5 home trends interior designers are loving this year

From colorful kitchens to bringing wallpaper back, here are the in-vogue trends you’ll be spotting around the neighborhood (and maybe even in your own home!).

blue flowers on kitchen table with wallpaper in background
Photo by Robert Radifera

We’ve all walked into a house that looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades. Keeping your house classic and also of the moment isn’t always easy to pull off. So, we went straight to the experts. Here, five interior designers share the trends they’re loving for 2020. (Spoiler: Wallpaper is back.)

blue and white themed kitchen with exposed lightbulbs
Bernhardt ‘Thorpe’ counter stools— upholstered in dark blue suede with polished nickel nails—repeat the kitchen’s sophisticated palette. The antique Oushak runner adds a touch of complementary color and is from J and J Oriental in Alexandria. (Photo by Robert Radifera)

Cue Color

Why it’s Trending

The all-white kitchen remains a meat-and-potatoes go-to, but color, from nautical blue to charcoal gray, has become a tasty staple in home kitchens.

“The use of bolder color breaks up the customary tone-on-tone white-and-gray mixes we’ve seen used in kitchens in a variety of ways for the past decade,” says Warrenton-based interior designer Casey Sanford. “Color definitely spices things up and can also help define architectural features in a kitchen,” she adds.

kitchen sink with big plant next to it
The butler’s pantry cabinets are painted in Benjamin Moore’s ‘Abyss,’ with Caesarstone countertops in ‘Raw Concrete.’ Cabinetry hardware is by Top Knobs and open shelving is stained oak. (Photo by Robert Radifera)

In Action

Sanford has worked with many young families in Northern Virginia, so it follows that a family of five turned to her for help when settling into their new house in Alexandria. “A large, open-concept kitchen was a top priority for the family,” recalls Sanford of what was to become the heart of the home. “When designing layouts for the new kitchen and butler’s pantry, comfortable walkways, an ample amount of storage and low maintenance countertops were of utmost importance,” she says. Sanford developed a symmetry to the kitchen right away, installing a central island in front of the 36-inch range wall, which features a custom drywall hood, with a stained oak band. The stovetop itself is flanked by Shaker-style cabinetry in a slate blue on either side; the adjacent fridge is similarly paneled. “The clients’ love for the colors found in nature were already being incorporated throughout the house, so it presented a great opportunity to introduce the dark gray-blue cabinetry into the kitchen,” she says of the bold color choice. “By implementing color, we wanted to highlight the height of the ceiling, the use of symmetry and provide contrast to the lighter finishes chosen for the backsplash and countertops,” she adds. Part of the high contrast theme, along with a measure of visual relief, led to the selection of a paler gray paint for the island’s base. Meanwhile, polished chrome hardware adds touches of brightness, as do the triple glass-orb light pendants, with chrome detailing.

Tips of the Trade

  1. If you don’t want to paint cabinetry, consider finishing your walls and trim in an updated color that coordinates with your existing decor.
  2. Painting the island base alone can make a strong statement in a more neutral kitchen.
  3. Bring color into a kitchen via furnishings, whether bar stools, window treatments or small appliances.
blue themed dining room
A Julian Chichester dining table and Schonbek chandelier pair well with West Elm chairs and a Restoration Hardware bar cart, mixing high and low. (Photo by Robert Radifera)

Wooing Wallpaper

Why it’s Trending

From adorning walls to ceilings, this hardworking decorative material comes at different price points, transforms spaces and unites design elements in any given room.

“Wallpaper does so much for a space,” says interior designer Erika Bonnell, who divulges that wallpaper has always been on-trend at her Sterling-based firm. “It creates interest, lends depth, adds texture, provides spatial definition or serves as art,” she continues. “It’s our go-to instant personality infuser. It quickly conveys a mood and gives a room its vibe.”

In Action

When Bonnell’s client—a fashion-forward, single, working mom—approached her to help redecorate her Haymarket townhouse, the old dining room already had several strong features: a tall mirrored cabinet; a statement crystal chandelier; black-lacquered dining chairs; and a chic pedestal ‘tulip’ dining table, with a hammered silver base. “But even with these strong pieces, the dining room still lacked that bold impact and striking presence that the homeowner desired. That je ne sais quoi which represented who she was: professional, glamorous, vivacious. “In the end, her vibe became our inspiration!” says Bonnell. She saw an easy fix to the design problem: the addition of wallpaper, not just any wallpaper, but one that would stand up to the existing design elements, and help tie them together, while giving the dining room its own identity in the open floor plan. She ended up sourcing a Cole & Son ‘Orchid Blue’ wallpaper, with a large-scale botanical pattern in black, blue and gold. “We enhanced the wallpaper by adding a metallic gold-painted finish to the ceiling and then framing the windows in stunning cobalt silk draperies,” she says. The curtains have a high-contrast black-and-white tape trim. Bonnell also layered a white cowhide on the wall-to-wall charcoal carpeting and introduced a deco-inspired bar cart on wheels to complete the look. “Of course, the paper 100% represented the spice and personality we were looking for. It was the cherry on top,” she adds.

