Design Trends: What’s In and Out for 2023

Clare Tattersall

The beginning of a new year is such an invigorating time. It’s full of potential and possibility. I like to start it off by creating an effective plan that will provide a roadmap for success in reaching professional goals. As an interior designer, this involves trend forecasting – identifying homeowners’ needs, wants and lifestyle patterns – in order to best serve clients throughout the year. While each client’s requirements will differ, foreseeing upcoming trends by being in tune with current consumer attitudes allows me to make actionable recommendations for design projects. Similarly, this practice is advantageous to wood product manufacturers since you cannot design and then get consumers to desire a product; the design needs to suit their existing wants and needs.

So, what design trends will be in demand in 2023? And which will disappear?

Unsurprisingly, those that were just getting started in 2022 will only increase in popularity this year. I’m talking ‘60s and ‘70s-inspired designs known for their curves but with a modern twist. Traditionally straight-lined surfaces like kitchen cabinets, countertops and islands, and angular sofas, tables and chairs will continue to embrace organic rounded edges, bringing a softness to the heart of the home and living spaces.

Even in hardware, things are looking a little bit more circular and oval-shaped. However, don’t discount classic furniture silhouettes, as the streamlined look has certainly not fallen out of favour. Expect to see an uptick in demand occur near the end of the year.

Other trends that are still having a major moment are wooden decor from table lamps to clocks; boho-chic wicker furniture, particularly for outdoor use; fluted detailing on wood furniture like credenzas, bathroom vanities, kitchen cabinetry and wood-panelled accent walls. Considered a standalone work of art, accent walls suit just about any space. Floor-to-ceiling board and batten, herringbone or a geometric pattern offer a classic look, while age-worn reclaimed wood, shiplap (mounted horizontally or vertically) or wooden mosaics in different sizes, formats and varieties impart a rustic feel.

What’s new for 2023 is also old. Items made of burl wood, which gained mainstream popularity in the ‘70s, will be in demand for its one-of-a-kind look. Easily identified by its swirled, distinct grain, burl wood provides an aesthetic step up from ‘ordinary’ wood, adding a striking texture and pattern to any space, whether it’s a floor mirror, console or side table or something as simple as a picture frame or tray.

Resurgence in Darker Wood Tones

Anticipate a shift away from bleached, blond wood in favour of darker wood tones for walls, cabinetry, furniture, built-ins and millwork, as a means to add drama or moodiness to the home and impart the feeling of instant luxury. According to a recent social media trends report by Feathr, there’s interest in the “dark academia” aesthetic which recently resurged by 190 percent. Darker woods will be used to add a sense of relaxation and warmth to a home year-round, and as a way to add separation and structure to an open-concept space. To prevent the heaviness people moved away from when dark wood fell out of favour over a decade ago, it’s best used sparingly so that it’s not overbearing. Think chairs and sofas with dark wood-toned legs or a large dark walnut coffee table amid lighter materials for a more modern look.

Speaking of the open floor plan with the living room, dining area and kitchen all connected and generally in full view whenever someone walks through the front door, it’s losing some of its appeal. While there won’t be a return to closed-concept spaces, homeowners are looking to create more division between places of work, to cook and engage in family time. This “broken plan living” can be achieved with open built-in partitions that don’t disrupt sightlines and add a decorative touch to space zoning. They may take the form of floor-to-ceiling vertical louvres, a set of tall bookcases or latticework.

Also falling out of favour are open shelves, especially in the kitchen, since they can easily look untidy when cluttered or sparse with too few items. Flat-front closed shelving is more in tune with the current minimalist aesthetic and allows for better organization out of sight (and mind).

Clare Tattersall is an interior designer and decorator in Toronto, and the editor of Canada’s floor covering magazine, Coverings.

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