"I'm an interior designer – I think these 5 millwork trends will make your home look like a million dollars"

This experienced interior designer knows a thing or two about the interior trends in millwork that can elevate any home

living room with pink accent chairs and blue walls
(Image credit: Eric Piasecki. Design: Mendelson Group)

Most likely when redecorating your space, you’ll think about what colors to paint your walls, what furniture to pick, and bathroom or kitchen ideas. Millwork design might not come up on your list straight away, and if it does, it’s often linked to solving a storage-related issue. However, while millwork might not be your priority, it offers a great opportunity to add so much character to a space, beyond function. 

Through subtle accents and interesting details, it can become a framework for the rest of your interior design that truly sets it apart. Interior design trends in millwork are slower to develop, which is not a bad thing. This means whatever you choose to do, you’ll know it won’t get outdated as soon as the next seasonal ideas are released every year, and you’ll enjoy a design that will stay relevant for longer. 

Designers are starting to use millwork details more and more recently and finding creative ways to balance function and form, by putting a modern twist on a classic detail. One expert in the field has noticed the increase in interest and shifts in trends and talked me through how designers are incorporating millwork in their projects right now. 

1. Accent ceilings

a green room with a coffered ceiling

(Image credit: Orac Decor)

Founder and creative director of Mendelson Group, Gideon Mendelson, has been using millwork in his projects for years, and has become an expert in the field. He starts by telling me living room ceiling ideas are gaining more and more interest, and not just when it comes to color, but, unexpectedly, millwork too.

‘We use paneling or coffering on the ceiling when we want to draw attention to it. When a space is very large, adding some geometry or interest to the ceiling can break it into smaller pieces and make a space feel more intimate,’ Gideon explains. 

Adding detail to your fifth wall also helps create a much more luxurious, unique look as it’s not something you see often, and so it will be a truly special element in the room. 

2. Creative wall paneling 

living room with millwork hexagonal detail on ceiling

(Image credit: Eric Piaseck. Design: Mendelson Group)

The more classic route that you’re familiar with is wall millwork in the form of paneling. While it is the most common area of the home to use this design element, you can get very creative with the form, as Gideon tells me. 

‘There are no rules here. We often add paneling to foyers and stairwells, living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms.’

Wall paneling is gaining popularity and is no longer seen as an old-fashioned look. The reason for this is the variety of patterns and shapes you can now create with the use of millwork, which can really set a design apart and make it unique to your home.  Working with a specialist craftsperson, however, is mandatory to get it right. 

3. New ways with paint 

bookcase as part of walls, in gloss blue, with camouflaged door

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki. Design: Mendelson Group)

Long gone are the days when painting millwork would be limited to whites that match the skirtings or ceilings. Bespoke paneling, cabinets, and bookcases, are now an important part of the design, not an afterthought, and choosing the color is an instrumental step when looking to create a look that is cohesive. 

From matching your millwork to the walls and creating a seamless look, covering it in gloss paint to make a luxurious statement, or painting it in a contrasting color that pops, there are no rules. The only consideration is to ensure that it complements the overall design of the space. 

When choosing a color for your millwork, Gideon advises you to be strategic about your timing. Here’s how he does it:  ‘While I’m thinking about it throughout the design process, final paint selections tend to take place toward the end of a project. At that point, I can study all the furnishings, rugs, fabrics, wood, metal or stone, and any other elements that go into an individual space, and decide on paint colors with the entire story in mind.’ 

4. Hidden storage

built-in wardrobes with door panelling

(Image credit: Tim Lenz. Design: Mendelson Group)

One of the most popular uses of millwork is for creating additional storage. And this is something that will never get old, and you’ll never regret it. It’s a true luxury to have a bespoke solution built specifically for your storage needs, that doesn’t just solve a design problem, but also looks beautiful and is integrated perfectly in your interior. ‘Aside from aesthetics, millwork means we can customize the functional and storage needs of our clients,’ tells me our expert. ‘Additionally, storage adds value to a home, especially in kitchens and closets!’

Shelving ideas are a popular storage option at the moment, especially as we’re seeing so many designers and influencers displaying beautiful ways to style them with unique objects and books. While they have a great visual effect if orderly and styled, Gideon raises a red flag: ‘Keep open shelving to a minimum if you don’t think you can keep things organized and looking beautiful.’

5. Traditional meets modern 

living room with blue walls and fireplace, and panelling detail in light wood

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki. Design: Mendelson Group)

As a more traditional element, millwork offers the opportunity to ground a space and allow for more modern expression elsewhere. This is especially helpful if you would like to opt for a modern home look that is balanced, and softer than a full-out contemporary feel. 

‘I tend to design a little more traditionally when it comes to architecture (and, therefore, millwork), but for our furnishings, I lean towards a more modern look,’ Gideon tells me, adding that there isn’t one formula to follow. It’s all about finding the right balance for you and your space, and understanding that there is so much that can be done with millwork that goes beyond traditional uses. 

Get this eclectic living room look with these buys

Raluca Racasan
News writer

Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.