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Trend Spotlight: What is Dark Academia and 8 Tips to Get the Look

Today, we’re shining a spotlight on a dark and moody aesthetic trend that’s seeping into the interior design world! It’s called “Dark Academia.” It might sound spooky, but it’s actually more about academics, literature, and the arts! (Hence, “academia.”) The “dark” part of the time is more in reference to the darker color palettes used in this aesthetic. (So, don’t worry—no “defense against the dark arts” training required to pull off this look!)

The Dark Academia aesthetic is what you might expect to find if you stumbled into the office of a professor at Cambridge or Oxford in the 1950s. Or a Gothic-era parlour, being entertained by the moody and mysterious Mr. Rochester himself. Or, ok, even the Gryffindor common room! All that to say, it’s a look that steeped in history and nostalgia, with a good dash of romanticism.

Read on to learn more about Dark Academia decor and how you can incorporate it into your home.

What is Dark Academia Decor?

The Dark Academia aesthetic is a celebration of learning and literature, as well as a passion for knowledge. So, the interior design style that it creates is heavily influenced by academia. What does Dark Academia room decor look like in action? Spaces that have the look and feel of an old library or study, often using books as decor. You’ll also find other items that invoke a nostalgia for centuries past and speak to intellectual pursuits—like telescopes, musical instruments, apothecary bottles, and Grecian busts. Dark Academia room decor is all about layers and collections that speak to the interests and intellect of the person living there.

Dark Academia decor is centered on classical architecture and design, so you’ll find a lot of dark wood furniture, ideally with intricate details and carvings. Decorating with antique furniture is highly encouraged in this style! There’s also an emphasis on dark colors and rich textiles—like velvet, leather, and wool—which add a sense of both history and decadence to a space. All of these elements build on a sense of moodiness and intellect, with a hint of mystery.

Where Did the Dark Academia Aesthetic Originate?

Dark Academia is a social media aesthetic and subculture centered around higher education, writing and poetry, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture. The subculture is associated with ancient art and classic literature, and the “romance” surrounding these pursuits.

However, the interior styling of this aesthetic isn’t actually new. It’s based heavily on Gothic-era European architecture and interiors. Think: old university libraries, professors’ studies, prep-school dormitories, and old English estates—especially the likes of those found in Gothic novels like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. There’s a lot of old European influence in this style.

How to Get the Dark Academia Look

Want to explore the Dark Academia aesthetic and learn more about how to bring some Dark Academia decor into your home? Read these 8 tips on how to get the look.

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1. Go for a Dark Color Palette

Dark is in the very name—so going with a dark color palette for a Dark Academia-inspired room is an absolute must. Dark paint can accentuate architecture features and add a moody-but-stylish vibe to the space. Decor and accessories with pop against dark paint as well! Start with colors like black and brown, as well as cream and gold, which will help ground the look. Then, don’t be afraid to go bold and incorporate saturated shades of greens, reds, and navy. Layering in dark wood and leather furniture will add to the moody vibe.

2. Use Materials That Show Off a Patina

Since this style has a definite sense of history to it, it’s important to include furniture with finishes that will develop a patina over time. (Or pieces with a faux patina.) This is also a great place to insert some antiques that show off some age without looking too worn. This can be anything from leather sofas and chairs to faded vintage rugs, copper and brass accents, and even crushed velvet upholstery.

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3. Stay Timeless and Classic

Dark Academia decor and furniture should be classic and timeless. So, gravitate toward dark, rustic wood furniture, vintage-inspired rugs, antique artwork and tapestries, and tufted upholstery. Elements like these have been used for decades, if not centuries, so they create a home that feels timeless. Stick with classic silhouettes for furniture and decor—like wingback chairs or chesterfield sofas—staying away from trends or anything that looks and feels too contemporary.

4. Embrace Maximalism

Like we mentioned earlier, Dark Academia decor is all about layered collections. So, layer decor into your space, especially books, antique trinkets, plants, and even art. This look gives the look and feel of a space that has been collected over time, and creates the studious vibe of an academic space. Layering a variety of patterns and darker colors into a room will help drive home that maximalist vibe. This is also a great style for a gallery wall, so that even your walls have a sense of maximalism. Try a mix of maps, antique-inspired botanical prints, painted portraits, black and white photos, and perhaps even old letters or vintage sketches!

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5. Display Your Collections

In the vein of maximalism, you don’t just want to have collections—you want to make sure you have a place or show them off! Antiques and other trinkets should be on display, in a tasteful manner. Celebrate your collections through the use of shelves, china and display cabinets, glass-front bookcases, and built-ins. And you don’t have to have a singular theme or look of what you have on display. Your shelves can span the decades and include inspiration from the Victorian era, where there was a definite mentality of “more is more.”

6. Highlight Natural Materials and Intricate Details

Natural materials, such as stone and wood, are timeless and classic at the same time. Keeping your base furniture a natural material sets the tone for the space—like the mahogany dining table and chairs, above, which are full of luster and class but still showcase the natural wood. You can also play up natural or architectural elements in your home—like an old fireplace with ornamental details, wall moulding, bay windows, or built-ins.

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7. Let the Light In

As much as this style is dark and celebrates dark colors and finishes, it also celebrates large windows and natural light. Balance a dark space with natural light—keeping your windows open whenever possible. And, of course, make sure they’re adorned with beautiful drapery to highlight the window even more! Dark Academia decor basically begs for luxe velvet curtains.

8. Keep it Cozy

Dark Academia gets its inspiration from the idea of spending hours in academic libraries, cozying up with great literature and hot drinks. So, keeping your space cozy just entices this type of activity even more! Create a space that draws you in by prioritizing comfortable furniture, plush materials, layers of comfy bedding, reading nooks, and layered lighting. (We especially love the idea of creating reading nook designs inspired by famous novels!)

