Traditionally decorated living spaces and dining rooms have long been a go-to for Southern interiors. Over the last few years however, interior designer Mimi Meacham has noticed that homeowner’s adaptations of traditional decor has been shifting and refining to become what it is today: a style that she calls “fresh traditional.” 2023’s version of traditional style involves mixing old and new, livening up classic color palettes, and introducing a wide variety of textures.
“It’s not fully traditional nor is it modern. It’s a fresh, updated take on the traditional styles,” she says. “Pops of soft colorful hues, fresh whites, new prints, and lighter warm woods dominate these spaces, as do layers of classic antique goods paired with spanking-new lacquered occasional tables.”
Dark And Moody
“The all-white look has permeated all levels of design, down to new construction, so I think the natural response to that is to introduce its counterpoint,” says interior designer Rachel Cannon. Rather than white, or even a bright hue, Cannon says that rich, dark colors like maroons and navy blues are all the rage this year.
“We do love the drama that a dense, dark paint color brings to a space,” she says. “It helps create the feel of a very intimate room—and that’s the counterpoint we needed for the bright, white trend that has dominated for the past few years.”
While so many rooms in the house are newly bursting with bold and exciting color, in 2023, Cannon also says that some spaces are being reserved for more subtle palettes. Chilly whites are still out of bounds for this decorating style, however, as Cannon explains that the idea here isn’t to be devoid of interest, but rather to embrace a cozy lifestyle. Instead, warm whites, deep, rich tones, comfortable upholstery, natural materials, and lots of texture are cornerstones. She calls these dedicated, comforting spaces, “Quiet Rooms.”
“We’re seeing a return to warmer, cozier elements in design that we like to call Quiet Rooms,” Cannon explains. “In the post-pandemic world, I think we all realized the need for spaces that are more conducive to quiet reflection than group activities. All of that togetherness, locked in our houses, proved that they actually haven’t been designed for us to be in them for long!”
The culmination of two well-loved styles, “Coastal Cowgirl” is the meeting point of coastal and Western decor. Plus, it’s perfectly suited for the South, Bryan Johnson, CEO of Shades of Light, explains.
“Coastal has been around in the US for a very, very long time and it’s had a lot of very sort of distinctive fields to it,” he says. “We’ve got the New England vibe for coastal, we’ve got the Florida vibe for coastal, and we’ve got California coastal. Coastal Cowgirl, however, really leans into the Gulf Coast. It’s a marriage between Gulf Coast style and what you think of when you think of Texas.”
Combining these two styles, decorating like a Coastal Cowgirl means creating a very light and airy space that also involves rustic elements. This means mixing linens with reclaimed wood, says Johnson, and topping it all off with “classic Americana accents and accessories” like a horseshoe, spur, or Route 66 sign.
“I see a lot of things this year that are referential to the late 70s and early 80s,” Cannon shares. This means that patterned wallpaper, natural materials, and old-school colors are all back in vogue. Rather than a retro feel or mid-century style decorating, homeowners are showing grace in incorporating things of yesteryear in with their modern decor. These throw-backs are sure to complement any heirlooms or vintage finds proudly displayed in the home.
Materials, textures, and colors rooted in nature are taking homes by storm in 2023. Among Cannon’s favorite ways to hop on this style are grasscloth and rattan furnishings, as well as opting for “gorgeous stained wood over painted wood.” Natural stone like marble and soapstone is also becoming an increasingly popular choice for countertop materials over man-made options. Further incorporate this style bringing elements of nature like houseplants, flowers, and branches into the home. Earth tones reminiscent of soil, sky, and water, like terra cotta and sage green also infuse any room with natural beauty.
According to a study by Encino conducted earlier this year, Modern Farmhouse design is still thriving in Southern homes in 2023. This most-searched style was popularized by Chip and Joanna Gaines and is characterized by country themes, simple finishings, and charming details. It’s the more sophisticated and glossy cousin of true farmhouse decorating. If your home features shiplap, apron-front sinks, barnyard doors, and a sleek color palette, you’ve probably already hopped on the Modern Farmhouse bandwagon.
On social media, one decorating style reigns supreme in 2023: modern. A new Magnet study reveals that modernist rooms are topping social media algorithms across the US and United Kingdom. Twitter is abuzz about this style, and it’s surely the subject of many a Pinterest Board and countless Instagram posts saved for later inspiration.
Glass and steel, among other industrial materials, can often be found in modernly decorated homes, as opposed to stone, brick, or wooden decor. Clean lines, wide open spaces, and geometric decor are all key features to this style that’s increasingly popular in 2023. Rather than going completely modern, it’s more likely that Southerners are embracing this style in small tastes, with a hint of modern here and there.
Maximalism is a trend that we already had our eye on coming into 2023, and it’s proven to be a popular style this year so far, designers report. In many cases, however, maximalism has presented in intriguing fashions that Meacham says have been unexpected but a welcome change. Rather than simply a “more is more” attitude, 2023’s rendition of maximalism includes an unanticipated moody undertone. Meacham calls it “a maximalist approach with an edgy vibe.”
“Elevated Eclectic is on the rise and still gaining popularity. It is attractive to the bold client, who is playful with a good eye,” she says. This style involves “non-traditional color mixing, warm antique woods in the same room with chic modern pieces, and straight lines paired with funky prints and bold textures.”
This year, maximalism has also exhibited yet another unexpected but highly appreciated twist: girliness. This take on decorating is fun, bold, and embraces sugar, spice, and everything nice.
“It includes vibrant colors with a playful aesthetic,” says Johnson “Think in terms of fun shapes, big bold colors, and a very strong, feminine angle to it all.”
The popularity of this style may very well be influenced by pop culture. In 2023, “Barbie” is the name on everyone’s lips, and with it comes lots of pink and a rush of girl power. However, while enveloping your whole house in a coat of bubblegum pink paint may not be a decorating choice with too much longevity, impactful punches of feminine features, like colorful and frilly accessories and finishings, won’t soon go out of style.