Maggie Titus | December 30, 2022
While we hope that 2023 is the year that we can put the pandemic behind us, the past couple years have left an indelible mark on how homes are designed and renovated. Pre-pandemic design leaned toward neutral colors, and a design aesthetic that would appeal to a wide market of buyers. But, after spending so much time at home during lockdowns and ongoing quarantines, attitudes have shifted, and many people are more interested in having homes that reflect their individual personalities, aesthetics, and lifestyles.
According to Houzz's home design predictions for 2023, this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Below learn more about the company’s top 10 trend predictions for the year ahead, with insight from Houzz’s senior economist and a handful of design experts.
While natural materials never go out of style, they seem to be at an all-time high. “Homeowners in the Houzz community are installing quartzite and other natural stone countertops, as well as marble tile and wood cabinets and vanities, especially white oak,” says Marine Sargsyan, Houzz staff economist. She admits that engineered quartz is still the most popular kitchen counter material, but tells us that the percentage of people choosing it has declined dramatically from 51 percent in 2020 to 42 percent now.
“Natural materials like granite, butcher block or wood slab, quartzite, and marble are among the materials homeowners choose when upgrading their kitchen countertops,” Sargsyan says. And among homeowners installing an island countertop that contrasts with the primary countertop, butcher block tops the list. Wood is also the top choice for kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities.
“The use of natural materials will continue to reign, as sustainability and eco-awareness is only becoming more important,” explains interior designer Kristina Phillips of Ridgewood, N.J. But, moving forward, she says we can expect to see less of the softer, washed-out woods, and more of the textured, darker varieties. “Flooring will be done in traditional brown woods such as walnut and mahogany—but done in a cerused, textured way.” And she says kitchen cabinets will have darker tones, mixed with lighter countertops for contrast.
Leigh Spicher, interior designer and national director of design studios at Ashton Woods in Atlanta, believes this trend stems from a desire for authenticity. “In 2023, the world needs less perfection and more genuine character—and natural elements give us that,” she says, adding that nature isn’t smooth, glossy, or manufactured. “It’s got bumps, curves, knots, and variation—and by infusing natural elements in our homes, we can embrace the art of being perfectly imperfect.”
A great shower is often the focal point of a modern bathroom, standing out from the rest of the space. “Often, the shower flooring material is usually a smaller size tile or a different material than the main flooring in order to provide an adequate non-slip surface in the wet area,” Sargsyan says. But more recently, she notes that designers are carrying that mosaic tile flooring throughout the bathroom—including in the curbless shower area. “This approach further enhances the sleek, streamlined effect of a curbless shower design, extends the non-slip surface, and helps a small space appear larger than it is.”
Phillips agrees that a curbless shower can create a seamless floor transition and make the space look bigger. However, she offers this tidbit of advice. “When designing this type of bathroom, make sure you have adequate drainage around the shower floor perimeter along with a center drain,” she advises. “Not having any retaining edges allows water to flow freely unless properly controlled.”
Spicher attributes some of the popularity of curbless showers to the fact that they eliminate an additional space that homeowners need to clean with special attention. “Curbless showers can also be a great way to include the design principle of rhythm in your home,” she says. “Rhythm [in design] is that contiguous visual line that leads your eye to a focal point; it’s repetition and it always feels good in design.” However, she warns that curbless showers should be professionally installed from the foundation level—and not just finished with tile. “Otherwise, you will find yourself mopping up a puddle every day.”
While all-white bathroom finishes still dominate homeowners’ choices, Sargsyan says people have been sprinkling in hints of dark, contrasting colors. “Navy blue vanities have gained popularity and some homeowners are taking a step further to the dark side with jet-black vanities and other black details set against crisp white backdrops,” she says.
And Spicher attributes the popularity of bold-contrast bathrooms to the desire to have contrasting elements. “The best thing about bold contrast bathrooms is the notion that you can have it all—life isn’t either/or, it’s both.”
This is especially true with small bathrooms. “Contrary to what most people believe, you can really go dramatic in a small bathroom,” says Grey Joyner, an interior designer in Wilson, N.C. “It’s fun to use color and wallpaper to make this smaller space look like a true jewelry box—and if you’re working with lots of different materials, such as metal, wood, and tile, that can all add great personality and work together beautifully to create something that really attracts the eye.”
The longing for outdoor spaces and ways to bring the outdoors inside have increased since the beginning of the pandemic—and that desire is continuing. Sargsyan says Houzz data reveals that 20 percent of homeowners are making their kitchens more open to the outdoors. “Sliding glass doors that completely open interior spaces to outdoor areas are at the top of many dream features lists—but many pros on Houzz are helping homeowners find more affordable ways to bring the outdoors in,” she says. Examples include adding large windows to maximize views to outdoor spaces and bring in natural light. “Meanwhile, a focus on natural materials and colors, as well as wallpaper prints that recall nature, are other methods we predict will help homeowners feel connected to the outdoors,” Sargsyan says.
