Today I’m sharing the top colour and design trends for 2023 and beyond. In happy news, I think we’re about to see the biggest shift toward decorating with colour that we’ve seen in decades. And, as always, I want to help you make colour decisions you won’t regret, while also quenching your thirst for something new and trendy.
A note about trends
Remember that major colour and design trend shifts react to overplayed looks that are badly executed.
In other words, when the trending neutral is overused in an unthoughtful way (i.e. grey or black or literally white EVERYTHING). You’ll notice that timeless interiors are always beautiful regardless of the neutral colour palette they happen to be decorated in.
The cliff I want to steer you away from in this emerging warm trend is the same as the one everyone fell off in the previous brown (Tuscan) trend. Heavy, stuffy interiors without air. Don’t fall into the mud pit.
Always remember, it’s the OVERUSE of the trending neutral that wrecks a beautiful room design.
The goal as always is to keep your eye on what’s timeless. And on what you love perennially, that is, your personal style. Also, consider what works for the style of your house. If you can do that, you won’t be stuck redecorating every couple of seasons.
Here are my tips for indulging in the new 2023 colour and design trends without going overboard.
Yellow is making a comeback
In 2018, I declared that yellow was coming back but this was wishful thinking on my part. And, for the record (ha), I was at least not as way off as Pantone when they declared Mimosa as the the colour of the year in 2009.
That was 14 years ago. Back then I had just purchased a sofa in Mimosa and it was very difficult to find accessories in this happy colour.
The last time yellow was on trend was the 90s. Back then it was so popular we were using it as a main neutral. I was in many homes where my clients would say, “I love this colour actually, but all over my house, it’s just too much!”
But I’m here to tell you, I have received some hard evidence that tells me yellow truly is back.
I received this message from a painter the other day:
The consumer is the one who drives colour trends not the other way around. I explain how this works in a video here.
Most people don’t realize it, but the towel department is also a good place to look to see where trends are going. I snapped this pic at HomeSense recently. I think this very happy row of yellow towels is more evidence that yellow is back. Woohoo!
Colour is warming up
Overall, I’m happy to report that trends are turning towards warmer, more colourful looks. And with this we will likely see some exciting colour, as well as some potential pitfalls. This is the most definitive turn the trends have taken in recent years. As always, I’m here to help you navigate them in a timeless way.
The prevailing shift is towards warmth, mood and atmosphere. For 2023 everyone is predicting a return to cozy charm.
And while LOTS of happy colour is in the forecast, it also includes waaaayy more earth tones than we’ve seen for a couple decades now.
Many of those earth tones are neutrals with undertones. And there is nothing at all wrong with earth tones done well. It’s just that, with all this colour coming, decorating in 2023 and beyond just got much more complex. Why? Because we’re no longer working with default white walls and adding hits of black and cognac – a much simpler formula to imitate.
That means, more than ever before, my system for Understanding Undertones™ is going to be the MOST USEFUL handbook in the coming decade for working with colour. So now’s a good time to learn how to use it for decorating.
Of course warm and cozy is what we are looking for after over 15 years of often under-decorated white-on-white, modern farmhouse with too much jarring black. The trend mood right now is in direct response to the overuse of white.
AND, I know some of you are wringing your hands worrying, “but Maria, you said that white is timeless! Now what?? Omg, am I going to regret not keeping my brown finishes after all!”
Not a chance. I want to jump in here and take that worry right off your mind.
White will always be timeless
White kitchens and bathrooms will always be the most timeless and versatile choice. In a bathroom with classic white finishes, it’s much easier to cover the walls in an earthy paint colour than it is to introduce fresh colour or white in a bathroom clad top to bottom in earthy tile.
Notice we have a shade of mauve (another trending colour) here but the finishes are timeless marble. It’s a nice example of a classic bathroom design that indulged in a trendy paint colour – easy to change when you tire of it.
The warm and cozy trend isn’t just a paint colour
I want you to notice that introducing cozy character, the feel we are looking for now, can also be done with decorating and styling! No paint required.
Warm and cozy is the necessary antidote to the OVERUSE of white. And let’s be clear, default white walls in under-decorated spaces is the problem, NOT timeless white bathrooms, kitchens and even pale airy walls in well-decorated rooms.
Style at Home
Tips for decorating with 2023 colour trends
All trend reports point to COLOUR, especially warmer earthy hues, but also bold (but still warm) brights. We haven’t seen bold hues like red, orange and yellow-based colours being used in a long time.
And with bold colours on the horizon, everyone seems to be rethinking their white walls. Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you have distinct rooms with good moldings and passageways that allow you to transition wall colours, you can have fun drenching your walls in colour again.
However, if you live in an open layout homes built in the last few decades, it’s not the best idea to paint all the walls a trending terracotta or chocolate brown.
If you want to warm up the walls and it’s time for a change, try shifting your main neutral wall colour a bit warmer into a pale beige or complex cream – as long as makes sense with your finishes. Pale muted yellows and blue greens are also liveable and versatile options to neutral or white walls. I have curated several beautiful and on-trend selections in my large painted colour boards, available in Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams.
