Scratching the Surface

See your home in a new light when you change something as simple as your walls or flooring.



The right wallpaper can instantly add texture, interest, and pattern to a space. Even subtle wallpaper can have a dramatic effect.

Uneek Photography/Courtesy Ted Maines Interiors

Ever notice how a fresh coat of paint transforms a room? Even if everything else remains the same—the furniture, lighting, décor—the new backdrop establishes a different context for viewing and experiencing your space.

That’s why interior designers pay so much attention to surfaces like walls and floors. You can often tell when an interior design professional has been involved in the design of a room by looking at the walls, ceiling and floor—all of these surfaces have been “touched” in some way, improved with color and texture.

The powerful influence of these surfaces sets the stage for the rest of the design, and they are the constant focus of shifting trends.

“The goal with good interior design is to cause the eye to roam around the room and to be continuously excited,” says John McClain of John McClain Design in Winter Park. “By mixing various design elements, the space is layered and intriguing. Although I try to design more classic and timeless elements in a home, there are inevitably design trends that work their way in to each home that we orchestrate,” he says. “Sometimes I am the driving force behind the recommendations, but lately, the clients have had lots of ideas that they would like to bring in, gathered from magazines and websites like Houzz.”

So, what trends are local designers seeing for interior surfaces?

Stephen Allen Photography/Courtesy John McClain Design

These Walls Speak

Geometric patterns, elaborate floral prints and metallic accents are gracing the walls of newly designed interiors.

“Wallpaper is back in a big way,” says Anne Rue of Anne Rue Interiors in Lake Mary. “It’s not your old one-dimensional floral wallpaper, though, and don’t even think about borders. Wallpaper today is two-dimensional: fabric, hand-painted, graphic and geometric shapes. We are not only using wallpaper on the walls, we are using it on ceilings, too. It’s a great look.”

McClain concurs: “Personally, I have always loved wallpaper and have consistently included it in my designs, but the general public is now coming around and realizing that it’s not your grandmother’s wallpaper anymore, though some of your grandmother’s papers could be fabulous, too. Metallics, beaded, and printed grass cloth are very popular, to name a few trends.”

Stomping Grounds

We often don’t think about the surfaces we walk on, but flooring is a big consideration that shouldn’t be overlooked. Unattractive floors can ruin an otherwise good room, literally becoming the lowest common denominator. By the same logic, beautiful flooring enhances even the simplest room.  

“When it comes to flooring, we see a trend to use hard surfaces, even in bedrooms where wall-to-wall carpeting used to be the norm,” says Ted Maines of Ted Maines Interiors in Winter Park. “Wood flooring has always been a popular option, but the demand is also very high for porcelain tile, especially now that large format tile is readily available. In big spaces, we have been working with 24”x 48” tiles, providing a custom look with less grout lines.” 

Porcelain tiles are manufactured now that so closely resemble natural stone, you can’t tell the difference—even close up. The benefit of using man-made materials is that the tiles can withstand heat, wear, chemicals, water, scratches and more while providing the appearance of beautiful, natural stone. 

Anne Rue says that among her clients, wood is still the most popular flooring. “However, wood tile floors have come a long way; and in Florida where floors can easily get wet from an adjacent swimming pool, wood tile floors are great,” she says.

Adds Maines: “Area rugs, in all shapes and sizes, add warmth, color and texture to a room with wood or tile flooring.” 

It should be said that trends serve more as an inspiration than a guide. Beautiful rooms are not designed around trends, but trends can infuse a room with new life. As interior decorator legend Billy Baldwin so knowingly said, “Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style.”


Where do interior design trends originate?

Styles often take hold across the design and creative professions. Think of the elaborate detailing of the Victorian period, which was seen in clothing, architecture, literature, and the decorative and visual arts. During the era of modernism, we saw similarly wide-reaching influence in all areas of culture.

Today’s interiors often borrow from the fashion world, and vice versa. “People are vibrant and expressive in their personal style now more than ever,” says image consultant Val Decena of LiveLookLuxe, “and this is fueled by what they see on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. This sense of style is translating into their homes as they ask their interior designers to incorporate these trends into home decor.”

For example, people see mixed metals in jewelry, and soon they want a similar look in their living room or bedroom. “It was once frowned upon to have different metals in jewelry, clothing hardware, and even door knobs. Now, people mix silver with brass or copper because this helps create balance between the cool and warm metals,” says Decena.

Interior designer John McClain favors mixing metallics. “The combination of silver and gold tones work amazingly well together,” he says. “It’s important to note that the metals can be antiqued or distressed if necessary to work better with the room in which they are placed.”

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