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5 winter interior design trends you need to know

From warm minimalism to mid-tone paint colours, here are the key winter interior design trends of 2022–2023

Winter 2022–2023 is proving interesting in terms of new interior design trends. In a post-pandemic world, as we hopefully settle back into some sense of normality, it’s hard to know exactly which direction they’re taking. One thing is clear, however: this season’s trends offer comfort and feel gentle without being bland – from a new twist on minimalism that is clutter-free yet softer and textured to calming mid-tone paints and wallpaper borders that hint at tradition yet look graphic and modern. Here are the five key winter interior design trends that should be on your radar:

Warm minimalism

With riotously colourful and patterned interiors increasingly in vogue, it’s easy to overlook the attraction, for many of us, to calming, monochrome minimalism. The style has gradually lost its appeal for being too severe and clinical, particularly among younger design fans, but now a warmer interpretation of it is emerging. Designer Faye Toogood has been a standard-bearer of this aesthetic for some time, and now it’s coming into its own.

Faye Toogood's homeware in Effect Magazine
Minimalism with a warm edge is an emerging winter trend, as with the soft, neutral tones of Faye Toogood’s homeware

Toogood favours pared-down forms and neutral tones but softens the look with rounded, organic contours and tactile textures. She also prefers off-white – or, as the French poetically call it, blanc cassé – to chilly, pristine white. Her latest homeware includes her pared-down but curvaceous Dough tableware, that aims to highlight the connection between pottery and kneading dough; and her hand-woven, ecru Plough throws made of sustainable merino wool.

Textured wood

Sebastian Cox creates sustainable furniture with ancient woodworking techniques, as with his Adzed cabinet (Photo: Beth Davis)

Talking of design with a rustic feel, a cohort of British designers is preserving ancient, hand-crafted woodworking techniques – but not in a backward-looking, Luddite way.

Sebastian Cox is an influential exponent of furniture sustainably made using wood harvested by coppicing – a method of pruning trees that encourages them to regrow – and makes furniture that looks both craftsy and contemporary.

A trend for wood with unusual, textured surfaces is now becoming increasingly evident, with furniture-makers wishing to highlight their human touch and the warmth, tactility and variety of wood. A recent Cox creation is his Adzed cabinet (above) with sycamore legs topped by a boxy section made of lime. The latter has a dimpled surface achieved by gouging out wood with an adze, an ancient hand tool with a curved blade that’s been in use since the Stone Age.

Another woodworking supremo, Jan Hendzel, makes furniture out of sustainably sourced British timbers. Hendzel designed his idiosyncratic Gallions Reach mirror with a similarly textured, tactile frame made of hand-carved elm, plane and ash. This was originally showcased, along with an extensive range of textured wood furniture, in two suites that Hendzel revamped for the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, East London.

Uplifting mid-tone paints

Mid-tone paint colours create uplifting rather than cold surroundings throughout the winter months. Ceiling and cornicing in Powder V with lower wall in Powder III, both Architects’ Matt; and skirting in Powder I, Architects’ Satinwood, by Paint & Paper Library

About a decade ago, a reaction against white-walled minimalism saw homeowners immerse themselves dramatically in darkness, painting in moody shades, such as midnight blue or bottle green. Now mid-tones are replacing these. Uplifting as well as pale enough not to be oppressive, they’re perhaps comforting in our turbulent times. Fawns and beiges are proving very popular, as are grey and sage green.

“Our customers favour mid-tones, which offer a harmonious palette that flows between rooms,” avers Andy Greenall, creative director of Paint & Paper Library. “Varying tones of the same hue within a room can emphasise its architectural features, too.” The company advises applying its Powder colour in three tones to highlight three sections of a room, graduating from a darker cocoa-powder tone on the ceiling and cornice to a slightly paler tone for the walls and finishing off with the palest one on the skirting board. Another paint brand, Mylands, offers a mid-tone blue-grey colour called Long Acre No102 (top) – a limpid colour that looks cheerful, not cold.

Borders revisited

Borders are back: Interior designer Susie Atkinson’s fantastic wallpaper borders create bold statements of intent that emphasise a room’s architectural features and proportions

One unexpected trend this season is for wallpaper borders. This may provoke mixed feelings for those old enough to remember their 1980s incarnation. Back then, they mainly graced homes with a neo-Edwardian vibe – think maroon and forest green chintzy cushions and Laura Ashley sprigged wallpapers – and were used as an embellishment that coordinated with wallpapers. There again, perhaps the new border trend isn’t surprising given that young designers, such as Victoria Ceraudo, are reviving chintz.

Today’s borders are shedding their fussy, matchy-matchy image and – and like the trend for mid-tone paints – are used to emphasise a room’s architectural features and proportions. Borders, such as designer Susie Atkinson’s quaintly named Reggie, can be used to surround and accentuate door frames or zip around skirting boards. Atkinson tells us: “Borders are an impactful and hassle-free way of adding a visual accent to your space. Traditionally, they have been used below cornices, but they are back in a more experimental way. Now we have been using them to make panel frames or applying them to intersect and overlap with other border patterns.”

Then there are Common Room’s borders which include the Ribbons Wrap You Up design (a flouncy bow with a 1980s vibe, reminiscent as it is of a Fergie bow except that it comes in zingy colours).

“Wallpaper borders are slightly different this time round,” says Kate Hawkins, founder of Common Room. “Clients choose them to draw attention to architectural details, often using them as a device in their own right as opposed to matching them to a wallpaper.” Another difference between borders of yore and those today is that the latter tend to feature more graphic, geometric motifs.

The home and office furniture hybrid

The fabulous new Fern range by Bisley – their first range of office cabinets aimed at the home rather than the office

Just as cutting-edge offices emulate home environments with their comfortable break-out areas, so homes require more home-office furniture, a development undoubtedly boosted by lockdowns that obliged office employees working from home to adapt their homes to working patterns. Bisley – that stalwart manufacturer of utilitarian filing cabinets – has just launched its first domestic furniture range, Fern, that reflects this sea change in our lives.

Far from recalling institutional, battleship-grey office furniture, Fern comprises a wide, versatile range of free-standing, multi-purpose storage options, including tallboys, wardrobes, larder cupboards and bedside cabinets – all made of robust steel. These locker room-style storage units coated in peppy pastels, such as bubblegum or salmon pink, recall 1980s design at its most pop. And, with 1980s avant-garde design collective Memphis continuing to influence interiors and graphic design, the launch of this line ticks multiple boxes.

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