Home design trends in 2020

Better Homes & Gardens Style Director Max Wilker on what’s new, what’s coming, and how to talk to clients about it

Max Wilker doesn’t sit still. Cologne. Paris. Las Vegas. All in the same month, and all as part of his role as Style Director for Better Homes & Gardens, seeing and experiencing the world trends in home decor. Happily, he was able to carve out time to talk to the Better Homes & Gardens® Real Estate audience with a Facebook Live video about 2020 design trends.

We also sat down with him to get the scoop on what’s trending and why it matters to real estate professionals.

How do you consult with brokers at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate?

“I work with our broker-owners for consultations on design in their offices. Office design at BHGRE® is very important because we’re a lifestyle brand. And the brand is about everyday living — people enjoying their homes. It’s celebrating family and friends.

So we really like to have that feeling of a home when you walk into one of our offices. When an office is extremely corporate, it can be cold and not so inviting. Bringing a few elements of a home into an office really warms up a space, and it becomes more inviting.

Take the idea of a conference room. I tell brokers to think about it as a dining room. What if you brought in a great crystal chandelier? And then you can add window treatments, layering plantation shutters with floor to ceiling drapes. These can completely change the look and feel of a conference room. So again, it becomes more like a home where you can welcome both your agents and your clients.”

well appointed living room

What are three design trends that surprise you?

“Right now, I love the whole “back to nature” trend, which I talk about more in the video. It uses shades of green and brings elements of the outdoors in. It’s comforting, and it’s easy to work with.

I’m a bit shocked that the color black continues to trend. But when you actually see how black can be used in the house with beautiful pieces of furniture and pieces of art, or black window frames and even black painted walls, it’s really a beautiful thing. You can work black into a room and not be scared of it. Little bits of black can ground a space and be exciting at the same time.

Lastly, one of the things that I really love is this whole concept of conversation islands. When you put everyone on the same side of a kitchen island, they can only talk to the person next to them. So now with t-shaped islands, you can put stools and chairs around corners, and people can actually each other and have a conversation. And that is just brand appropriate for Better Homes & Gardens because we love to have people gather together.”

How should agents talk to buyers and sellers about design and decor?

“I was speaking to an agent who had a client that was an older gentleman with a $1.5 million home. It needed some updates before it would go on the market. And he didn’t want to be told what to do and didn’t want to go through major changes.

I know it’s a tough conversation for people, but I think it comes down to trust and showing that you either have the expertise or you bring expertise in. Here’s where a stager could get involved. That way, someone else is the messenger and can validate the need.

But it also helps to know the trends and be up to date on what’s new and fresh. Be sure to know the paint colors of the year — just Google it. I always check out the top six. Take a look at where the top paint companies are going with their paint color trends. You can even see examples on all their websites on how they use them.

And then you’re prepared with ideas, such as a great color for a front door, an entry hall or even a ceiling. Maybe it’s a couple of flower pots in this great new color when you’re putting a house on the market.

Of course, you should stay up to date with bhg.com. We do the work for you — identifying trends and colors and finding ways to talk about design for living. This is what makes Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate different. You can set yourself apart from other people because you have a few extra design tips in your pocket.”

Vibrant green sitting room


Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate empowers brokers with design and lifestyle content. Tune into Max’s Facebook video and learn more about what’s trending in design for 2020 in kitchens finishes, statement art, textiles and more.