Want to explore more trending design ideas? Read our features on the cottagecore trend and the cabincore trend!

Try on the Dark Academia aesthetic in your own home.

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No Paint Required: 15 Easy Ways to Add Color to Your Room Without Painting

The most common design dilemma Modsy designers encounter is how to add color to a room. It makes sense, because color brings a space to life and gives it a personal touch that feels ‘you’.

Color is also one of the easiest and most effective ways to change the mood of a space. Painting a room is probably the fastest and boldest way to add color, but what if that’s off the table because you rent? Or what if you’re just not ready to commit to painting a whole room? What’s the best way then to add pops of color in small ways then?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here, we break down some stylish ways to liven up your spaces with color—no paint required!

But First… How to Think About Adding Color to Your Room

Landing on a color palette, pairing or combination can be tricky. Where do you even start and how do you know what colors work well together?

Before anything, consider how to choose a color palette that’s right for you and your space. From there, choose a base color scheme to build on top of. To help you get started, here are a few ways to add color using three common base color schemes.

blue patterned rug in white room

How to add color to a white room

White rooms are blank canvases, so you really can’t go wrong no matter your color approach. But it’s important to consider the view outside your space, as those colors will add to the overall palette and look of your room, so be sure to keep that in mind when adding color.

How to add color to a neutral room

Neutrals tend to feel more organic and earthy, so keep to a few tones for more cohesiveness. Colors with earthy undertones, like browns, stone grays, and beiges, will complement neutrals nicely. Keep to the palette and avoid bright and saturated colors, like neons and jewel tones.

Yellow sectional in white room

How to add color to a black-and-white room

Black-and-white spaces have an innate boldness to them, since they bring together two high-contrast shades. You’ll want to factor this into your color approach. The good thing about a black-and-white room is that it can support many different pops of color. Just make sure to consider how many colors you want to add first. If you go with too many, it can make your room feel overwhelming. Start with two (at most three) colors to layer on top of a black-and-white room.

If you’re feeling bold and want to paint your space, here’s what you need to know before painting a room. Be sure to also check out these neutral paint colors to try, or you might find

some paint inspiration from our popular living room color schemes.

Otherwise, keep reading for our tips on adding color to rooms (without a paintbrush!)

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1. Play Up Pillows & Throws

Easy, affordable, and low-commitment, try adding color with throw blankets and decorative pillows. You can start with neutral pillows, then add a few pops of color, or you can go all in with a bunch of colorful pillows.

Colorful pillows and throws are also great because you can swap them out seasonally to change up the look in your space. Just switch up the pillow covers with new colors and stow away the blankets and cushions you’re not using each season.

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2. Hang Some Wall Art

Art is a simple and no-brainer way to add color to a space in the home. It not only creates a colorful focal point on your walls, but it also helps liven up the mood in a room of blank walls.

You can take two routes with colorful art: Invest in an original paint or print, or you can style up more affordable art in a stylish picture frame. Just be sure that the colors of your artwork tie back to the palette in the rest of your room. If you’re putting money behind a large art piece, we suggest making it the sole focus on a large wall. On the other hand, if you’re opting for affordable prints, try grouping several together in different picture frames for a gallery wall arrangement.

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3. Try Putting Up a Tapestry

A more traditional way to bring color into a room is through fabric wall hangings and tapestries. This is another non-committal approach to color since you can easily swap out the hangings with the seasons or as your taste changes.

Contrary to what most people think, tapestries are relatively inexpensive, so you can go in on several pieces that can line up beautifully together. They usually have ornate colors and look to them, so try to balance your tapestries with more classic furnishings.

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4. Install Pretty Curtains

Stylish draperies don’t get enough credit for how much they can transform rooms. Make it a point to choose a set of pretty and bold curtains to instantly add color to a space. And not only that, they also provide practical function by adding privacy and insulation.

If draperies feel daunting, remember that you can always change them up. Try starting with solid colors or geometric patterns, which are easy to work with and often more affordable. Also check out our tips on how to choose curtains.

plants bringing color to a white room

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5. Bring in Lots of Plants

Whether faux or real, greenery and indoor plants are one of our favorite ways to introduce color and texture into rooms. They bring an organic look to spaces while also providing fresh air and lifting the overall mood in a space. (We know for a fact that plants make people happy!)

You can start with leafy potted plants for small doses of green hues. Or if you’re ready to go big, bring in a few tall trees and plants. Of course, there are plants in all shades of colors, so definitely look around for ones that play well with your room’s palette.

And even if you’re not one for lots of color, plants are a great way to brighten up a minimalist space without breaking from the spare aesthetic.

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6. Arrange Fresh Flowers

You can buy fresh flowers almost anywhere and they’re guaranteed to add pretty color and life to a space. It’s the simplest way to bring a burst of color to the entryway, kitchen, bedroom or even bathroom counter.

Try experimenting with different flower arrangements for new color combinations each week or month. If you really like how certain colors or flowers look in your space, you can splurge a bit and buy faux flowers for that space instead to keep it feeling bright and cheery all the time.

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7. Layer Colorful Bedding

You can make a huge impact with colorful bed linens, bedspread, and a duvet cover. The best part about adding colorful bedding is that it’s already a practical purchase, and you can stock up with a few different sets so you can easily change up the look when needed.

Consider seasonality when shopping for colorful bedding: You may want a solid duvet as well as a patterned one so you can have two looks during the winter. Likewise, it can be practical to have a bedspread in a pretty hue along with a printed one for summer.

If you’re unsure about color in the bedroom, try a few colorful pillows and a throw blanket. But if you love it though, we say go all in with a mix of bright and bold bedding and pillows.

bright green headboard in white room

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8. Opt for an Upholstered Bed

Want a bolder touch of color in your bedroom? Skip the wood or metal bed frame and go for an upholstered one in an eye-catching color!

