Give Your Home Decor a Contemporary Update

Give your living space a contemporary makeover by making use of the current trends in colour, fabrics and patterns

Credit: Tracey Ayton

When used sparingly and subtly, greys and whites provide a cool and crisp backdrop for layering other styles, colours and trends

Bold and bright accent colours, mixed textures, repeated patterns, and lacquered glassware are the way to go this year if you want to update your decor

Looking to integrate current decor trends into your home style? Here are some easy ways to update your look from our expert advisors.

Choose Current Colours

Style has a tendency to move in cycles and colour influences this year are sliding back to simpler times. “Colour is going back to the ’50s and the ’60s,” says colour expert, author and stylist Maria Killam. “We’re seeing so much bright colour out there.”

Killam singles out cornflower blue as her favourite from this emerging colour palette. Although grey remains a popular pick for walls and furniture, accent colours are getting livelier, which means layering brighter blues over your trendy neutrals.

“The thing to note about these bright colours is that they really work best with a crisp backdrop,” says Killam. A cornflower blue accent doesn’t sit well in a space filled with warm tones like caramels, golds and browns; it needs the cool compatibility of greys, blacks and whites, she adds.

Despite grey’s massive popularity, Killam refers to it as a “debilitating colour” when overused. “People gravitate toward the trendy neutral and they decorate their whole house in it,” she says.

Shades of grey come to life when you introduce bright pops of colour, but a few throw pillows or vases aren’t enough for a powerful accent like cornflower blue.

“You need to have small, medium and large accents of the same colour,” says Killam. She recommends buying several matching picture frames (Killam prefers Ikea’s 20-½-inch, square Ribba frames), painting them cornflower blue, fitting them with custom mats, and then filling them with postcard-sized pictures to match. Be playful with your accents by spreading them around your space, because in the end, colour is meant to be fun.

Mix, but Don’t Match Fabrics

You’ve heard of mix and match, but what about mix and don’t match? According to interior designer Karla Amadatsu of Kerrisdale Design Inc., deliberately juxtaposing contrasting materials is a trend worth trying in 2013.

“That might mean something very smooth with something heavily textured, or polished and shiny layered with matte, or something very new and modern combined with something vintage and antique that has a bit more of a time-worn quality,” says Amadatsu. “It’s not a trend that means, let’s throw everything out and start new.”

Start by looking at what you already have, then bring in a few contrasting materials to add tension to bland spaces.

Amadatsu favours pairings like glossy marble over reclaimed hardwood, or antique wooden pieces with lacquered tables. “That juxtaposition of different materials will bring a lot of interest to a design,” she says, adding that mixing finishes is a good alternative to just focusing on colour when designing a room. Different textures and materials can liven up even a monochromatic space.

Use Repeating Patterns

Art imitates life as design moves toward organization. Interior designer Jennifer Scott of A Good Chick to Know sees this longing for order in our personal lives manifesting itself in the design world through a strong use of repetition.

“The new option that we see coming out is using more organic elements to create a graphic feel using repetition,” says Scott. This means repetitious decor layouts, repeating a line of light fixtures or something as simple as arranging your bookshelf by colour. “It’s creating that uniform feeling using the same item,” says Scott.

The trend offers a lot of flexibility at a low cost. “It’s something that you don’t have to go out and buy,” says Scott. “You can take the things you already have and create it in an afternoon.”

Scott and her colleagues like to hit up local vintage stores for small decor items to bring in elements from different eras.

Rather than arranging a gallery wall of family photos, Scott suggests grouping several frames closely together to give the illusion of one grand art piece. With just little adjustments, this trend can have an enormous effect on your space.

Jennifer Scott and Megan Baker of A Good Chick to Know discuss their favourite trends this year


Cater to Your Needs

At his September 2012 presentation for Vancouver interior design show IDSwest, Tommy Smythe urged the audience to make their needs the driving force behind renovations. “You need to renovate your house for you to live in, not for the next people who are going to live there,” he said. “I’ve always said this – I think it’s a stupid idea to decorate or renovate your house for other people.” The supportive cheers from the crowd that day reflect the tide change in design and architecture: it’s all about you.

Despite the shift toward personalized spaces, many are still hung up on what effect custom design has on resale.

“People are still compelled to have a formal living room,” says Joy Chao, senior interior designer at John Henshaw Architect Inc. But according to her, resale issues are non-existent: “As long as the house is well designed and the space is utilized properly, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.”

Chao says more of her clients are beginning to eschew traditional features and layouts and designing their homes to suit their unique needs, whether it’s lowering or raising countertops, customizing condo kitchens or completely flipping the floor plan in a loft – all things that she has done. It’s time to reclaim your home for yourself and your family’s needs.

Talking Texture

Bold and bright colours are appearing in unexpected places in 2013. Julie Wu, co-owner of Vancouver home decor store Örling & Wu, says she’s excited to see natural fibres like cotton and linen in electric colours.

“I want them in chartreuse or yellows and the really fun turquoise,” says Wu. Natural textures are more commonly found in neutral shades, but this new wave of textiles is making a statement in the design world.

When it comes to embracing this trend, it’s all about how you incorporate it. Wu encourages homeowners to be liberal with soft, romantic fabrics in vibrant colours. “Don’t be shy,” she says, “be joyous and celebrate each kaleidoscope of colour and really have fun.”

Also for 2013, the rustic, reclaimed look is moving aside to welcome hand-painted china and bold-coloured glassware into the spotlight – “anything that’s lacquered,” says Wu. 

Originally published in BC Home & Garden magazine. For regular updates, subscribe to our free Home and Garden e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the magazine.