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The Year Ahead in Luxury Real Estate

Your guide to the top interior design trends for 2020.


Tracking the décor that’s trending is often more about inspiration than instant overhaul. Afterall, the style that speaks to you may be a reflection of your personality rather than a prescriptive one-size-fits-all formula.


But every now and then we could all use a little change. And whether you’re tired of looking at the same old design scheme, need a small refresh or simply like to follow what’s new now, taking your cue from design trends can help you figure out just how to update your home. We asked top design pros for their take on what’s hot for 2020. 


Laid-back Luxury

More and more, people are forgoing stiff, formal interiors that feel more like museums than actual homes in favor of relaxed living.


 “We're noticing that interior design seems to be loosening up, that tastemakers seem less concerned with creating spaces that are models of perfectly good taste and are pushing boundaries in ways they hadn't before, even at the very high end," said New York-based Anthony Barzilay Freund, 1stdibs editorial director and director of fine art. “In these stressful times, people are increasingly seeing their homes as sanctuaries, so it follows that a more relaxed, even rumpled environment feels more soothing and comforting.”



There’s been a move toward livable luxury and curated design, said Tania Cassill, owner/interior designer of Laguna Beach, California-based Huit Laguna. “It really tells more about the person and what their favorite things are. The most beautiful interiors have a sense of pieces collected over time: iconic leather Togo Fireside chairs next to a stunning new crushed velvet sectional—all atop a vintage Moroccan rug they could have acquired on their recent visit to Marrakech,” she said. 


A big part of this look is mixing vintage with contemporary pieces. “Authentic and found pieces from varying eras that somehow work together to create a more personal design aesthetic,” Ms. Cassill said. 


Slow design, which focuses on the materials, origin of the piece and how it’s made, taking the environment and sustainability into account, has become more mainstream, said Adriana Hoyos, principal designer for ADRIANA HOYOS Furnishings in Miami. People are caring more about the provenance of a piece that’s well rather than instant, click-to-order mass production. “Designers will have to overcome the idea of the ‘extreme makeover’ and start investing their ideas into juicy statement pieces of lighting, furniture and accessories,” Ms. Hoyos said, noting that design in 2020 will also prioritize the idea of mixing traditional pieces with the designs of today.


Sculptural pieces with layers of textures and materials subtly done also further this type of aesthetic, explained Georgina Wood, design director of London-based Taylor Howes Designs. “We’ve had the modern clean look, and maximalism looks incredible, but every day, it can be too much for the eye,” she said. “We are now in between the two: a laid-back luxury with an infusion of vintage and new, and mixes of color,” she said.  

Perhaps the most important aspect of the style is a sense of individualism.


“With the ubiquity of design images online, there's a greater drive to create a space that is truly unique,” Mr. Barzilay Freund said. “A home filled with an assortment of treasures—some old, some new, some gleaming, some showing the hard-earned wear and tear of a beloved heirloom—appears truly special and memorable.”


Jeffrey Beers of Jeffrey Beers International in New York said the trend is, in fact, not to be trendy. Instead it’s about making decisions that take the environment, health, longevity and quality into account. “We’ll see very individual choices based on personal taste and personality, or neutrality for the sake of timelessness,” Mr. Beers said. 


This means natural and matte finishes with a focus on sustainability and timelessness rather than high-gloss or statement finishes. “Furnishings will be less about one style, such as Scandinavian modernism or industrial chic, and more an accumulation of looks based on individuality, need, purpose and functionality,” he said.


“True elegance means not having to try too hard,” Mr. Barzilay Freund explained, noting that not everything in a room needs to be in mint condition or in, what's traditionally deemed, good taste.  “European aristocrats have long known this (think of a sitting room in a stately British country house with its plump sofas covered with an assortment of pillows and dogs and books and newspapers). American consumers of luxury design are starting to catch on.” 


Materiality Made to Order

Due to a strong interest in superior craftsmanship, quality and materiality are key, said Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore director of color marketing & development. 


“Consumers are more interested in the backstory of what they are bringing into the home,” she said. This means, they’re more concerned with buying quality over quantity to create a bespoke home. 


Ms. Wood and her team at Taylor Howes are increasingly asked to reinterpret old custom methods such as marquetry, crushed eggshells or cracked gesso for unique furniture pieces clients haven’t seen before. An example of this is Taylor Howes Indigo Skies coffee table and cabinet from their furniture collection, which is crafted by master artisans and features metallic pewter leaf trims and hand-dyed parchment. “These finishes bring a further layer of understated sophistication to the pieces, and it is this understated sophistication that our clients are looking for,” Ms. Wood said. 



Ms. Hoyos has been spotting custom takes on curvilinear Victorian-style furniture. These include upholstered chairs, sectionals and sofas done in unconventional materials such as leather and wool bouclé and mixed with the era’s traditional characteristics like bold silhouettes, sharp curves and shapely arm details. She’s also noticed a rise in high-contrast textiles and the mixing of muted tones with over-the-top colors and patterns as well as the blending of materials to make edgy combinations of high-gloss finishes with rustic textures, textured surfaces with plain patterns and metallics with matte. 


Mixing metals in unique ways is another example of how the look is expressed—a nickel faucet with brass lighting or oil rubbed bronze hardware and satin brass accents, for instance. “The mix is purposeful and elevates the design,” Ms. Cassill said. 


Calming Colors

Colors that soothing and easy to live with, are showing up in everything from wall colors and furnishings to fabrics and accessories, Ms. Magno said. “We are seeing these soft, pretty hues act as a safe way to move into interior color, as many people have expressed a sense of color deprivation after several years of neutrals dominating the color schemes of many interiors,” Magno said. 



Benjamin Moore’s standout hues for 2020 include First Light 2102-70, a soft blush that has been named its Color of the Year 2020; Crystalline AF-485, a pale green and Windmill Wings 2067-60 a lavender blue hue. These shades are used as all-over color, in monochromatic tonal iterations as accents in an otherwise white room, or in a wide range of home accessories and fabrics, Magno said. 


Mitchell Parker, an editor with Houzz, an online platform for home remodeling and design, has observed these tranquil palettes, such as light grays and blues, particularly in kitchens on Houzz and expects to see more of them in 2020. “Color experts think it’s a reaction to this year’s rise in popularity of moody hues,” Mr. Parker said. 


Warm Woods

Natural woods with tones varying from bleached to dark are not only coveted but they’re also being given expression in interesting ways, Ms. Cassill said. They’re coming in to play through unique touches, such as vertical cording on kitchen cabinetry, which adds both texture and an unexpected design element.


Among Houzz users, Mr. Parker is noticing more creative uses of wood. 

“Designers are adding visual interest to white cabinetry by breaking it up with wood drawers, shelves and pullouts. We’re even seeing people adding wood accents to range hoods, which brings a little bit of warmth and texture into the sightline and helps break up large expanses of cabinetry that are often painted white or gray,” he said.  

Wood flooring sets a warm tone for a home’s vibe, and designer Jeffrey Beers is working with a light color stained white oak wide plank flooring with natural quarter sawn wood grain patterns for a recent project at 277 Fifth in New York City to provide a warm luxurious canvas for the home. He’s also using light color stained white oak for kitchen cabinetry. 


Aside from traditional woods, there’s also been increased interest in next-generation timber, such as cross-laminated timber and glulam, engineered wood beams composed of wood laminations. “The sustainability and cost-saving aspects provided by these materials are attractive to clients and create a faster, more efficient building process,” said Hans Baldauf co-founding principal at BCV Architecture + Interiors based in San Francisco and New York.


(via Mansion Global)

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