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Publication Date: 2019-09-25

Design Insights

Fall 2019 Design Trends

Whereas summer tends toward free-spirited spaces, fall is about curation, and evaluating whether or not your environment is enhancing your life. From deep green walls to tailored home technology, these nine trends offer ideas for how to live well, in spaces that perfectly suit you and inspire you. 

Design by Robin Gannon Interiors | Photo by Michael J. Lee

Over-the-Top Maximalism

Clean, Scandinavian-inspired designs have dominated design for years. Refreshingly, maximalism has returned with a bang to balance out the influence of minimalism, making itself heard with bold wallpapers, heady colors, and personalized accessories. "I guess I look at minimalist homes and think, 'does anyone actually live there?'" says Robin Gannon, owner of Robin Gannon Interiors in Lexington, Massachusetts. "They look nice but unwelcoming. I love a layered look because that looks like a collection of someone’s life, loved and lived."

Maximalist interiors come with their own challenges — namely, how to achieve boldness without busyness, and how to seem collected without chaos. "In the end, 'busy' or 'not busy' is very subjective, so it has to be a client that appreciates the 'collected' look," advises Gannon. She suggests paying careful attention to scale of a pattern, so that patterns vary in size and don't compete with each other. "I just use a limited color palette, repeating the color with different pattern sizes — sometimes in different tints or shades — which keeps it looking interesting but not too busy," she says. "I also make sure that I pay attention to the chroma of a palette. Keeping the brightness down helps keep your eye moving across the room so it doesn’t get stuck."

Design by Jayne Design Studio | Photo by Pieter Estersohn

Plant Life 

With sustainability making headlines, many people are reconsidering their environmental impact — and trying to take more pleasure in the natural world too, even in colder months. Beautiful plants enhance a connection with the outdoors and reinvigorate our interiors with a little life, and in sculpturesque shapes, they can appear like art.

"Obviously, plants bring the outside world inside and can serve as a transition between the two spaces," says Thomas Jayne, owner of Jayne Design Studio in New York City. "They also add sculpture and more essentially, something organic into a room – and no interior can be successful without that."

Design by Redmond Aldrich Design | Photo by Lindsay Salazar

Large-Scale Artworks with Plenty of Personality

Small-scale gallery walls are fun, and with a flair for color and quirkiness, they're well-suited to an Instagram feed. Sometimes, however, a design needs art that's big and bold, especially if the style of the space is equally large and luxurious. "Art brings an X-factor of personality, imperfection, and ambiance that adds incredible depth to any and every project," says Chloe Warner of Redmond Aldrich Design in San Francisco. "It’s a must-have. Without art, rooms can be stunning, but they will always be a little generic."

Warner and her team decide between large and small-scale art by examining the size of the wall. "We always ask, how much blank wall are we dealing with?" She says. "If the answer is 'a ton', then we need something with presence, and that could be either a large piece or a grouping." However, the demands of the space are not the final factor in selecting the pieces. "I try not to let the decor pick the art," she says. She presents a collection of artworks to the client, who ultimately chooses the works that will hang in her house, ensuring that each piece perfectly matches the personality of the client, and that some tension exists between the artwork and space.

Design by Sean Anderson Design | Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck

Juxtaposed Design Eras

Pairing different decades of design leads to unique interiors that feel tailor-made to the inhabitant's personality and style. "I feel the melding of pieces from different eras has become increasingly popular because of the endless opportunities it presents," says Sean Anderson of Sean Anderson Design.  For Anderson, the popularity of transitional interiors means that designers have more creative freedom than before. "No one wants their space to look identical to someone else’s, and this new 'anything goes' approach allows one’s creativity to run wild and create interiors with unique and unexpected results — a true testament of a creative's strength," he says.

Though there are fewer hard and fast rules for mixing eras, there is a set of best practices to generate compelling designs. "When mixing pieces from different eras, it’s important to always select pieces with opposing views," says Anderson. "The surprising combination of two such pieces will allow for endless possibilities in both the styling and the overall aesthetic of a space." And if an object doesn't move you, don't include it in the design. "It's imperative when combining different styles is to select pieces that speak to you," he says. "Regardless of the origin, if you’re selecting items that you love, there’s always a winning combination that exists somewhere amongst them."