According to interior designer Esther Dormer in Pittsburgh, it is now more important than ever to connect to the natural world. “Nature inspires us, calms us, and adds a grounding, beautiful aesthetic—and it adds life to any room.” In her own design work, Dormer has used glass garage-style doors in both living rooms and kitchens to seamlessly facilitate indoor-outdoor living. “Seeing and being a part of the outdoors completely changes a room in so many positive ways,“ she says.
Spicher believes this longing to connect with the outdoors will remain a trend partially because of simple science: We need Vitamin D. “Also, some of it is the need for connection in the safety of wide-open, germ-free space.” In addition, she says integrating the outdoors with the indoors is a way to include harmony in the design. “Harmony [in design] is the layering of different elements, especially natural elements like wood, stone, fire, water, and even real plants,” Spicher says. “One of the best ways to connect with the outdoors from the inside is to choose a floor plan with plenty of natural light.”
In living rooms, Sargsyan says that among the Houzz community, demand for natural materials is leading to a modern rustic style that’s both rugged and cozy. “Natural stone fireplaces and surrounds, wood beams and off-white walls mix with comfortable furnishings in organic whites, browns, and beiges create an updated look that feels anchored to a rural past," she says.
Spicher calls this style "farmhouse reinvented,” and explains that it’s less “fresh eggs” country, and more “pour-over coffee” urban. “Elements still include wood floors, or LVP today is perfect for homes that need high durability, only now they are lighter in color.” Also, she says black shiplap or even stone will replace traditional white boards.
Another trend that Houzz predicts is a renewed interest in bright and bold color. “This is one of the most-reported trends we’re hearing from design and remodeling professionals,” Sargsyan says. “These days, homeowners seem more adventurous and willing to take a chance on creating brighter, more vibrant spaces.”
Sargsyan says wallpaper is helping to fuel this rush, and search trends show a rise in interest. According to Houzz data, searches were up for paintable wallpaper (93 percent), chinoiserie wallpaper (71 percent), floral wallpaper (52 percent), ceiling wallpaper (40 percent), Art Deco wallpaper (33 percent) and dog wallpaper (46 percent).
Spicher is certainly embracing the trend toward color as a way to bring back personalization. “The last 10 years have been a blank slate of white, and now 2023 gives us permission to fold back in our favorite colors—and we can go big and bold too,” she says. And it’s not just paint and wallpaper doing all the work; Spicher says homeowners will be brave enough to add bold tile, seating, and trim as well.
While some homeowners are asking for bold colors in the kitchen, many are taking it easier in these spaces. “A lot of homeowners are asking for a warm and soft style that’s restful and relaxing,” she says. “Think delicate greige or off-white cabinets, light woods, muted tile, subdued patterns, and warm bronze and brass finishes.”
Gena Kirk, VP of KB Home’s Corporate Design Studio, agrees, saying homeowners are moving away from the cold minimalist style. “It’s no longer trendy to have an all-white kitchen with standard subway tile.” And by adding some warmth, you can instantly add a modern vibe. “This can be done by selecting a warm white or white with warm veining quartz or quartzite countertops.”
She also recommends Artesian, hand-crafted subway tiles installed horizontally—or recommends Arabesque or picket designs. “You can also add plumbing, lighting, and hardware in warm golds, bronzes, or black,” Kirk says. “Warm up the use of whites with great luxury vinyl plank flooring that will give the visual of wood and offer durability.”
One phrase that keeps coming up in conversations with design professionals from Houzz is ‘layered texture’ in decor, wallpaper, materials, and accessories, according to Sargsyan. “We’re seeing a lot of designers layer wood, rattan, stone, metal finishes, concrete, and various textural fabrics in one room to create a dynamic style that’s full of visual and tactile interest,” she says.
In fact, Joyner says that’s the only way she knows to design. “Layers of textures equal visual interest, so start with your walls by using a grasscloth or a shell, then start layering in textures with your upholstery pieces—using materials like leather, linen, soft chenilles or boules,” she says. Next, she recommends adding decorative touches with rattan, marble, cane, or shells. “These layers give a room lots of interest and dimension, and inspire you to keep looking for new elements.”
So, how exactly do playful and traditional style go together? Sargsyan explains the design aesthetic as a “perked-up traditional look that combines vintage pieces with lots of upbeat patterns and wall coverings." It's like the return of traditional style—but in a fun way. “Some pros say supply-chain issues during the pandemic helped spawn the trend by forcing homeowners to look locally for antiques and recycled, repurposed, or reupholstered pieces with whimsical details and a pretty patina,” she explains.
Interior designer Sarah Stacey in Austin, Texas, points to Grandmillenial style as a form of maximalism, and predicts it will continue to gain momentum. “I love this style so much because of the use of vintage and antiques, playful patterns on fabrics and wallpaper, all the fringe, and use of color,” she says. “It is over-the-top and I am here for it.”
Traditional kitchen island seating is a row of stools on one side facing the cooking area. But Sargsyan says homeowners are looking for alternative setups. “Examples include the ability to sit face-to-face with guests, or sit at a standard dining table height,” she says. “As a result, we’re seeing a lot of islands with creative seating arrangements like two-tiered designs with seating for 10 people, and dropped-down or raised-up areas for various needs.”
You’ve got questions and we can’t wait to answer them.