These Were the 9 Biggest Design Trends We Saw in Real Homes This Year

published Dec 29, 2023
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living room with warm textured paint walls, gray sofa, and pale neutral rug/carpet

Touring lived-in and loved homes is my passion, and I saw some STUNNING spaces in 2023 — from studio apartments, to lofts, to townhomes, in cities like Melbourne, Barcelona, Chicago, and more. And while the spaces are all different in their own unique, wonderful ways, I couldn’t help but notice some elements that appeared in some of my most favorite tours. From wall finishes, to storage, to a new way to use curtains in a room, the nine biggest interior design trends shaping real living spaces this year are varied and gorgeous. And I think they’ll be trends with staying power in 2024.

Embracing the timeless allure of limewash walls, some homeowners transformed their interiors with a soft, textured finish that adds depth and character to any room. Thinking beyond just the conventional straight lines of typical storage, some homeowners discovered the charm of arched storage solutions, redefining how to organize and display books and accessories.

The whimsical elegance of scallop shapes emerged this year as a playful yet sophisticated design element gracing everything from scallop-shaped furniture to scalloped edges on accessories to painted-on scallops. And I saw curtains and fabric being used in fresh ways this year to add softness and coziness to rooms. Below, you’ll find nine of the biggest trends I saw in our house tours in 2023.

Credit: Viv Yapp

1. Arched Storage

This 1920s Sydney house and this U.K. new build have something stunning in common: They didn’t let straight lines get in the way of the storage of their dreams. Both homes have DIY projects that involved creating arches with their bookcases. “The kitchen diner is my proudest project to date,” Emily explained in her house tour. “I designed and built a shelving unit for the dining room, which accommodates the radiator and light switches as well as providing somewhere to display items.” Samantha and Heath’s DIY arch detail is the bookshelf in the living room. “You spot it down the hallway as soon as you walk in the front door and it’s just beautiful and full of ‘us,'” Samantha wrote in their house tour.

2. Blocky Stripes

This 300-year-old renovated cottage, Diana Yen’s earthy Ojai home, and this eclectic Colombian home all show examples of what I’m referring to as the “new checkerboard.” We all know that checkerboard has become a pattern seen just about EVERYWHERE in recent years, but some folks (me) have grown a bit tired of the pattern. However, in 2023 I started seeing another pattern emerge … a sort of chunky/blocky type of stripe, where both striped colors are the same width as each other. Not only does it feel like a fresh take on a classic pattern, but it’s easier to DIY, too.

3. Plyboard

Using raw plywood is hardly a new invention, but in 2023 it seemed to be everywhere in its raw, natural wood glory. I personally am a HUGE fan of light-colored plywood left unstained and in its natural earthy hues. It adds texture to a space but is so neutral that it goes with nearly every style of decor. And, depending on how you use it and where you source it, it can be a budget option, too. I saw plywood used beautifully in this renovated loft with brilliant built-in storage and shelves; in this TikToker’s lovely living room; this cool Piet Hein Eek-designed building; in this Urban Outfitters Design Director’s Home; and in Casey Keasler’s 1250-square-foot house.

4. Togo

Can a single furniture piece be a trend? I’m saying yes, and based on the number of Ligne Roset Togos I saw in 2023 (and honestly, also in 2022), I think it’s going to continue to be a trend in the new year, as well. The Togo suite, which includes chairs and couches and ottomans, was designed in 1973 by Michel Ducaroy, head of the design department at Ligne Roset. And while it may have been invented in the 1970s, the fact that it’s become popular again is no surprise; the design is modern and stylish, they come in an array of colors, are comfortable to sit on, and, perhaps most importantly, can be found vintage/secondhand for those who can’t shell out for a brand new one. See how the Togo’s been styled in real homes like this this small Singapore apartment; this bright apartment in The Netherlands; and this cool Brussels rental.

5. Limewash Walls

Why settle for just a flat, one-dimensional paint color on your walls, when you can make them feel lush, textured, and like you’re living in an Italian palace? Limewashed walls — both professionally done and DIYed — hit it big in 2023, and I saw them in living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and more. Many of the times I saw this type of finish it seemed to be paired with earthy colors like terracotta and creams, but I think this finish could look good in any color. Just two recent examples can be found in this colorful Miami rental and this stunning Ojai home.

Credit: Erin Derby

6. DIY “Stained” Glass Panes

I won’t lie — the stained glass in my own home’s kitchen is a big reason why I purchased the house! And I know I’m not alone in loving this colorful architectural element. But not everyone is blessed with stained glass in their home, nor do they have the time, money, or resources to attempt elaborate stained glass on their own. But that’s why I loved the trend of DIYing the look of stained glass by adding color to a few panes, as seen in this prop stylist’s Brooklyn rental or this mid-century ranch house.

Credit: Leela Cyd

7. Curtains as Walls, Doors, and Ways to Hide Clutter

The impact that a fresh pair of curtains can have on a room simply can’t be overstated. Fabric window coverings not only provide a function (keeping light out), but they also play a big role in the decor. Which is why I wasn’t surprised in the slightest when I started seeing how fabric curtains were being used in fresh ways in 2023 in real home tours on Apartment Therapy. Instead of relegating curtains to only around the window, I saw renters and homeowners alike using curtains beyond the windows — covering whole walls with soft fabrics, even surrounding an entire room with the draped material. See 11 examples of using curtains in fresh ways.

Credit: Erin Derby

8. Dining Banquettes

When you picture a dining room, visions of tables (whether they’re circular or rectangular) and four-legged chairs likely come to mind. But this year in particular, several banquettes complemented the homes featured in our tour coverage. Jasmine Hart had to figure out how to make the most of the awkward living room layout in her contemporary New York City apartment. And Alex Bass made her small space stylish despite not owning it by getting clever with renter-friendly ideas, such as tweaking a Wayfair bench to look like a custom, built-in dining banquette. See a lot more examples in this article: This Dining Setup Is the Chic Space Solution We Saw (& Loved) in 2023.

Credit: Shona East

9. Scallops

Scallops are rounded, fluid shapes and add playful touches to walls, furniture, and home accessories. The organic form complements colorful spaces (we’ve even seen all-black scallops!) and seamlessly juxtaposes straight lines to bring fun to a space. There are so many clever and stylish ways to incorporate this shape into your home — and we saw lots of examples in real homes this year, which you can see 12 examples of to get inspired by!