What's Hot Now? 2016's Top 5 Interior Design Trends

As interior designers, we’re constantly on the prowl for products and pieces that are new, cool and able to up the aesthetic excitement—and utility—in our projects. From our perch in Chicago’s thriving luxury market, we have front-row seats for some of the most important trends occurring both indoors and outdoors. Here’s our take on the most captivating and important 2016 interior design trends to date. Even though things change with lightning speed in this industry, these trends are timely right now but have longevity. We predict we’ll be using them in our projects for a long time, if not forever given the sheer beauty and timeless appeal of the products and furnishings they’ve spawned.


The JLI team is seeing pale blue, handcrafted details, artisanal accessories and brassy accents taking center stage in the luxury interior design world, at least in Chicago. Photo: Elle Décor

1. Indoor/Outdoor Textiles are Coming Inside

The line between what belongs indoors and outdoors is quickly evaporating. Forget blurring boundaries; thanks to a bevy of savvy lines, now the two types of textiles are totally interchangeable. And for good reason: the practicality of outdoor fade-resistant, stain-repellant fabrics makes great sense indoors as windows get larger and sunlight streams in, and families choose to make every room child-proof for kids of all ages. For the moment, our favorite outdoor lines to bring inside are new releases from Dash & Albert with kicky indoor/outdoor rugs, Peter Dunham with exuberant printed fabrics by the bolt and Link Outdoor’s extraordinarily wide range of dreamy outdoor sheers and edgy trims, such as the multi-toned fringe they’ve developed with color mavens Doug and Gene Meyer.

Peter Dunham Outdoor

Pillows crafted out of Peter Dunham’s outdoor fabrics are impervious to the elements, fading and stains, and elegant enough to come inside. Photo: Peter Dunham

2. Embroidery for the Handcrafted Touch

Artisans have painstakingly hand-stitched embroidery for centuries—and of course machine-made versions have been around since the advent of the industrial age. But thanks to the digital age, we hanker for the handmade once again. Now, with innovative digital technology that marries design with manufacturing, embroidery can be more complex, colorful and daring than ever before—and it is back in a big way. For instance, Coral & Tusk’s creative process blends illustration, machine embroidering and hand finishing. Other lines with bold new approaches to the art form include Holland & Sherry, with appliqué work that has an architectural edge, and Ankasa, where the team renowned for their hand embroidered creations for couturiers (think Oscar, Carolina and Jean-Paul) have translated it into versions for interior textiles.

Untitled 1

Embroidery is back in a big way, but today’s versions are nothing like the old-fashioned designs grandma used to make. Photos: Weaver Design Group showing Holland & Sherry and Coral & Tusk

3. C2’s O2 Blue

Forget those annual Pantone Color Institute predictions. Despite all the research that goes into their seasonal reports, blue has been the most popular color across 10 countries (even Asian giants where red is auspicious) and four continents for years, according to a recent YouGov survey. The preference comes through in all demographic groups too. And Bruce Ekstrand, co-founder of our favorite paint line C2 Paint and our go-to guy for all matters in this milieu, says that his customers at Prather Paint are clamoring for Oxygen, a pale but powerfully serene shade of this hue. It’s soothing enough for a bedroom or bathroom, and strong enough to hold its own as a pointed neutral in kitchens, dining rooms or even a living room.


Pale blue is an international hit right now, but it has history. Studies show it’s long been a favorite wall color in cultures worldwide. Photo: Tobi Fairley

4. Smaller Artisanal Vendors

The new world order of web-based business has taught us that not everything is made by major companies with their own showrooms or storefronts. Some of the most interesting vendors we use are small companies founded by creative types with a vision—and often the ability to design, or lovingly make, wares from time-honored materials such as clay, glass, wood, linen, stone and more. The trick is to find these talented folks and keep their output coming, which is why we love home furnishings, wall coverings and art from Hygge & West (whose stock is from a select group of designers) and artists Rebecca Atwood and Bari Zaki for their own work.


With a stable of artisanal designers and a virtual showroom, Hygge & West exemplifies a bevy of new vendors that make original new work far more accessible. Photo: Hygge & West

5. Brassy Accents

Copper, bronze and iron came long before brass, which was much harder to use as a material before the 18th century by technical accounts (which you can read about here). While it’s made up for lost time in the past few centuries and certainly had its reign in many eras, it’s been on a persistent “simmer" for the past year, much to our delight since it’s so hard-wearing yet grand. We’re seeing it in lamps, hardware, trims and tiles like Exquisite Surfaces' popular brass-encrusted Royalty collection. Its warm radiance is a welcome addition to homes, especially in cool, contemporary settings.


Brass cladding gives this sleek mantel a much more majestic and exciting demeanor. Photo: April Russell

02 Feb 2016

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