Design Trends of 2012

By Kate Riley December 20, 2012

Today’s topic is one of my favorites and that is the conversation about trends in DIY and interior design.  Last year I featured a group of very talented ladies who discussed the Design Trends of 2011, and this year I bring you a new lineup of bloggers who I adore!  Each one of these fantastic women has a knack for stylish DIY and a fabulous eye for great design. 

I follow all of their blogs and love their fearless attitude when it comes to decorating their own homes and those of their clients.  All of their spaces are inspiring!  Please welcome Emily of Emily A. Clark, Kristin Jackson from The Hunted Interior, Camila Pavone from Effortless Style, and Jenny Komenda of Little Green Noteboook to the blog today for . . .   

design trends of 2012

I asked each of these ladies the same question and their answers and insight are fascinating.  I weighed in with my thoughts too (before I read theirs!).  Enjoy the interview and be sure to share your responses to any of these questions too. 


Here we go . . .

1. What was your favorite interior design trend of 2012?

Emily:  I love the use of deep, saturated color that we’ve seen in most of the major shelter magazines.  Jewel tones were popular on walls and on furniture, and I think they make for a happy space. I love that more people are embracing bold color – if even on just one piece.

Kristin:   Pattern mixing.  While this was nothing new, I felt that my clients were more open to bolder patterns being paired together in 2012.  Adding in multiple patterns creates depth in a space and provides that layered look that you see in all the magazines.

Camila:  Orange has been my favorite color for a couple of years now and in 2012 I got to see the interior design and fashion world embrace it.  It’s just such a happy color.  It instantly lifts my spirits. I loved seeing it paired with a bold pink or an unexpected lilac.

Jenny:   The marbleized pattern trend hit mainstream in a pretty major way this year, which I couldn’t be happier about. There are fabrics, pillows, art and accessories and even furniture you can find marbleized. I just love when a pattern can feel modern, traditional, glam and organic all at once.

Kate:   I love the growing popularity of painterly effects!  Watercolor prints are so lovely and you can’t deny the impact of large scale abstract paintings on the wall.  I adore just about any home accessory with a random splotch or swash of color as if an artist randomly embellished it with his or her paintbrush.  I hope we’ll see more of it in 2013, especially in fabrics.

kriste michelini bedroom with mixed patterns

Kriste Michelini


2. What was your least favorite design trend of 2012?

Emily:   I’ll preface this by saying I could end up doing in this in my home next month, but for now, I’m less excited about stenciled walls than I once was. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the same patterns over and over again. I think they can work in the right places, but start to get a little predictable as a focal wall or in a powder room.  (For all of you who do have stenciled walls, I’m sure they’re lovely…)

Kristin:   Neon.  I am a fan of bright saturated colors, but not the kind that glow under a black light!

Camila:  Yellow and gray.  I have nothing against both colors separately, but together is so over.  I’ve seen it time and time again and while I loved it a couple of years ago I’m so over it.  I think a way to update it is by adding a new color in the mix.  Blue always looks great with both yellow and gray, but I would update it by adding a lavender and spring green into the mix.  It may sound nontraditional, but it works! 

Jenny:  I don’t know that I have a least favorite trend, but I’m least happy about how Ikat is getting played out. I LOVE Ikat and always will – it’s just stressing me out a little that it’s everywhere right now. I saw some bad Ikat napkins at the dollar store recently. I mean, what?!  Don’t ruin it for me, Dollar Tree!

Kate:  I’m so over taxidermy as a trend.  It seems every shelter mag featured an animal head as a focal point in a spread this year.  Yet I am fond of the ceramic or whimsical takes on animal shapes as decor, those are still fun, but only in the right spaces.   

gray yellow and blue office horchow



3. What design trends from 2012 will carry into 2013?

Emily:  I think industrial-inspired furniture will continue to be popular. It can take a beating and still look great, it lends itself to a casual lifestyle and it can still mix in well with more classic pieces.

Kristin:  Traditional lines with a modern touch are here to stay.  Historically, design trends tend to revert back to traditional roots when times are tough.  Subconsciously it provides a sense of stability, so look for classic lines to continue into 2013.

Camila:  I see the use of bold colors continuing into 2013.  I think the design world is tired of beige and color isn’t going anywhere.  I’m not a huge fan of it, but Belgium and Industrial Chic always seems to come back.  Every time I go to a gift fair or home design market it’s always there as the "new" must haves in interior design.

Jenny:   I think we’ve been moving to the "anything goes" look in interiors. People are less concerned with matching finishes, colors, and even styles in their homes. I love this eclectic/collected style and think it makes for a much more personal home.  People have learned to trust that if they like a piece on its own, then it will work in the story of their home.