Because an important detail to notice in all the trending colour-drenched rooms we’re seeing, whether earthy or saturated, is that there tends to be plenty of really high end custom molding everywhere. And the opulent colour is slathered on EVERYTHING, trim ceilings and all. These rooms are also highly decorated. So, you’re simply not going to achieve the same effect painting a rich colour on drywall and calling it a day.
However, rich colour remains a great way to add interest, mood and character – even when architectural detail is lacking. It will be interesting to see how people with regular homes creatively incorporate this shift away from all-pale or all-white walls in the next few years.
If that’s your home, I have good news. Letting your airy light walls go is not at all necessary. They will always be versatile by definition. Just don’t leave your rooms un- or under-decorated.
To start, simply layer in some accessories with colour and texture, as well as items that have meaning to you (hello! styling). Just like in the beautiful room below with yellow accents. Choose some furnishings, art, rugs and decor in a dramatic COLOUR and repeat your chosen hues by painting walls in bedrooms and bathrooms to create good flow.
I’m really excited that my new house has ample moldings that mostly help make transitioning paint colours easy, which is perfect for my colourful style. And don’t forget about ceilings! I’ve got blue, lavender and golden yellow ceilings. See sneak peaks on my Instagram!
The Return of Stained Wood
Yes, wood is back but proceed with caution. It’s wise to incorporate the trending warmer wood tones with plenty of restraint. Rich wood elements and furnishings can be overwhelmingly heavy if you have way too many wood tones and pieces crammed into a room. Create balance with pale colours, white, and mixed materials.
However, matching wood furniture dining room and bedroom sets are still a no-go. It’s about a balanced mix.
Like any overused trendy neutral, the risk of “warm and cozy” and a move towards more wood, is to take it way too far. Too much wood slides right into stuffy and drab.
Balance is everything.
When we were exiting the Tuscan brown trend, I spent an enormous amount of my time and energy helping clients introduce white and cream to update their much too heavy spaces. This advice still holds. Don’t neglect to introduce fresh white and cream with wood tones.
In fact we’re seeing this trend as a solution to reverse the extreme all-white and too-bright rooms. Adding stained wood is a great way introduce warm earthy or richer colour into these spaces.
Richer wood tones are trending in kitchens too. A wood kitchen is most timeless when it’s balanced with white or cream as in this traditional style kitchen above.
But a white kitchen will STILL absolutely ALWAYS be classic. If you’re craving a cozier feel in your kitchen, this is where STYLING is your friend.
Or, if you want a warmer look in your kitchen with paintable cabinets, consider a warm green grey or green beige paint colour with plenty of white decor and finishes for a balanced look like this highly-custom kitchen below by Chris Loves Julia.
Step away from that slab of busy granite
Natural stone in bold colours and patterns are everywhere in our feeds. Mostly they are high-end, heavily-patterned marbles. And while they look “new and exciting” compared to the quiet white and grey quartz options we’ve been using, this is one aspect of the earthier trend that I strongly caution against.
Why? Because unless you are installing a high-end kitchen or bathroom where a highly-custom look is professionally designed AND you have the means to completely renovate it in 10 years when you’re completely over it, there is simply no way it’s going to turn out well. The fact is that working with strongly patterned materials just takes way more skill to get right and it’s highly unlikely to stand the test of time.
And if playing it safe feels in your renovation feels boring, here’s what you need to ask yourself.
“Why am I insisting on a busy stone kitchen or bathroom for thousands more dollars, but when it comes to buying a sofa or sectional for my living room, I have a hard time choosing something other than safe (i.e. opting for grey or beige furniture)?”
My advice has always and will always be, go safe and timeless in your expensive (aka glued-down) finishes that require renovation to replace. Instead, indulge in trendy colours and patterns in your moveable, less permanent furnishings and decor.
And as this new trend nudges us away from white-on-white, I feel the need to SAY THIS even more often and much louder: boring now STILL equals timeless later.
Mood lighting and atmosphere (always on trend here)
Well, yes. Always.
I guess now the world has finally realized that bright white walls don’t actually create mood OR better light. So, adding glowy, beautiful lighting is a novel great idea. 😏
While oversized statement fixtures are definitely on trend, I recommend that you always consider every opportunity to include multiple sconces and lamps in your rooms, like in this maximalist show house room by Alexa Hampton below.
If you don’t have anything to place a lamp on, that means you need to get more consoles and end tables for your room. Because atmosphere is ALWAYS on trend.
2023 colour and design trends
Let’s review. In 2023, here’s what warm and cozy with character looks like:
- Warm wood tones (pale natural woods but also honey tones, rich mahogany, warm walnut, oak)
- Richer paint colours (both earthy and more saturated colours, especially in the realm of amber to yellow, terracotta to red, mid to deep greens and blues, and yes, even browns)
- Natural stone textures and patterns (careful with this one, installing busy stone is an expensive one that is easy to regret)
- Focus on mood lighting (as if this was ever NOT a thing?!)
And let’s hear it again for YELLOW! Hooray, I’m so excited!
Are there any 2023 colour or design trends that you are most excited about? Please post them in the comments below!
If you’d like my help choosing timeless finishes and colours for your new build or renovation project, see my eDesign packages here.