March 6, 2018

New Directions in Design

By Mary Dewalt, Mary DeWalt Design Group

I am fascinated with how futurists and trend forecasters’ predictions help to guide the designing, manufacturing and buying activities of the world’s best known product brands.  For insight, they look at what’s trending in film, architecture, popular culture, global issues and the economic and political climate just to name a few.

Victoria Redshaw, of London-based trend forecasting company Scarlet Opus, has some interesting insights into what the future holds for design.  “For interior design there will be less controlled layouts with a greater sense of freedom of expression; the mood has a slower pace and the overall style is more laidback with an appreciation of simple pleasures, artisanal skills and a feeling of solidity and certainty in a time of uncertainty.”

Scarlet Opus’ 2018 Color Trends Snapshot:

Urban Planet:  This trend “provides for a stylish and modest futuristic look rather than the stereotypical futuristic look traditionally associated with space-age design.” The color palette is simple and bold, with warm-metallics, like rose gold, paired with rich jewel tones and matte black.

One sure thing is that home buyers in all target markets are looking for “curated”
interiors that reflect their own individuality and sensibilities.   It’s a more personal, easy going way of decorating. 

The popularity of websites like HGTV, Pinterest and Houzz have had a lot to do with educating consumers on what’s trending and has also educated them on good design.  As home builders and designers, we need to be on the leading edge in order to stay up with and not disappoint when it comes to their expectations.  

Here are a few of the trends that we can expect to be hold-overs from 2017:

  • Gray will stick around combined with bright rich colors, as well as soft pastels and metallic tones.
  • The Mid-Century style slowly emerged in popularity with the debut of the Mad Men TV show and will still be around in 2018. Modern Farmhouse and Cottage styles can be very diverse and don’t seem to be on the way out.
  • Subway tiles will prevail but in larger and smaller formats and artisan vs smooth textures.
  • Reclaimed wood on walls and other rustic details will still be trending

Based on Scarlet Opus’ predictions for emerging design trends, we will want design styles that offer a respite from our hectic lifestyles and will embrace slow and low technologies, old crafts and imperfect forms.

What we can expect for 2018:

  • Reflective finishes will be making way for new, matte finishes
  • Dark and exotic wood tones will return to popularity for floors and furnishings
  • Darker and warmer tones of marble and tile will start to replace Carrara in popularity.
  • Textured textiles and wall coverings including grass cloth.
  • Wallpaper and patterned fabrics are having a resurgence. Digital printing techniques that have resulted in “painterly” patterns and bold retro designs will also be strong.
  • Mismatched cabinet colors
  • Black stainless steel and matte finishes for appliances


I think that all colors are always in – it just depends on how you use them.  Every year, Pantone, and most of the paint manufacturers come up with a “color of the year”.  This year, I’m completely on board with Sherwin Williams’s color of the year, Oceanside.  It fits right in with the rich direction of the emerging Urban Planet trend.  Oceanside provides a bold contrast and compliment to warm-metallics and matte black.