As an over 50-year-old person who wears bifocals and has astigmatism, I can assure you that I don’t have perfect vision. What I do have, and offer to share with you, is my 2020 vision for design trends. The year 2020 is going to be one where we see that our specific market preferences are not entirely unlike 2019, but what will drive these preferences will be new and altogether unexpected.
If you look at what is watched most often on streaming platforms, you’ll see that circa 1995 is very well represented. Shows like Friends have recently been rediscovered by the millennials (as they didn’t get to watch it when it was broadcast 25 years ago). Besides Friends and the reboot of Beverly Hills 90210, you’ll see cultural influences as seen on these shows from the ’80s and ’90s interiors emerging in 2020. As with every trend that has cycled from decades past, I asterisk them with this: Any trends from years past will undoubtedly be improved upon thanks to modern innovations.
These fashion trends aren’t just a passing fancy that will come and go quickly. Most likely, you can expect to have many “blasts from the past” making a big comeback.
Behind almost every interior design trend, are the runway fashion trends that spark it, and haute couture houses like Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Saint Laurent, and Celine are hot on the ’80s while J. Crew specializes in making the ’80s trends applicable for the everyday person. Without going too far into “back to the future” mode, let me list some of the fashion trends that will impact interiors for 2020.
From these trends, there will undoubtedly be some impact on our interiors choices, not in hardwood flooring, but as pops of color and sparkle for accessories.
You may have already seen some of these examples in a Target or Home Goods store near you. For those of us in the floor covering world, we are all striving to stay one step ahead of trends, in the sweet spot of what matters most. Many years ago, I said there’s a big difference between trends and trendy, and to sum it up simply, trendy includes things that pop up and go quickly like reversible sequins on pillows, while trends are things that have a much longer shelf life, such as brushed gold lamps, fixtures, and accessories.
My eye is always on the longer sustaining trends, but knowing full well that the trendy can impact us unexpectedly.
Color and design professionals understand that the colors that are trending are affected by finishes, gloss levels, and even practical things like cleanability. That said, hardwood flooring colors are easily going to be well within the matte range of gloss levels. We can say with confidence that glossy-shiny is passé and will be for some time. We can also say that the reds, oranges, and wine-colored woods from the late ’90s and early 2000s aren’t coming back anytime soon. We do see the old-fashioned hand-scraped cider-colored floors on occasion, but it’s typically in an installation where the project was built without a designer or specifier involved.
In 2020, we will see a darkening neutral palette with more warm grays, charcoal to full black, as well as espresso browns.
The counterbalance to these dark neutrals will be accent-colored walls as well as lighter case goods and upholstery colors; creamy off whites with bright pops of color in trims; contrast welting, fringe, and tassels.
With major companies tapping into the performance brand fabrics like Sunbrella, Crypton, and Revolution, consumers now are becoming more and more knowledgeable and thus confident in their expectations of life with a dog and an off-white sofa. (It can work.)
Step into performance flooring, and you’ll find a wide variety of options as well. The hundreds of wood-looking vinyl, composite core, and ceramic products have so over flooded the market that consumers are looking around for something special.
More times than not, they’re looking for the real thing…real wood is a real as it gets.
Without a doubt, our digitally overstimulated appetite for ease and convenience is shifting to what is lasting and enduring. This is no different from when the over 50 crowd decided they wanted sophisticated and timeless classics instead of trendy styles that they tired of easily, or simply didn’t last long enough. My research time and again is turning up consumers who are asking for quality materials, and working with retailers and contractors who know their stuff and can guide them through the very confusing process of selecting hardwood flooring.
What’s possible today wasn’t possible a few years ago, and that is waterproof and splash protection for hardwood flooring.
Innovation, as defined by Merriam Websters Dictionary, is “a new advancement or a change made to an existing product, idea, or field” and manufacturers of floor covering are always innovating. Things that work for one category can sometimes be applied to an altogether different category, much like the transfer of using aluminum oxide in laminate flooring to hardwood flooring resulting in scratch-resistant surfaces. In the tidal wave of products that are “waterproof,” we can now find a handful of hardwood flooring brands that are protected from splashes, spills, and the occasional pet accidents. This is a giant step for our industry, which allows consumers new-found confidence that they can indeed turn back to real wood flooring.
Knowing that the Baby Boomers continue to age gracefully and carry their purchasing power with them into the decade of the ’20s, they will be a major catalyst that will influence our decisions for what they demand and what we manufacture. The same needs might apply to the performance of finishes to what they want and need.
The top design styles based on age is something to watch.
According to a recent Architectural Digest article by Lindsey Mather, “Millennials (those ages 18 to 34) are seemingly obsessed with modern, minimal midcentury design, called ‘mod visionary.’ Alessandra Wood, a design history Ph.D. and the director of style at Modsy, isn’t surprised. ‘Younger generations living in cities are likely living in smaller apartments and condos, so a minimalist aesthetic is more appropriate – perhaps even necessary – for the size of their spaces,’ she explains. ‘Midcentury-style furniture tends to feel more open and less bulky, and is known for being livable, which translates to both comfortable and stylish. Urban areas are also the prime location for the industrial aesthetic, with tons of converted lofts and newer buildings mimicking the loft-feel.”
The article also highlighted that the 55- to 65-year-old Baby Boomers, most often received ‘refined rustic’ as their result on the style quiz. “‘Refined rustic, in particular, blends classic forms with a more informal rustic style, suggesting that these generations are looking for a comfortable feel to their homes,’ says Wood. Perhaps life has taught them that a sharp-lined, sculptural armchair – a sure bet for millennials – isn’t what you want to cozy up in, well, ever.”
Besides performance innovations and the ’80s and ’90s fashion trends, which we will see in 2020, expect to see some familiar trends.
Gray, taupe, greige, and chalky off-white are going to remain strong depending on where you are geographically. These neutral colors serve as long-standing timeless trends that won’t go away for quite some time as they are very practical, forgiving colors that help disguise the tracked-in dust and dirt of pets and people.
In a recent design project, my client showed me a photo of swept up shed dog hair from their chocolate lab. I emphasized the importance of that practical knowledge stating that it can be the perfect palette for their home so they won’t struggle with unsightly dog hair on their furnishings and flooring daily. In the same week that this client showed me their dog’s hair color, I also spoke to a group of regional flooring retailers and designers where one of the attendees stated, every person I know has a dog, and that dog rules their home or apartment. Employers are even permitting employees to bring their dogs to work as a way to attract and retain skilled and talented employees. We will see more and more performance, and pet-friendly features work their way into our world. With both fabrics and flooring already addressing this need, what will we see next?
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer and CEO of EF Floors & Design LLC in Dalton, Georgia, a provider of hardwood floors and home furnishings, and an NWFA design contributor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.