2022 Most Surprising Design Trends

There are some very surprising design trends emerging this year that may influence what you want to incorporate into your home. And, you need to know what they are so you can have knowledgable conversation with the younger generation who are now setting up homes!

 

2022 interior design trends

 

I was inspired to write this blogpost after being interviewed by Porch.com for an article about how the pandemic has impacted design trends. The author asked me what were the most surprising design trends inspired by the pandemic.  I spoke about three of the five trends we are going to explore today.  You can check out that article here.

 

Japandi

Let’s start with the Japandi trend. I certainly had never heard of it until lately, but it is probably the least surprising once you see what it is.  It is organic, contemporary, handmade – with Japanese and Scandinavian influence. If you are searching for sanctuary and more zen in your life, you might just fall for Japandi.

 

japondi trend organic living room

 

Japandi is a grown-up IKEA with a heavy dose of the warmer, more comfortable Hygge style. Anyone who likes Emily Henderson’s California Casual or classic Mid-Century Modern may gravitate towards this somewhat more refined style. The colors are warmer and the textures are cozier than Modern Farmhouse and Industrial styles and may appeal to those who are beginning to tire of all-white interiors.

 

japandi design
Dezine Ark, source

 

Of the styles we are discussing today, Japandi is the one that seems like a natural progression of recent interior design trends we have seen over the last several years.

 

The rest are just outright rebellious. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. 😉

 

Dark Academia

Dark Academia started as a fashion trend and is now bleeding (pun intended) into interiors. Think Goth + Nostalgic Preppy + Depressed Genius. It’s a whole aesthetic and lifestyle – this is a serious bunch, as you can tell by their favorite pass times:

 

dark academia hobbies

 

A surprising design trend gaining momentum, Dark Academia represents an emphasis on learning and experience and a relative rebellion against our technology-laden culture. Dark Academia interiors are dark and moody, with bookcases full of REAL books and journals, Victorian-style furniture, stained glass, and candlelight. Dark Academia enthusiastics may enjoy video-gaming, but they are still up for some old-school Dungeons and Dragons.

 

dark-academia-interior

 

dark-academia-dining-room

 

Grand Millennial

In my own design business, I have been consulting with more and more clients that I would classify as falling in the Grand Millennial camp. Many of my generation believed that traditional design was stodgy and “so over,” and that cleaner, contemporary styles would go on forever. As we should know by now, shift happens.

 

grandmillennial-living-room-the-decorologist
The Decorologist

 

The Millennials’ latest style trend looks a lot like Grandma-ma’s summer home. This lady-like trend are great who like to table-scape and entertain in their formal dining rooms. Chinoiserie, bright colors, patterned wallpaper, and embroidered florals are right at home in this design style, and the Hostess with the Mostess just may be wearing pearls when she opens her front door wide to welcome you in. But most of the time, she’s probably in a tank top and ball cap. 😉

 

grand-millennial-blue-living-room

 

This design trend is a natural for me, as I have an affinity for historic interiors and vintage collections of all kinds. In fact, one of my favorite things is to incorporate family heirlooms and nostalgic second-hand finds into “new” designs.

 

Cottage Core

Cottage Core is the baby sister of the Grand Millennial style. I first heard about Cottage Core from my younger daughter. She will be headed to college this fall and has been talking about decorating her dorm room in this very style.

 

cottage-core-wallpaper

 

Cottage Core is like 1980’s prairie girl, Laura Ashley, and Shabby Chic’s Rachel Ashwell rented a thatch-roofed English cottage and decided to raise chickens and take up crocheting baby blankets for their friends. Twee florals, chintz, and gingham are right at home in this style. It’s similar to Grand Millennial, but no high heels necessary. It’s got the tech rebellion of Dark Academia, just with lighter colors and a sweeter disposition. And maybe a few heirloom chickens in the backyard.

