Home Improvement From The Inside Out
Trends, they come and go—and yet, it’s not always out with the old to hail the new. Movements in art and aesthetics mirror life in their cyclical nature. They influence us by identifying and then reflecting back the shifts in how we think and feel.
As the year breaks in, we feel the urge to take a long, deep look at our homes to rediscover ways in which we can adapt afresh. Intuition, validated by industry sources like Architectural Digest, have informed our findings below:
01. Farmhouse Fresh x The Gilded Retreat
The original version of nouveau farmhouse aesthetics from a few years ago has evolved. Its 2023 avatar is more refined, borrowing aspects from modern Europe: think Belgian farmhouse, coastal, and Scandinavian styles. Tropical modernism by way of Asia and the Indian subcontinent are feeling more aspirational and glamorous than ever. With this comes luxurious textures, unusual forms, natural elements, and a mix of vintage and contemporary pieces, which has matured the farmhouse style into a classic, timeless aesthetic.
“The market is finally veering away from more romantic styles like cottagecore and even the myriad variants of farmhouse,” says Tom Mirabile, founder of trend-forecasting agency Springboard Futures.”
Concurrently, the ushering of new work states (a mindspace as much as it is physical) translates into working the balance between the office and our personal lives. With the growing popularity of working and learning from home, open floor plans are losing their appeal. Instead, closed-concept spaces, with separate places to work, take Zoom calls, and do homework are becoming more desirable.
PRO TIP If your current home has an open floor plan and you’d like to create more division, rearrange the furniture to help designate different functions for each space. Try placing the sofa with its back to the kitchen and dining area. Use screens to block off certain areas and create more privacy.
Post-pandemic optimism has lit the fire for home entertaining with more than a touch of hedonism. We are taking pleasure in company and in solitude, making our homes part private club and part retreat. Think sumptuous sofas, plush cushions, luxurious bedding, spaces to do yoga or meditate, spa-like bathrooms, rock gardens, and quiet places to work. Focus on capturing the emotions of your favourite vacation spot—whether that’s a beach house, charming villa, or cosy mountain lodge.
02. High-Performance Craftsmanship: Lighting, Fabrics & Furniture
After a few intense years indoors, we’ve become intimate with our furniture so much so that we’re better able to notice their flaws. That trained eye, coupled with a yearning for more sustainable options, is leading the revolt against mass production.
“Throwaway items, and the heavy use of fossil-fuel and petroleum-based materials like hard and shiny virgin plastics, seem completely wrong in this age,” says Anna Starmer, founder of the biannual forecast publication Luminary. “The era of ‘bling’ is over, as we see luxury being stated in more subtle and natural ways.”
This new idea of luxury is a harkening back to craftsmanship over showmanship. If you’re buying a large piece of furniture in 2023, such as a sofa or bed, you might want to choose timeless, high-performing fabric options like linen, cotton, performance weaves, or velvet—rather than bouclé or sherpa—as the popularity of nubby fabrics in upholstery should wane in the next year or two.
“After decades of accepting less than standard quality production, we’re embracing craft in home design,” says Roberto Ramos, CEO of The Ideatelier. “[There’s an] emphasis on ornate decor, the reverence of wood, and specialised touches including inlay and hand-hewn details. The painstaking process of handiwork in every discipline from fabric development to accessories and hand-loomed rugs is de rigueur.”
PRO TIP Mixing metals is another great way to add contemporary interest to your kitchen and bathroom. Embrace a combination of different metal finishes for fixtures and hardware—not only in the kitchen and bathroom—but throughout your home on surfaces like doorknobs, curtain rods, light fixtures, hinges, and more.
Lighting gets a facelift too by trading traditional pendant lights for oversized light fixtures and unusual shapes that multifunction as overhead works of art. We see a proliferation of statement lighting in unique natural materials such as rattan, clay, ceramic, and earthenware fixtures. A single dramatic pendant helps define a dining or living space, serving as its focal point.
In the kitchen, consider using one statement pendant light over the kitchen island, rather than two or three. Or place a small table lamp on your kitchen counter for ambiance and additional task lighting. And, with the current demand for retreat-like homes, ambient lighting is becoming more popular than ever. Candles, floor lamps, Himalayan salt lamps, and table lamps help bring warmth to any space.
03. Personal Expression & The Return of Colour
The desire for master craftsmanship is partly driven by a desire for individual expression. Rather than coordinated spaces and matching furniture sets, the preference is for incorporating unique pieces, heirlooms or thrifted finds that you love and intend to keep forever. We see the burgeoning interest in vintage and reused furniture as a hopeful shift for second life goods, both a design-savvy and environmental choice to make.
Among the most creative and confident examples are vintage shop counters and haberdashery units as kitchen islands, and antique linen sheets dyed with bark and roots to create curtains and bed throws.
We see different design styles merging. For example, modern minimalist style typically incorporates clean lines, neutrals, and black elements; while maximalist style favours layered textures, colour, and vintage pieces. However, we see both design perspectives embracing the use of natural materials, such as wood, stone, wool, linen, and rattan. Palette wise, rich jewel tones, soothing greens, timeless blues, and warm earth tones will dominate in 2023.
PRO TIP You might decide to try a burst of colour via wallpaper in the powder bath, a bold wall in the home office, laundry room, or dining room, or simply by adding a few accents to the living room.
Or, try layering your bedding with different hues, rather than just a monochromatic look. And, don’t be afraid to experiment with mixing different patterns, as well!
04. Biophilic Design x Neuroaesthetics
From botanical patterns to statement foliage, it is apparent that we long to bring the outdoors in. So much so that art and commerce has embraced a more scientific approach via neuroaesthetics: a new and rapidly expanding field of research that is aimed at the intersection of psychological aesthetics, biological mechanisms, and human evolution.
Biophilia began with inserting as many interior greenery elements into our homes as possible. With time, it is morphing into something as sophisticated and varied as our natural landscape itself.
“(Though) biophilia is still important, this year’s trends are less inspired by lush nature but instead by the irregular and imperfect,” says Lindsey Smecker, principal at ESP Trendlab. “This trend (celebrates) desert landscapes, mineral shades, mossy greens, and raw, unfinished textures.”
It has also given rise to an exciting new material palette. To speak the language of land is to enter into new frontiers like biodiversity, insect populations, permaculture, and the harmonious integration of fibre, farming, and food. Fabrics are being developed from orange skins and rose stems. Groundbreaking brands are working in harmony with mycelium, clay, fungus, grape skin, dried peel, pineapple skin, brick, earth, shells, kelp, blood, pig skin, and petals.
PRO TIP Natural stone finishes are having a big moment—particularly materials that mix unexpected tones and patterns—and that trend will continue in 2023. Some of the most popular stone elements include travertine, marble, exotic slabs of granite, soapstone, limestone, and other natural materials.
Other than stone coffee tables, countertops, backsplashes, and flooring, some ways to bring them into your home include handcrafted ceramics and pottery, artisanal clay vases, stoneware and dinnerware. Pieces that are imperfect and retain their natural charm and character are especially current.
Zellige tile is also having a moment, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom. Zellige tiles are handcrafted from clay, and each one is unique, retaining variations in shimmer, depth and colour tone, making them a favourite of interior designers. Remember, there’s a certain charm with the patina of natural stone surfaces, so don’t sweat the scratches and stains that are an inevitable part of living in and enjoying your home.
As we update our homes in 2023 and beyond, keywords include ambient lighting, sound, tactility, and designing indoor and outdoor spaces to encourage restoration and proactive relaxation. Start light and easy with warm woods, breezy linen curtains, sumptuous sink-in furniture, and objects from your travels.