Mainstream home design trends are admirable for their sleekness and simplicity, but for those with eccentric personalities, they’re often too stuffy or formal for comfort. If you’d rather live in a home that’s fresh and unique, indulge in vibrant and resident-forward designs that take on a whimsical bent. Such styles are becoming so popular, perhaps for their sheer opposition to formality, that top names in the interior design world are taking notice and following suit.
Generic coffee-table books and matte ceramic pots beset with tall houseplants may be common, but nontraditional decor may stand out more. Unusual antiques and hand-me-downs can take center stage in your home as conversation pieces or even add fun accents to rooms as hidden gems. Examples of this include asparagus-shaped plates, tomato candles, and other ceramic vegetable ornaments, which have trended on TikTok for their delightful tackiness.
Nothing is off-limits, so indulge in whatever decor appeals to you, whether it’s film-series merchandise, odd retro lamps, or other cherished acquisitions. Just stick to a tight color palette to make the room feel cohesive—that way, your decorative choices will look deliberate rather than messy.
Furniture as fine art
Practice your best inquisitive “hmm” expression for your next visit to a furniture retailer. In recent years, sofas, chairs, and even small end tables have become as unusual and thought-provoking as fine art itself. Many of these pieces feature the shapely silhouettes of midcentury modern decor but with a twist of modern rebellion.
Consider, for example, the bulbous Muse sofa and fanciful Luca console table by esteemed furniture designer Sarah Ellison or the statement-making Skyladder shelf by Gabriel Tan that resembles a ladder dangling from a hot-air balloon. The Ekstrem chair by Scandinavian designer Terje Ekstrøm, meanwhile, is so curiously shaped that it blurs the line between a place to slump after a long day and an artistic object someone should display behind glass. These pieces are certainly on the expensive side, but anyone craving something unexpected to spice up their home interiors and intrigue their guests could find similar pieces at shops like West Elm and IKEA.
If you feel that your home could be more welcoming to circus folk, try the eccentricity of carnivalcore. This downright wacky design trend leans heavily into all things circus (short of the exotic animals and big-top tent). Key qualities include bright primary colors, decorative details resembling faces, and checkerboard or stripe patterns across floors, walls, and upholstery.
While few could pinpoint the exact origins of this trend—or what can be done to stop it—carnivalcore’s popularity lies in the youthful urge to make the adult home feel fun and fantastical. Interior designer Job Smeets folds kitschy carnival aesthetics into many of his home designs, while actress Cara Delevingne made waves across the internet when she revealed her home’s carnivalcore interiors, featuring a tented poker room, a vibrant costume room, and an adult-sized ball pit. Carnivalcore may be a tad too off-kilter for some, but consider this your permission to venture at least a few steps past the velvet rope and let your inner child do the decorating.
If you’d prefer to capture your madness within picture frames, go on the hunt for some surprising art pieces. Adventurous designers are known for taking liberties with statement art, so feel free to push the envelope off the desk, down the hallway, and into a whole other realm as you curate your home.
Shop on social media or at local galleries for unusual finds, taking major art trends as inspiration—think of Yayoi Kusama’s polka-dotted art or the dreamlike paintings of Brett Goodroad. If you’re concerned about the high price of fine art, consider buying affordable prints directly from independent artists. Frame them, and few people may suspect they aren’t original works.
However, sometimes even rebellion must stick to the rulebook. While shopping for unique paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs, narrow down your choices to art within a tight color palette to ensure it matches its surroundings. Consider shopping with a list of the dominant and accent colors of each room in your home so your overall design looks cohesive and satisfying. If all this color theory confuses you, you can always seek out black-and-white art, which will never clash with other shades.
Charismatic color choices
Neutral rooms aren’t necessarily the most exciting, but you don’t have to ditch them entirely to embrace your quirkiness. For example, check out Behr’s 2023 Color of the Year, Blank Canvas—creamy white with notes of light gray and tan. Don’t use this tone as a guardrail that limits your home to bland neutrals. Rather, embrace what Behr calls the “limitless potential” of this color and make it a backdrop for all your colorful whims, using the namesake painter’s canvas as inspiration. Against a neutral wall, your bright and quirky art, furniture, and accent decor will pop, making what could’ve been a dull room far more fascinating.
If you don’t feel represented in a neutral-painted room, consider vivacious wallpaper with multicolored, geometric-patterned, or even scenic designs. This is your opportunity to go beyond hanging wall art and instead make art of the walls themselves.
Ultimately, quality interior design goes beyond what you might normally expect. Gone are the days when the good furniture remained wrapped in plastic in an unused formal room. In 2023, bridge the gap between your sense of style and your sense of self for a home that