Kate:   Metallic details are hot, and gold and brass will continue to be the de rigueur metal in 2013.  Geometric fabrics will still be popular, but I think we’ll see other patterns emerge beyond the overdone chevron.  Herringbone and scalloped patterns are surging, I’ve always loved the messier and muted Missoni inspired zig zags, and I’m really excited about the less symmetric geometrics and botanical patterns coming to market as well.    

inky blue and white hampton design house

Hamptons Design House via VT Interiors


4. Any design trends from the past that you’d like to see make a comeback?

Emily:  Green shag carpet?  Just kidding.  It seems everything eventually recycles in one form or another. I think upholstery in a bold pattern can be a risky investment, but it would be cool to see statement pieces like sofas covered in large, modern florals and prints in more spaces.

Kristin:   Trim work done in color with neutral walls was a look made popular during the Federal Style.  At the time, pigment was extremely expensive, so you got more bang for your buck by painting the trim & leaving the walls a less expensive neutral.  I love the idea of incorporating this into a space in the near future.

Camila:  I love a bit of granny chic in home decor so I would love to see toile and floral chintz pop up a little more.  I think they are both old fashioned and traditional patterns that can be unexpected when added to a room.  Add them to a good mix of geometric and solid fabrics and you have a great updated mix.

Jenny:  Paisley is kinda cool and vintage-y, and it hasn’t really seen it’s comeback moment yet.  I predict it will happen in the next couple of years though.  Hmm, now I sort of want to dig through my fabric stacks and pull out that paisley I’ve been hoarding for years now! Maybe some new sofa pillows? Euro shams for my bed?

Kate:   I’d love to see really big bold florals come back again.  Not the teensy tiny prints of the past but hip and large scale and in crazy cool colorways.  Like huge raspberry or chartreuse peonies on an indigo background, fun!    


chintz floral and herrinbone quadrille fabrics

Quadrille Fabrics  


5.  Any predictions on design trends, colors, or looks for the New Year?

Emily:   Metallics are so hot right now, and I predict we’ll see more of that in accessories, artwork, and maybe fabrics.  I think mixing metallics within a room will be something more people become comfortable with doing.  I also think we’ll eventually see more brass finishes used in homes again.

Kristin:  I think the "new" trellis pattern of 2013 will be the honeycomb.  Look for this pattern to appear in fabrics, furniture pieces, lighting, and accessories.  It still retains the graphic appeal with a fresher look.

Camila:  Oh don’t I wish I had a magic ball to look into the future. I’m not sure what’s going to happen in 2013, but I do have a few favorites I would love to see continued. For color I’m all about emerald green.*  There is just something about that screams glamorous.  Plus it’s pretty much perfection when you add it to an animal print.  For a design trend I think it’s all about the details, a mitered square border on a sofa cushion, flat welt piping on a pillow, contrasting pom pom trim on a window treatment… all important details that make good design happen.  For looks I would love to see a bit more of preppy/new traditional design emerge.  I love a good eclectic mix as much as anyone, but lately it seems to be all I design and I think we are due for a change.

*Camila answered this question a month before Pantone’s announcement!  #soontrend

Jenny:   Oxblood or burgundy is huge in fashion and interiors right now. It’s a color I didn’t plan on welcoming in my home for a really long time, but I’m loving how the color mixes with the brights (and even neons – gasp!) a lot of us have been putting in our homes the past few years.  I think that will be the next wave of color trend – more muted tones (olive, mustard, mauve, apricot, sage) to mix in with and temper the bright colors.

Kate:  In 2013, we will see a lot of color, especially saturated hues, but not so many brights like the neon trend, instead more sophisticated takes in the form of deep jewel tones this time around.  The announcement of Emerald as the ‘It Color’ for 2013 set the stage, and I anticipate a lot of rich cobalt/sapphire blues and amethyst violets sharing the spotlight as well as deep and vivid ruby reds having their turn too. 

dining room lisa mcdennon

    Lisa McDennon


6. What is a design element you love and consider to be timeless?

Emily:   Stripes.  Okay, maybe I’m biased because we recently painted stripes in our foyer (and they’re not going anywhere for a loooong time!), but I really think stripes -whether on the wall, on pillows, or on a rug – they add a fresh, classic touch to any space.  They’re bold and graphic without being overly trendy.

Kristin:   Stripes always have been & always will be my go to pattern.  A clean classic stripe will always be in style.

Camila:  I adore a good polka dot, stripe, and animal print.  There are so many variations of each that anyone could easily find a favorite.  Of course with so many variations you can down a cheesy road pretty quickly so be cautious.