An upholstered headboard opens up a whole new realm of color possibilities. You can lean into deep jewel tones, which will add a glamorous and dramatic look, or you can look to softer pastel hues for a more soothing look. But because it’s a bigger commitment and investment, first make sure if an upholstered bed is right for you. If yes, you can count on it being a piece of furniture that adds major style and color in the bedroom, even if everything else is neutral.

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9. Pull in Colorful Dining Chairs

A set of colorful dining chairs is a surefire way to brighten up any dining space. It works because it adds a bright pop of color in a practical and stylish way.

Committing to bold dining chairs can feel like a big investment. If you aren’t sure how long you want to keep your dining room palette, test it out with a pair of extra side chairs to add color that you can easily move in and out of the space. Or you can try out colorful slipcovers for your chairs to see how it looks and feels. The key is making sure you choose chairs in a color you love.

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10. Add a Bold Ottoman

In a living room, you can always add color with a small (or large) upholstered ottoman. Whether you choose one that functions as a coffee table or a pair that serves as extra seating, they’re perfect accents for providing a colorful touch. Start with a solid color ottoman for a piece that’s easy to decorate around, or if your style is a little bolder, go with a patterned design.

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11. Roll out a Vibrant Rug

Bring a fresh perspective to rooms with a patterned rug that adds pops of color from the ground up. Because this adds color on a large scale, you’ll want to make sure you choose a rug that has a palette you can easily pull into the rest of the decor in your room. Think rugs with traditional patterns or black-and-white geometrics, or fun flatweaves.

However, keep in mind that colorful rugs will always feel bold no matter the size or style of your room. So to balance it out, you can always layer a colorful rug over a neutral rug, like a jute or sisal, which will feel less bold but still pack a punch with color.

Yellow sectional in white room

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12. Go for a Statement Sofa

To add color that makes a statement, anchor your living room with a colorful sofa. It’s a daring approach to color that’s always stylish, and it instantly changes the look and feel in a living space.

Because a colorful sofa is an expensive investment pieces, make sure you choose a color you love and one that has staying power. Some bright sofa colors that are surprisingly timeless are navy, mustard, soft pink, and emerald green. Pick one that you feel matches your aesthetic and you can easily mix with other furnishings and decor in your style.

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13. Set Out Bright Accents

Use small accents to add color, like a bowl for lemons and fruits, a vase for flowers or a tray for colorful books and objects. It’s a fun way to make use of items you already have in your decor to bring a colorful touch to surfaces. Think of it as getting creative with grouping different colorful items, like a row of pretty painted ceramics or a bowl of Christmas ornaments. How you style it is up to you!

bright green ottomon in white room

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14. Make Room for a Pouf

Like an ottoman, a pouf is a stylish and functional way to add color to the living room or bedroom. A single colorful pouf is large enough to have an impact on a space without overwhelming the room with color or taking up too much floor space.

You can also opt for smaller poufs in bright colors, which lets you stack and stow them as needed. Try having a few pillows that complement your pouf’s colors for a more cohesive look.

bright orange leather chairs in white room

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15. Display Captivating Books

And last but not least, don’t forget your books! If you have coffee table books with pretty spines, show them off on a bookcase or built-in-shelving. They’ll make for fun pops of color that function like wall art and decor. Or you can also arrange your books by color, which also makes for an impactful look. It’s another easy way to spice up your space with something you likely already have!

Browse our gallery for more ways to add color!

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Top 10 Bedroom Paint Colors For 2021

We all spent a lot more time at home last year. And we’ll likely be doing the same the year, too. While our living and dining rooms may have turned into action-packed offices and classrooms, our bedrooms became the ultimate sanctuary for rest and retreat.

So, to get set for the rest of 2021, now’s the time to give your bedroom a facelift and make it feel even more relaxing and special. Beyond having all the right bedroom essentials, consider sprucing up your wall color with a fresh coat of paint! It’s the easiest way to transform your bedroom into a serene and cozy haven—whether you’re painting an accent wall in a minty green or going for an earthy neutral all around.

bedroom with different popular paint colors swapping through

But with so many paint options, narrowing down your bedroom paint colors can be challenging. To help you with that, we’ve rounded up our top 10 bedroom paint colors from Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball, and Sherwin-Williams that are sure to change up the vibe in your space. Read on to see the colors and get our tips along the way!

If you’re just starting to think about paint colors for your bedroom, check out our guide for how to choose a color palette. Or get inspiration from the 2021 colors of the year and our gallery for bedroom design ideas.

bedroom design with a white daybed, colorful rug, and walls painted Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball

1. Hague Blue, Farrow & Ball

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Hague Blue is a deep, saturated blue and it makes for a bedroom paint color that feels traditional and stately. It has undertones of green, which give it a timeless, dramatic touch.

The vibe: Compared to other bedroom colors, Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue can make your bedroom feel like a cocoon—or a cave but in the most positive way! It’s a wall color that plays up an instant feeling of warmth and comfort, and it will add a calming and cozy look.

How to make it work: Hague Blue is great for updated traditional and modern rustic interiors. You’ll want to contrast it with pops of lighter colors in your decor for balance—think white linens, a vintage rusty-orange rug, a green ottoman or art. The color also works beautifully with Mid-Century Modern designs and jewel-tones for a more bold look.

It’s perfect if you… love bold wall colors but want something sophisticated and timeless.

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bedroom design with a mid-century boho design and walls painted Pavilion Grey by Farrow & Ball

2. Pavilion Grey, Farrow & Ball

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Pavilion Grey is a cool and classic medium-toned grey. It has subtle blue undertones, which makes it the perfect neutral that still feels warm and cozy. It’s closest in color to earth tones.

