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2023 is the year of universal decor

Uncovering consumers’ design priorities in our Home Decor Report.

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Yasmine El Sanyoura

1/17/2023 · 7 min read

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As we kick off 2023, we surveyed U.S. homeowners to learn about their design preferences and priorities. With fears of a recession looming, cost-effective approaches are top of mind for many American homeowners. We discovered three things: a move toward something we’re calling universal decor; a roundup of tried-and-true decor must-haves, and a shift toward ultra-functional spaces.

Here are our top findings, along with some of my own tips to enhance your space without breaking the bank.

Inflation’s impact on home decor spending

Homeowners are cutting back on decor investments—and getting scrappy. Inflation is causing frequent home decor updates to drop: 25% of homeowners swap out their home decor once a year or more, down from 32% in 2021, suggesting that pieces that work year-round—universal decor—will reign supreme in 2023.

In addition to rising prices, 33% of our respondents say they are intimidated by decorating costs, and 29% have trouble finding decor they like within their budget. Instead, homeowners are opting for cost-effective decor options, including fresh paint (66%), moving furniture (49%), new throw pillows (43%), new house plants (41%), and updating wall art (39%). Other cost-effective decor ideas involve DIY craft projects: making a new lampshade or throw blanket, staining a vintage piece of furniture, painting kitchen cabinets, new peel and stick tiles for the bathroom and kitchen floors or backsplash, repainting a room and adding modern wallpaper to give it new life.

The new powerhouse room

Our data suggests that the living room has overtaken the kitchen as the home’s central space: 24% say the living room as the indoor space where they spend the most time to feel energized, while 54% say it’s also where they feel the most relaxed—even over the bedroom. Some 55% of homeowners also say the living room is where they spend the most time to feel close to others, with the kitchen coming in at number two (21%).

Rooms that are designed to be ultra-functional will see the most use in 2023, maximizing indoor opportunities for connection, rest and relaxation, solitude, and productivity. And with 41% of homeowners saying they want a fully open layout for the kitchen, living room, and dining room, maximizing space is a top consideration. Try placing living room furniture to delineate a separate space—such as with a couch in the middle of the room, backed by a console table—which also fosters a feeling of openness and connection to other parts of the home.

The new buyer toolkit: Using design to impress a potential owner

Even with decelerating home prices and a cooling housing market, owners will always need to sell. Which means that whatever their next life chapter is, impressing buyers is always important. Our survey respondents shared the role design plays in that process:

Buyers’ biggest design turn-ons:

  • 61%: Updated bathrooms

  • 60%: Updated kitchen decor (e.g. countertops and cabinets)

  • 43%: New flooring

  • 42%: New appliances

  • 31%: Well-maintained yard

Buyers’ biggest design turn-offs:

  • 54%: Outdated bathrooms

  • 49%: Old carpet

  • 41%: Outdated kitchen features (e.g. countertops or cabinets)

  • 32%: Textured ceilings

  • 30%: Outdated appliances

Another easy upgrade is switching out light fixtures. It can have a major impact on how buyers perceive the space. I highly recommend replacing outdated vanity lights, pendant lights, or builder-grade flush mounts in favor of more reasonably-priced design-forward options.

Buyers find updated kitchen appliances (23%), a kitchen island (21%), and quartz countertops in the kitchen or bath (15%) to be the most desirable home elements. To further entice them, opt for durable, high-quality materials that can withstand everything from stains and spills to kids and pets. For durability, I recommend quartz counters and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring in colors and patterns that mimic real stone and wood for timeless design.

It’s also worth noting that, as mentioned above, 41% of our respondents / those surveyed want a fully open layout for the kitchen, living, and dining room, signaling a shift from open concept — where rooms can easily be connected — to fully open spaces, which have minimal barriers. These open floor plans are still popular in home listings in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Tampa, Riverside, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

2023 trend forecast for architecture, design & decor trends

From the most captivating design features to what they consider “in” or “out” in architectural styles, homeowners revealed what’s resonating—and some of it might surprise you.

