Home & Garden

Be bold: Colors are going brighter not lighter in home decorating for 2018

Local interior designers talk about what's hot and what's not


Get ready to boldly go where no one has gone — for a while, anyway — in everything from wall colors to kitchen appliances.

“2018 is going to be a very bold year,” said designer Aaron Murphy, owner of Aaron Murphy Interiors in Cedar Rapids. “I know we say that often. Especially color — and finish-wise, a couple of years ago it was white, a lot of tone-on-tone, and these warm grays.

“And now, it’s going to be really bold purples, the black onyx and deep charcoals, and a lot of really bold green colors are really coming in,” he said. “The purple is east and west coast – it really won’t trickle down to us quite yet.”

But look for kelly greens and emerald greens to move into the area, as well as earth tones.

“A lot of neutrals have been around for a little bit, but the grays are kind of going away,” said Harrison Bontrager, associate interior designer at Luxe Interiors in Coralville. “We’re getting back to the browns and warm colors. Earth tones are always around. Deep reds give a warm and cozy feel, especially in this area.”

Here’s a look at other trends ringing through the new year at either end of the Corridor.


Don’t look for black on walls, though.

“Black has a lot of different applications: black cabinetry in the kitchen and bath, metallic quartz for countertops, a lot of hardware for door handles and faucets,” Murphy said, “and lighting, for sure. Black finishes for lighting are on-trend. That won’t be your typically glossy black. This is more the matte black finish or not-quite-black.”

It’s heating up kitchen appliances, too.

“Smoky stainless in charcoal or deeper gray is my favorite,” Bontrager said. “I’m seeing that come around more often. Stainless smoky black is the new trend, especially if you go to appliance manufacturers.”


A flare for the dramatic extends to walls, as well.

“Big print wallpapers are coming back,” Bontrager said. “It’s that ‘80s look. Some people hate it, but I personally love it – big, bold and in-your- face.”


Not quite ready to make an all-over commitment? Flirt with big and bold in little ways. You don’t have to go big to go bold.

“We’re doing a lot of wallpaper in small, unexpected places, like alcoves and powder rooms,” Murphy said. “Rooms where guests are going to see and appreciate it.”

Look up for unexpected surprises, too.

“The next step in that is taking wallpaper to ceilings,” Murphy said.

“These real statement ceilings that we were doing in the last couple of years, especially in new construction with beamed ceilings and tiered ceilings. While that still is quite nice and traditional feeling, it’s also quite expensive as far as trim carpentry goes,” he noted. “An easier way to do it, and a little bit more bold way to do it, is to do wallpaper or wallcovering on the ceiling.”

Adding textured grasscloth over head is one way to keep rooms looking up for a long time -- which is important stylistically and practically, since papering a ceiling isn’t exactly easy.

“Grasscloth is not something that’s going to age or trend out quickly like the bold geometric patterns,” Murphy said. “Everyone hates painting their ceiling – no one wants to re-wallpaper their ceiling. That’s even worse,” he said with a laugh.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun in high places.

“We’re playing with ceilings a little more,” Bontrager said, “with different colors and doing something architecturally.”


Wood is the trend underfoot, but that’s changing up a bit, as well.

“Dark wood floors have been around for a long time. They’re timeless and classy,” Bontrager said.

But lighter, more rustic looks are in, as well, via hand-scraped oak. “It’s earthy and a little more cozy – not too clean and sleek,” he added.

Matte finishes are in, too, and “wide planks are huge,” he said.


Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

Murphy is seeing a shift away from the dark colors, into more natural wood tones, which he said plays well off the evolving modern farmhouse moving beyond HGTV shows.

“Really natural wood tone hardwood in wide planks 5- to 7-inches wide gives you that farmhouse look without overdoing it. It creates a really a nice base palette for the rest of the colors and textures to work off of. You can see how that works well with matte black. Medium- to light wood tone on you floor, and you bring in these excessive black pieces here and there, I really can’t wait for it.”

Carpet hasn’t gone away. “It’s come a long way,” Murphy said.

“People are getting a little more bold with where the place carpet,” he said. “It’s not the living room and bedroom. We’re talking more like staircases and theater rooms or family rooms, where you can get a little bolder with your carpet – not in terms of texture or quality, but in patterns.

“Really bold geometric patterns are happening in carpet,” he said. “A couple of years ago, we were seeing the herringbone in hardwood and tile installation. Now we’re seeing that trickle into carpet.

“We’re also seeing the simple, traditional trellis pattern happen in carpet. A few years ago, it was a bold color with a white trellis pattern. Now we’re doing tone-on-tone, so maybe it’s an emerald green carpet with a trellis in another shade of green. So it’s becoming a little more interesting, but carpet for the most part, is being sequestered into these more interesting rooms.”

Hardwood, tile and vinyl are dominating the main living spaces, bedrooms and kitchens, he said.


Family and master bathrooms are not going bold. They’re going neutral to beckon bathers for a little R & R.

“Master bathrooms are going toward a neutral palette, spa-like experience when you walk in. We’re seeing medium- and dark-colored floors that don’t show hair, dirt or dust. And we’re seeing whites and pale pastels colors up on walls to create this relaxing spa-like environments,” Murphy said. “Tile showers and floors are still quite popular, but taking a step back to the neutral zone.

“This is another place we’re seeing black hardware come in, with shower door pulls, faucets and showerhead faucets. That’s your one big pop.”

Subway way tiles have classic staying-power, but even those are getting an upgrade.


“It’s not going away. Subway tile has been around since the beginning of subways,” Murphy said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.


Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.