Having largely lived under conditions of sensory deprivation for the past year – or is it two? – it’s undeniably welcome to see surfacing trends stepping into the breach and supplying much-needed beauty as well as utility to residential interiors.
On walls, counters and floors, three qualities – color, tactility and nature-inspired motifs and materials – are supplying design remedies to cooped up consumers who are looking for ways to express their individuality.
“Our homes have become so much more than just living space,” said Gerri Chmiel, residential design lead at Formica Corporation. “Homeowners are craving simple, minimal spaces that bring them peace and calm, but they don’t necessarily want their homes to feel austere. We’re seeing them seek out materials with natural textures that feel clean while making a statement. And perhaps most importantly, these surfaces need to be maintenance-free and stand up to the rigors of everyday life and multipurpose use.”
Walls, Flowered Whether it’s used as an accent – lining open shelves in the kitchen, a shower storage niche, highlighting a backsplash – or acting as a dominant design tool, color is a sure bet to invigorate vertical surfaces.
“Everyone is excited about the color green right now and I think that will continue as people embrace more and more color in their kitchens and baths,” said Young Huh, owner of Young Huh Interior Design in New York City. “For example, Posidonia Green from Silestone’s Sunlit Days collection of quartz surfacing is serene and soft, making it a durable and sustainable way to bring color to backsplashes and counters.”
Dramatically veined stone looks are now hugely popular in tile, panels and slabs in a full spectrum of materials. Large-format quarried stone, engineered stone and porcelain and ceramic tiles all deliver a customized effect, whether it’s the formal composition of book-matching or in a layout that emphasizes the fluid, freeform quality of the veining.
“People are now willing to commit to surfacing that has personality, as opposed to blending in like a ‘wallflower’,” said Lindsey Waldrep, Crossville‘s vice president of marketing. “Those who embrace minimalism appreciate the large format and visual interest these surfacing materials bring as a focus to a room. On the other hand, maximalists and new traditionalists love how the drama of large veins can layer into their design scheme.”
The influence of nature goes beyond the material palette; imagery also reinforces the connection to the outdoors. Botanical motifs, both fanciful and realistic, have taken root and embellish walls throughout the home.
Cean Irminger, creative director of Virginia-based handcrafted mosaic specialist New Ravenna, found artistic inspiration during the pandemic shutdown. “Spending time with my family, we discovered beautiful sights in nature, like the dances of fireflies or the phases of the moon; we worked together to keep a balloon from touching the ground; and we set up dominoes just to knock them down. In my new collection, Kiddo: Heyday Edition, I worked to capture those innocent moments of play and awe, and provide a portal out of the mundane, stressful duties of adulthood into the simple magic of childhood.”
Flooring Steps Up “When in doubt, go big!” said designer Marie Soliman of Bergman Design House, speaking of the artistic possibilities in underfoot surfacing trends. “Floors are works of art and are one of the biggest surfaces in a room, so choose materials that enhance your clients’ daily life and bring beautiful vibes and energy to the space.”
Patterned floors bring graphic punch to kitchens and baths large and small. From encaustic tiles that have a touch of folkloric style to contemporary abstractions, they animate space. A simple way to ease clients into the use of bold geometries is to create a patchwork that mixes solid-color and patterned tiles; for instance, running a border of patterned tile around the perimeter of a room and filling in the middle with solid field tiles.
As a key element of the urban farmhouse look, wood-look porcelain and ceramic products continue to grow ever-more realistic, thanks to advances in digital printing technology. Offered in 12 colorways, the just-released Empower Rigid Core Flooring from Armstrong Flooring features a 20-ml wear layer which inhibits fading from exposure to UV light and improved resistance to scuffing and stains.
While marble and onyx floors bring drama to the room, they aren’t the sole mineral look on the market. Introduced by Compac at KBIS in February 2022, Terrazzo High Performance Stone offers the distinctive style of terrazzo minus the susceptibility to cracking characteristic of the traditional aggregate material.
For spaces that have an industrial loft ambiance, tiles that mimic metallic floors offer a fresh alternative to the faux concrete floor. Detailed with photorealistic patinas and rust, they contribute to the atmosphere of authenticity that is in demand.
Counter Intelligence In the bath or kitchen, countertops often tie the design of the room together. Whether they complement or contrast with the other elements of the room, the work surfaces not only have to be attractive, they also must stand up to the rigors of daily use.
Designer Jaclyn Isaac of Doni Douglas Designs in Jersey City, N.J. sees the surfacing trend of textured counters as a point of entry for clients who are looking to make a break with convention but are cautious about how to do so.
“Homeowners come to us a bit bored of the standard marble veining and white kitchen, but they still may be hesitant to invest in a color,” she said. “Textured surfaces are the easiest way to satisfy the urge to do something different on the interior but maintain a classic look: leathered quartzite counters, plaster walls and heavy wood grain are design elements we have been leaning into heavily.”
Hints of sparkle are working their way into countertops of various materials. Gold, pewter or even metallic blue and green tracery in marble-look slabs bring a luxe look to surfaces. Depending on the direction and density of the veining, they can be either subtle or over the top.
Laminates aren’t left out of the glittery trend. Formica’s new White Pearl Cascade features white pearl pigments that are applied during the traditional paper-making process. When paired with a surface texture treatment, it results in a subtle sparkle with shimmery ribbons.
The opportunities for personal expression posed by the canvases of walls, floors and counters continues to expand, the surfacing trends accelerated by creative advancements in design and production.