New Home Trends for the New Year

Local interior designers share the hot home style ideas for 2020.

The rule of trends is simple: What comes in must go out.

For 2020 home design, that means the ubiquitous rustic farmhouse aesthetic is giving way to simpler, cleaner spaces with natural modern touches.

“Breathing room is what people are after, literally and figuratively,” says Lauren Levant of Shadyside-based Lauren Levant Interior. “What can we do to calm our space and make it a sanctuary? How can we get back to basics and make our crazy, stressful lives a little simpler and look the part? The house sets the tone for that.”

To achieve a feeling of comfortable minimalism, some Pittsburgh-area designers are opting for the less-is-more approach, focusing on quality materials used in simple ways and one-of-a-kind pieces with personal touches.

“I don’t think anybody fits into a box anymore,” says Juliane Mazzarella of Avenue Interiors in Sewickley. “Things are less formulaic. It’s very personal, and it’s very individualized. It’s about telling a story.”



Functional pieces and performance materials are key in living rooms for 2020, designers say, though there is also plenty of room for introducing a touch of drama.

Modular furniture that can be mixed, matched and moved around is allowing homeowners to make their pieces work for them, and ottomans are becoming preferred over coffee tables.

“I would say we do 10 to one more ottomans than coffee tables,” says Betsy Wentz of Studio B Interior Design in Sewickley.

Performance fabrics, formerly reserved for outdoor furniture, are making their way inside as clients seek durability. Companies such as Designers Guild, Schumacher and Romo offer upholstery that is up to the task, Wentz says.

“You can have a white sofa again and have kids,” adds Mazzarella.

However, if a client is seeking to introduce color in living spaces, Mazzarella says jewel tones will dominate in 2020, though recently popular pastels such as blush and limoncello will continue to have staying power as well.

For a fresh take on color, Wentz suggests considering paint for more than just the walls. Continuing the color on crown and base molding, chair rails and even window panes is on trend for the coming year.

“It just creates a really seamless look,” says Wentz. “It’s really dramatic. I’ve seen it in purple, blue, green, gray, you name it.”

Also enjoying a moment is wallpaper, which is no longer the nightmare to hang or remove it once was. Nonwoven papers, with their stronger constitution, mean one needs little more than their fingertips to take it down, Wentz says. More homeowners are opting to take wallpaper to new heights, introducing large murals into their living spaces, Wentz says.

One thing designers are happy to see less of on the walls is the television as clients continue to look for ways to no longer rely on it as the focal point of the room. Picture frame TVs that can display artwork when not in use are popular, as are lifts that can raise or lower TVs from sight. The most exciting advancement on the horizon, according to Levant, are TVs made of flexible material that can unroll out of a box and roll back up to be hidden from view when not in use.

“This will be a game-changer,” says Levant. “It will virtually make TVs a non-issue in interior design, and that will be a very welcome thing.”



In the kitchen, the shift away from rustic means more color, particularly on cabinetry — and nothing is off limits. Susan Muschweck of Susan Muschweck Interior Design LLC in Gibsonia says while variations of blue are having a moment, she’s been encouraging more clients to consider black cabinetry.

“I do think black is a great change,” she says, adding, “You do have to do tests to see how the light hits it in the evening and in the daytime.”

Katy Popple of Katy Popple Design in Morningside has seen rich, warm colors such as burnt orange emerge in kitchens, but given that pumpkin hues can evoke an autumnal effect you might not want year round, she suggests starting with something easier to work with, such as marigold.

Popple says clients often desire the kitchen to reflect their personality.

“People have specific collections they want to showcase or they’re into a specific kind of cooking and want the kitchen to support that,” she says. “Everything’s leaning more toward customization.”

Homeowners are using glass or open cabinetry to show off dishware, pot racks to display cookware and even bookcases to highlight crocks and cookbooks as a means to merge function and decor.

Minimalism is manifesting in more monolithic shapes and materials, says Levant, meaning backsplashes are being replaced by countertop material running up the wall.

Granite’s heyday also is over, designers agree, making way for the more popular quartz and even porcelain, which Mazzarella says is ideal for its less porous surface.

Many homeowners also are phasing out the kitchen table, Muschweck says, opting instead for larger islands in open-concept floor plans as well as in enclosed kitchens.



In the bathroom, the focus remains on the spa experience, designers say. Clients want luxury, regardless of the size of the space, and ethereal lighting, custom vanities and organic materials such as stone are popular options for accomplishing the effect.

Popple says clients also are amping up their shower experience with elements such as body sprays, multiple heads and even fog-free mirrors, which includes a heating element on the backside and lies flush with the tile, making it ideal for anyone who prefers to shave in the shower. Vanity mirrors with the same features also are available.

Muschweck adds that as clients are starting to think about aging in place earlier than ever, she’s constantly looking for opportunities to incorporate elements aimed at possible future needs to reflect the desire of clients to stay in their homes as they become elderly and perhaps less mobile. For instance, she often replaces tubs with roll-in showers. She also has incorporated elevators into remodeling projects.

“Do they look like someone lives there with a walker or wheelchair? No,” she says. “We make grab bars look like towel bars. Handheld showers in addition to a showerhead, always, because not only can someone use it sitting on a stool, you can also take a kid in there and give them a quick shower. Or you can take a dog in there and give them a quick shower. There’s multiple uses, and I do like to make sure everything is not only aesthetically pleasing but utilitarian.”



With the house getting more casual on the second floor, the basement is no longer the place where you throw the big, ugly leather couch,” says Wentz.

As such spaces become more dedicated entertainment areas, table games such as ping pong and pool are enjoying a boost in interest from homeowners, she says. Pinball machines also are making a comeback. And for those looking for something a little more cutting edge, golf simulation rooms are gaining popularity, Wentz says.

While Muschweck says many homeowners are moving away from designated bars, she’s seeing more creative ways to incorporate easily disguised serving areas. She’s repurposed both wardrobes and entertainment units into bars by mirroring the back walls and adding lighting, hanging glasses and shelving. The best part? When it’s closed, no one can tell what’s behind the doors, she says.



The bedroom continues to be heavily influenced by the luxury hotel experience, Levant says.

“You see a lot of dramatic bed areas, tall headboard compositions, integrated lighting. They want their bedroom to be a wow statement just like the kitchen,” she says.

Wentz says rather than buying bedroom sets, clients are looking for more individualized pieces that don’t necessarily “match” but work together.

Perhaps the biggest change in the bedroom that designers are seeing is the prioritization of custom closets. As clients look to continue the luxury experience into their dressing routines, builders are incorporating closet cabinetry equal in quality to what they’re putting in kitchens, Levant says.

As closets become rooms in their own right, clients are getting creative in how they make the spaces their own. Some feature vanity sinks or even refrigerators. Wentz has a client who added pop by papering the wall behind her shoes in the closet.

“It’s all game,” she says.

Categories: From the Magazine, HOME + Design, Hot Reads