bar cart in front of blue and gold wallpaper
A dramatic Cole & Son ‘Orchid Blue’ wallpaper wraps the walls, defining the dining room on the open floor plan and pulls together the palette. (Photo by Robert Radifera)

Tips of the Trade

  1. Be true to your style. Figure out what statement you’re trying to make and find a wallpaper to back it up.
  2. Be true to your style. Figure out what statement you’re trying to make and find a wallpaper to back it up.
  3. You don’t have to commit in a big way. Paper a powder room, focal wall or shelf-backs. You can even frame wallpaper as art to make an impact in a space.
bathroom with chair under window
Vanities (one shown) were done in collaboration with Stuart Kitchens in McLean and feature glass ball knobs. (Photo by Helen Norman)

Mom’s Sanctuary

Why it’s Trending

Creating a beautiful, functional, luxury bathroom has become a must-do trend, space and budget permitting. There’s nothing like having spa-like add-ons for alleviating a hectic day at work or home.

“Everyone is so busy these days,” says interior designer Stuart Nordin who splits time between Alexandria and Richmond. “Self-care is key for getting through stressful times, and a serene, luxe bathroom can provide a quiet haven to rejuvenate and pamper yourself at home.”

chandelier over a white bathtub
The chandelier is by Visual Comfort, providing a layer of lighting. The white-marble ribbon tile flooring is by New Ravenna. (Photo by Helen Norman)

In Action

Nordin had been helping a mother, with three school-age children, design her Alexandria home. As they went room-by-room, the master suite eventually became a priority, specifically the master bathroom. “My client really wanted a place of tranquility where she could get away and relax at the end of a busy, long day,” says Nordin, a mother to young children herself with similar needs. To achieve this goal, Nordin made sure to include in her plans both a deep vessel tub for languorous bubble baths and a steam shower in the glassed-in shower unit for the ultimate spa experience at home. “For materials, we used a gorgeous gray-and-white marble ribbon tile from Virginia’s ultimate tile artisans, New Ravenna, as well as a soaking tub from Waterworks,” she continues. In keeping with the traditional design of the rest of the home, his-and-her vanities feature crisp white sinks set in rich, stained walnut cabinetry done in collaboration with Stuart Kitchens. The wood also adds another layer of texture and warmth to the space. “We wanted a lot of natural light in the bathroom, so we incorporated a beautiful arch window behind the tub, as well as two large windows on either end of the room,” Nordin says. The windows are dressed in a semi-sheer textile, allowing natural light through, while maintaining privacy. A statement chandelier also hangs in the bathroom, with chic sconces for ambient lighting. “The finished room is an elegant and serene space where Mom can feel like a queen while she recharges and relaxes,” adds Nordin. It’s hard to argue with that.

green shower
The steam shower features bricked marble walls and polished nickel fixtures by Rohl. (Photo by Helen Norman)

Tips of the Trade

  1. Consider adding radiant heat under the floor. Nothing is more wonderful than stepping out of a shower onto a toasty floor.
  2. Go for understated elegance. Keep the palette simple and don’t use too many different finishes.
  3. If remodeling is out of the question, declutter your space to create a spa-like feel through open, clean surfaces. Use scented candles, fluffy towels, fresh flowers and a spa treatment
    or two.
playroom with swing attached to ceiling
Armstrong wood laminate flooring provides an easy-to-clean, durable floor for the playroom. The chairs are from Wayfair. (Photo by Bob Narod)

Prime Playtime

Why it’s Trending

Having a designated space for creative play and arts and crafts gives children an opportunity to take a break from electronics and explore their individuality.

