My Top Five Commercial Interior Design Trends

While the ‘telecommute’ trend is growing, more than 80 percent of us still work in a traditional office environment.  The average employee spends 50 weeks or 2,000 hours a year in said space, generally seated in a cubicle.  Increasingly, employers are beginning to understand the importance of creating an environment in which employees can collaborate and create.

Historically, companies would hire designers to create space plans. Determining how many desks and bodies can be squeezed into one space was their primary focus.  Now that employers are being enlightened (likely by generational influences) they’re asking their interior design teams to think differently.

These are the five trends happening in commercial design:

1- Authenticity.

I’m seeing a big demand for authentic designs that are reflections of the company’s core values. For family-focused companies, authenticity-centered design may take root through a room for mothers to breast feed, for example.  For another with a health-driven mission, providing employees with standing desks and yoga balls might be how they are in alignment with their brand.

2- Color and Art

No longer are offices dark and dreary.  More and more, my commercial clients are requesting colorful furniture, exciting original art, and even featuring – and sometimes selling! -- the work of local artisans.

3- Homey

Lately, I am installing wallpaper, chandeliers, beanbags, plants and even draperies in places like conference rooms and breakout spaces.  The employer mindset being that if you have to be there eight hours or more a day, you might as well be as comfortable there as you are at home!

4- Generational Appeal

Today’s “cool” offices tout open floor plans, coffee bars, happy hours and foosball tables giving millennials plenty of time for on-the-clock play.  This movement is often referred to as “activity-based working” where employers offer a variety of work settings that will support brainstorming, collaborating and team building.

5-    Performance.

While form has become much more important, function certainly isn’t dead. “We are definitely seeing a change in what designers and clients are looking for,” says Shannon Ferrigno, design studio director for SmithCFI.  “It really comes down to creating a variety of inspiring spaces that offer choice of posture, technology interfaces that perform well and settings support the work that is being done throughout the day.  It is not enough just to be beautiful”.

I surprised myself and have fallen in love with designing commercial spaces, including restaurants, retail stores and offices.  If you’re thinking about transforming your businesses’ space, let me know!

Is It Timeless or Trendy?


A friend recently said to me, “Kristen: I really like the rose gold look, but I worry that it’s trendy and will soon appear dated.  How do I know?”

It’s easy to spot trends -- you see them in magazines, in social media posts, in stores, and all over HGTV. What’s harder is determining which of those trends will stand the test of time, and which will be a flash in the pan.

Here are a couple of tips to help you decide whether something is timeless or trendy, and whether or not that particular trend is for you.

1.    Is it functional.  Nothing can be timeless if it does not serve you functionally over the course of time.  Examples: Marble countertops are gorgeous, but if you’re a gourmet cook, the acids in your ingredients will eat right through the material over time.  Love the boho look of Boujad rugs?  Me, too, but my two dogs tore mine up in a matter of a few weeks.  If it doesn’t last, it’s not timeless – literally!

The ill-fated Boujad rug by  Loom + Kiln

The ill-fated Boujad rug by Loom + Kiln

2.    Is it adaptable. If your trend meets your functional needs, the next question to ask yourself is if it can evolve with your style. White walls are a huge trend in the design world right now. Do white walls work in a multitude of aesthetic environments?  Yes! You may get sick of that avocado green sofa (trendy), but white walls allow for versatility.

3.    The last thing to consider is simplicity. Typically, the simpler the design, the more likely it is to remain timeless. Think about subway tiles.  Yes, they may be a little predictable, but they’ve stood the test of time because a) they’re functional b) they’re adaptable and yes, c) they’re simple!

Now, I’m not trying to rain on your trend parade (or my friend who asked the question).  I love incorporating trends into the spaces I design. However, I try to do so 1) sparingly and 2) inexpensively. Love the rose gold finishes that seem to be everywhere (as seen above)?  Rather than installing a new kitchen faucet and fixtures, incorporate the trend in accessories – a teapot, a fruit bowl etc. Décor is also a great place to apply the latest design ideas! Digging the Justina Blakeney jewel toned sofa look? Me, too, but before committing the bucks, try a few throw pillows in the same vibrant hue and see if it satisfies.

My last bit of advice is this: ask yourself the hard question: Would I still love it if it wasn’t trendy? 

What trends are you dying to try?