siblings a space to call their own.

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