Design by Meredith Ellis Design | Photo by Read Mckendree

Green Walls

Green walls communicate sophistication. At Farrow & Ball's first studio, where the famed luxury paint brand invented many of their original colors, the walls were painted a rich, deep green that soaked up sunlight. In other spaces, such as the living room pictured above, green has provided spaces with a grown-up elegance that still feels novel. "Green is one of those colors that people are most comfortable with because it’s so abundant in nature," says designer Meredith Ellis, founder of Meredith Ellis Design in Dallas, Texas, as well as a direct-to-the-trade brand called James Showroom. "It can still be a little edgy, dramatic, or bold, depending on what you pair with it," she says. "It's a classic, and one not easily tired of, so people don’t fear the commitment or eventual regret of painting an entire room green."


Design by Mendelson Group, Inc. | Photo by Eric Piasecki

Natural Textures

Natural fibers and materials have been in style for a while, and they won't disappear anytime soon. In the past, organic elements have been associated with the care-free spirit of summer and a light, bohemian palette, but in colder months, natural textures bring warmth and comfort to moody interiors, and in the form of an oversized furnishing or structural accent — like the sliding raw-wood door pictured above — they impart a sense of opulence. "Natural brings a feeling of luxury to an interior," says Gideon Mendelson, creative director of Mendelson Group, Inc. in New York City.

For those who seek out grand, sophisticated interiors, Mendelson recommends mixing natural textures with synthetic ones to create a compelling contrast. "Natural doesn't have to be bohemian — it depends on what you mix it with," the designer says. "We gravitate towards natural fibers, textures, and materials, but we believe in mixing it with other types of pieces, patterns, and fabrics to create unique rooms. Natural shouldn't only be paired with natural — things don't need to match, it's all in the mix."


Design by 2to5 Design | Photo by Andreas Larsson

Graphic Prints

With their bright colors and simple design, graphic prints creatively breathe life into a space. "I love using a bold graphic print on accent pillows and in art," says Jodi Morton, principal and designer of 2to5 Design in Chicago.  "I’m drawn to the simplicity and universal appeal of black-and-white graphics. They always lend just the right amount of edge and tension in a space."

Design by Aspen Leaf Interiors, Inc. | Photo by Tom Zikas

Light Woods in Bathrooms

In a bath, simplicity is key. Light woods can soften and brighten a bathroom design, ushering in natural materials without slipping backward into the heavy wood vanities of earlier decades, and helping to build a relaxing, immersive oasis. "Today's bathroom is created for a relaxing experience in a peaceful atmosphere: planned for a ritual," says Marcio Decker of Aspen Leaf Interiors, Inc in Truckee, California. "Light woods and light surfaces with natural textures and grain, lime-washed or cerused, will add to the visual portion of the experience. Using rift-cut white oak, bleached walnut, birch, and other light-toned woods in a bathroom application can magnify smaller spaces, bounce desired light back into the room, and render an easy, simple ambience."


Design by Suzanne Lovell | Photo by Eric Piasecki

Increasing Technology in the Home at All Price Points

As technology continues to evolve, the ways we incorporate it into our homes do too. Designs with new forms of automation are becoming more and more popular, from audiovisual technology to specified lighting. For $50, you can dim your lights with an app; for $1200, you can turn off your shower via voice control. Lighting design, in particular, has taken off to new altitudes. "The innovations happening around lighting right now are the most significant of my entire career," says Suzanne Lovell, an experienced designer in Chicago. "The advent of LED has completely changed the playing field and definition of lighting. Ketra is out front with their technology to control both color temperature and color rendering. We all have much to learn about the impact of human-centric lighting that matches the sun 24-hours a day. We’re working with art collectors to fine-tune a unique lighting specification for each work of art to create a highly curated experience with one’s collection."

Sound technology has come a long way too, as have the millwork systems designed to both hide and reveal it. Audiovisual designers, interior designers, and artisans all work together to ensure a seamless technology-driven living experience. Here, Lovell Steinway Lyngdorf’s in-wall audio system is very powerful both in sound and in sight. "We were able to create an electronic millwork panel that allowed Steinway Lyngdorf’s in-wall audio system to be seen, or not," Lovell says.


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