The vibe: Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Grey can bring in a contemporary and spacious look that opens up a bedroom. It’s a paint color that mixes with most colors and it creates a soothing environment—especially when there’s nice ambient lighting or lots of natural light.

How to make it work: This shade is a true universal neutral, which means it goes with many different styles of furniture and decor. You can play up the color’s warmth by pairing it with other warm accents and furnishings, like beige upholstery and wood tones, or it can blend seamlessly with cool blue tones. Try contrasting this grey wall color with white trims for a crisp look.

It’s perfect if you… want color on the wall that’s not too bold and has just enough personality.

traditional bedroom design with walls painted Ripe Olive by Sherwin-Williams

3. Ripe Olive, Sherwin-Williams

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This rich and earthy olive-green by Sherwin Williams is the perfect hue for an elegant bedroom. It’s a paint color with cool yellow undertones, which makes it feel sumptuous and sophisticated.

The vibe: Sherwin-Williams’s Ripe Olive is one of those bedroom colors that immediately gives your space a rustic, updated traditional look and feel. It’s the perfect bedroom paint because it brings a grounded, inviting feel. And even though it’s on the bolder side, it still feels calming.

How to make it work: You can count on this Sherwin-Williams olive shade to work with other rich neutrals, such as darker wood tones, crisp black and white upholstery, or tan leathers. It will also stand out next to metal details, such as brass and gold tones, which will make it pop.

It’s perfect if you… like an earthy, saturated color that has a timeless yet trendy vibe, or if you love the look of green room color schemes.

eclectic bedroom design with walls painted Saybrook Sage by Benjamin Moore

4. Saybrook Sage, Benjamin Moore

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Part of Benjamin Moore’s historic collection, this paint color exudes traditional elegance. It’s a tried-and-true classic green and yellow undertones, making it a warmer green shade.

The vibe: Benjamin Moore’s Saybrook Sage offers a springy vibe for a bedroom. It has a subtle presence, making it a shade that’s light and airy, like a breath of fresh air. It’s the perfect blend of energetic and calming.

How to make it work: While this Benjamin Moore sage can feel very traditional, it can also be eclectic depending on your bedroom furniture and decor. Try pairing the color with natural materials, like caning, rattan, natural woods, linen, and jute, for a layered and texture look.

It’s perfect if you… like classic colors or something earthy that’s not overly saturated or dark.

preppy bedroom design with walls painted Georgetown Pink by Benjamin Moore

5. Georgetown Pink, Benjamin Moore

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Also from the Benjamin Moore historic collection, Georgetown Pink is one of the best bedroom colors for an easy, elegant look. Its beige undertone makes it a warm pink that goes with lots of color schemes.

The vibe: This is a classic Benjamin Moore hue that still feels somewhat youthful. With this soft pink, you can bring a warm, peachy vibe to the bedroom. and it adds a cozy-cottage-like ambience, so your space will always feel homey.

How to make it work: Perfect for classic, coastal, and traditional-style interiors, this shade can sway more pink or beige depending on the lighting and accent pieces in your bedroom. Try pairing it with bright blue-and-white pieces and natural textures—preppy pillows, a patterned rug, colorful art, woven seating—to keep this pink bedroom look from looking flat or muddy.

It’s perfect if you… want a timeless paint color with a hint of bright warmth.

attic bedroom design with farmhouse decor and walls painted Simply White by Benjamin Moore

6. Simply White, Benjamin Moore

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Simply white is fresh, clean and crisp Benjamin Moore classic. It’s neither cool nor warm, which makes it a universal go-to paint color for a bedroom, no matter the style.

The vibe: The best thing about Benjamin Moore’s Simply White is that it has universal appeal, meaning it can work across all interior styles, from modern to traditional to rustic. It also always sets a crisp tone while providing a backdrop that’s simple and serene.

How to make it work: The best way to work in this Benjamin Moore white, without it feeling stark or cold, is to add in lots of textures, like a carved-wood bed and a sheepskin rug. And layer in art and bright lighting for pops of color and pattern. You can also get more ideas for furnishing a white room in our guide to decorating with white.

It’s perfect if you… want a tried-and-true bedroom color that’s a blank canvas to build on.

minimalist bedroom design with Revere Pewter wall color by Benjamin Moore

7. Revere Pewter, Benjamin Moore

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A light gray with warm undertones, Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter is a classic shade of grey that’s the perfect, unifying neutral.

The vibe: Revere Pewter has a way of instilling a warm, calming, restorative feeling in the bedroom. It’s also an anchoring neutral, meaning it can easily work with multiple color schemes because it has a bit of weight to it visually.

How to make it work: This soothing Benjamin Moore grey is the kind of bedroom paint color that’s great in transitional, rustic, and minimalist interiors. Pair it with other warm neutral furnishings and accents, such as textured gray bedding, light-toned and white-painted woods, and natural fiber pieces. It will all work with this pewter grey shade to add an earthy, restful feeling to your bedroom.

It’s perfect if you… want a neutral paint color that’s more saturated and cozy. Also check out our tips for decorating with neutral paint colors.

bohemian bedroom with Moody Blue walls by Benjamin Moore

8. Moody Blue, Sherwin-Williams

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Almost like a turquoise blue but a bit more unsaturated and sophisticated, Sherwin-Williams’ Moody Blue has green undertones and brings both lightness and energy into a bedroom.

The vibe: Soft and easy on the eyes, this Sherwin-Williams blue is both calming and uplifting. It has effortlessness to it’s one of the best bedroom colors if you want a space that’s serene, soothing, and stimulating all at once.

How to make it work: Although it’s a relatively light shade, this Sherwin-Williams blue is still very saturated, so pair it with neutrals or even lighter tones to offset it. This will help add lightness to your space and open it up. It’s a great pick for coastal and boho interiors. Mix it with other pastels, eclectic furnishings, and woven accents for a chic and whimsical look.

