Interior Design Trends Going Away In 2021
2020 was a defining year for everything but especially the collective relationship we all have with our homes. Shutdowns due to the pandemic left many of us scrambling to create home offices, homeschooling spaces, and gyms, changing the way we use our homes significantly.
Whether you are moving to a new home, renovating your current one, or planning DIY projects for the future, it’s important to choose an aesthetic that’s as current as possible to help boost resale value. While overall, there’s been an “anything goes,” approach to interior design in recent years and especially in 2020, these are the trends experts and interior designers predict will be going away in 2021.
We can take a breath of fresh air because the modern farmhouse look is finally on its way out to pasture. Part of the reason why many people are sick of this aesthetic, according to Kelley Mason, Manager of Creative and Content at Lulu and Georgia, is that it has been overdone particularly in places like apartments where a modern farmhouse look isn’t remotely organic, “Shiplap wall treatments, barn doors, and other hallmarks of the modern farmhouse style are still beautiful but look clearly out of place in city apartments and suburban homes,” she tells me.
But if you can’t resist the urge to Joanna Gaines your Manhattan studio, Mason says to choose integrating rustic pieces that pair well with the space’s decor. So when you inevitably encounter that Live, Laugh, Love sign, resist the urge to click “add to cart.”
Nancy Epstein, founder, and president of Artistic Tile tells me, “The high end of the market has moved away from the staid whites and man-made agglomerates that dominated design for the last decade, and is once more embracing the exotic, rare stones, and detailed patterns that have historically defined luxury tile and stone.”
She recommends opting for breccias, richly veined marbles, and onyxes instead. “These materials have an incredible history and are once again becoming focal points in the most sumptuously designed spaces.”
As for the ever-popular and timeless carrara marble countertop, while a major part of the white kitchen trend, probably isn’t going away, but many people are opting for other materials that provide a similar aesthetic instead. Interior designer Caitlin Scanlon recommends going with a man-made or engineered stone, but emphasizes the importance of choosing wisely “There is such a big difference from line to line. Quartzite is a good compromise,” she says. “It is a product that in-between quartz and marble. It’s not an aggregate like Caesarstone and it’s much more durable than marble.”
And if you must have that marble backsplash, Scanlon recommends ceramic marble tiles as an alternative. “It really looks like marble. It’s gorgeous.”
Open Floor Plans
While it looked like the appeal of the open floorplan was starting to fade at the beginning of 2020, during the pandemic many people learned the hard way that perhaps your kitchen, home office, great room, playroom, and living room shouldn’t all be the same space. Lack of privacy ultimately becomes lack of function.
“Now that we have had a taste of what it is like to work from home, while a partner is doing the same, or a child is attending school via zoom at the same time, open floor plans aren’t as attractive as they used to be. The need for rooms with doors, windows, and some privacy will make a reappearance,” Justina Blakeney, founder of Jungalow tells me.
But according to Danielle Blundell, Home Director of Apartment Therapy, if your home is currently an open concept, you shouldn’t let that be a cause for concern. “I don’t think this is going to be an overnight change, but I think that the open plan concept is going away little by little. It started already and I think it’s going to conclude starting with people adding room dividers, or bringing in a door or figuring out some sort of a solution to add privacy.”
Eventually, more flexible and closed layouts will become the standard. “It’s just because people want that privacy, they want that little bit of separation. And sometimes it’s good to have a door that you can close. Whether it’s for containing a mess or just giving yourself that physical and audio separation from other things that are going on in your home.”
Single Purpose Spaces And Furnishings
Along the same lines, single purpose spaces and furnishings are also falling out of favor. “Say goodbye to the temporary work-from-the-couch way of life,” Roxy Te Owens, founder and creative director of Society Social tells me. “When your home doubles as so many spaces, it’s important to try and keep some level of separation for sanity! As many of us have adjusted to the new work from home reality, we’ve realized the importance of keeping a dedicated and organized work from home setup.”
If you don’t have a spare room to use, Owens suggests trying your best to get creative. “Set up a desk vignette in the corner of your bedroom or transform a section of your dining table into a home office by adding a table lamp, your computer monitor, fresh flowers, and of course your favorite things. A pretty and dedicated space means more productivity, in our opinion.”
Much like fast fashion, the appeal of inexpensive furniture and accessories that aren’t made well enough to use for the long haul is on the decline. “Our rooms now see daily multi-functional use, and people are customizing them to provide flexible and adaptive living spaces. The furnishings that create these spaces serve in different ways at different times,” Bob Williams, President of Design at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams says.