Architecture

  • IN: Potential buyers cited Ranch-style (35%) and Craftsman (23%) as the architectural styles that impress them the most.

  • OUT: Homeowners are least impressed by Italianate (24%) and Modern (16%) styles.

Design

  • IN: Millennials incorporated Cottagecore (21%) and Millennial Maximalism (25%) into their homes in 2022—more so than any other generation, suggesting the two styles will become a mainstay.

  • OUT: Homeowners said that Bohemian (30%) and Modern (17%) were their least favorite styles, suggesting a more universal style such as traditional or contemporary is preferred.

Front door colors

  • IN: Neutral colors like white, gray, gray-blue and gray-green are preferred by homeowners (44%).

  • OUT: Bright and bold (e.g. yellow, red, teal) shades are least preferred (48%).

Interior colors

  • IN: Homeowners are most likely to choose mid-tone gray and beige (38%) colors for interiors.

  • OUT: Homeowners are least likely to choose deep shades (13%) for interiors.

Outdoor features

  • IN: An outdoor dining table and chairs (22%), a fire pit (20%), and an outdoor structure (23%) are most appealing.

  • OUT: Fountains and statues (27%) and outdoor rugs (21%) are least enticing.

Renovation priorities

  • IN: Among those actually planning to renovate, both kitchen (24%) and bathroom (26%) are popular.

  • OUT: Only 19% plan to remodel their living room in 2023.

Here are my tips for designing with the top three most captivating indoor design features:

  • Recessed LED lights: I would encourage pairing overhead lights with task and accent lighting like floor lamps to bring in extra layers of lighting and make a room feel more cozy. If you like the idea of recessed LEDs but are still worried about the lighting being too stark, I would recommend opting for LEDs that can be set at warmer light temperatures (like 2700K-3000K), and pairing those with dimmer switches to control how much light is diffused at any given time.

  • Luxury vinyl plank (LVP): LVP throughout the home can bring in the warmth and coveted look of hardwood floors with the added safety of its durability promise, particularly in wet areas like the bathroom or kitchen. When considering LVP, lean into those resembling wood grain and opt for more brown versus gray tones, as this will provide warmth into your space and ensure a timeless look for years to come.

  • Subway tile: This look shows up everywhere today, from the kitchen backsplash and shower walls to fireplace surrounds. For creative applications with subway tile, I recommend exploring different colors, sizes, and especially textures, which range from brick-like to handmade zellige subway tiles. Whether installed in a classic way or in a more unique pattern, these enhance whichever surface they adorn.

This year, we also expect to see eco-minded homebuyers take an indoor/outdoor approach. Inside, they are more likely to refinish existing floors, cabinets, and fixtures (50%), invest in energy-saving dimmers (47%), or refinish or repaint an old piece of furniture (38%). Outdoors, as in 2021, they will want solar-powered lights as the most eco-friendly landscaping feature (46%), followed by native landscaping (43%), drought-resistant landscaping (40%), solar panels (26%), turf lawn (22%), and drip irrigation (21%).

Are you searching for a home right now? Download the Opendoor app to learn how we can help you find the house of your dreams.

Yasmine El Sanyoura is a Home Designer for Opendoor.

National Methodology

The Opendoor survey was conducted online by OpinionRoute among 929 nationally representative U.S. homeowners ages 25-74 in November 2022 who are interested in either decorating or remodeling their home (or have remodeled in the past two years). For the purposes of this report, Millennials are defined as ages of 25-39, Generation X is defined as ages 40 to 55 and Baby Boomers are defined as ages 56 to 74.

Local Methodology

Opendoor examined the listing descriptions, or public remarks, of all recent listings across all of our markets from January 1, 2021 through December 1, 2022, and analyzed how quickly or slowly a home would sell vs. the market average when certain one or two word patterns were present in the listing description. This helped us identify what key characteristics and home features are correlated with buyer demand. The result is an indicator of what features are sought after by buyers, but it is not a prediction of market demand or intended as financial advice.

Further reading

2023 is the year of universal decor

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Yasmine El SanyouraAuthor