It’s perfect if you… love blue room color schemes or simply want a space that’s bright without being overwhelming or too bold.

bedroom design painted Dimity by Farrow & Ball

9. Dimity, Farrow & Ball

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Farrow & Ball’s Dimity is similar to a very pale taupe because it has red undertones. It also means this a great color for adding warmth and depth without feeling intrusive in the bedroom.

The vibe: Dimity is an elegant and soft neutral shade that gives a room a sumptuous feeling without coming off as overly dainty. It’s the perfect paint color if you want something that’s slightly warmer than white but not as saturated as beige.

How to make it work: It’s a paint color that’s super versatile, so it works with classic, rustic, traditional, or eclectic interiors. Contrast it with other neutrals, such as bright whites and warm grays, and natural wood tones. The key is to play on both the cool and warm sides of Dimity, so mix it with beige and pink accent seating as well as crisp white bedding and sheepskins.

It’s perfect if you… like neutral colors but want warmth, depth and something that adds a bit of coziness to a space.

modern coastal bedroom with walls painted Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams

10. Sea Salt, Sherwin Williams

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A light shade of green, Sherwin Williams’s Sea Salt has a freshness and airiness to it. It feels instinctively coastal, and it’s the paint color you want for a bedroom that feels light and breezy.

The vibe: Sea Salt brings the ease of oceanside style and coastal homes to any bedroom. So it’s a perfect relaxing shade to lean into for coastal, transitional, and minimal interiors.

How to make it work: It’s one of those bedroom colors where a little can go a long way, so consider using it as an accent wall color. It’s a great way to play up this green, as it can easily feel overwhelming on all four walls—which can be the case with greens that appear soft at first. (You find out more in our tips for accent wall designs.) Pair this Sea Salt shade with other neutrals, shades of blues, and light wood tones for that elegant seaside look.

It’s perfect if you… want a bright and light paint color without it being a neutral.

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New Year Refresh: How to Get the Most Bang for Your Budget

We’re not sure about you—but at the start of a new year, we get the itch to make some updates to our homes. Perhaps it’s the freshness of the year that makes us want to freshen up the space where we live, too? Or maybe it’s the absence of holiday decor that feels like a clean slate, welcoming interior design updates. Or it could be all the talk of new trends, 2021 colors of the year, and round-ups of the best living room designs of 2020. Whatever it is, we’re here for it!

A New Year refresh is the perfect way to hit the reset button after a hard year—a visual reminder that this year will be different. It’s also a great way to make space for new habits and hobbies or try on a new trend! But interior design updates require money. Just because we change calendar years doesn’t mean we magically have a bank account full of cash to spend! But here’s some good news: even if you have just a little bit of money saved, there are a ton of great ways to refresh on a budget!

In fact, today our designers are giving their recommendations on how to stretch your dollar at three different budgets—$100, $500, and $1,000. We’ll show you how to focus these updates on different rooms throughout your home for the most impact. Read on for our best tips on how to give your home a refresh on a budget.

Read this next: 10 affordable room decorating projects to try in 2021

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How to Refresh Your Living Room

Your living room is often the place where you spend the most time in your home, so it’s a great candidate for a new year’s refresh! Swapping out some things in this space will offer a visual reset that can help start 2021 on a different note. And, since it’s a space everyone in your household uses, these updates can be enjoyed and appreciated by the whole family!

Designing a brand-new living room? Check out our living room buying guide for everything you need to make this space shine!

refresh on a budget

Updates Under $100

Designer Recommendation: Throw Pillows

In a living room, if you only have $100 to spend, updating your throw pillows will have the biggest impact on your space. Fresh pillows—even if it’s just one or two—can totally change the vibe of your living room. Throw pillows are affordable and are an easy way to reset the color scheme in your space. You can go from serene neutrals to bold patterns to amp up the energy in your living room. Or swap blues for cheery yellows and greens to usher in an early spring to your home! Want to make your money go even further? Keep the inserts of your existing pillows and just swap the covers, since pillow covers tend to be less expensive than a whole new pillow! And don’t be afraid to shop the sale section!

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Updates Under $500

Designer Recommendation: Accent Decor

Focusing on small accent decor pieces throughout your living room will make a big difference in the feel of your space. In fact, this is one of our favorite easy ways to refresh your living room. This can be anything from art, vases, and decorative objects to smaller accent furniture like side tables. All of these pieces add personality to your space—so bringing in new pieces will definitely refresh your living room’s vibe. Want a bigger change? Bring in a new side table, a few little objects (like vases), plus a piece of art or decor that you really love!

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refresh on a budget

Updates Under $1,000

Designer Recommendation: Accent Furniture

Similar to accent decor, new accent furniture—like coffee tables, armchairs, side tables, and even rugs—can completely change the look and feel of a space. If you have $1,000 to spend on updates, we’d start with investing in a rug, which can completely redefine a space and incorporate new colors, patterns, and textures into your space. Then, use any leftover money for an additional piece of accent furniture.

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refresh on a budget

How to Refresh Your Bedroom

Your bedroom is (hopefully) your sanctuary within your home. And, during a time when we can’t get out much, this room has also become one of the only private spaces within your home where you can retreat from your kids, pets, and the demands of life. If your New Year’s resolution involves being more intentional about self-care, a bedroom refresh might be just what you need to reinvigorate yourself and set the mood for the new year!

Want to go big on a bedroom refresh? Our bedroom furniture buying guide will walk you through everything you need for the most relaxing (and functional) bedroom.

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refresh on a budget

Updates Under $100

Designer Recommendation: Pillows & Blankets

Bedrooms are all about coziness and relaxation—so if you can only update one thing, let it be a cozy element! New decorative throw pillows and blankets will add softness and warmth to your space. Plus, they offer a small, budget-friendly way to dabble in interior design trends—one of our favorite cheap room decor ideas—bringing fresh color and texture to your space. We also recommend bringing in a new storage basket or other woven element, which can make a big visual impact!

