Design trends 2015: Whetted by social media, homeowners pursue individual style in interiors
Author: Stacey Wiedower
Publisher: Commercial Appeal

The buzzword for design in 2015 is “personality."

Sure, certain trends are monopolizing headlines this year and vying for a spot in our homes — bold color mixing, gold accents, wallpaper and all things Mid-Century Modern — but for a truly trendy space, the trick is to find that item no one else has.

“What we’re seeing is that people want unique,” said Kim Loudenbeck, who regularly scouts international design markets as designer and owner of Arlington-based Warehouse 67. “They want something no one else has, something individual. And we’ve never seen people striving for that, wanting to be individual in their rooms.”

That means the best-dressed homes in 2015 reflect the lifestyles and personalities of their

owners — kind of like an extension of their wardrobes.

“Home design now matches personality more than keeping up with the Joneses,” said Linda Wingo, interior designer and owner of Wingo Design & Interiors. “Say you have a piece of your grandmother’s furniture, and you might not want it because ‘it isn’t me.’ You can refurbish it and make it ‘me.’ There are things you can do to pair the old with the new.”

Part of the reason for this trend is the influence that younger buyers — with help from Pinterest,, blogs and other media — are having on the design market. With access to so many design resources and style-setters, homeowners want their spaces to reflect what they’re seeing online.

Designer Lana Zepponi calls it “social media style.”

“Now, design is so accessible beyond just glossy magazines,” said Zepponi, vice president of interior design at Chestnut Hall Furniture & Interiors. “You can read blogs. You can look on Instagram. What’s interesting is there is a lifestyle component to many of the photos that you see. A lot of times it’s the designers’ own homes, and you not only see what they’re producing in terms of design, but you see pictures of their children and what they ate for breakfast. Something that’s very relatable.”

In terms of style, there are common elements in many of these lifestyle snapshots — often a modern aesthetic paired with rustic or eclectic elements, and almost always a touch of something handmade, Zepponi said.

“A woven wall hanging, a hand-knit blanket. These interiors, I think they’re popular because they’re full of life and user-friendly,” she said. “It really seems like you could live in some of these rooms, versus some of the sleek shots you see in magazines. I think it’s influential because it’s accessible.”

Meanwhile, the backgrounds of spaces are trending neutral. Whites, creams and grays are the go-to color choices for walls in main rooms, either punched up by bold pops of color and layered pattern, or paired with natural elements like wood and metal.

“White is the new gray,” Zepponi said. “I think that this is going to be something that we see more of in the new year. It’s clean, it’s bright, it’s a perfect backdrop for any design style. You can do something very modern, or you can do very traditional with a white background.”

Blues are trending in 2015, with shades ranging from Mediterranean (think Santorini rooftops) to slate. And blue paired with olive green is a hot combo, Wingo said.

Zepponi is seeing a lot of blue-gray, particularly in cabinetry. And brass is all the rage.

“Gold faucets are back in, believe it or not,” Wingo said. “Combining the gold with the silver.”

“Brass hardware,” added Zepponi. “Brass is a more commonly used metal in home furnishings, hardware and lighting. That was the prominent metal at the 2014 fall market. It’s an antique brass, not shiny — more of a matte brass or a burnished brass.”

When it comes to furnishings, after years of quiet resurgence, Mid-Century Modern furniture and accessories have hit the tipping point — due again, in part, to social media and online lifestyle photos. A new side to that trend is that historically traditional furniture manufacturers are incorporating Mid-Century elements into their newer pieces.

Wingo said the trend she’s seeing most with her clients is more modern living spaces with vintage or rustic/reclaimed elements.

“That blend of the old and the new is what a lot of my clients want,” she said.

Examples include reclaimed heart pine floors paired with Mid-Century furniture, or a cowhide rug paired with a modern chair.

That shift to include more reclaimed elements in interiors carries through to the renovation and restoration market, said Joey Hagan, a principal at Memphis-based Architecture Inc.

“There’s a lot of reuse and repurposing of materials,” Hagan said.

For instance, in an 1890s Downtown building that started life as a dry goods store, the firm’s architects created an ornamental staircase in the center of the structure that reused old floor joists as stair treads.

“It was 120-year-old oak,” Hagan said. “Taking something used one way and using it another way — there’s a lot of that going on.”

In terms of architecture, Hagan is seeing two diametrically opposed trends.

“One is honoring the existing architectural language of a building, where you do an addition and it matches or respects the original building. It looks like it’s always been there,” he said. “The flip side of that coin, what we’re seeing a lot of is ignoring the existing fabric of the building and doing something in stark contrast to that, so it’s clearly new.”

An example of that trend is the Nettleton building Downtown. It features two added floors recessed from the face of the building in a style that contrasts with the original façade.

“It’s clearly new,” Hagan said. “It didn’t try to respect the historic fabric of the building.”

That desire to embrace the past in a way that’s different, unique and altogether individual is clearly on trend.

“People don’t want their homes to look like their neighbors’,” Wingo said. “They want to be unique and individual in terms of style.”