Neil Kelly took on this bathroom remodel to create a sanctuary for the owner


Neil Kelly’s Top Design Trends for 2017

After a tumultuous year you might be asking yourself, “Where can I go to get away?” In 2017, the answer is closer than you might think.

Feeling the effects of busy lifestyles, homeowners are expected to take refuge in their own personal sanctuaries. Neil Kelly designers are seeing more home remodeling projects that aim to restore body and mind, incorporating spa-like interiors, soothing colors, luxurious materials, and other amenities.

Here are Neil Kelly’s Top Design Trends for 2017:

#1: An Interior Retreat

Defined living spaces are returning to modern homes as people seek respite from computers, cell phones, and other sources of stress. Clients especially want a retreat in their bathrooms (see photo, above).

“Our clients are looking for an environment that makes them feel safe, comfortable, and pampered,” says Bend Design Consultant Kathleen Donohue.

“People are seeking a quiet space, a space to enjoy spa-like amenities in their own homes,” says Portland Design Consultant Heidi Hawk. “They use it more often and find it more enjoyable than packing a gym bag, fighting traffic, and sharing spa areas with someone else.”

Hawk points out that building a steam shower or installing a spa-tub can be more affordable too.

Powder Bath

Powder Bath

“You can spend $200+ per month for a spa treatment, or you can spend less than that and have your own retreat without even leaving your home,” she says.

#2: The New “Wow” Spaces: Powder Baths

After years of making necessary home improvements, clients are putting more emphasis on luxury — including a bit of fun, whimsy, and functional art in spaces like powder baths.

Others are simply looking for more space to put their personal style on display.

“We always want to show off for our guests!” says Portland Design Consultant Janel Campbell.

Kathleen Donohue noted that clever design elements also add value to smaller spaces.

“The use of dramatic materials, lighting, and sculptural forms give these small rooms a lot of punch per square inch,” she says.

Jewel Tones

Jewel Tones

#3: Jewel Tone Accents In Neutral Rooms

Annual color forecasts in the fashion industry have an impact on interior design. Designers are seeing a shift from industrial tones toward vivid accent colors that add surprise and excitement to a space.

Lake Oswego Design Consultant Tonya Bellusci is drawn to neutral palettes with rich jewel tone accents.

“Introducing saturated colors like emerald green and sapphire blue enhances your décor,” she says. “Jewel tones exude confidence, depth, and warmth, bringing your home to life and keeping it ageless.”

Farmhouse Chic

Farmhouse Chic

#4: Farmhouse Chic

The style known as “farmhouse chic,” or “farmhouse modern” continues to evolve in interior design.

The farmhouse approach creates a heightened awareness of our agrarian roots, taking us back to a time when we were surrounded by simpler materials and comforts. Natural textures and patterns in tile, wide plank wood flooring, wood countertops, and farmhouse sinks all contribute to the look.

“We want to take advantage of modern conveniences while creating clean lines that are more transitional than traditional,” says Janel Campbell.

Ofuro Tub

Ofuro Tub

#5: Japanese Ofuro Tubs

For years, designers have seen large built-in tubs replaced by free-standing tubs, but many clients are now moving toward Japanese Ofuro tubs with a smaller footprint.

“They take up less space, but they require more thoughtful planning,” says Kathleen Donohue. “You have to figure out how to safely get in and out of a small, deep tub, avoiding dangerous and slippery steps.”

Photo courtesy of Zenbathworks,

Personal Spaces

Personal Spaces

#6: Truly Personal Spaces

Personal space is of utmost importance to many clients. It’s a designated area where people can surround themselves with the things they love, and where they can share their personal uniqueness with others.

Recently, a Portland couple found what they thought was the perfect urban home, but it lacked a private office space and opportunities to exhibit their most cherished collections.

That’s when Neil Kelly Design Consultant Karen Richmond stepped in to help them install a wall of custom bookcases — complete with accent lighting and rolling ladder — providing an abundant display area. The homeowners’ love of wood led to the use of Jakarta mix hardwoods from Asia, reclaimed from local shipping ports.

According to Richmond, taking the time to determine a personal space accomplishes several goals at once.

“In defining these spaces not only is individuality honored, the creativity on display has a universal appeal,” she says.

Wet Rooms as Universal Design

Wet Rooms as Universal Design

#7: Wet Rooms As A Universal Design Approach

Universal Design is usually driven by aging homeowners, but many people have caught on to the convenience and beauty of a wet room.

Whether users are dealing with a broken leg or a more permanent physical challenge, curbless showers allow greater ease in access. That’s why many bathtubs are being replaced with showers, often designed as walk-in showers.

“As manufacturers develop more methods to create these showers we continue to see an increase in their use,” says Karen Richmond.

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor Spaces

#8: Outdoor Spaces

Neil Kelly designers have seen a significant increase in outdoor projects over the past year and expect that trend to continue. Outdoor spaces can involve anything from a simple deck or patio installation to a complete outdoor kitchen with entertainment area.

“As people vacation or travel they are finding themselves using outdoor spaces more frequently. Whether it’s at a resort, an open air market, or an outdoor dining area, people are more at ease and refreshed in an outdoor environment,” says Eugene Design Consultant Matt White. “Many have decided that they would like that same experience in the comfort of their own backyard.”

Curved Elements In Baths

Curved Elements In Baths

#9: Curved Elements In Bathroom Spaces

Curves are being used more frequently as a design element in bathrooms; they help delineate wet and dry spaces, and help soften traditionally square elements, like tubs and cabinets.

“Curved walls and platforms tend to be more dynamic for level changes, material changes, and so on,” says Kathleen Donohue.

Accessory Dwelling Unit

Accessory Dwelling Unit

#10: ADUs

ADUs — or Accessory Dwelling Units — are small, self-contained homes that are built in addition to the main house on a lot. These units typically include space for living, sleeping, food prep and bath facilities. Though ADUs take many forms, designers make every effort to blend them seamlessly with existing homes.

“Whether it’s the parents moving in, the kids coming home from college, or the need for a flexible, rentable space, more and more people are using an ADU to maximize the living space on their property,” says Portland Design Consultant Matt Sipes.

Alex Christopher and Aaron Ziltener contributed to this article.