Mad About . . .

The Key Interior Trend for 2020

2nd January 2020
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There’s always a lot of talk about new trends for interior design at this time of year and when I have written about this in the past it has proved to be one of the most read posts of the year.

madaboutthehouse sitting room in fallen plum by atelier ellis

madaboutthehouse sitting room in fallen plum by atelier ellis

But this year I’m not sure things have changed that much since I wrote this post 12 months ago. It feels like the same but more crystallised if you like.

So the fashion for brown furniture, which I wrote about last year, has now become part of the sustainability movement and will, rightly, continue to grow in popularity. We will buy more from eBay and vintage stores, we will paint and customise and upcycle more and we will continue to reupholster and repurpose.

That will, in turn, however, lead to what I think will be a growing trend this decade and that’s individuality. Once you stop buying mass-produced furniture, or start using a bit of leftover fabric to make a cushion, or the remains of a tin of paint to draw an arch on the wall or create a painted frame for your pictures, your interior design automatically becomes more bespoke, more individual and more you.

That can only be a good thing as we discover our own personal style and apply it to our homes rather than trying to follow the crowd. This movement will, I think, increase through the 2020s.

And this feeds into the other growing fashion at the moment and that’s maximalism. True maximalism is another take on the English Country Style, which I wrote about here. In essence it’s a layering of colour and pattern with a touch of wit and whimsy thrown in.

It’s peculiarly English and in certain Shires it never went out of fashion – not for them the pared back grey minimalist of the Scandi decade.Indeed its proponents would be slightly aghast at the idea that it’s now fashionable as opposed to being simply good taste and what one does.

jennifer manners scallop rug, design by salvesen graham for christies inc

jennifer manners scallop rug, design by salvesen graham for christies inc

But I’m not talking about true maximalism here, rather a backlash against the clean, pared back minimalism of that Scandi decade that we have just lived through. Suddenly we all want a bit more colour and pattern and, well, stuff on the shelves to show what we’re about.

And one person’s dream pattern is another person’s Hieronymous Bosch painting.

ceramic wall planters from westelm

ceramic wall planters from westelm

In other words, this trend can only be about individuality as the layering of the items is such a personal choice.

There is a saying at journalism school that if you send 10 reporters to the same fete they will all come back with different stories. Maximalism is a similar idea. Leave ten people in a shop full of fabric swatches and paint and they will all decorate their rooms differently.

Some will add patterned lampshades to ornate stands while others will cover the sofa and leave the cushions plain. Some will, of course, do all of it while half will set that against a neutral wall and the rest will add another layer of colour in paint and paper.

lily and oscar interiors

lily and oscar interiors

That is the trend for individuality that we will see coming through as we continue to explore what makes us happy and what colours we love and stop being afraid to do what we want in our own homes.

Now that’s not to say that the fashion for pared back mid-century modern is over. It’s well-made, sustainable and vintage so it ticks all those boxes without being part of the so-called brown furniture brigade (which is, see above, coming back as well). However, I think it will be mixed up with existing pieces more than it has been in recent years. You will no longer see a complete mid-century modern room but a room with a couple of mid-mod pieces within sitting happily next to a Victorian bureau and a patterned sofa.

blue woodwork and floral wallpaper in the home of Sarah Brown Interiors, image by Snook Photograph

blue woodwork and floral wallpaper in the home of Sarah Brown Interiors, image by Snook Photograph

Again, individual taste will rule over everything.

And for some that will involve backgrounds of pale neutrals which will allow the colours to stand out and for others, the dark neutrals – not grey or black but rich plum, chocolate and forest, will provide the background. There will be no right or wrong. There will be, in essence, no trend, for if you’ve put it together well and it reflects your taste then it will be perfect for you and you can’t get more on trend than that.

The classic egrets in green wallpaper by florence broadhurst has been brought back to life after Rebecca Lawrence and team got the rights to the Broadhurst archives and released a collection of wallpapers and fabrics. #florencebroadhurst #wallpaper #madaboutthehouse

egrets wallpaper by florence broadhurst

So bring on the interior trends for 2020, embrace whatever you fancy and put it together your way. It’s your house and you live there. Dress it to suit your individual style.

And that, my friends, is my trend prediction for 2020.


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  • Lynn Anderson 16th January 2020 at 2:56 pm

    I just love that rug in the 3rd photo down- with the black background, pink edges and floral design. Would you know if there are any suppliers of rugs like that? It would look totally fab in our hallway! Our new build is almost complete and it’s taken 2 1/2 years!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 19th January 2020 at 3:52 pm

      It’s in the home of rug designer Wendy Morrison so I would start with her. I don’t know if it’s current collection but she makes to order.

  • Gracie 8th January 2020 at 2:42 pm

    What a gorgeous shape that dark sofa is in your first photo! Do you know if something similar is still available? Thanks so much for the super post.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 9th January 2020 at 10:04 am

      Hi Gracie, I thought I had replied to this already but I must have forgotten to publish. Anyway, I do know since it is my sofa and it is the Earl Grey from Love Your Home in cosmos velvet. You might have to ring to ask for that exact colour as it’s not on the website but I think they still have it. Failing that you could try cocoa, another chocolate brown – more milk whereas mine is plain!

  • Megan 7th January 2020 at 4:40 pm


  • Elaine Fraser 3rd January 2020 at 9:27 am

    I think a home should have a mixture of ‘less’ and ‘more’ rooms or spaces. I like less in my hallway and bathroom partly due to their smaller sizes but also because I find it more interesting to walk from ‘less’ into a surprising ‘more -ish’ room. Regardless of its size I have wholeheartedly embraced your idea Kate of ‘surprise’ and a dash of humour in the smallest room in the house , with jungle wallpaper and giraffe head above toilet. One friend said it was a bit ‘trippy’ for her taste but everyone else has laughed and admired it . Another friend immediately re-vamped her own small room.
    Thanks for all the great posts and ideas throughout last year and looking forward to more inspiration from you in 2020

  • Greg 2nd January 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Great post. I really enjoy your writing. I came here from another site where a post listed New Year’s resolutions such as “Quit trying to please everyone, quit fearing change, quit fearing to be different.” It seems like you’d agree, design-wise and beyond. Happy New Year!

  • Maggie Treanor 2nd January 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Absolutely brilliant. I had just finished reading a Vogue piece about 2020 trends in which the writer admitted some might not even last the tear!! Then I realised I was starting to pay far more attention to trendy interiors than my personality type would condone. No ribs, scallops or chinoiserie for me. I have got a rather gorgeous Georgian flame mahogany chest of drawers in store that needs to come home

  • Stefanie 2nd January 2020 at 10:19 am

    Thanks for this post!! For my clients I am always trying to put a lot of “personality” into the designs. Most of them appreciate that.

  • Fiona O’Connor 2nd January 2020 at 9:01 am

    Love this!! Does individuality mean that technically there is no more style crimes?! 😄

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 2nd January 2020 at 9:19 am

      HA! We try to make them crimes that are not about personal taste- well not all the time! – but also that have a solid reason behind them.

  • Corinne Twining 2nd January 2020 at 8:07 am

    Hooray for individuality, personal creativity and a love for things that last – at last! We small-scale makers and designers can now step up to the mark….

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