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Secret rooms and vibrant colours: 5 predictions by interior designers for 2023

A new year often comes with a new look in interior design – whether that be a shift in the prevailing colour palette, a fashionable period of furniture or simply a fresh way of looking at an existing style. After years of high-end design being characterised by neutral tones of beige, off-white and grey, what seems clear is that the new look in luxury is decidedly brighter and bolder. Here are five interior design predictions that top designers expect will be big in 2023.

Colour everywhere

“In terms of colour, I think this year we’ll see a shift away from completely neutral-toned schemes to those including brighter richer shades like orange, deep yellows, jewel greens and rouge tones, used in unexpected ways,” says interior designer Natalia Miyar, whose recent projects include The Twenty Two, a boutique hotel and members’ club with vibrant, playful and colourful interiors, which opened in Mayfair last year. “These shades are uplifting and energising; they instantly make you feel welcome and cheerful,” she adds.

The Twenty Two hotel in Mayfair interior designed by Natalie Miyar in Effect Magazine
A shift to brighter, richer shades like orange, deep yellows, jewel greens and red is one of Natalia Miyar’s key interior design predictions for 2023, as seen in her strong use of colour at The Twenty Two hotel in Mayfair

Martin Waller, founder of design firm Andrew Martin (who designed the green bedroom, top), agrees that the comeback of strong colour will only continue in 2023. “Green is the new grey,” he predicts. “The austerity of the grey, taupe age is over; it’s now the age of emerald, lime, forest, pistachio, jade and sage, in everything from wall colours and fabrics to cushions, rugs and curtains.”

Green is the new grey. The austerity of the grey, taupe age is over; it’s now the age of emerald, lime, forest, pistachio, jade and sage.

Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin

Country house exuberance

Waller also points out that shades of green are an English country house decorating staple – green being the perfect foil for floral motifs, as it is in nature. The country house style remains on point this year, and the most exciting new fabric and wallpaper launches are coming from pattern houses delving into their archives to reissue centuries-old motifs. Among them are Morris & Co, which will reissue a collection of archive patterns not available in decades in the spring, and the wallpaper company 1838, which has selected a number of patterns found in the V&A Museum’s archives to reproduce as wallpapers.

Coupled with a renewed focus in upholstery on fringing, braids, tassels and trimmings, along with the continuing vogue for vintage and antique wooden furniture, it’s a sign that the highly detailed and decorative look of the country house revival is still going strong. 

Attention to detail  

Decorative detail will be another focus this year, even in interiors of a more minimalist nature, says Natalia Miyar: “Hints of metallic ornamentation and detailing will be used to lift more understated spaces, with gold, brass or silver tones used in lighting, furniture and art to make a statement. There is also a focus on irregularities and hand finishing, where furniture and decorative items are a bit more rough-hewn and artisanal,” she adds

Sculptural light by SHH Architects, one of this year's interior design predictions in Effect Magazine
Decorative detail with hints of metallic ornamentation to lift understated spaces is another of Natalia Miyar’s interior design predictions for 2023, as with this spectacular sculptural light by SHH Architects (Photo: Tom Bird)

SHH Architects, who have worked on luxury hotels such as the Trafalgar in London and the Graduate group in the US, as well as high-end residential projects around the world, agree that detail will be at the forefront in interior design this year. “Since the pandemic, people’s connection with their personal living space has been steadily growing stronger,” says Bethany Prince, senior interior designer at the firm. “We have noticed that clients are increasingly interested in bringing their personal taste to their interiors by looking for decorative objects that are unique and hand-crafted.” She pinpoints a particular appetite for bringing decorative detail to functional objects such as lighting, with schemes that blur the boundaries between utility and art.

The element of surprise

A microtrend that SHH have identified is the secret door – a design conceit of the aforementioned country house style, but one that is also making its way into more modern interiors, in the form of doors hidden within panelling and shelving that lead into secret spaces such as cinema rooms, wine rooms and home offices. “These carefully designed passageways can create a sense of the unexpected and fun at home, or just offer a drastic getaway for some alone time and privacy,” says Prince. “They also create more subtle ways to move around the property.”

Hidden doors leading into secret spaces such as cinema rooms, wine rooms and home offices is a microtrend identified by Bethany Prince of SHH

Another area where the element of surprise is finding a place is the ceiling, which interior designer Karen Howes of design firm Taylor Howes predicts will take a far more decorative tack than the conventional white in 2023. “Painting a ceiling in a flat matte white seems to us a missed opportunity for decorative expression and we are now constantly looking at elevating ceilings to become the fifth wall within every room,” she says. “While this is a fairly new trend, it is also evolving, with ever more exquisite and special ceiling designs, and the return of traditional architectural and vaulted ceilings.”

In more contemporary interiors, Taylor Howes are employing modern technology such as fibre optics: “They can be added to a room to create various atmospheres, from atmospheric cinema rooms to galaxy-inspired ceilings that simulate the illusion of sleeping out under a dark starry night.”

Susie Atkinson's interior design predictions for the year include a return of wallpaper borders - Effect Magazine
Soho House and Beaverbrook interior designer Susie Atkinson is at the forefront of one of the biggest interior design predictions for the year – a return of wallpaper borders

Away from the ceiling, wallpaper borders – a 1980s trend that has been well and truly revived over the past year – is another way to add an unexpected dash of pattern. Among the interior designers releasing new ranges of borders this year are Salvesen Graham, Parker & Jules and Susie Atkinson, who uses them to edge and highlight architectural elements such as skirting boards, architraves and alcove shelving.

Fine finishes

Detail of another form is one of this year’s key trends, according to interior designer Charu Gandhi of Elicyon. Finishes will be, for her, an effective way to bring character to a contemporary interior: for example, warm-toned timbers with beautiful grains, or wooden furniture coated in a cherry-red lacquer – a finish that she expects to see used in ever more inventive ways in the coming year.

Stone surfaces can also be subject to distinctive finishes – among them leathered marble, a softer, more tactile iteration of the stone than its usual shiny surface, which she will be teaming with vintage elements for a unique, timeless look. “There has been a pattern of trends being influenced by historical references and I think this will grow ever stronger,” she adds. “I believe we are going to see an integration of vintage and contemporary design aesthetics to create one cohesive scheme throughout a room or a home.”

Read more: Interiors | Trends | Interior Designers | Living Rooms | Dining Rooms | Bathrooms | Design | Andrew Martin | Charu Ghandi | Susie Atkinson | Design Hotels