Jenny:  Oh, it’s too hard to pick just one. Here’s a short list of things I’ll likely have in every home I decorate: Persian rugs, velvet fabrics, little French accent chairs in every room, black doors, chunky moulding, oversized art, and statement lighting.

Kate:   The medley of dark wood with fresh white.  It always works.  Pair a traditional pedestal wood table with white contemporary chairs.  Combine a dark walnut vanity in a bathroom with marble tile and countertops.  Stain your wood floors espresso then paint the walls or trim white.  You really can’t go wrong with that foundation. 

dark vanity marble countertop bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


Thank you so much Emily, Kristin, Camila, and Jenny.  It seems we all love stripes, metallics, and the use of bold colors!  If you want to read another interesting article on design trends for this year now that it’s almost over, be sure to read last year’s article here.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in.  What was your least and/or most favorite design trend of the year?  Neon?  Ombre?  Color block?  Dip dye?  Got any predictions for 2013 you’d like to share?  Join the discussion!




  1. Great article as always. My least favorite trends are white walls and the chevron patterns. I’ve seen some white walls that worked, but IMHO you have to do them just right with the perfect accents incorporated or they look too stark and sterile for my taste. I originally liked the chevron pattern, but that’s all I saw all over blog land, so I tired of it really fast. The trend I’ve really appreciated is the eclectic style and making the space your own instead of worrying about if everything is too matchy matchy. I also love how so many are repurposing items out there to make something new. It’s a win win situation all around. Less waste, less money, etc.

  2. Great post!!!

    My favorite design/reno trend is either no backspace in a powder room or a full wall of tile. It just looks so classy and I keep trying to determine if I want to tackle that in this house in or in the next. ;-)

  3. I love following these designers’ blogs! It was fascinating reading how they agree and differ on different trends. I’m hoping to redecorate our master bedroom in 2013, and I’ll definitely be looking to some of the 2013 trends listed for ideas!

  4. I am a little bummed at the Dollar Tree comment. I love great style, but I cannot afford to buy from places like Horchow, Ballard Designs, etc. While maybe the ikat pattern was “bad,” I always am happy to see affordable places pick up on some sort of style. Sorry, I’m not one to pick up on those sort of things but it just struck a funny cord in me. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the whole article and it was neat to see that emerald green was forecast before the announcement. :)

  5. Love to hear opinions of bloggers and designers I adore! As for me, I am over the chevron craze! I think Pinterest is to blame. I’ve been feeling greek key and honeycomb patterns lately. And I totally agree with mixing metallics continueing to trend. Gold and brass are coming back! A few years ago you couldn’t pay me to put a gold metallic in my space, but now I am loving it! Who knew? xo Kristin

  6. Love all these bloggers and enjoyed reading their thoughts on design trends. Definately agree with many of the comments like…traditional chevron out…and Missoni style zig zag patterns in…love it! Looking forward to adding some of these fresh new elements to my home for 2013!

  7. What a great article – so great to hear from a bunch of designers in one post! Love that Emily, Camilla & Kristin said stipes are timeless. Agree!

  8. Thanks so much for having me as part of this post. I loved working on the answers and was of course nervous that perhaps I would be totally random in my answers and none of the other designers would say similar things. Loved that we had different answers, but somewhat of a similar theme for all of the questions.

    Plus how cool am I for knowing the color of the year before hand?!!! Hmm now if only my forcasting visions would help me with lotto numbers. :)

  9. Thanks for the lowdown on trends! I’m surprised no one mentioned the trend of tribal prints that’s been going on for a while now… kilim, beni ourain rugs, Moroccan or African style prints, etc. While I’m usually into more structured geometric prints or girly florals, I like that tribal prints have a more masculine feel while adding fun movement and colors. Maybe I’m behind on that, but it seems like I’ve been seeing it all over this year.

  10. Fun thread and great info! I never got into the whole banner thing, or chalkboard paint, and I’m really ready for them both to go away. Ombre doesn’t bother me, but I think it’s probably played out. LOVE the saturated colors and cool prints I’ve seen lately.

  11. I was just thinking back and I think I actually got my dad some kilim pillows last Christmas. So perhaps my perception of time is off. It feels like it just keeps speeding up! and apparently I can’t keep up. But anyway… I still think I’ve seen quite a bit of the tribal thing around of late.

  12. Love this series, Kate! Thanks so much for every lady that shared! In fact, I’ve had 4 curtain panels half-way taped, ready to chevron my heart out, since last year. After reading this, I’m nixing the chevron. May do striped instead. Thank you ladies for sparing me the long-suffering plight of chevron pattern painting!! Good thing I procrastinated. ;p

  13. Great topic of discussion. I think you can never go wrong with what you love. I am loving the new geometric designs and pops of vibrant color, and though I love neutrals and natural elements, I am truly over the burlap trend.