Don’t have a budget for updates? Bring your living room throw pillows into your bedroom and your bedroom throw pillows into your living room! They may not be new—but in a different context, they’ll feel fresh! It’s an easy, no-cost way to shake up the vibes of both spaces.

refresh on a budget

Updates Under $500

Designer Recommendation: Bedding

Is there anything like that new sheet feeling? Refreshing your bedding—with new sheets, pillow cases, and a duvet cover—can completely transform a bedroom. And it’s worth investing in the high-quality pieces. Look for plush materials that can be layered to create the ultimate cozy bed! New bedding really is the gift that keeps on giving, night after night. We’re big believers that it’s one of the best investments you can make in your home!

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refresh on a budget

Updates Under $1,000

Designer Recommendation: Accent Furniture

Accent furniture like nightstands, lighting, rugs, and a side chair or bench can really elevate your bedroom. But the pieces you choose depend on how you want to use your bedroom this year. Want to read more? Design a reading nook, with an accent chair, side table, and lamp. Ready to get more intentional with your morning and nightime routine? Perhaps a new nightstand (stocked with bedside essentials) will help your evening routine, while a new floor mirror or vanity can inspire you to hop out of bed in the morning! Tired of seeing those piles of laundry day after day? Add a bench to the end of your bed for the perfect folding zone. (And maybe get a cute new laundry hamper while you’re at it!) Aligning your intentions for the new year with the furniture you buy will help your purchases make even more of an impact on your life!

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refresh on a budget

How to Refresh Your Home Office

Home offices are spaces we want to prioritize organization and productivity (and good lighting for all those video calls!). So, naturally, that’s what our designer-recommended home office updates focus on! Fortunately, it really doesn’t take much to take your home office from serviceable to totally inspiring.

Building a home office from scratch? Check out all of our must-haves for a productive home office.

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refresh on a budget

Updates Under $100

Designer Recommendation: Decorative Accessories

Some new desk accessories can make your day-to-day work life run much smoother. Whether it’s a new lamp for better lighting, a desk plant or artwork to keep you inspired, or some organizational accessories (or perhaps all three?), a few desktop updates can give you a whole new outlook on work! Keep it simple but impactful. Need some help finding the right type of lighting for your home office? Check out our lighting guide.

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refresh on a budget

Updates Under $500

Designer Recommendation: Organizational Systems

If you have a bit more money to play with, focus on organizational systems. Bring some storage furniture pieces into your space, whether a credenza, filing cabinet, or bookcase. This will give you a space to store important files and documents and help you feel ultra-organized! Once you have the furniture picked out, bring in file folders and document boxes and spend a bit of time getting all your affairs in order!

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refresh on a budget

Updates Under $1,000

Designer Recommendation: Furniture

New furniture will, of course, have the largest impact on your space. Consider a new desk and office chair if you don’t already have long-term options for those. These are pieces you can use for years to come! But if you’ve already invested in these pieces, bring in a new rug or an accent chair—because every good home office needs a space where you can walk away from your screen and do some brainstorming or take a coffee break!

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What Interior Designers Think of the 2021 Colors of the Year

As we near the end of each year, certain companies forecast what colors will be most popular in the design world in the coming year. And we’re not just talking about interior design. These colors of the year speak to trends in fashion, art, graphic design, the entertainment industry and even take into consideration environmental influences around the world and the cultural moment we find ourselves in. Experts land on these colors after months of research, travel, and trend analysis.

The Pantone Color Institute was one of the first companies to create an annual color of the year—and they just dropped the Pantone 2021 Color of the Year. Or should we say Colors of the Year? That’s right—for the second time, they’ve picked two colors of the year rather than the typical one. (They did this in 2016 as well.) Their picks? Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

Two other big players in establishing a Color of the Year are the paint companies Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore. Both companies have not only selected a Color of the Year for the past several years, but they create palettes of other colors that work well with their main color choice.

Want to see these 2021 Colors of the Year in action? Below, we’re digging into the Pantone, Sherwin-Williams, and Benjamin Moore colors of the year—exploring what they are, the significance behind them, and featuring some of our designers’ takes on how to incorporate these colors into your home! Keep reading for more on how to choose a color palette with these trendy shades.

color of the year

Pantone 2021 Color of the Year

As we mentioned, Pantone selected two different colors for their 2021 Color of the Year: Illuminating and Ultimate Gray.

Why Pantone Picked These Colors

According to Pantone, these “two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to support one another . . . Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.”

While complementary, these shades are quite different. Ultimate Gray is “emblematic of solid and dependable elements,” according to Pantone—like pebbles on a beach, rock formations, and other natural elements that can stand the test of time. This color “quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness, and resilience.” Meanwhile, Illuminating is a bright shade of yellow. This cheerful hue has a sense of vivacity, warmth, and power.

What These Colors Mean for 2021

The folks at Pantone were feeling optimistic when they chose these two colors. While they knew we needed a sense of dependability after the tumultuousness of 2020, they also felt like we needed a sign of hope. That’s what they hope these colors will represent in 2021. Fortitude and happiness. Dependability and hopefulness. Strength and joy.

How Modsy Designers are Using Illuminating and Ultimate Gray

Check out two of our designers’ takes on both of these two colors below.

pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #1: Sophisticated & Cheerful

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “Yellow can be seen as a youthful color, but I wanted to make it feel a bit more sophisticated.”

How Katherin Used Illuminating: “This shade of yellow is very bright, cheerful, and energizing. But, because of its boldness, it can easily take over a room. So, I wanted to balance it with navy blue, a more subdued and grounding hue. (Though, you could also pair it with black or brown, which would also offer that grounding element.) I went for more classic furnishings while keeping the overall space colorful and cheerful. Since the yellow is so bold, I kept the patterning very simple because I didn’t want anything clashing for attention in this space.”