 

surprising design trends cottage core
Photo: Malcolm Menzies, source

 

Maximalism

They say “more is more,” and that’s certainly the case for the Maximalist style. The pendulum is shifting and more traditional, layered decorating is the Millennials’ rebellion against the Minimalism they experienced in the homes they were raised in. This isn’t about clutter – it’s really a carefully and meticulously curated arrangement of everything you love, with a confidence that doesn’t hold itself back. You can find out more about Maximalism in this blogpost I wrote last year.

 

 

We will definitely be noticing more of these surprising design trends in 2022. I can tell you that the younger generation is looking for more character and detail, interesting trim/millwork, and a bolder and more personalized use of color. Millennials are more open to older styles of homes that their parents fled, including split levels, ranches, and shed-style architecture of the 1960s-1980s. I’ve seen it with my own young adult children – they positively swoon over avocado green and harvest gold appliances, I kid you not! I guess it’s just a matter of time before Early American comes back around. Hope you kept your butter churns, rocking chairs, and eagle decorations – they may be valuable soon!

 

 

To be clear, styles like Modern Farmhouse, Mid-Century Modern, Scandinavian, Rustic, and Contemporary are still the most highly searched design style category on Google. It is telling, however, that their relative search growth (according to this article on RentCafe.com) is slowing over last year, while the five  styles we’ve covered here are growing much more substantially.

 

This shift towards a warmer, more dynamic and personalized design is driven by a number of things. Covid lockdowns necessitated working from home and limited exposure to varying environments.  Social isolation and lack of social activities created a sense of melancholy and malaise for many. Supply chain chaos and rising prices stirred up concern about being able to purchase “new” things and with prices on furnishings rising rapidly, so some millennials have turned to thrifting and discovered the unexpected thrill of finding previously undervalued treasures of all kinds. They are bragging about their latest Goodwill score with no shame – and I think that’s a good thing. It’s actual, practical recycling.

 

Another factor driving these design shifts is what I believe is “Farmhouse Fatigue,” which will soon be added to the DSM-V (the authority for psychiatric diagnoses). Just joking, but there are a lot of people who are suffering from an overdose of that look – just like we tend to do every 7 to 10 years of any interior trend.

 

And then I have to come back to the rebellion I mentioned earlier.  Is it rebellion if you choose something from the past rather than something truly new and different? Rebranding may make it seem hip and fresh, thus the “new” trends called Grand Millennial, Cottage Core, and Dark Academia. With those those three trends in particular, it may be nostalgia for a life and style they never got to experience – a return to something simpler, perhaps?

 

Maybe rebellion is a strong word – but what if more of us rebelled a little and embraced the things that were important to those who came before us? Like living an actual life instead of spending most of it in front of a screen. And spending time with REAL people doing REAL things, rather than trying to keep up with the next social media craze or creating a metaverse online.

 

I’d love to know what you think. Do you feel an attraction to one or more of these surprising design trends? Please let me know in the comments below – I’m up for conversation around it all!

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Amy
Amy
3 months ago

This is a great, educational article. Is it OK to gravitate toward different styles depending on the room? For example, Dark Academia in a library/home office and Boho or Mid Century Modern in a large open, living space?

Tatia
Tatia
3 months ago

Thank you Kristy, now I know what to call my style! I’m all over Cottage Core LOL.

Molly
Molly
3 months ago

I have yet to find a single style that suits me, and that’s okay. I like Grand Millennial, and can see the appeal of Cottage Core as well. Dark Academia goes a bit too dark for me. I would be on board with Early American coming back into style.

I’m a history nut, but count me out on 60s and 70s interior design. How did the Brady Bunch live in that burning orange kitchen? I know, they were fictional, but still. Count me out on Maximalism as well…it’s too busy for my taste.

I’m not sorry to see Farmhouse going out. I’ve spent most of my life in farm country and have never (not even once) seen a house on an actual farm that’s decorated in the Farmhouse style as we know it today, so it’s always struck me as somewhat odd.

