Why So Serious? Playful Design Trends We’re Spotting: Neon, 80s Influences, Toys & More

published May 31, 2016
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(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

It’s halfway through 2016 and I’ve already spotted stand-out design trends in beautiful homes. But I’m not just referring to common colors, patterns and materials. This year, I’m spotting elements that infuse playfulness into interiors. Add some playfulness into your rooms today with these fresh and fun decor trends.


Neon isn’t a new idea for interiors, but the ways that I’ve been spotting them in interiors recently is fresh. Instead of neon words on walls, I’m seeing quirky, unusual neon shapes and objects on walls and on flat surfaces.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Neon winks (above the jump) and a banana in the dining area from Natalie and Scott’s Electric Neon Melbourne Home.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

A large neon object lights up a corner in James & Carly’s Colorful West LA Home.


Displaying guitars and other musical instruments—as decorative objects, not just musical-making tools—

(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)

Guitars line the wall of a stairwell in Elizabeth and Jeremy’s Urban Jungle Townhome.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

A guitar makes for a complementary accessory on this sheepskin-covered vintage chair in Katy & Todd’s Musical Mash-Up.


Visuals from the 1980s have been popping up in interiors recently, and one of the funnest ways I’ve seen is by going big with patterned seating upholstery.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

A busy, retro-feeling pattern elevates the look of this vintage sofa and armchair in Alice & Lucy’s Playful, Patterned Melbourne Home.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Meg’s home is filled with ’80s decor, but her sofa with the primary colored brush stoke pattern is the gem of the living room.


Musical instruments aren’t the only functional objects being used as decor in interiors this year. I’ve spotted several homes (both with kids and without!) that incorporated simple, colorful full children’s toys as a decor accessory.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

A small wooden toy stack gives a burst of blue to the living room in Sarah and Morgan’s Relaxed, Modern Santa Monica Home.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

A colorful stack of carefully arranged wooden building blocks looks more like an abstract sculpture than a toy. As seen in Liz’s Bangin’ Chicago Apartment & Rad Rooftop.


Triangles have been a popular shape for home decor patterns for a few years now. But recently I’ve been spotting this simple shape painted on kitchen and bathroom cabinets and even some pieces of furniture.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Silver triangles adorn the bottom cabinets in the kitchen of Kristina & Jason’s Gorgeous, Graphic Australian Home.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Yellow and white triangles add fun to the corners of the kitchen cabinets in Thoey & Sutty’s Southeast Asian-Inspired Loft in Oakland.