2023 Surfaces:  The Evolution of Warmth

There is a noticeable shift toward warmer colors in the style trends for 2023 surfaces across the board. Homeowners and interior designers increasingly embrace palettes that feature rich, earthy tones and cozy hues.

2023 surfaces
The modern, sustainable residence in San Jose, Costa Rica designed by Taller KEN earned Ceramics of Italy’s top award in the residential category.  Casa V features large format light gray porcelain flooring from Italgraniti used throughout the house.  Together, with the home’s warm teak accent colors, the materials create a seamless transition with the home’s picturesque landscape.   Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner, courtesy of Ceramics of Italy.
warm colors
Porcelain tiles achieve the look of polished terrazzo on the shower wall and floor surfaces in the bathroom suite of the award-winning Casa V home by Taller KEN.   These tiles hail from Italgraniti’s Ceppo di Gre collection.  Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner, courtesy of Ceramics of Italy.

A broader shift in design aesthetics. 

2023 surfaces put a greater emphasis on earthy warm colors that mirror nature. These warm colors can range from soft, sandy neutrals to deep, rustic tones, bringing a sense of harmony and connection to the outdoors.

Mother Nature Always Sets the Tone and She’s Loving Warm Colors!

Slabs and slab panels lead the fashion trend in 2023 surfaces. Slabs offer a seamless look with no grouting required.  Natural stone slabs are full of nature-inspired movement. Popular finishes range from high polish to matte. 

The most popular natural stone slabs used for kitchen countertops are quartzite. Natural quartzite provides a one-of-a-kind pattern.  And it can be backlit with 3D lighting for a dramatic effect.  Compared to marble, quartzite is slightly cheaper.  But the main reasons for its popularity for 2023 surfaces are durability and longevity.  Quartzite resists wear from acid, heat and hard water and it is not subject to chipping or scratching.  And it does not require oiling or sealing.

Designers are beginning to love granite again, too. 

Granite is more affordable than quartzite. But today’s choices differ from the shiny speckled granite surfaces of yesteryear.  New granites can make either style statement—subtle or dramatic.  Black and neutral tones of taupe and mushroom are top choices on the subtle spectrum.  Warm neutral colors for 2023 surfaces are a lot more speckle-free than the previous generation of granites. 

But if you’re looking for that bold surface statement, granites with thick veins and bold swirls are turning heads. Honed, matte or leathered finishes give these new granite choices a low-sheen for a completely different look.

Go for maintenance-free

If a stone floor is the desired look, there is nothing more elegant than what nature can offer.  But natural stone as a flooring surface has even more limitations and usually requires regular maintenance. A floor that’s subject to scratching or can be damaged by chemical cleaners simply isn’t going to satisfy. 

This kitchen earned the Pinnacle Award of Excellence granted by the Natural Stone Institute.   Setting the tone was Antolini’s Calacatta Macchia Vecchia Marble and Crema Champagne Limestone
warm colors
Flowing striations are the name of the game with Gray Mist granite from MSI.  featuring meandering streaks of contrasting light and dark gray. 

What else is trending for 2023 Kitchens?

Quartzite tends to be white or pale in color as shown on the center island in the Building Savvy Idea Home.  Some quartzite slabs have a pink or red tinge, the green, blue and yellow varieties exist. But the colored slabs are rare and thus more expensive.
2023 surfaces
Horizontal and vertical walls in this kitchen feature TERACANTO porcelain surfaces by LX Hausys America Inc.
Engineered Santamargherita S.p.A Surfalite slabs designed for wet wall surfaces are available in large formats with a thinness of just 7MM.   Wallpaper makes a wall statement and warms the space.
2023 surfaces
Dark brown accents against a soft neutral color palette add a dramatic touch to this living space. And the light wood accent wall adds character, texture and warmth.  Cast stone used for the fireplace offers the advantage of consistent quality and availability compared to natural limestone.  Photo courtesty, DeVinci Cast Stone

Natural Isn’t a Byword for Better Surfaces in 2023

Whether you’re wanting the look of natural stone on a counter or floor, there are going to be limiting factors to consider.  And, of course, price is one of those. 

Enter large-format, gauged porcelain panels. Indeed, you’ll find them on countertops, floors and even for cabinet fronts.  That’s because porcelain slabs benefit from technology making it possible to deliver sophisticated marble-effects with through-body veining.  Advanced materials and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes also render 2023 surface products with high-tech performance qualities.  And that makes slab surfaces practical for use everywhere.

The porcelain panels are sustainable and resilient enough for wet walls and exterior installations, too. So designers appreciate the seamless transition between indoor and outdoor surfaces they allow. And available anti-slip options make porcelain surfaces both a superior aesthetic choice and a safe choice, also.

Engineered stone slabs are another viable option. 

Quartz countertops reign in popularity in this category. But don’t confuse quartzite and quartz.  The latter is man-made. In the case of quartz, it is formed by combining ground mineral quartz with resin and pigments to simulate natural quartzite.