Michelle
Michelle
3 months ago

Love this. No truer words could be written about styles. Instead of looking at instagram or Houzz, follow what you love. Make your home yours instead of like everyone else’s (MFH is sooo bad with this!)

MarySue
MarySue
3 months ago

Modern Farm House?

Nancy Mueller
Nancy Mueller
3 months ago

Looking at the pics you post to illustrate these trends, the one I like the most is the Maximalism living room. The Dark Academic rooms, my least fave, look like illustrations for a haunted house!

Robin
Robin
3 months ago

Well I see some of this first hand. I was nodding in agreement and chuckling here and there as I was reading this. I personally would choose the Japandi trend over all the others. Too much of anything makes me yearn for clean lines stat lol. I actually have a young coworker who is pretty much doing exactly as you stated in regards to repurposing. She adores “anything vintage” and is head over heels in love with her antique and thrift store finds. She too loves her Grandma’s avocado and harvest gold Pyrex bowls hehe. You can have them I say lol. We have lots of fun. She’s also crocheting and knitting away. So I’ve seen the tide turn first hand. It’s definitely heartwarming. I’m a decorator for a store and I see the influences first hand and before they become a “thing”. And your article seems spot on with what I’m seeing. The maximalist trend is my least fav I believe. Thanks for sharing your insight. It was a great post.

Yolanda Preston
Yolanda Preston
3 months ago

I’m Gen X, but I love Grand Millennial. I collect vintage glass and love to fuss over my displays. I love milk glass, Portieux Vallerysthal, vintage barware, etc. It’s not just for looks- I use it all!

Margaret
Margaret
3 months ago

Have you seen the Iceland ministry of tourism ad mocking the meta verse ? I think you would enjoy it. Go real! Go live ! Go with people not avatars! I like the new old looks too. The greys did not go with my orange wood floors. So I like greens browns oranges reds yellows and blues. Nice to see it come back. Nothing wrong with grey black and white just hard for me to do.

Kim
Kim
3 months ago

Great article, Kristie!! I love your explanation of these styles. I definitely fall into the grand millennial camp — which I would consider traditional style before it got its new name.😊 I’ve never been a fan of the minimal look. I absolutely agree with your thoughts on this digital, metaverse age — it’s really quite terrifying where we are headed! Thanks for a great article!!

Anne Dewees Hart
Anne Dewees Hart
3 months ago

i enjoyed this article so much. It gives me hope that my grandchildren might find they like some of my family heirlooms or at lest consider using them before unloading them at a thrift store!

Nora Mahaney-Turley
Nora Mahaney-Turley
3 months ago

Pictures aren’t loading. Problem on my end or with post?

Nora Mahaney-Turley
Nora Mahaney-Turley
3 months ago

Thx. Trying all day on different devices. Tough being a Dino.
If you fill your home with things you love, your home will have a soul and not just a look/style. When someone walks into your home, they should think “Interesting people live here. Or ….. The people who live here have lived an interesting life”.

Beth Lester
Beth Lester
3 months ago

This was a delightful read, Kristi. I didn’t realize these styles are emerging (I am retired & don’t follow it so closely). But not only did I enjoy seeing these old ways being updated, you have a solid analysis with good reasons why, and you are a lovely wordsmith!

Shelby
Shelby
3 months ago

Loved this article – you have a natural flair for description! And it makes me happy that the changes I’m making to my 1970’s split-level (a friend told me I could no longer complain because it is what it is) are long-lived classics. I figure I can always change paint and each decade perhaps change out light fixtures, but the soapstone countertops, Shaker cabinets, wide plank French Oak floors, I hope, will be forever.

Kerry
Kerry
3 months ago

Love the Japandi. Would love to see a room done in “plain Japanese mimalist.” That maximalism picture made me break out in a sweat. What do you do if you are a minimalist married to a maximalist? I never see articles anywhere on how to deal with an artist spouse who is opposite in their decorating styles. Truly always thought that a husband would leave some choices to the wife, if not all of the decorating. My husband is a totat control freak on color, etc…

Jil Sonia Interiors
3 months ago

This Mid Century Modern loving interior designer is loving the Japandi style. Clean but warm – lots of sculptural elements. Love it! Great post as always!

