A look at the subtle, natural shift in styling the home for 2016

Art deco style sofa from €2,019, table €399, cushions from €27 at M&S.

The arrival and departure of trends occurs at such speed that much of what inspired us five years ago has since been relegated to the recycling bin of interior design.

Often they’re the result of a response to the mood of society at a particular time, like vintage florals offering a cosy antidote to the harshness of austerity.

For 2016 there are some potential fly-by-nights , but others have staying power to see us through a few more years, based on classic styles developed on solid principals of good design and practicality.

Concrete-effect kitchen counters from Formica Group.
Concrete-effect kitchen counters from Formica Group.

It’s an attitude to design trending at exhibitions this season, especially London and Milan, looking back at what came before and worked well, with manufacturers and designers showing timeless, classic products alongside updated versions and the brand new.

Built on an appreciation of quality and the artisanal element, there are inventive, clever and often fun updates of old favourites with new applications for modern life.

The kitchen has been getting more hi-tech each year, with exciting developments like the capacity to switch on your oven remotely from your smart phone. 

New designs from Formica Group, invented over 100 years ago, play on our love of granite, marble and stone for kitchen surfaces. PIC: Formica Group
New designs from Formica Group, invented over 100 years ago, play on our love of granite, marble and stone for kitchen surfaces. PIC: Formica Group

Yet, the most significant trend in the kitchen for 2016 is purely aesthetic, with colour so high impact it’s enough to make neutral evangelists run for cover.

One of the leaders in this trend is Italian brand GED Cucine, daring to shock with colours on plain, streamlined units, in hues like high-lighter pens but with just enough warmth to tone down the sharpness.

It’s an arresting look, no question, and gives personality to a style of unit that could just as easily house office files behind its doors.

Panelling has been introduced as an alternative wall treatment this year and is set to become a staple in living rooms in 2016. 

The shape of bath tubs to come by Kolpa San.
The shape of bath tubs to come by Kolpa San.

It’s the bringing forward of something traditional that once hid dampness and bad walls when plastering was less of a craft, but it’s far from being reminiscent of a gentleman’s club, or library in a stately home.

The main feature of the update is colour, sometimes a chic look with tonal greys for contemporary spaces, furnished with streamlined sofas and minimal fuss, while the other end of the spectrum sparkles with gem colours which trended this year too.

Watch out for the colours of semi-precious stones, especially turquoise, green and blue used together like peacock feathers — a blend that’s all set to trend in 2016.

Remember Formica® laminate? It never really went away but was wiped out of fashion after a period as the easy-to-clean kitchen table miracle surface. 

High-end Italian kitchen brand GED Cucine introduces zingy colour finishes for 2016, set against clean, streamlined cabinetry
High-end Italian kitchen brand GED Cucine introduces zingy colour finishes for 2016, set against clean, streamlined cabinetry

Coveted in the 1950s for its style, practicality and light aesthetic, it ended the labour of scrubbing germs out of wooden table tops with a bristle brush and carbolic soap.

Latest designs see Formica® laminate mimicking the look of marble and granite and any other natural material we love in kitchen surfaces. 

The effect is convincing and it’s also making its way on to walls, joining in the trend for panelling by offering an alternative to painted wood.

And it’s not just Formica® laminate that’s mimicking a look. Crafted design is at it too including Agaf Design which has taken enamel — an excellent conductor of heat for baking and roasting and which has already made a comeback — and applied it in unexpected ways.

The most iconic is the mug, now mimicked in ceramic material complete with wear and tear marks that can occur on enamel over time. 

Traditional patterns applied to modern linens by Ikea
Traditional patterns applied to modern linens by Ikea

The difference between the materials is discernible only by touch and elevates this humble material and its use to functional art.

Even the written word and its inseparable partner, the punctuation mark, are having new-found popularity as an interior design feature.

Almost an endangered species since the emergence of texting and social media messaging, the printed word, (albeit in cut-out form), is now in every home interiors shop — sold in individual letters to hang on your wall or to spell out a message, initials, or a single word.

It’s another example of a trend that seems set to continue, framed verses, inspirational phrases and even pages from well-loved novels are set to grace our walls, often printed in the dark blue of ink, or the graphite grey of the humble pencil.

Hand-written pendant light on show at Tent during last month’s London Design Festival.
Hand-written pendant light on show at Tent during last month’s London Design Festival.

An innovation, or elevation of the trend at the London Design Festival’s Tent exhibition were blackboard-dark lampshades covered in chalk-written text. Just run and repeat for a new aphorism a day — perfect for Instagram Queens.

And there’s a wholesomeness and lasting value in this trends of looking back and bringing forward. 

We’ve already seen it in the upsurge of interest in what we now call vintage products — all contributing to a new mind-set that moves us away from the careless attitude of buy it, break it and buy again, to focus on quality and real value.

* Next week: Equipping the kitchen for Christmas baking.

As the written word becomes decorative wall art, Vinyl Impressions’ house rules poster is a subtle but constant reminder of expectations, suitably finished in ink and pencil colours (Ä30 at www.vinylimpressions.co.uk)
As the written word becomes decorative wall art, Vinyl Impressions’ house rules poster is a subtle but constant reminder of expectations, suitably finished in ink and pencil colours (Ä30 at www.vinylimpressions.co.uk)


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