With a new decade upon us, many homeowners are looking for fresh, up-to-date design ideas.  For some of the latest insights, we look to some industry experts for their insight on how these new trends can be incorporated into our homes.


“The major design trend I foresee for the decade is incorporating natural elements into the home,” says Marina V. Umali. “I feel it’s so important not only to create a beautiful look for my clients, but a calmer, healthier environment in which to live. Most people are unaware of how simple it is to do.”

“I like placing such plants such as Areca palms, Boston ferns, bamboo and rubber plants in various areas throughout the house. If the client is willing to try something more original, I suggest some version of a ‘living wall,’ made of a variety of green plants or even moss, which requires little maintenance. They can fill an entire wall, be a stand-alone display or when framed, become an art piece.”

Another trend Umali is keen on is “wellness.” “Everyone agrees that wellness and design go hand-in-hand,” she says, “but they often think it’s too complicated to do or won’t be pretty.” Among many of the suggestions she makes are sit/stand desks and ergonomically-designed chairs. “They’ve been scientifically proven to be beneficial to one’s health, and are as perfect for the home office as the corporate one.”

Photo courtesy of Napoleon


Both designers Ivee Fromkin and Karen Topjian, put technology at the top of their 2020 trends lists. Fromkin says, “I believe that we designers will increasingly include technology in our projects, an important part of each plan, whether for security, climate control, remote access, food prep or ways we don’t even know about yet.”

“For the client who may be reluctant to learn about smart home technology, I’d suggest starting small with something really useful, like a simple home-monitoring system perhaps with camera security both inside and outside the home.”

Bringing up another aspect of technology, Topjiian says, “If one wants to update a room, start with the lighting. If you have recessed lights, change bulbs to LEDs, which will eliminate the dull, yellowish light cast from 50- and 75-watt bulbs. Use either 2700 K or 3000 K. The quality of light emitted will be brighter and crisper and fabrics and furnishings will look refreshed. Test different LEDs to see which color (Kelvin/color temperature) works better with your furnishings.” An added benefit of using LEDs? “Dollar savings.”


Designer Mary Catherine McCarthy, also an advocate for lighting’s increased significance, says, “As the decade unfolds, I believe the use of light and its effects on our mood and health will be analyzed by scientists in depth. There will be many more developments and opportunities to create with lighting.”

Photo courtesy of Moen Canada

“Lighting has become the anchor of a design plan, requiring special attention in all areas of the home,” she advises. “The play of light across walls, floors, fabrics and counters adds additional energy or calm, controlled with dimmers to attain the desired effect.”

“Lighting is actually becoming a sculptural artistic statement not only a functional one,” she adds. “The play of light on such materials as forged metals, glass and crystal are all artworks on their own.”


“An open floorplan of kitchen, dining and living zones is a new must for modern life’s dynamic,” Fromkin explains. “Socializing while cooking is a trend that this addresses while also increasing communication among family members and guests.”

Texture will play a bigger role in the kitchen, says McCarthy, provided by patterns and most often seen in backsplashes. “Clients are beginning to value layering on different elements to create more visual interest.”

Fromkin also sees more vinyl being used on kitchen floors (and throughout the home). Unlike 1950s vinyl, today’s version is durable, moisture-resistant, comfortable under foot, less expensive and increasingly interesting with patterns reminiscent of wood, tiles and marble among other things.  A new trend for large kitchens that McCarthy has adopted is the two-toned kitchen. “You could pair a navy cabinet with a wood-toned island featuring raw edges,” she suggests. Another concept is black cabinets with a white island or vice-versa. “To encourage the clean, minimalist, clutter-free look now in demand, are 2.5” – 3” thick countertops and garage door-style storage,” she adds. “Anything to make the workspace a new landscape for cooking, eating and foodscaping presentations is in!”


Agreeing, Fromkin adds, “Comfort will be a top priority in the 2020s, along with sustainability, durability and ease of maintenance. To create a softer, more comfortable contemporary look, she recommends adding an antique you love, perhaps a family heirloom, an end table, ottoman, desk or chair. Any of these will add an eclectic feel and help to change transitional mindsets into more modern ones. “Lastly, patterned rugs and scattered cushions will subtly introduce different design eras and cultures into the space, adding interest as well,” she says.


“What comes after grey?” queries Topjian. “Grey has been popular for so long that we now have a hunger for color! Change a color, change the mood,” she believes.  “And just a little will do; try an accent wall, pillows or throws.”

Citing a December 2019 article in Forbes, Mary Catherine McCarthy says she agrees that the desire to introduce more vibrant colors into the home is a new direction. Aligned with that is the comeback of wallpaper, used as an accent. She shares a recent project to illustrate these trends.

Her client had recently moved into a new home, primarily grey and beige, and wanted more color, more excitement. But she was timid as to how to accomplish this, and also experiencing “‘decision fatigue,” McCarthy began by papering the dining room’s tray ceiling in a teal blue that reflected the dining chairs’ upholstery. As the client saw the gentle progression of teal that McCarthy employed in the adjoining kitchen, then on into the foyer and finally the nearby bedroom, which is ceilinged in a companion paper to that used in the dining room and Roman shades with of the same palette, she was indeed, timid no more.

As writer Anusha Atukorala so beautifully put it, “A New Year has tiptoed in. Let’s go forward to meet it.” With all the design possibilities available, the future has never been more exciting. —

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Mouldings