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If anyone benefitted from the pandemic, it was interior designers. With masses of people working under lockdown protocols, the functionality and aesthetics of home spaces could no longer be overlooked.
In actuality, the biggest design trend of 2022 has been either moving to find a better space or calling in the professionals to sharpen a pre-existing one. “Because of the pandemic, people are generally investing more in their homes and in interior design professionals,” says Vanessa Francis, principal of the Milton-based Vanessa Francis Design. “I don’t know a designer who isn’t booked for the next few months right now. People have come to realize how important home is.”
For home owners who couldn’t get pro help lined up, or who are planning to manage a home refresh on their own, we asked a handful of designers to appraise the spring trends.
“You know how in a restaurant people always request the booth?” says Orsi Panos, principal at Orsi Panos interiors. He believes the private-feeling self-contained structure is driving a return to banquettes. “People crave that cozy feeling,” he says, “especially in a home with a smaller footprint.”
Getting the look takes several steps. A millworker is required to construct the base, while the seat and back of the banquette are typically built by a custom upholstery shop. “It’s a complex process,” says Panos. “Usually drawings and templating have to be done onsite.”
It’s worth the extensive planning, according to Panos, who says that installing a banquette along a wall can save homeowners up to three feet of space. “This is why its so popular in narrow homes,” she says.
Alternatives to leather such as Crypton or vinyl are commonly requested in banquette seating thanks to their durability and stain resistance. “These materials are child-friendly, pet-friendly, drunk-friend-spilling-their-wine friendly,” Panos says.
Kitchens with more personality
Kitchen interiors are also becoming warmer, more idiosyncratic spaces, says Montana Labelle, principal at Montana Labelle Design and Lifestyle Shop.
She believes clients are craving a more curated kitchen tailored to reflect their personality. “There has been a large shift away from the mass-produced sterile black and white home,” she says. “The design and home décor industry is oversaturated with a lot of the same – so we’re really seeing a shift towards more custom artisanal spaces that reflect their owners.”
For clients craving something different, Panos will sometimes mix two paint finishes, for example, and then add some white oak on just a few select cabinets. “It’s a fun transition in style where we don’t take kitchens too seriously,” she says.
Other clients are choosing more eclectic materials, he says: black metal upper cabinets with reeded glass inserts, or an oak pantry in a kitchen where the island might be done in a dark painted finish with the perimeter cabinets in a soft greige. “There’s definitely a resurgence in oak and in wood accents more generally,” says Panos. For countertops, he says the chunky countertop is out: “We’re often doing counters with just a ¾-inch thickness, which looks sleek and more modern.”
While probably the most of-the-moment trend of the past year, boucle fabrics – wool-like and textured – have designers debating whether its moment has passed.
“I think boucle is so overdone and it’s time is over,” laughs Arren Williams of Arren Williams Design. “Design trends essentially ebb and flow, but not boucle. It was done overnight!”
Meanwhile, other designers love its subtle hints of texture and using it to layer a look. “How you approach a living room, for example, the furniture has to be scaled to the style of the house and, yes, you want beautiful textures there – and boucle can really give you that,” says Panos.
A less polarizing trend is furniture that foregoes hard angles for a curvier shape. “Anything with softness is on trend,” says Panos, “anything that unblocks a pathway, especially in a smaller space.” Gone are the days of the block-shaped sofa with matching accent chair. Curved sofas and chairs, he says, “just create more energy – a nicer conversational clustering for people than your standard furniture set-up.”
Curved furniture also brings new possibilities for movement within a space. “It’s an open-concept world now,” says Williams, whose designed his own line of curvy furniture, which is being carried by Hudson’s Bay. He says he loves a good curve because – unlike a squared-off couch, which ‘blocks’ a space definitively – “it softens that transition from one space to another – especially in high-traffic areas of a home.”
Bringing the office home
out or redesigning home office space has been another leading trend. “There has been a big resurgence in home offices – which means less open concept,” says Panos. “People are realizing they need a separate (space) to conduct a Zoom call or to log in for online schooling.”
“Makeshift desks and working at the dining room table aren’t viable solutions as people look for more ergonomic work environments at home,” says Francis, who has helped clients create dedicated work nooks in basements and kitchens. In addition to creating storage solutions, such as bookshelves and file drawers, Francis says the desk area should be generous. “Clients need an ample desk surface – often so that their kids can use it for school projects,” she says. “I also love having a keyboard tray to avoid getting carpal tunnel.”
However, Williams says, design requests vary, usually depending on the age of the client. “If you’re in your 20s and 30s, you are more likely to have a laptop and move around in your space,” says Williams. Whereas old clients are looking for a more defined office space.
One request clients tend to require, regardless of age, is a professional backdrop. “The background of a Zoom call telegraphs a particular image,” says Williams. “You often have these interiors where you can tell so much thought has gone into it and that says something to your co-workers.”
The trickiest item to source, of course, is a good office chair. Not everyone wants to sit in an ergonomic one that, as Williams describes it, looks like something out of “Star Trek.” While it’s a niche market, several companies, including www.boconcept.com and www.article.com are trying to reinvent the office chair, so that comfort doesn’t come at the cost of style.
Walls that take risks
While many clients still request white walls, Williams says the look is outdated. While plain white gallery-style walls are “an easy choice – a good palate cleanser,” he feels “there are just so many great alternatives to choose from.”
He recommends clients take a risk with bold wallpaper featuring a tropical motif: “anything with a botanical or a bird or a tropical leaf is so in right now – you just can’t go wrong.” He notes the U.K.-based company Liberty of London has expanded its line of oversized historical murals and patterns inspired by the Arts & Craft movement.
As for accent walls, they are “gone the way of the do-do” according to Williams. “If the colour looks good enough for one wall, then just do all the walls,” Panos agrees, noting that colours trending this year include deep hues like maroon or dark greens.
“Natural colours such as okra, saffron or terracotta are also really popular – sumptuous colours,” says Williams. He believes they ease the transition between indoor and outdoor palettes and creates a calm, relaxed interior.
Despite segments of the workforce returning to the office, it’s likely these trends will stick around for a while. “People are looking to feel comfortable in their homes,” says Panos, no matter how much time they get to spend there.