As the leaves brown and cozy season arrives, many are looking inward—that is, to their nest, making it an excellent time to assess the top design trends of 2022. Much of what we’ve seen this year has riffed on the themes of 2020 and 2021, but, thankfully, it’s not because we’re resigned to the fact that every day feels much like the one before. Instead, we’re being more true to ourselves and what feels good.
Much like recent evolutions in fashion, interiors are increasingly becoming less about what’s trendy and more about personal expression. “Rather than specific trends declining, we are seeing the lines between different styles blurring,” says Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at WGSN. “A key example of this is minimalism and maximalism. As the line blurs between these two approaches, this has empowered consumers to find their own take on either. This is leading to a highly personal and more nuanced approach to interiors.”
Regardless of our want for individuality, several decorating trends have emerged thus far this year. After having collectively endured more than two years of tumult, it seems we’re clinging to familiarity more than ever. Our homes have become refuges and their interiors are all about feeling calm, seeking comfort, and loving color.
Consumers’ love affair with soothing greens, grays, and earth tones continues, but it’s not necessarily a simple case of aesthetic preferences. Neuroaesthetics, an innovative area of scientific study, has found a proven correlation between mental health and beauty in both natural and designed spaces, and it’s infiltrated the design trends of 2022: Savvy designers are embracing the call to create rooms that feel connected to the outdoors in the color of walls, furniture, and accessories.
“Research shows that natural color schemes and organic forms like those found in nature reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, increase productivity and creativity, and make us happier,” says Michelle Lamb, editorial director at The Trend Curve. “Perhaps because humanity has never needed the healing powers of nature more than we do at this moment, there is a quest to take this approach even deeper.”
AD100 designer Jake Arnold notes that his clients have been drawn to “all shades of brown from ecru to rust to chocolate, dusty pinks, and moss greens” in their interiors. Known for his studio’s warm minimalist approach, Arnold has reached for Farrow & Ball’s Broccoli Brown and London Stone paint colors often this year. “In California, we even incorporated a deep coral shade in a beautiful powder room,” he shares.
Though initial 2022 forecasts called for major inspiration from the skies, designers report that clients instead are looking to stay grounded. “We are seeing more warm grays, moving away from strictly cool tones,” say Anna Baraness and Kristin Tarsi of New York–based Studio AK. Terra-cotta has maintained its intrigue, most recently seen enveloping the bedroom of stylist Colin King’s Tribeca loft. But beyond paint, the hue has found use throughout the home. “The appeal of terra-cotta tones translates to interiors products across the board, from hard materials like natural stone, oxidized metals, wood, and clay as well as soft materials like linen, leather, suede, and brushed pile fabrics,” says Lisa White, creative director and director of interiors at WGSN. “We are even seeing products being beautifully upcycled by being dipped in terra-cotta paint.”
The design movement toward biophilia has evolved beyond the inclusion of plants in decor, and into the furniture itself through natural materials like rattan, wood, and stone. For Arnold, they often start from the floor and work their way up. “We used a lot of abaca rugs this year,” he says. “They serve as a great neutral base that grounds furniture and works with so many types of textiles.” When it comes to furniture, however, “especially in the bedroom, rattans and jutes in bedside tables or consoles, and even vintage lighting, create that sanctuary vibe we’re always after,” he says, also noting that his studio incorporated “more textures, more textiles, more print and color, with an important focus on timelessness,” in all projects this year.
“We are all drawn toward natural materials, particularly oiled or stained woods with grain and stones with movement,” say Baraness and Tarsi. One such stone that has proven popular this year is onyx, stylist King says. “I first noticed the material being used in a bold way when I was styling the home of Gwyneth Paltrow. She has the most beautiful onyx bar floating in the middle of her living room. More recently, I styled these divine onyx works by artist Ian Collings for the new Future Perfect Goldwyn House.” He continues, “These unique stones are being used more and more” in interiors.
Designs that foster a seamless transition from living room to backyard—where extensive outdoor kitchens and multipart seating areas bring the comforts of home into the elements—have been on the rise over the last two years and counting. Now, the exterior is influencing what’s inside. “Indoor-outdoor fabrics are in high demand” this year, Baraness and Tarsi note, prompted by development that has “moved leaps and bounds in terms of comfort, color, and texture offerings.”
Increasingly, clients are asking for interiors that reflect “the context of their home’s location or architecture,” Arnold adds, a trend that has continued to support the industry’s overall focus on customized and personal spaces.
One thing’s clear about the future of interiors: They need to feel as good as they look. All of our experts agree that consumers are paying much more attention to the sensory experiences of their homes.
“Scent has taken center stage during the pandemic,” White says. With that comes a zeal for adding fragrances to specific areas of the home—a move that allows users to “inhabit space with all of their senses.” A home office, for instance, may feature sage to promote mental sharpness, White continues, “while the bedroom will be scented with orange blossom to promote calm and sleep, and the living room with something cozy and festive like the fragrance of a crackling fire.”
Roberto Ramos, CEO of the cultural forecasting agency The Ideatelier, says that tactility, composition, and sensory stimulation are influencing people’s choices for interior products. “The sensorial experience is dynamic and individually unique yet desirous on many levels,” he says. “[This includes] visually stimulating vibrant color combinations, high-tech performance designs such as voice-activated kitchen faucets, and bamboo as the most important fiber to emerge in furniture and lighting design, which is natural, sustainable, and organic.”
Comfort above all
Maybe we’re all just feeling a little fragile, or maybe we’re not yet ready to give up the work-from-home, everyday athleisure experience, but many of us are still not ready for sharp edges in our interiors. Plush, tufted, and luxuriously upholstered furniture pieces and accessories are trending and proving that you can be both stylish and cozy at home.
An ottoman was the most requested piece in Baraness and Tarsi’s projects this year, and helped create spaces that truly felt like refuges. “Whether paired with a comfortable chair or a sofa, our clients want to put their feet up and relax,” the designers say. At Salone del Mobile this past June, the 1970s were back in the form of bulbous sofas and armchairs that invite one to do just that.
Soft textures are also taking center stage. “My favorites that instantly create a design-forward, comfortable environment are mohairs, velvets, suedes, mixed with textured linens and wools, rattan, and jute,” Arnold reveals.
These days, it’s a commonplace to embrace a mix, but this year’s deft integration of design with art is pushing interiors to a new level of sophistication. Blue-chip galleries have begun embracing work formerly relegated to mere “craft” status—ceramics, woodworking, and more—for its incredible artistic value, allowing a new generation of collectors to define what’s on display at home. As the concept of living with artworks gains popularity, “raw wood pedestals and risers are becoming my number one requested accessory,” King says, in continuity with the tendency toward natural materials. “Using these to create elevated moments or vignettes in the home can make a space feel purposeful.”
One-note spaces are long gone too. “A younger generation of clients prefers casual over formal, with interiors that feel layered and reflect their personality and interests,” say Baraness and Tarsi. A sense of adventure imbues today’s interiors, where we are not afraid to mix avant-garde contemporary works with vintage pieces and art. King notes that “traditional, Danish, and Art Deco metalware serving pieces, candlesticks, and vases” were frequent requests this year.
Baraness and Tarsi predict the future will see more chances taken on the designers’ side. “We anticipate seeing more layered textures and mixed materials within the same piece of furniture,” they say. “For instance, a sofa with a faux leather wrapped frame and chenille upholstery or an upholstered ottoman with a wood tabletop.”