Real Estate News

4 home design trends to watch

These thoughtful, intentional approaches to mindful, enriched environments feel nothing but fresh and —in many ways —timeless.

Porcelain tile that looks like cerused wood creates an accent wall behind the gas fireplace in this look by Elza B.Design Inc. Michael J. Lee

In the same manner that fashion often adopts a cyclical nature, so, too, does design, and the latest style trends emerging inside the everyday home are no exception. Nonetheless, these thoughtful, intentional approaches to mindful, enriched environments feel nothing but fresh and — in many ways — timeless. Here is a collection of surfacing trends to watch that seamlessly make the living feel easy, no matter what the season.

Design-driven kitchens

Kitchens remain an epicenter of convenience for families, and consumers continue to invest time and money into this busy, communal space. Smart kitchens and gadgets have dominated for years, and now homeowners are turning their attention to practical design details, especially around organization.


“We have a lot of requests for reclaimed material for kitchen shelves or small details,’’ said Paula Accioly, showroom manager for custom cabinet hub Jewett Farms + Co., which is headquartered in York, Maine, but has East Coast showrooms in Boston and the New York Metro area. An organized kitchen is not just for shelves, but more static items, like islands, too.

Slotted drawers hold potatoes and onions in this design by Jewett Farms + Co. – Eric Roth

The look of a custom kitchen island is often determined by seating, task requirements, and storage needs. “Every family is different. Needs and wants change with each client, and therefore, every island has it own custom details,’’ Accioly said. These days, consumers seem to be hiding their dishes in main drawers, and not out on kitchen shelves. “Veggie drawers, cutting boards, and wood slats are all nice wood details to dress any island. Also, now we are customizing the islands to hold dishes and glassware and everything else,’’ she said.

Another trend is reducing counter clutter. Here, cabinetry by Jewett Farms + Co. hides dishware. – Eric Roth

“Another brilliant trend is hidden everything,’’ Concord-based designer Barbara Elza Hirsch of Elza B. Design Inc. said of space-hogging appliances, “which used to take over countertops but can now be tucked away.’’ Dedicated appliance closets, like a pantry just for gadgets, keep items out of sight until they’re ready to be utilized. Many consumers are also opting to hide their messes by having separate spaces for food preparation and flower arranging, so the main kitchen is always primed for a sit-down meal and entertaining.


“If the space is large enough, we design the kitchen with separate areas for separate tasks. There is also the prep area, baking area, coffee and breakfast area, cooking area, and so on,’’ Accioly said.

Consumers also are shifting from a monochromatic and basic color palette and embracing color once again, not only on cabinet fronts, but in ancillary kitchen materials.

“I love how we are moving away from white kitchens and introducing color and more texture,’’ Hirsch said. “Wood is back, and I’m a big fan of cerused oak applied in contrast with a gorgeous stone slab. Honed stone is really my favorite finish for kitchens, and lots of large movements in the veining is lovely, such as a luscious marble or quartz.’’

Joy in the small details

Julia Noran Johnston, founder and president of the Business of Home, a resource for interior design and home industry professionals, finds that the sparkle of a new design movement is sometimes much more than one popular color or product, and can often be a feeling or a small detail. For example, Noran Johnston expects big things from moodiness in the coming year. “We are skewing away from bright white everything, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Spaces are getting darker, richer, moodier. I’m seeing ivory and off-white replacing bright white, and black as a popular metal finish.’’


When it comes to metal finishes, brass is quickly on its way back, too. “Brass has made its way from fixtures to furniture. I just bought an all-brass media console for my living room, and it’s stunning,’’ Noran Johnston said.

A room’s mood isn’t just limited to hues or textures, but can be integral in the actual framework of an environment. “I’m a fan of curved doorways as I find they add personality and architectural interest,’’ said Hirsch, who takes inspiration from curved doors discovered on her travels throughout France. “I’m always very saddened when watching an HGTV show and they shatter all the original curved doorways. I guess I’m a nostalgic at heart.’’

Curved details, like those seen on the Eve Collection from Croft House, have been a huge selling boon for this young furniture brand. Kari Streib, senior designer at Croft House, is fond of the Eve dining chair, which stems from one of the brand’s newest lines. “I particularly love the shape of this chair, with its soft edges and round back detail. These details are a new addition to the clean lines our California modern pieces usually possess. It’s very of the moment, a happy accident, as we are seeing more shapely, softer furniture come to market and used by top designers. It’s also upholstered in a rich velvet, which is not surprisingly on the rise again. It’s lush, comfortable, and just a bit decadent,’’ Streib said.

A chair from the Eve Collection at Croft House. – Carley Rudd

More handmade everything

Albeit the trend for mindful consumption endures, consumers are migrating toward handmade pieces, especially when it comes to everyday elements like ceramics and serveware. New Jersey-based ceramicist Jono Pandolfi shares that in the age of mass production and endless options on the Internet, there is a growing appreciation for back-to-basics craftsmanship and sourcing.


“Consumers are a lot more discerning about what they bring into their home, and they are focusing on details like how their dinnerware fits into the overall aesthetic of their house,’’ Pandolfi said. “People like to know where their products come from and are sentimental about pieces that are genuinely one of a kind, created in a local studio by a team of artisans.’’

A bowl by Jono Pandolfi Designs. – Michael Harlan-Turkell/Four Seasons

Liz Caan, a designer out of Newton, finds that when it comes to collecting handmade wares, clients want to know the craftsperson who made their pieces. “They want the story behind the pieces in their home,’’ Caan said.

Hirsch added that handmade, small-batch, and original products do wonders to enrich a home’s decor. “I’ve always used interesting pieces I purchase on my travels, such as etched pottery from Provence, France, or a tagine from Morrocco, which can be used for tabletop serving at any time and also in daily decorating around the home.’’ Hirsch said a tagine can be useful as a storage vessel for small items, and she is also a fan of displaying a collection of locally made vases on her mantel, a design idea anyone can try.

A natural connection

Take it from Sonja Bochart, principal at the Boston architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch, nature and design is a pairing that will only become more relevant with time. “I help foster a human-nature connection in design,’’ said Bochart, a biophilia expert who works with businesses to help create a deliberate association between design projects and the natural world. “This is beyond just green walls and plants; it is essential that our projects support a connection to the natural world, also through natural organic shapes, patterns, colors, forms, materials, local art, and finishes, and even the shape of spaces. My approach is not really check-list … it’s more like a discovery project, marrying the goals of the owners with the uniqueness of the place and the surrounding natural environment.’’


“ ‘Biophilia,’ which loosely translates to ‘love of lfe and things that are alive,’ is easy to implement in your own personal spaces,’’ Bochart said. “Welcome in sunlight, and add the beauty of plants in your home.’’ Bochart proposes adding local, nature-based art to dress up your living space.

Welcome in sunlight, and add the beauty of plants in your home,” Sonja Bochart, a “biophilia” expert, suggested. Here, a plant grows on a wall, adding a natural element to a space she designed. – Bill Timmerman

Since flowers are a quick and easy way to inject color and life into your home, Bochart said, splurging on fresh flowers is always a good idea. “Flowers always brighten a room and bring nature’s incredible patterns and color to our homes in the most intimate manner.’’

Affordable and natural design that effortlessly enhances the space it’s in? There truly is nothing more on-trend than that.

Christina Poletto lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she writes about unusual old homes and interior design trends. Follow her on Instagram dovetailordesignstudio. Send comments and story ideas to [email protected]. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @globehomes.


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