Top design trends for the coming year

Natural materials such as stone counters and wood trim help bring the outdoors inside. PHOTO: Christine Roberts

photos x2: Christine Roberts: Above, Below left, items collected while travelling are highlighted in part by a white wall as a backdrop.

As we prepare to bid 2015 a fond farewell, it’s time to look ahead to the coming year and get excited about new trends in design. There are so many things that affect design trends at any given time. The economy, social climate and major events happening around the world are huge factors in determining the style direction for the year ahead. Here are just a few of the hot design trends for 2016:

Global Style – use your home as a backdrop to the story of your travels

It seems that more and more people are travelling around the world and bringing back influences from far and wide.

Bright and bold patterns and colours are hugely popular right now, as are ethnic materials. Look out for geometric prints that are graphic and colourful. Rugs, cushions and other accessories in bright colours and patterns, with a global feel, are right on point now to make your home come alive. The most interesting spaces have pieces you’ve collected from places you’ve visited. They tell a story and become part of your home’s personality.

Next time you take a trip, look around and see if you can’t bring home something to showcase in your home.

Natural Materials – bring the outdoors in

With our urban centres becoming increasingly populated, people seem to be craving natural materials in their interiors. Awareness of our fragile environment has made people crave the natural rustic look in their own homes and it helps bring the outdoors in.

Wood, stone, brick and grasscloth are great ways to bring natural materials into a room. To shake things up a bit, consider using them in unusual ways. Lay hardwood in a herringbone pattern on your floor. Cover a wall in brick (or half brick to save space) to give a rustic, loft-like vibe to the space. Use grasscloth as a covering on a feature wall or in a small space like a powder room. Use natural stone or even concrete on a backsplash, countertop or as flooring. Raw materials that are rugged and aged are really popular right now. A little goes a long way and makes a home feel more alive and earthy.

Always look for materials that are sustainable and, when possible, use local materials for the most enviro-friendly design.

Old Style is New Style

Design looks from the 50s to the 70s are still hugely popular right now. Mid-century modern furniture is a great bet to help update the current look in your home. These pieces have stood the test of time and are a testament to investing in good design. They won’t quickly go out of style and can be worked into any room. You can go all in and fully embrace the Mad Men era, or select one or two pieces to freshen up a space. The clean lines and slick materials are a great contrast to natural materials and it’s fun to mix these together for an eclectic and funky style.

Metal is a huge design trend thanks to this retro style revival and it’s super chic to mix metals in a room. Chrome, gold, black rustic metal, shiny copper or tarnished silver add sparkle to a room and a crispness that you can only get with these materials.

Whether it’s furniture or just a few small accessories, metals are a must-have for the home this year. While there are lots of reproduction pieces from this era around, try scouring second-hand stores (Queen Street East is full of them!) or flea markets to score an original piece.

White is the hot new “colour”

Items collected while travelling are highlighted in part by a white wall as a backdrop. PHOTO: Christine Roberts
Items collected while travelling are highlighted in part by a white wall as a backdrop.
PHOTO: Christine Roberts

Each year Benjamin Moore chooses the “colour of the year” from its huge palette of paint colours. It’s something designers always look forward to and use as a compass for the trends ahead. This year’s choice shocked many people: the 2016 colour of the year is ‘Simply White.’

Using white in a space is really becoming on trend though. It’s the perfect backdrop: white shows off artwork, furniture and architectural details better than any colour.  Working with the trends above, it’s also the best compliment to bright and bold graphics, patterns and rugged textures.

Simply White is a really great warm white that disappears, but also allows your eye to focus on the elements in the room. White on walls and ceilings lifts a space up and adds a lightness that is often needed, especially if a home doesn’t have huge amounts of natural light. It won’t readily go out of style either, so you won’t feel the need to repaint as often.

When using white in your home, pay close attention to your lighting to make sure the space stays warm and glows, rather than feeling stark and cold. Edison-style bulbs are a great way to warm up a room and make white work in a space.

Use as matte a finish as you can get away with for the walls (trim can be slightly more glossy) and be sure to use a high quality, durable paint because you will undoubtedly need to occasionally scrub fingerprints off those clean white walls.

Try using a few of these trends in your home next year to freshen up an existing space, or keep them in mind to achieve a stylish and up to date interior if you are doing renovations.


Christine Roberts is a stylist and interior designer.  An avid vintage collector, she makes furniture and home accessories from reclaimed materials and co-founded The Leslieville Flea.

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