“More families are choosing to design play spaces that are creative, functional and organized. They want their children to be able to express themselves creatively within the home,” says Warrenton-based interior designer Paola Martinez of Olamar Interiors.

playhouse with swing in front of it
The playhouse was built by Art Woodworking, with a carpet from Masland Carpets & Rugs, in grassy green, color matched to the base trim paint around the room. The paints used are low VOC in a multitude of colors by Benjamin Moore. (Photo by Bob Narod)

In Action

“Our clients tend to be family focused; we’re always looking to design spaces where kids can enjoy their hobbies and express themselves,” says Martinez, who completed a unique play space in McLean for two lucky girls. “The family happened to have a lower level that was perfect for a fun play space, with plenty of room for toy storage, an arts-and-crafts center and an indoor playhouse.” Ben Clemmer at Art Woodworking had been approached about building the playhouse when he suggested bringing Martinez onboard to help pull together the design and lend it cohesion. “The first thought that came to my mind was a ‘treehouse’ concept,” says Martinez. “I recalled loving to play outdoors as a child in my own playhouse.” The resulting playhouse is cleverly nestled beneath a soffit that contains ductwork, opening up the rest of the room for arts-and-crafts. To accommodate a small window on the same side as the playhouse, a ‘side yard’ was created with a carpeted area (lawn) and a picket fence. “A small hatchway allows the girls to climb down into the lowest part of the playhouse and escape into the side yard,” says Martinez. “The upper level has a built-in cushioned bench where a child can curl up and read.” In keeping with the outdoors theme, the walls are painted sky blue, with colorful flower and tree stickers. A ceiling-mounted swing completes the look. There is also an arts-and-crafts area, with drawered storage and a tabletop surface treated with polyurethane to make cleanup easy and protect the wood from dings.

child's desk
The wall stickers are from Etsy. According to Martinez, many vendors will customize their artwork to fit in any space. (Photo by Bob Narod)

Tips of the Trade

  1. Take inventory of your children’s hobbies, toys and favorite colors.Involve your kids to customize the design to their passions.
  2. Use easy-to-clean, durable materials, like wood laminate flooring, and also low VOC paint.
  3. If space-challenged, think of unused spaces, like under the stairs, to create hiding or reading nooks, or toy storage areas.
three roomed basement
The comfortable sectional is upholstered in a Sunbrella fabric, while the swivel chairs feature a performance Fabricut textile with a trellis pattern. (Photo by Christy Kosnic)

Basement Bonuses

Why it’s Trending

With square footage at a premium and people spending more time at home, homeowners are taking full advantage of renovating their basements for everyday living.

“People are reclaiming their basements as true living spaces that should be designed and decorated as beautifully and carefully as the rest of their homes,” says Michelle Troxell of Grace Thomas Designs in Leesburg. “They are no longer a dumping spot for all the furniture you don’t want in the rest of your house.”

basement with gallery wall and pool table
The reversible game table is from California House. Personal photographs, with similar frames and mattes, create a cohesive gallery of wall art. (Photo by Christy Kosnic)

In Action

When Troxell was approached by existing clients for a basement remodel, she couldn’t have been more up for the task. “I love a well-designed, functional basement, with ample space for different family members to do their thing,” she says. Her clients, a professional couple with two daughters (one in college, the other in high school) were looking for a ‘wow’ space for entertaining, while also anticipating the need for more living space as their family grows. “They have five pets (three dogs and two cats), so it was important that the products and materials we selected were durable and easy-to-clean, as well as attractive,” she adds. (Families with young children would also benefit from that.) Thus, the flooring is made of hardy porcelain tile, accented with area rugs as needed. Troxell created several rooms or niche spaces to serve different functions: a comfortable guest room; a lounging area for watching TV or movies, with high-performance fabric upholstery sections; and a game area furnished with a pool table, card table and wet bar. “We designed the game area for the gentleman in the house to have a high-end game table for hosting poker nights; the tabletop also flips over to create a dining table in the basement if needed,” she adds of the dual feature. The wet bar has custom cabinetry, floating shelves and a quartz countertop, along with a bar sink, wine fridge and dishwasher. “The basement remodel also brought the design elements from upstairs downstairs for continuity,” says Troxell, adding, “It has become a place that the family and their friends enjoy spending time.”

bar and kitchen in basement
The bar’s accent wall is covered in Stikwood reclaimed wood plank veneers, while the custom cabinetry is from Tedd Wood Fine Cabinetry. (Photo by Christy Kosnic)

Tips of the Trade

  1. Pay attention to lighting. Most basements are under-lit, so consider recessed LED lighting, with dimmer switches, as well as ambient lighting.
  2. Use high-performance fabrics, like Crypton or Bella Dura, that are stain resistant. They come in a myriad of colors, patterns and textures.
  3. Consider manmade flooring, like vinyl and porcelain. Natural materials are more expensive and harder to maintain.

This post originally appeared in our March 2020 print issue. For more home trends, subscribe to our weekly Home newsletter.

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