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English Living

'Great Gatsby but barefoot' - Contrasting Design Trends for 2023 from Julia Kendell

Interior designer Julia Kendell, known for her appearances on the BBC's

DIY SOS, shares her tips on updating your home for 2023.

Julia Kendell, design expert for the South East Homebuilding & Renovating Show

(14-15 January, Farnborough), says:

There's been an evolution in peoples' attitudes towards how their homes look and work following the end of lockdowns and, for many, a full or partial return to the office. Now the trend is for a more glamourous, sociable lifestyle but still with a relaxed feel. I call it 'Great Gatsby but barefoot' which to me means the use of more glamorous materials but nothing too high-brow and still with an emphasis on comfort.

  • Relaxed Glamour

This trend is a bit Art Deco but all the colours are warm including metallics so you will see the use of brass, gold and bronze. In a real shift away from the cooler greys which were so popular in the last decade, we are seeing warm, earthy colours which reflect the connection to nature many of us felt during lockdowns. Forest green is a popular colour as is Dulux's Wild Wonder, their colour of the year for 2023, a soft yellow-green shade with a sense of positivity.

  • Contrasting Plain and Patterns

If people are feeling a bit overwhelmed and wanting to keep their lives simple then they generally go for non-stressful interiors with plain, natural materials. These include wood, microcement for walls and floors (often seen in wet rooms) and Venetian plaster, where natural products like slaked lime and marble dust can be mixed to produce an antiqued and slightly raw element for a room.

However, at the same time, we are looking for a sense of optimism and hope which can be expressed through maximalism. This trend is all about a joyful layering of patterns and designs and follows on from last year’s 'cottage-core' trend. A generation which lived through '90s minimalism but never experienced the chintzy, frilly '80s is loving patterned wallpaper, borders, floral fabrics and trimmed curtains.

Homebuilding & Renovating Show - Ash offers - The Homebuilding & Renovating Show Farnborou
Homebuilding & Renovating Show - Ash offers - The Homebuilding & Renovating Show Farnborou
  • Dark and Light Kitchens

Dark-coloured and black kitchens are still very popular, but we are also seeing a move towards light, natural kitchens with, for example, off-white painted cabinets teamed with a light oak. Home owners are looking to make more sustainable choices and this is reflected in the finishes they choose. So, we are seeing the use of cork and rattan, as in my new range of rattan doors (not photographed yeti). And whereas before kitchen owners wanted indestructible surfaces like Dekton and X-Tone, many are opting for the unique veining and coloring of natural granite and marble, which has been injected with sealant to make it less porous.

Handleless cabinets have been popular for a while but now we are seeing the return of handles which I think of as jewellery for the room. Buster + Punch are producing industrial-looking handles but softened with warm, metallic finishes like brass and smoked bronze; Armac Martin and Dowsing & Reynolds have a huge choice of metal handles and Turnstyle has a range of leather and cork handles for a sustainable choice.


In summary, although there currently seem to be contrasting trends in interior design, I believe this helps us design a home which fits our own personality. Those of us who are more introverted often seek a simple, more natural and calming environment, whereas the extroverts amongst us enjoy the energy produced by colourful and vibrant interiors.

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