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entryway with yellow and grey walls

Look #2: Bold & Moody

Modsy Designer: Karina L.

Karina’s Inspiration: “I wanted to capture the energy of this color throughout this space, while only using the color itself in a small area of the room.”

How Karina Used Illuminating: While I wouldn’t recommend using Illuminating as a color for a full wall (it would be far too intense), I did have fun placing it in an unexpected accent area—the interior of the archway. Painting an archway is a fun way to bring in a bright and bold color that you may not want to commit to on a whole wall. The overall vibe of this space is fun and moody, with the bold patterns and pop of yellow bringing energy and color throughout.”

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Check out some of our other favorite yellow room designs for more ways to use this color!

pantone 2021 color of the year

The Look: Calming & Understated

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “I wanted to play the Ultimate Gray up with lots of rich neutrals, like leather, deep brown wood, stark blacks and whites, and even some tans—embracing a neutral color palette, but creating a space with a ton of depth.”

How Katherin Used Ultimate Gray: “This space is full of texture but has a simple color palette which makes it very calming. Gray is an understated color—so by adding depth to it with other neutrals and textures, it becomes more of an integral part of the design instead of just another color on the wall. Ultimate Gray is a soft hue, making it a perfect choice for a neutral paint color. While I went with an overall neutral color palette, you could easily pair this with brighter and bolder hues. It has undertones of warmth, making it an excellent color choice for any style.”

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Hungry for more? Check out all the Pantone Colors of the Year from the past decade, plus our designers’ takes on Classic Blue, the Pantone 2020 color.

color of the year

2021 Benjamin Moore Paint Color of the Year

The 2021 Benjamin Moore Paint Color of the Year is Aegean Teal. More subdued than what might immediately come to mind when you think of teal, this color is almost a robin’s egg blue.

Why Benjamin Moore Picked this Color

The team at Benjamin Moore wanted a color for 2021 that celebrates life’s simple pleasures. In 2020, we’ve all learned to find joy in small and mundane moments, and this color is the embodiment of that spirit. A blend of blue-green and gray, Aegean Teal has an interesting tone that helps create a sense of harmony, together with the other colors in their 2021 Color Trend Palette. Together, “the twelve hues in the palette radiate warmth and wellbeing. These are colors that make your home feel even more like home,” according to Benjamin Moore.

What This Color Means for 2021

The idea behind Aegean Teal is one of comfort and presence. Balanced and deeply soothing, this shade is meant to nourish our spirits (something we could all use after this year) and bring a sense of brightness but familiarity into our homes.

How Modsy Designers are Using Aegean Teal

Check out two of our designers’ takes on this color below.

pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #1: High-Contrast & Curated

Modsy Designer: Karina L.

Karina’s Inspiration: I wanted to elevate this shade of light blue, which can easily be written off as a color just for a children’s bedroom or a bathroom. I wanted to prove it could hold its own in a curated living room.

How Karina Used Aegean Teal: “For me, this design was all about creating contrast. A warm mustard sofa helps to offset the dominant cool tones of the wall color. By layering this space with art, objects, and furniture, I created a curated take on the Minimalist Maximalist trend, but with a fresh and unexpected color palette.”

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pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #2: Youthful & Coastal

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “This color has a beachy and youthful vibe to it. I wanted to capture some fun and youthful energy of a teenage summer.”

How Katherine Used Aegean Teal: “This is an energizing color, so I wanted to play it up with other fun colors—like pink and other shades of teal. This made it feel even more youthful, but the blues and pinks also contrast and create a really pretty soft glow. I wanted to play up some fun and youthful elements that a teenager or adolescent might be drawn to—like the canopy-esque bed and the trendy campaign-style nightstand. Meanwhile, white and brass pop against the saturated color, making it even more vibrant.”

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pantone 2021 color of the year

2021 Sherwin-Williams Paint Color of the Year

Urbane Bronze, the 2021 Sherwin Williams Paint Color of the Year, is a color that’s all about simple sophistication and a sense of tranquility.

Why Sherwin-Williams Picked this Color

Sherwin-Williams chose this nature-inspired hue for its energy and simplicity. As they noted on their website, “Now more than ever, our homes have become the backdrop to our lives, reminding us that the moments worth cherishing have always been right in front of us. As we’re looking to create the ultimate retreat for reflection and renewal, we’re turning to a hue whose natural simplicity and nature-inspired energy cultivate a sense of calm from the ground up.”

They also noted that, because of the way this color is rooted in nature (it has very muddy brown undertones) it goes well with foliage and other earth-toned hues. Sherwin-Williams feels Urbane Bronze “has a unique ability to ground a room through organic appeal. Whether it’s accentuating window trims or accent walls, this warm hue draws from nature for a feeling of relaxation and serenity.”

What This Color Means for 2021

Urbane Bronze—along with Sherwin-Williams’ other colors of their Sanctuary color palette, which is part of their Colormix® Color Forecast 2021—are intended to nurture wellness and calm. This can be done by pairing it with neutrals for a minimal and relaxing look. But, because of its undertones, you could also pair it with the bold room trend and pair it with saturated earth tones or jewel tones.

How Modsy Designers are Using Urbane Bronze

Check out two of our designers’ takes on this color below.

pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #1: Sleek & Industrial

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “I was inspired by industrial spaces, like train stations, lofts, and factories. I wanted to incorporate that with metal and natural materials like marble and stone—but do it in an unexpected way.”

