Decorate

7 dated decorating trends that are on the way out in 2023

What’s hot and what’s not for 2023 and beyond.

As the world returned to ‘normal’ in 2022, it was a great year for interior design. We saw the return of rich, invigorating colours, we embraced the earthy, Mediterranean aesthetic and we focused on single-function rooms (for Zooming and exercise, for example).

But interiors trends move fast, and with the rise in living expenses, consumers are more mindful about how they spend their money. What styles are here to stay, and what will look passé as we hurtle towards the mid-2020s? 

Cool greys have made way for warm-toned hues such as beige and terracotta.
Cool greys have made way for warm-toned hues such as beige and terracotta. (Credit: Photo: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

1. Grey days are over

Make that, cool grey. While the monochrome hue is so versatile it’s almost a neutral, Australians are looking to bright and rich colours to invigorate them after a couple of years of laying low. We’re also still wedded to the warm and nature-inspired palettes that emerged in 2022.

Grey will never be completely out of fashion as a paint colour, of course, since it works as a backdrop for your own décor and personal style. Steer clear of cool, silvery greys and channel nature when choosing a warmer shade of grey; think, ‘mushroom’, ‘pebble’, ‘bone’. It’ll make your home feel cosier and more welcoming, and less like a dentist’s waiting room.

Terracotta might even be the new grey, says Chiara Portesi, interior designer at Porter Davis Homes. “Terracotta is continuing its comeback,” she says. Chiara recommends pairing terracotta with white, cream, green, mustard, red or pink in your interiors for an impactful yet harmonious effect.    

2. Industrial style has aged

Edgy, urban warehouse-inspired décor ruled our homes circa 2010, which in the design world is a lifetime ago. Mad for black steel accents and raw, unvarnished timber, we pulled shelving units out of the garage and into the kitchen and did DIY with packing crates and palettes. Spaces were warmed up with cowhide rugs and furs nonchalantly thrown over utilitarian sofas.  

While industrial chic is a bit passé now, some elements of the aesthetic have stood the test of time. Exposed brick walls are big and tan-coloured leather is back. Concrete is a practical stalwart that isn’t going anywhere. The brass and bronze hardware that suited the industrial lewk is apparently making way for chrome. But, designing interiors is all about curating a space you love — so if you love ‘rustic’, stick with it!

Cosy living room with tan leather chair
Tan leather has made a comeback; exhibit A is this gorgeous sofa from M+Co Living… But did it ever really go away? (Credit: Photography: Simon Shiff)

3. Fast-fashion homewares aren’t trendy

With the environment top of mind, home decorators are starting to eschew fast fashion when it comes to interiors and décor. Regularly buying and replacing (and throwing out) on-trend inexpensive homewares isn’t exactly great for the planet. A 2021 survey of more than 7,000 people found that 97% of consumers are interested in buying sustainable furnishings providing the style and cost is about the same as other options.

Companies such as IKEA are doing their bit, with a buy-back initiative for example. And more consumers are buying secondhand and vintage pieces, or investing in high-quality and less faddish pieces that will last a lifetime. Which is good for your wallet, too.      

Arched curved doorway and terracotta accents
Arches and curves can make a house that’s not totally open-plan feel softer and less like a doll’s house. (Credit: Image: Porter Davis World of Style)

4. Open-plan living is closed 

Since open-plan living revolutionised homes in the 1960s and 70s, families have been living in close quarters and loving every minute of it. Or have we? During the COVID-19 pandemic, the combined kitchen/living/dining space lost its sheen somewhat, as people of different ages and needs struggled to work and study at home together.

We’re now seeing designers carve out separate zones for different pursuits in the home, such as media rooms, sewing and craft spaces, libraries and even Peloton rooms — while retaining spaces for families to come together.

If you like the idea of zones but are worried your home could be too segmented or ‘boxy’, consider building curves into the design, suggests Chiara. Curved walls and island benches can add softness while delineating spaces (and yes, they can act as load-bearing walls!). You can also create barriers without popping up walls, via furniture, Shoji screens (paper-based Japanese room dividers), bookshelves — safely fixed to the floor — or glass doors.

Living room
Living rooms are becoming less TV-centric and more focused on togetherness and conversation. (Credit: Photography: Simon Shiff)

5. Turning off TV-centred living rooms 

The hero of living room used to be whatever new flat-screen TV could take up an appropriate amount of wall space, right? Not anymore. This year heralds a return to the traditional sitting-room concept, where people gather to talk or read rather than binge Netflix. TVs are being relegated to other spaces (because we can’t go without Netflix entirely!)

“2023 is about reconnecting and today, the emphasis on the home is more about having an inviting family space for socialising and relaxing,” says Michelle Davis, creative director at M+Co Living. “Regimented rows, straight lines and clinical design focused on a TV can look a little stark and cold. We’re seeing more of a focus on comfort in homes that promotes conversation rather than TV.”

So, how do you rearrange your living room to foster fireside chats? “Think, sofas that face each other rather, ottomans that extra guests can perch on, handy side tables for snacks and drinks, as well as fireplaces to gather around,” offers Michelle.

6. Light-coloured timber has faded

Scandinavian style will never fall out of favour, but plywood and birch are on the way out. You heard it here first. Taking the place of blonde timbers is darker, moody shades of wood. Think: walnut, mahogany, jarrah. And rich timber (or veneer) will be everywhere! In kitchens, bathroom vanities, on floors and on the external cladding of homes. Interiors doyenne Melissa Penfold called dark “the new white”.

Dark timber is enveloping, making your home feel like a cocoon, and contrary to popular belief won’t make your space feel smaller. Choosing the right timber or veneer will add texture and depth to cabinetry, as well, rather than the shiny flatpack feel of kitchens and bathrooms from days past.        

Modern kitchen with dark timber veneer cabinets
Come to the dark side: walnut-coloured kitchen cabinets will be bigger than Star Wars. (Credit: Image: Porter Davis World of Style)

7. Minimalism and maximalism are too much

There’s a Swedish word, lagom, which roughly translates to, ‘Not too much and not too little’. Be more lagom! Minimalism (pared-back and clutter-free) and maximalism (wild colour, pattern and décor) are two extremes we might see less off in the future.

Minimalism had a moment, with documentaries and books telling us to live with fewer possessions, and designers opting for clean lines and uncluttered surfaces, which sometimes looked, well, stark and cold. And even Marie Kondo couldn’t keep up with her tidying, admitting recently that she’s more realistic about mess since having her third child.

On the other end of the spectrum, maximalism espouses having stuff, stuff and more stuff — the more opulent and colourful, the better. Animal prints have been trending (yes, in homes). But layers of accoutrement aren’t always easy to live with (imagine the dusting). So we’re predicting a move away from extreme styling and towards interiors that look like, well, a home.

Related stories