Rebecca
Rebecca
3 months ago

Trying again. For some reason my comments never show up. I recognize most of those trends, having experimented with each to some extent at some time in my life. Just with a different twist. But it’s good to see the younger generations embracing home decor. Although the competition at Goodwill has gotten intense! It’s harder and harder to find good things because they get snatched up as soon as they hit the shelves.

I would say my tastes run more toward Maximalsism than Japondi, but I change everything out regularly to keep it from becoming overwhelming.

My son just bought his first house, and wants to do the formal dining room in green and gold. My parents’ living room was green and gold, so I’m having flashbacks! But I’m sure my mother felt the same way when I went through my Victorian period. Proving once again, that not only what goes goes around comes around, but that I am becoming my mother!

Love your blog! You are so generous with your information. I look forward to each post.

Jenna
Jenna
3 months ago

Does this mean that the next generation WILL want our crap? I read an article a couple years ago talking about how the next gen doesn’t want the family heirlooms; the silver, the China, the handed down antiques…which always made me sad. It’s your families’ history, for goodness sake! I DO want the crap, and I’m proud to report my daughters do too. I guess we are Grand Millenial!

Pamela
Pamela
3 months ago

Preach it sister! “what if more of us rebelled a little and embraced the things that were important to those who came before us? Like living an actual life instead of spending most of it in front of a screen. And spending time with REAL people doing REAL things, rather than trying to keep up with the next social media craze or creating a metaverse online.” I love the phrase Farmhouse Fatigue. I did French Country in the 80s when we actually lived out in the country and loved it then so Im a bit done there did that w/this phase of it. Though I get why young moms are comforted by it. I’m a bit of a maximalist having been keeping house for 50+ years with a large dose of Traditional and Colonial thrown in. And I love me some cottage core as they call it. I guess our home is a well organized, very colorful and visual highly curated hybrid. And we embrace “slow living” 😂

Sunny P Cox
Sunny P Cox
3 months ago

“Japandi” sounds a lot better than “Danese”! Lacking trendy terminology, I described to my favorite architect our love of wabi-sabi antiques: handmade hardwood Japanese techniques and clean lines inherent in Danish design. 😊 Curate it a little, tweak it here and there, and decant it all into a traditional-style home near Charleston, and we’ll call it “Low Country French,” and start a new trend!

Jenny B
Jenny B
3 months ago

I always love these posts of yours. 😊 Are you familiar with the video game Animal Crossing New Horizons? These trends actually don’t surprise me at all because they look a lot like what I see people designing in ACNH. Japandi, dark academia, and especially cottage core… it’s all there. My 13yo son got the game in 2020, and I’ve pretty much claimed it for myself. I’m guilty of spending a few too many hours designing beach houses for the little animal villagers. 😁

Jenny B
Jenny B
3 months ago

Yes, probably! Although, the people playing with these trends have to use what the game designers included in pretty creative ways to get the looks they want. You can go any direction with the style, but everyone has the same limited library of furniture, flooring and wallpapers to use. I search ACNH ideas on Pinterest, and I’m often amazed at what people do and how they use the furniture in unintended ways. It’s a lot of fun.

patti
patti
3 months ago

I think I would go for the Japandi or the Cottage Core, warm, comfortable environments both. I cannot imagine being gaga over avocado or harvest gold! Great article!

Ms. Yingling
Ms. Yingling
6 days ago

I have all of my parents’ Early American stuff, so I am good to go! Found your blog when I was trying to get my head around a color consultant’s recommendation that the walls above the dining room chair rail should be DARKER than the walls under the chair rail. Who knew that had been a thing for the last ten years. I’ll embrace any decor that is not the current All Gray Circle of Hell!

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