How Katherin Used Urbane Bronze: “This color feels inherently moody and industrial, and it leans slightly masculine with its dark hues. Since Urbane Bronze is ultra saturated, I wanted to use furniture and decor that would contrast with and soften this color. The marble desk is quite sleek, with its brass legs and simple shape. The stone accents feel organic, and even the display cabinet has curvatures that soften the use of the material a bit. The white pops and the linen of the desk chair add a textural element too. The chair feels feminine and soft in nature which makes this space feel more approachable.”

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pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #2: Organic & Modern

Modsy Designer: Karina L.

Karina’s Inspiration: “I love that it has somewhat muddy undertones, which helps to craft an organic and nature-inspired space. I used the natural and organic nature of this color to inspire the shapes and decor of this space.”

How Karina Used Urbane Bronze: “I wanted to play with the warm undertones of this dark and moody color. This bedroom is the combination of light and dark—light airy furniture pieces combined with earthy and natural materials such as linen, jute, seagrass, and wood to help offset the dark wall color.”

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See how our designers designed with Naval, the Sherwin-Williams 2020 Color of the Year.

See Your Home Designed in 2021 Colors

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State of The Home: The 2018 Modsy Trend Report

home design trendsAt the end of each year, the Style Team at Modsy loves to “peel back the wallpaper” and reflect on another year in the world of home design trends. We dig into the most-popular items and design styles across the country,  and even place our bets on what trends 2019 will have in store.

Read on for a peek behind the curtain at what our Modsy customers loved most this year and what we think will be on the home design trends horizon for next year.

Want to get the full scoop? Download the Full Modsy Trend Report here.

home design trendsMost-Popular Styles

As an online interior design company, we have the unique opportunity to help people all across the country (and even the world!) design their homes. We were curious about which styles were popular in which states, so we dug into the data and found some surprising results.

Two styles in particular dominate almost every state in the US: Mod (Mid-Century pieces, natural wood tones, and pops of color) and Rustic (warm hues, layered textures, and cozy spaces).

home design trendsRustic Styles

Midwest and Southern regions of the US are drawn more to a Rustic style.

  • The most Rustic state was Mississippi at 55%
  • The least Rustic state was Alaska at 25%

home design trendsMod Styles

Eastern and Western regions were the opposite, with Mod styles coming in at #1.

  • The most Mod state was New Mexico, with 47% of customers opting into that style
  • The least Mod state was Oklahoma, with only 17%

One of the bigger surprises, Texas (home of Chip and Joanna Gains’ famous farmhouse style) turned out to be more modern than rustic (at 38% versus 33%).

home design trendsWhat’s trending?

Industrial styles are rising in popularity. The “craft” trend is spreading into smaller up-and-coming cities that are drawing in millennials, craft beer, and loft-style living. Think exposed brick, mixed metals and masculine structures.

The most industrial states were:

  • South Dakota at 27%
  • Wyoming at 23%
  • Oregon at 17%

home design trends

Most-Popular Products

What were our customers’ favorite pieces across the board this year? It turns out, 2018 was a big year for personalization of the home. We found a large majority of our customers stocked up on decorative accents, like rugs, art, and pillows – pieces that all work together to make a space uniquely yours.

What’s on the rise for 2019? Here were the top 3 categories trending through the end of the year and beyond

Faux Plants

Green thumbs are out and Black thumbs are in! Fake plants dominated the shopping cart in 2018. A ton of retailers sell them, and they allow you to get that jungalow look without the effort of keeping a plant alive.

Natural Textures

People are bringing the outdoors, indoors with the natural fibber/texture trends. These neutral, earthy elements fit well into a Rustic style and can adapt to multiple color palettes.

Statement Rugs

Rugs are the biggest investment pieces of 2018! No surprise, as they can easily make a room come together (and without them your room will likely feel unfinished!).

Not sure how much to spend on a rug? These 4 factors will help you decide.

home design trends

Color Trends

Our Modsy Style Quiz tells us a lot about what colors people like and what they actually want to see in their homes. Spoiler alert: Pantone’s color of the year, Ultraviolet, was not a frequent favorite.

These popular color combinations come across in items purchased, especially artwork, pillows, and decor pieces.

home design trendsMost-Loved Colors

Neutrals and blues are the top most-wanted colors in Modsy designs. Not surprising as both are highly versatile and layer nicely with many styles of furniture and decor. Blue in particular can even act as a neutral – or a “bleu-tral” as Carson Kressley calls it!

  • 33% of Modsy customers requested blues
  • 27% requested neutrals

home design trends

home design trends

Least-Loved Colors

The not-so-popular hues? Pastels only accounted for 3% of customer requests.

Greens were also low on the list, making up only 6% of customer requests. Turns out people prefer their greenery in the form of plants, not furniture.

2019 Trends

home design trendsGraded on a Curve

Hard lines are being traded in for softer curves. We’re already seeing curved furniture, such as sofas, armchairs, even beds, and think this is a trend that will be everywhere in 2019.

Classic Whimsy

We’re going to see Classical subjects of art presented in a whimsical style creating a modern spin on a once very serious theme. Shop all these pieces and more in our Trend Studio!

home design trendsPainterly Strokes

While it might be no surprise to see this trend in art, we’re going to see patterns that reflect the artist’s hand and brushstroke in rugs, pillows, and other textile prints.

Learn more about 5 of our favorite upcoming trends here.

home design trendsNature, Naturally

The natural textures and plants we saw in 2018 are here to stay and 2019 is all about layering them. Bring some zen into your home, no matter your style with a few key pieces. To add natural textures into your space, think: jute rugs, storage baskets, rattan chairs and woven wall-hangings.

Not sure how to style your plants? Here are 5 of our favorite ways!

home design trendsBoldly Neutral

While neutral color palettes have been all the rage, we’re going to see more and more dramatic neutral palettes. Think dark neutrals paired with lighters colors to create high contrast spaces.

Love the look? Shop it in our Fall Trends Design Studio.

 

See new home design trends styled in your exact room!