Keeping track of décor trends

By Ng Pau Ling

Industry experts share their observations on what’s hot and what’s not for interior design

Interior décor trends come and go. The changes in design details and elements bring forth a new mood and reflect current sentiments.

For house-proud folks looking for interior decorating tips, has invited home and living tastemakers from interior design, lifestyle furniture, and architecture industries to share their thoughts on what’s on fire and what’s losing lustre.

The Interior Designer

Ooi Boon Seong

Ooi Design & Associates Sdn Bhd chief executive director

“People have started to appreciate fine detail and uniqueness. In short, they want to own a home that is Instagram-worthy – with scenes that are good enough to be posted.”

In: Bespoke style


It reveals who you are

Crafted and bespoke design is the direction as we move into an era that appreciates fine detail and perfect-fit features. The bespoke design is made from scratch to fit the owner’s specifications. It combines different elements and materials, with the ultimate goal of creating a space that reflects the characteristics and lifestyle preferences of the dweller.

“We not only design from the interior perspective but also study the personality of the homeowner – the dressing and artwork they love, their hobbies, and even their beliefs,” said Ooi.

“It inspires a bespoke design that is tailored to fit what they like and make them feel perfectly comfortable to live in that space,” he said.

In: Modern Chinese furniture

Source: Banlan

Source: Banlan

A mix of old and new

Original Chinese designer furniture has extended its influence to the local design market, and it deserves attention. “Apart from the familiar brands from Europe, the Chinese furniture brands are emerging to offer more options for home designing,” said Ooi.

The new generation of Chinese designers has combined the deep cultural heritage of China and contemporary aesthetics to reach new heights in modern living. Banlan, for instance, is one of the high-end furniture brands in China that meets world-class standards.

Established in 2009, the company covers research and development to manufacturing and sales. The products are not designed for mass production but focus on craftsmanship to transform the authentic designs into reality.

“They redefine the ‘made in China’ quality,” said Ooi.

In: Black with texture

Photo by from Pexels

Photo by from Pexels

Details matter

In the sanitary or bathroom fitting design for items such as tap handle, showerhead and towel rail, black with texture is making its mark this year.

“Black never goes out of date. It can be simple in form and shape, but attention should be given to the detail and texture of the material to let the decor shine,” said Ooi.

Some of the fittings are still in shiny steel but the focus has shifted to hairline finish rather than a polished finish.

In: Matte finish

Source: Banlan

Source: Banlan

Restrained and understated

Glossy and shiny finishes are on their way out. The subtle matte finish that absorbs light with minimal reflection has become a sophisticated alternative.

“The shining, sparkling high-polished finish was once the symbol of antiquity and luxury. However, people now embrace a moderate, gentle and thoughtful lifestyle that has led to the matte finish being trendy when creating depth and restrained ambience,” said Ooi.

Whether you’re picking out floor tiles, stone tabletop, kitchen backsplash, wardrobe handles or new wall shades, the not overly showy matte finish is the right way to go.

“Apart from the interior design world, the matte finish is also trendy with cosmetics, luxury watches and cars,” added Ooi.

In: Bold statement furniture

Source: Banlan

Source: Banlan

Fearless and daring

Bold and strong palettes such as bright red, royal blue, green and yellow are bringing a vivacious cheer to the interior space in 2019.

“For example, arrange a bright red sofa set at the centre of your living room as the focal point of your home,” said Ooi.

Previously, these bold palettes generally appeared on small pieces of furniture to add to the atmosphere or painted on the wall as the background of the home. This year, the intense colours will be seen in the significant furniture piece such as a sofa to make a striking aesthetic statement.

“After the changes experienced over the past few years, people are longing for a more cheerful atmosphere in 2019,” said Ooi. “Bold colours have come on time to boost the mood and increase energy levels. Even for walls, we are inclined to use dark and strong colours such as dark green.”

Out: Rose gold

Image by Izzy Hardy on Pexels

Image by Izzy Hardy from Pexels

Rose gold has faded out, slowly but surely. If you want to add a touch of glamour to space, matte gold with a rustic and vintage feel is the in thing.

“You can apply it on the trimmings as a supplementary ornament rather than putting this metallic accent in a junk piece,” said Ooi.

Out: Floral curtains


The ready-made graffiti and floral print curtain (even the relatively nice ones) can instantly make any home feel outdated.

“Get rid of unnecessary decoration and focus functionality,” said Ooi. “Most of our clients now prefer to have plain, minimalist curtains.”

No more lace and complicated graphics. Focus on the texture and weaving pattern of the fabric.

The Architect

Ezumi Harzani Ismail

Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president

In: Smart and eco-friendly


New technology is introduced to ease our daily lives. As digital natives, millennials are keen on smart homes with the presence of Internet-connected devices that offer data integration, remote support and cloud-based access.

