You may not be old enough to remember the 1970s but you can probably picture the groovy living rooms, wood paneling and shag carpets of the era.
Home and lifestyle design sets the stage for our memories, experiences and collective history. It reflects the mood and attitudes of our times, showcasing triumphs of technology and artistic aspirations. As we look with optimism and hope to a new decade, we address new questions as well: What comes next? Who will we be in the months and years to come? And is farmhouse still happening?
Regarding trend directions for 2020, the answers are resounding and clear: less anxiety and stress, more design that aligns with health, wellness, sustainability and a sense of calm. We want to exhale — and perhaps install an indoor water fountain or backyard playhouse for our miniature goat (really).
The decade ahead will be spent in pursuit of serenity and wellness, along with a passion for increasingly multifunctional spaces, global influences and customization, according to data and analysis from online design platforms like Pinterest, Houzz, Etsy and design network HGTV. Here’s how it all breaks down:
“People are looking for calm,” said Mitchell Parker, editor for Palo Alto-based renovation website Houzz with more than 40 million monthly users. “With all the tech and screen time, the environment [issues] and political landscape, I get a sense from talking with the designers and homeowners that people are really looking for their homes to be these kind of calm, quieting, soothing spaces where they can unplug and recharge.”
Cultural shifts in how we live are also demanding increased emphasis on functionality and multipurpose spaces.
“The home is becoming the hub for so many different activities,” said Enid Hwang, director of community and culture for San Francisco-based Pinterest, the vision-board-on-steroids platform that boasts more than 320 million online users per month. “It is your office, not just where you live. It’s also your gym and where you want to entertain. So all these different facets of life — like wellness, fitness, entertaining — there’s this desire to bring what was previously an out-of-home experience into your actual living space.”
“People are staying home a lot more,” said Alessandra Wood, vice president of style for San Francisco-based online design platform Modsy. “It changes our relationship with our spaces, and people feel more comfortable investing in them.”
The ability to shop, stream theater-quality content, and virtually connect without leaving our living rooms is not just changing our habits, it is inspiring the way we want our homes to look. Isolating and insular? Not at all.
“Our data is telling us so strongly that people are thinking sustainably and getting global inspiration more than ever before,” Hwang said. “So those two big themes are being tripled in importance through everything that includes style and home and all of the purchasing and decorating decisions therein.”
Bringing elements of nature into our homes is also on trend for 2020 as people look to reconnect and find balance with the great outdoors, even inside — an effort represented by trends in color choices (greens, blues and earth tones), materials (natural wood, stone, jute), organic shapes, houseplants (real and faux), indoor herb and micro greens gardens, and even indoor water features. Searches for indoor water fountains, for example, rose 917% on Pinterest over the last six months.
Sustainability with a capital “S” is another overarching theme set to influence design in 2020 and beyond.
“Sustainability has snowballed into something that is so mainstream,” said Hwang. “It’s present in everyday decisions as well as milestone decisions, like travel and even weddings.” Think: everything from plastic baggie alternatives to thrifted wedding dresses and zero-waste celebrations.
At Brooklyn-based Etsy, the online shopping resource representing 2.6 million artisans and makers, trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson referred to 2020 as the “year of purpose.”
“People are changing their shopping habits,” said Johnson. “I think for so long people just bought stuff. For the last couple of years we’ve really been shifting into, OK, do I need this item? There was the moment of the Marie Kondo toss-out, but this is raising the bar. This is about starting at the beginning of the purchase: Why am I purchasing this? What meaning does it have? What story does it have? And how can I directly support a good cause? And a good cause doesn’t necessarily have to mean a philanthropic effort; it can mean supporting a small-business owner.”
A strong sense of classic style and tradition is a common thread throughout the design forecast for 2020 as consumers yearn for increased levels of comfort, literally and figuratively. Modern materials, improved technologies, updated and bespoke details make it fresh.
A sense of warmth is key, said Mariel Clark, vice president of digital video and editorial at HGTV. “In terms of colors, rich woods and even finishes like brass opposed to nickel, we see warmer tones coming back, ” she said.
Here’s a closer look at how it all breaks down:
20 trends designed to inspire and shape 2020
Custom furnishings and decor are increasingly accessible. “A number of brands are leaning in to customization, including us,” said Wood, who last year introduced Ravine Home — a line of custom sofas and chairs. “So this idea of creating something just for you, for your space — it’s something we really see people responding to.”
Wildly popular all-white kitchens are having their palette expanded to include creamy pastels in grays, greens, blues and earth tones. It’s a subtle, serene shift.