  14. Oh my gosh – all my favorites in one interview! Love the questions, and all the answers (and I TOTALLY agree about the honeycomb!!)

  15. i look so forward to this post every year- it’s so fun to hear their thoughts! i definitely was never on board with the neon trend for my own house so i think i will be glad to see it go…. i feel like simplicity could be more of a trend… the less is more approach, especially at a time when our country needs to really focus on what is important in life.

  16. Great topic! I am over the chevron and ikat prints. I liked both to begin with, but then they just became overplayed. Too white rooms and sunburst mirrors seem to also have ran their course.

  17. Fascinating conversation. I don’t pay too much attention at the trends when it comes to decorating my home. Mostly because I can’t afford to, but it’s fun to know a little about what’s going on in the design world. I am digging emerald as the color of the year.

  18. I think we’re going to see a lot more that is reminiscent of the 80s (think Chippendale and Federalist style, rather than Miami Vice). Preppy, classic. I’m over the taxidermy fad, too; so glad I’m not alone! :)

  19. Really enjoyed all in the discussion. The comment about the dollar store hit home for me. In support of “Little”, I shop there too for a number of items Reading glasses/drinking glasses, tea lights, plastic food storage. And never know what might be hanging around for intriguing ideas, depending upon the quality. But isn’t this true for stores like Ross, TJ, Homegoods and others. We buy there for bargains. Those not up on the latest are thrilled to find something they loved in the last year of decor, it most likely isn’t seen as out, but something really loved and could be timeless.

    This also brought me to thoughts of art. Decor and art are both very personal and great fun to catch the latest when it fits one’s love and direction. What bothers me is when art and decor become so marketed you can’t get away from it. Copies of once collectible art which becomes calendars, posters, cards. This is also true of decor items, such as the wall stencils mentioned. The companies involved are going to have a tough time when this changes.

    I think the glass tile, stone insets and subway backs plashes are going to be quickly dated. I never did get into gray and am so tired of beige walls, which is going away with paint already bought.

    Yes to paisley. It is difficult to find what once was. But there are groups of fabrics which are a deal not being the in factor. And I love wool suiting in various designs and heavy textures. Am recently seeing a lot of bedding mixed with white coverlets and wool plaid blankets.

    Long, but the latest is always of interest and hearing others on the subject helps soothe my thoughts.

  20. That was super fun to read, but I have to admit I’m a bit distressed because while I truly enjoy injecting intentional decor and design in our home (slow as that process is with limited funds & time in my world), the thought of ‘keeping up’ with trends is honestly a bit exhausting.

    Maybe I should just stick with the ‘timeless classics’ while planning for future projects & purchases??

  21. I always enjoy this discussion! What a great panel! I so enjoyed reading their thoughts. I’m glad to see neon go – it’s never been my thing. I think ultimately, regardless of trend, it’s important to surround yourself with what you love. I think also those of us that spend so much time in the design world tend to tire of trends much faster. Many of my real life friends have beautiful homes but don’t read blogs and only pick up shelter magazines every now and again. None of them have stenciled walls or ikat patterns in their homes, so when they come to my house it’s totally novel. ;)

    • Agreed Carmen! Those of us who look at home design all day do tire of “trends” more quickly, I think it takes longer than that for the average person and those design elements can be really special!

  22. What an awesome post and awesome line up of guest!!! I love your blog and look forward to every post! Thanks so much for always delivering current info!!!!

  23. What a fun post!! Great opinions!! I picked emerald/kelly green last year as my own personal color for 2012! I did a post in Jan. 2012 on it. So glad to see it is Pantones color for 2013. I like to throw in a trend now and then ,but nothing that is my base pieces. However, black and white is on the list of trends this year and that is one of my foundations in my wardrobe and home, looks like I might be trendy afterall. Also, STRIPES, oh how I love a good stripe on the wall, or upholstery or in a rug, love it anywhere, anytime!!
    It will be interesting to see the direction we will go. I think Kristin was spot on in most of her comments and answers. Great Post!!

  24. The design trend which I hope DOES not continue is the wall stripes. I love it for a pillow, blanket, maybe a seat cushion and only sometimes for drapes but I do not care for it at all on the walls. I think it is super trendy and hope it is on its way out. I also do not care for taxidermy or fake animal horns as decor–I never got why this became popular. I’m actually kind of scared of animals with big antlers or horns so having them as a design element creeps me out. On a positive note, I am loving the saturated colors and hope this continues for a while. There is something I love about going into a room with a rich deep color on the walls–it never seems outdated to me when it is done right.

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