The Insider: The Biggest Trends of 2023

These six are too good to let fade away with the calendar year — which will you usher into 2024 and beyond? 

Written by Sophie Donelson

& Clinton Smith



We’ve narrowed it down to the singular color, wood, room, and idea that headlined this year in design. Our hot take: These six are too good to let fade away with the calendar year; we think they’re catching momentum — which will you usher into 2024 and beyond?

1. Purple Reign

Is purple the new black? Whether it was plum, lavender, aubergine, violet, or amethyst, there was no ignoring the seemingly 50 shades of purple in 2023. Long associated with power, luxury, royalty and nobility, purple cast a wider net in the world of design this year, reflecting a desire to have something unique, individual and, perhaps, unexpected. The color’s many moods expressed itself through plush fabrics, fashion-forward accessories, one-of-a-kind marble slabs and even contemporary table settings and floral arrangements for entertaining. 

Whereas in the past, purple may have been a mere accent, 2023 saw it taking a starring role in the form of complete rooms enveloped in the color. However you decide to use Purple 2.0—a little or a lot—do it with aplomb. Just don’t call it grape or mauve!

2. Return to Splendor

Quiet sophistication. Glamorous metallic accents. Romantic palettes. In 2023, a certain level of refinement worked its way into our interiors. On social media, hashtags like #TraditionWithATwist and #TraditionalButNot showcased homes that were grounded in a classic design sensibility but without the heaviness, formality and grandeur that can sometimes be associated with the style. Young families were just at home in spaces composed of classical architecture, but with floor plans recalibrated for how we live today, and furnishings selected to create an ideal juxtaposition. Think tailored, couture-like slipcovers on upholstery, contemporary art hanging above an antique European bureau, and reclaimed hardwood floors, handmade tile and stone evoking an Old World sophistication. This year was all about the mix and, simply, in a word (or two): easy elegance!

3. Bold Veining

This year, subtlety was not the first word associated with marble in kitchens, baths and, in fact, throughout the house. In years’ past, the material was more often sourced for its quiet subtlety. In 2023, we continued to see growing momentum for statement-making slabs that become the focal point in the spaces they inhabit. An interest in organic materials and having a unique, one-of-a-kind piece were just two of the reasons that fueled the popularity of marbles with a big personality. Whether used for a shower wall, range hood, backsplash, wet bar or fireplace surround, marble with bold veining went from supporting act to major star status and proved that there’s no limit to the possibilities of the material and its eye-catching appeal.

4. The It Wood

White hot: white oak? Who knew a tree species could trend so hard? This fine, pale wood has traditionally made its home around the house, cladding case goods like buffets and bureaus, but 2023 saw its heavy infiltration into kitchen and bath. As kitchens became more room-like, cabinets took cues from traditional furniture. Glass-front, white oak cabinets showed up amidst the traditional run of white, Shaker-style cabinets, for example, as a way to seamlessly blend the array of “kitchen materials” with what was happening in the rest of the house. Bar stations were a perfect spot to use white oak and tile, blending kitchen utility with the living room grace notes.


The big launch of Studio McGee-designed fixtures, vanities, and tile (a Kohler-Ann Sacks collab) included elegant white oak vanities. Designers are on board with the pairing of tile, stone and white oak. Allison Wilson, a Toronto designer with a soft spot for hardwood, calls on the material “to bring warmth and texture to rooms like kitchens and bathrooms where there aren’t as many opportunities for textiles and soft layers.” What’s next for white oak and other minimally finished woods? A stone partner. “Wood with stone — it wins nature’s best couple award!” says Willson. “Whether it is a rustic stone, like a rubble finished limestone, or a strongly veined marble, like arabescato, you can’t go wrong — the pairing brings authenticity, interest and depth to a space.”

5. Second Kitchens

What’s better than a kitchen?! Two! This year we watched the kitchen footprint increase not just with great rooms but with the addition of a second kitchen, back kitchen, dirty kitchen, or scullery (all the names apply!)  as well as with deluxe, showroom-style pantries and so-called “Costco closets”. 

The National Association of Homebuilders says more than 45% of respondents to a 2023 study says they’re looking for a “better-equipped kitchen,” and the increase in specialty rooms continues to be the answer for many.  When the back kitchen takes on the real cooking and cleaning jobs — and can be shuttered off by a door — the main kitchen is freed to be a convivial and clean informal dining and entertaining space, one that’s unimpeded by workhorse tasks and unencumbered by the clutter of countertop appliances.

A fancy pantry, meanwhile, encourages that Tiktok-approved organizing fetish: decanting pasta, cereal, M&Ms and even dog treats into matching Oxo containers or mason jars, often queued up on illuminated open shelves so that merely passing by the pantry elicits “kid in A candy store” surges of serotonin.

An additional kitchen room is reportedly a win-win for design AND clients since it means saying yes to two schemes, two favorite materials. Increasingly, the back kitchen gets the playful, daring, or moody jewel-box approach once reserved for rooms like powder rooms.

6. Broader Than the Kitchen

Despite being a universal fashion hue and one often utilized in other rooms of the house, black rarely gets its due in kitchens or baths—up until 2023. From iron drawer-pulls to matte-black backsplashes, to blackened steel hoods, black has arrived in the kitchen and shows no sign of abating. This is not the moody British kitchen we’ve seen alongside plums and oxblood and soot, nor is it the slick urbanite’s take-out centric landing pad in a city aerie. The black appearing these days appears in traditionally styled kitchens alongside Shaker cabinets, a ceramic tile backsplash, and a glossy marble island — a common trifecta of pretty kitchening. These kitchens send a strong signal — like a spin on the iconic Amy Poehler movie quote: “I’m not a regular kitchen, I’m a cool kitchen!"

What’s even more fun and brave is black in the bath. Slate colored tiles and matte-black fixtures, these are a sure and trusted thing, but what’s a brazen and newly beloved is glossy black basins and even the oh-so-controversial black toilet. Fashion designer Brian Atwood and TV-famous doctor Jake Deutsch enacted both with style and grace in their recent re-do of a modern beach house getaway. Paired with low-key cedar walls it brought the retro-leaning color zooming toward a fresh future.

Are you on board?

December 27, 2023

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