One is good, two is better. “The kitchen island is a staple,” said Los Angeles-based designer Jaime Rummerfield of Woodson and Rummerfield’s House of Design. “We have clients ordering two islands now. They’re not identical. — one is more social with seating; the other is for working and cooking — and they both have different surfaces on them. It speaks to the grandeur of the kitchen as the nucleus of the house.”
4. Into the woods
Houzz reports that kitchen design elements such as unpainted wood drawers, cabinetry, accessories and wood-wrapped range hoods will be trending. Parker noted the look breaks up large expanses of painted cabinetry, updates the popular two-toned kitchen and adds welcome visual warmth. “I’m seeing a lot more wood cabinets, not off-the-shelf honey-colored style. ... Technology has advanced to the point where you can get really cool variations in stains and grain patterns,” he said.
Natural beauty, a trend that took root in the teens, will continue to grow: houseplants, palettes of green, botanical imagery, natural light, floral and jungle-inspired wall coverings, indoor-outdoor spaces, and garden-room inspired furnishings of wicker, rattan, natural wood and stone.
Backyard cottages, also known as “granny” pods or ADUs (accessory dwelling units), got the green light for permitting in California, creating opportunities for rental income or multigenerational living. Expect to see them cropping up in neighborhoods near you.
Searches for surround-sound experiences soared 803% on Pinterest. Mirroring increased interest in home theater equipment and design, at-home entertainment will be rocking.
In the bathroom, double floating vanities will be flying high in 2020. Without legs or a base anchoring the vanity to the floor, Parker said. The look “adds floor space and gives the visual impression of a lighter, airier room.” Bonus point: It’s easier to clean.
Moon phases, astrology, NASA logos and galactic inspiration are influencing everything from printed fabrics and wallpaper to children’s room decor and party themes as we collectively reach for the stars.
Houzz research shows most people are expanding the master bath shower and ditching the tub (although most have a tub elsewhere in the home). Parker said the design doesn’t necessarily include steam elements or “all the bells and whistles, but a really nice, spacious walk-in shower.”
Go crazy in the laundry room. “In more private or smaller spaces such as the formal dining room, a powder room or laundry room, we’re seeing people being a little more comfortable personalizing those,” said Parker. Think: energizing colors, bold wallpaper and quirky design details.
Big style statements in a small bathroom are not new, but Houzz reports that “wrapping” a powder room from walls to ceiling with a wow-factor wallpaper is.
It’s a softer side of Midcentury Modern. Last decade, Alessandra Wood, vice president of style for San Francisco-based Modsy said midcentury furnishing and decor styles were literal replicas. The new way: “It’s more organic,” said Wood. “You’ll see key pieces you may recognize mixed in with more organic shapes and textures — natural textures like wicker and thick nubby textures. It feels warm, inviting and cozier.”
“Our users are kind of obsessed with farmhouse styles, but in a more refined way than we’ve been seeing in the past few years,” Wood said. “A touch more modern — and by that I mean high-contrast [palettes], abstract art, a little more sophisticated.” The look is also popular on Pinterest, but not everyone is onboard. Rummerfield thinks the look has run its course: “When you start to see it in every retail store from Ikea to Restoration Hardware, to me it’s done.”
Specialty drawers, storage spaces and niches outfitted for a specific purpose are hot. “People who are really into coffee might have a coffee nook or cabinet or something very specific to them,” said HGTV’s Clark. Pinterest reports that on-site searches for at-home “coffee stations” soared 751%.
Cat birthdays, pet memorials, rabbit hutches, pee pits, dog patios, outdoor kitty climbing gyms and, yes, even goat playhouses (searches up 150%) are popular on Pinterest, where pampered pets are trending. Clark agreed: “We’re starting to see more doggie wash stations, things like that.”
The colorful silks and patterns of India, hand-hewn wooden furniture, large sculptures, hand-painted tile, brass lanterns, poufs and finely woven rugs bring the world closer. Searches for India-inspired living rooms skyrocketed 2,080% on Pinterest.
Sustainable, creative and cost-conscious, repurposing thrift store finds to craft personalized home decor is hot. How hot? Searches for ideas and inspiration are up 2,276% on Pinterest.
Watch for graphic patterns of contrasting colors and shapes. Terrazzo — the speckled stone composite surface — was huge a few years ago, said Etsy’s Johnson: “In 2020, color blocking is going to be the new, matured version of a grown-up terrazzo.”
Warm metallics like gold and brass look lovely paired with updated color palettes. The home renovation matchmaking service at Sweeten expects the finishes to be favored on everything from lighting fixtures and cabinet pulls to bar stools and kitchen faucets.