Porcelain slabs and engineered stone are great choices for mimicking the smooth surfaces of marble, quartzite and granite countertops. On the floor, large format porcelain and engineered stone tiles can look and feel like travertine, marble or slate. 

If you’re after the textural look of fieldstone, ashlar or stacked ledgestone high-quality stone veneer products from Cultured Stone, Eldorado Stone and others can do the trick.  Quality-made stone look-alike products in authentic hues and natural textures closely resemble the feel and profile of these popular stones while expanding their design boundaries. And some work well for both interior and exterior vertical wall applications. 

Don’t forget about cast stone as a body-double for limestone. It is often its substitute for trim, fireplace surrounds and vent hoods. Cast stone is commonly made from white or grey cements, manufactured or natural sands, and crushed stone or natural gravels. Mineral coloring pigmentsadd color.

Look-Alikes Make Wood Surfaces Possible Anywhere and Everywhere

warm colors
Colors in the natural grains of wood in this bedroom suite lend a dark but dramatic and restful atmosphere to this bedroom suite.

Elegant and durable, hardwood floors are a timeless option that adds warmth and character to a home. Made from a quickly renewable fast-growing resource, bamboo is an eco-friendly flooring choice that resembles hardwood. But engineered wood flooring products are more resistant to scratches than hardwood or bamboo.

Engineered wood combines a thin layer of real wood on top of plywood or high-density fiberboard.  And with better resistance to moisture engineered wood surfaces extend the use of wood to areas that were once no-no’s for wood surfacing.  Porcelain and ceramic tiles also offer some hyper-realistic wood looks that can extend the look to bathrooms and outdoor living areas. 
And don’t discount modern laminate and vinyl flooring as options when you’re comparing hard-wood look a-like options.  Current high-quality offerings will surprise you by how far these segments of the flooring industry have come in recent years. 

Add Color and Texture:  Walls and Ceilings Receive a Playful Refresh

warm colors
Natural stone and porcelain expand Caesarstone’s multi-material surface portfolio.  These join the quartz and outdoor quartz offerings that the company is well-known for.
2023 surfaces
DaVinci Ceramics’ Gamma Cacto is a large ceramic slab printed with lush graphics and patterns.  Photo, courtesy Tile of Spain.

Interior colors constantly change with fresh hues taking center stage every year.

The neutral palette of 2023 leans toward warmer shades of beige.  Complementary greens, blues, and warm ambers and coppers reflect our desire to connect to nature and our need for a soothing environment. These accents often show up in the dramatic veins of natural stones or in the graphics digitally printed on other types of popular slab surfaces.  

In some design circles, deeper and darker paint and cabinetry colors, such as navy blue or charcoal gray, create a sense of drama and intimacy in spaces. Bold and bright colors of the day show up as accents dotted here and there.  Or any of these accent colors can make an impactful statement on a wall or ceiling. 

Look up and you’ll find that people have been paying closer attention to their ceilings. Decorative treatments such as shiplap, beadboard thin brick and even leather, used sparingly but boldly, make a statement or define a living space.  Vaults, accent colors and exposed beams are other ceiling details used to add a signature touch.

Backsplashes, accent walls and ceiling treatments all get a dose of personality thanks to advancements in inkjet printing for tiles. Leaf and floral patterns are particularly popular.   Then there’s wallpaper.  As wallpaper becomes vogue again, people are getting a little bolder with the patterns.  A wide variety of patterns and styles show up as statement-makers in today’s new or newly remodeled homes. 

Technology Assists Modern Sculptors

CNC machining technology allows Durasein’s Patternine solid surfaces to be carved into dimensional designs that capture light and shadow.

Throughout the centuries, sculptors keen on transferring two-dimensional shapes onto three-dimensional stone.  But today’s sculptors are assisted by tools and materials like computers and 3D printers.  And that means homes, not just palaces, can enjoy the look of hand-carved signature surfaces.

Borrowed Earth’s natural surfaces and panels use the latest technology and robotic manufacturing processes.  Then, final detailing is done by hand. 

Design teams use computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to create texture and pattern models.  Next, the models are programmed into a machine that carves intricate patterns and texture into the natural stone.  The result is a highly detailed and complex surface designs that is difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional methods. 

Acrylic and solid surface technologies offer possibilities, too.  For example, Durasein 100 percent acrylic surfacing is a durable, easy-to-work material that’s easy to coax into all kinds of seamless shapes and structures.  Like porcelain, Durasein’s acrylic products are used to make everything from massive walls to countertops, 3D wavy wall surfaces, and ceiling treatments.

Rosa Volakas 12” x 12” tiles are carved from Volakas, a Greek dolomite white marble with warm to cool grey veins. The dozens of sculpted petals are lightly textured with ultra-fine lines and a high-honed finish.  Photo, courtesy Artistic Tile.

What are the color trends so far for 2024?

THE BOTTOM LINE:  As homeowners seek to curate environments that are inviting, relaxing, and visually pleasing, the use of warm color palettes has become an increasingly popular choice in interior design.

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