“The eco-friendly features are also sought after to counter the high cost of living. Besides promoting resource efficiency, these features also encourage healthy living,” said Ezumi.

In: Lifestyle-focused


With improved living standards, the home has become more than just a roof over the head.

Ezumi said that today’s housing products must come with lifestyle elements and home buyers are willing to pay more for a better living environment. For example, new housing projects across the country generally come with lifestyle facilities such as gymnasium, swimming pool, recreation deck and social kitchen.

In: Home office


The influence of the Internet and cyber technologies has boosted work-from-home opportunities.

“Thus, the need for a study room or home office equipped with a computer and other facilities will be increasingly important in the new house design,” says Ezumi.

In: Adaptable house


“Adaptable homes that promote a modular design, as well as plug-and-play building elements, are popular among Malaysians,” said Ezumi.

The adaptable house allows flexibility and can be reconfigured or renovated either horizontally or vertically. The flat and soundproof suspended ceiling is also among materials that homeowners look forward to.

In: Clean lines and open space


The majority of new building structures are being designed as open space with clean and sleek lines. According to Ezumi, it is not only faster to construct but also easier to maintain.

“However, the modern and international design style prevalent globally today makes cities around the world look the same,” Ezumi said.

Out: Big kitchen and dining area


“A big kitchen and dining room may not be on the wish list of home design 2019,” said Ezumi.

The growing trend of socialising through meetings at restaurants resulted in booming F&B businesses. “This has adversely reduced the need for a big dining space at home,” he said.

Out: Traditional building features


Though it means a departure from the local culture and heritage, traditional building features such as wood carving or ukir will gradually disappear in future designs.

“Not only is it hard to find skilled artisans, but it is also costly even when you do. It makes more sense for the designer to source for mass-produced materials at a lower price,” explained Ezumi.

The Furniture Dealer

Goh Boon Sin

Timeless Design managing director

“More retro materials will make a comeback with a modern twist, such as terrazzo composite floors and rattan morphed into trendy furniture.”

In: Terrazzo

Terrazzo (source: online)

Terrazzo (source: online)

“The terrazzo flooring that we used to see in our grandmother’s house will make a comeback in 2019,” said Goh.

Durable with minimum maintenance, terrazzo was a low-cost flooring option in the old days. It consists of colourful marble or granite chips in the concrete. Nowadays, technology has given customers a wider selection of colours.

Terrazzo can be paired with bold and bright colours for a trendy feel. “For example, incorporating terrazzo with Pantone’s colour of the year 2019 – Living Coral – to fit the current mood,” said Goh.

Besides using it as a flooring material, terrazzo can also be transformed into a backsplash, tabletop and even home accessories such as lighting.

In: Rattan with a modern twist


Modern-design rattan is on the rise, using furniture to add elegance to your home. “The old material is tapping into our fond memories. In a fast-pace impersonal digital age, people are now more nostalgic than ever,” said Goh. “Rattan is being modernised to appear in our daily life, capture our sentimental memory and stay close to our heart.”

The blend of retro materials with modern design is one of the highlights of 2019, with the lightweight, warm and airy nature of rattan being the perfect match for tropical settings. Since most of it is harvested from the rainforests of Asia and Africa, the easy accessibility to the material makes it an affordable option for Malaysian homes.

Out: Industrial style


The raw and rustic industrial style gained traction some 10 years ago but will fade eventually.

“This design style has reached a bottleneck where the market is flooded with the same types of industrial furniture and fittings, especially in cafe and restaurant spaces,” said Goh. “They look similar and have lost their charm and characteristics.”

Besides the easy access and wide range of the industrial-style furniture, the intentionally unrefined look such as raw cement and unfinished steel also helps to save on renovation cost. It is one of the reasons why the design choice is preferred in the local market.

“We all love the industrial style, but I think it is time to move on and play with something new,” he said.

Out: Shiny gold and brass


The time for clear gold and brass tones is coming to an end. If you still want to incorporate the metallic accent in your home design, choose the one with a patina or a rustic feel.

“In the past two years, shiny gold and brass tones were used everywhere to represent an elegant and noble feel. However, it now becomes a supportive element to adorn the atmosphere,” said Goh.

You could pair it with emerald or ash grey tone, for a subtle yet vintage ambience.

Out: Pastel colours


The sweet and dreamy pastels will gradually dwindle from sight. However, emerald hues and navy blue tones will continue to shine in 2019.

“We recommended pairing bold and adventurous colours with vintage collectable pieces to create a statement for space,” said Goh.

It is not always necessary to splash the whole wall to show you are with the colour trend. Pastel colours can be utilised to modestly show the intricate details of your home design, such as curtains.

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