Design trends: Less clutter, less décor and less ‘busy-ness'

Grand Forks-based Sterling Carpet One outlines popular trends, ranging from fresh greenery to bold art. This report was included in the Herald's "Design a Home" section, included in the Saturday, June 25, edition.

Green sofa in modern apartment interior with empty wall and wooden table.
Sometimes, simple and minimal work best.
Vanit Janthra/Getty Images/iStockphoto
We are part of The Trust Project.

With the pandemic forcing people back in their homes, many found themselves investing more time, energy and money into their home space than ever before. Home design and decor set the stage for where we live, which is why the Herald spoke to Grand Forks-based Sterling Carpet One on the leading trends the company is seeing in home decor.

Paula Anderson took over Grand Forks’ Sterling Carpet One in 2009 and serves as the company’s president. Under her leadership, the company has expanded into lighting, custom furniture, exterior siding and windows. It also has added a full-service design team to coordinate both interior and exterior projects. One of the team’s members, interior designer Tara Stallard, spoke to the Herald about the top five leading home-design trends Sterling Carpet One is seeing among Grand Forks homeowners.


The aesthetics of minimalism seem to reign supreme for most. One of the largest emerging trends Stallard mentioned was the growing sentiment that “less is more in today’s design world.” Stallard took note of the fact many seem interested in a “cleaner, simplified feeling” in their home. She said people are looking for “less clutter, less décor and less ‘busy-ness’” in order to create a more serene living space.

Many aspects of these minimalist homes are marked by clarity and intentionality. It involves taking a refined and purposeful approach to decorating the home. The rise of Marie Kondo, a Japanese consultant and author, can also be attributed to many of the mainstream ideas on minimalism. Many of her books on organization, such as “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” became bestsellers and encouraged many people to take a second look at the items in their home and decide whether they truly are necessary. With spring cleaning just behind us, many have already started on this approach and begun to simplify their home space.

People now have more material goods than ever before, but many are finding the clutter to be overwhelming. The LA Times reported the average American household has some 300,000 items. Research by the Huffington Post also revealed 84% of Americans report worrying their homes lack sufficient organization, and 55% of those surveyed say it is a significant cause of stress. The push toward simplicity might then come from people’s dissatisfaction with the materialism and overconsumption dominating people’s lives.


Earthy finishes

When the pandemic forced people inside, many people wanted ways to bring the outdoors in.

3D rendering of  living room of chalet
Some people desire an earthy feel in their homes, including stonework and wood floors. Korisbo/iStock
Korisbo/Getty Images/iStockphoto

It was Stallard’s job to find those ways.

“Bringing the outside in has been a familiar concept in design, but we are seeing it stronger than ever as of late,” said Stallard.

One method she mentioned was to include “light wood tones, including natural hickory, natural walnut, etc.” Whether it be through flooring, cabinets, or detailing, Stallard recommends these woods to help “bring a ‘one with nature' feeling to your space.”

Another addition Stallard recommended was stone or concrete tiles and countertops to “ground the elements around them.” Playing off the designs of eco-brutalism, these stone accents provide a neutral base to tie the design together. It allows for a cohesive and natural backdrop for the rest of the space, while maintaining its earthy inspiration.

Fresh greenery

Continuing with the trend of “bringing the outside in,” Stallard said there is a rising interest in incorporating live plants into the home. One explanation: It lies at the crossroads of the aforementioned trends of minimalism and the earthy aesthetics.

Cozy rope swing in living room with houseplants
Indoor greenery can add a burst of color, and life, to a home.
brizmaker/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Stallard said “adding greenery to your interior space can bring it to life and bring a pop of color in a still semi-neutral way.” It is also a trend that can easily be adopted into the home.

According to Stallard, greenery works in “creating a literal breath of fresh air” for the space — and she’s not wrong. Not only do these plants have aesthetic value, but studies have shown they improve living conditions. NASA studies have even indicated plants may be used to reduce indoor pollutant levels A 2015 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology also found indoor plants helped to reduce both emotional and physical stress. It’s no wonder people are using live plants as a natural, and even healthy, addition to their homes.


Neutral paint colors

Stallard once again continued on the trend toward minimalism when discussing paint shades. She mentioned a heavy emphasis among homeowners on neutral colors.

neutral colors (2).jpg
Contributed / Sterling Carpet One

Stallard recommends “off whites, warm grays and taupes” for those who want to keep their space “feeling fresh and natural.” She also recommended subtle greens for those who are looking to add a pop of color, but still wanted a natural look.

All of these shades provide an easy base from which to further decorate, another common trend Stallard has observed.

Bold art pieces

Stallard continued upon the last trend that “with all of the natural looks as a base, it's important to still express your individual style and taste.” She says to offset more simplistic backgrounds people are selecting more bold and expressive art pieces for their homes. While some are opting for bright and bold colors to draw attention, Stallard noted others are choosing more abstract or eye-catching shapes.

Gallery of black and white poster on green wall behind king size bed with pillows and blanket
Bold art can help accentuate any room.
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto

While many view art as a luxury, recent years have paved the way for increased accessibility to art.

Art has the ability to truly complete a home’s design. Art is incredibly versatile as a means of decor, with the ability to be highly tailored to one’s unique tastes and preferences. Stallard mentions one can see this individualization “through vibrant artwork, a set of bold vases from a trip across seas, or an antique furniture piece from your grandmother.”

There are many ways to incorporate art into one’s home in a variety of ways and at any budget.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The author of this piece, Gabrielle Linder, is a freelancer from Grand Forks.

Related Topics: HOME AND GARDEN
What to read next
It has always been one of the biggest questions looming in business. The North Dakota Small Business Development Centers has released a new exit and succession planning guide to help business owners prepare for a step that is sometimes uncomfortable to think about.
The ambitious $10.4 billion plan was approved by the regional transmission organization that serves Minnesota and much of North Dakota, but will require regulatory approval.
Cases of fraud or alleged fraud have caused uncertainty and mistrust among some consumers in an industry that relies largely on the honesty of producers, processors and packagers to maintain the integrity of the industry.
Gary Tharaldson, North Dakota’s successful hotel developer and owner of Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota, describes how his company will move forward after the death of chief operating officer Ryan Thorpe. Tharaldson urges people to check in on others but said there was no warning at work that would have predicted the tragedy of Thorpe's death by suicide.