Williams believes that opting for better pieces has a greater purpose beyond quality for the sake of longevity. “Alongside their use, these pieces also carry intrinsic meaning. People are creating deeper relationships with the things they have in their rooms because so many more of life’s moments and memories are happening there. Purchasing is more intentional, and people are loving their rooms more because of it.”
Move over Kim Kardashian inspired homes because less isn’t more when there’s a pandemic. The minimalist trend is on its way out and will give way to more layered, collected, and eclectic spaces. “The sheer amount of time and the number of activities we have all been engaging in at home in 2020 makes it very difficult to adhere to an austere or sparsely filled home,” says Blakeney.
Part of the reason why minimalism isn’t a sustainable design choice is that the pandemic and frankly, Amazon have made maintaining that look an impossible chore that’s no longer worthwhile. “The amount of stuff we have accumulated in our homes requires smart storage solutions, but even those solutions are somewhat limited to the surface area in any given home,” Blakeney explains.
Because it is impossible to live in a home where we leave nothing out, the gravitation towards a maximalist look will become the more functional choice in 2021. “I think there was a trend for a couple of years for perfect shapes, ultra-sleek design, very modern and neat interiors. Now I can see a return to reality,” explains Aurore Martial, interior designer and founder of Domus Venus. “Maybe it’s the COVID and the fact that we all went back to basics the past year. But, I feel there is an exodus from that perfect world to the profit of imperfection.”
Martial suggests opting for a different look in 2021 by mixing old and new, going away from perfectly lacquered items to more matte finishes, chalk paint and waxed concretes on the wall— all reminiscent of crafty, comforting times.
With the maximalist look is coming back, it’s easy to understand why HomeGoods Style Expert and interior designer, Beth Diana Smith says we’ll nix neutrals in 2021. “Design is about exploration, experimentation, and reflecting our personalities. So in 2021, we will continue to gravitate towards more color, visual interest, and playful design.”
Instead, Smith suggests introducing color through bold statement decor pieces like ceramic vases and decorative boxes, along with art. “[When I’m] looking for inspiration, I head to one of my favorite stores, HomeGoods because I know I can always find unique, conversation pieces —especially decor.”
Similarly, Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic, says it’s time to call it quits with the grey-on-grey look. “Without any textural elements, the all-gray look feels a bit too neutral, cold and outdated. This upcoming year will see vibrant, expressive colors come to the fore, whether in a monochromatic style or mixed and matched.”
“2021 will see less plastic and man-made materials, more natural and organic materials,” says Martial. “It’s all about sustainability and people will prefer stones, wood, natural fabrics, and natural coloring methods. It also means less faux flowers and plants. For those who can’t bear the idea of taking care of plants, preserved flowers are the solution, it’s basically dried flowers that look fresh and last months! It’s a big year for biophilic design!”
Slipcovers For Sofas And Chairs
Slipcovers aren’t anything new and as fabric technology advances, Dolley Frearson, co-founder of High Fashion Home believes this type of furniture is becoming obsolete. “With high-tech, stain-resistant fabrics such as Crypton available on most upholstery furniture, homeowners no longer need washable slipcovers,” she says. “These performance fabrics are so incredibly durable and they can resist all stains from foods, drinks, and other messes by kids and pets. It’s a total game-changer.”
For years, terrazzo tiles in bathrooms and kitchens have been a great way to create a fun, unique look. But according to Molly McDermott Walsh, Vice President of Marketing at Semihandmade, this aesthetic is starting to become dated. “I never understood this trend and now understand my mother’s frustration when trends from her childhood came back around in my generation. Sometimes trend cycles are based on beauty and true innovation— and sometimes they come back for an ironic laugh.”
Mid Century Modern
Mid century modern has become overplayed and overdone. Interior designer Alexander Doherty tells me that this aesthetic is now giving way to warmer, more interesting pieces. “I’m seeing a return from the brown furniture, mid-century modern aesthetic to the popular art deco design movement that moved into the 1930s and 1940s.”
So what will we see instead? “Design elements like vertical lines, sleek craftsmanship, bold geometric shapes, rich finishes, lacquered surfaces, and a rise in material investments like marble and burl wood give way to more sculptural elements that mimic the period’s architecture.” he says.
Barbara Karpf, founder, and president of DecoratorsBest says dark is done, at least for now. “Dark colors are dramatic but they close in a space. Many people will continue to work remotely in 2021 and multi-purpose rooms are a necessity. Dark colors limit the usage of a space and without expert lighting, a dark room is less adaptable.”
So unless you have a big home or a larger room, it is best to go with lighter colored furniture, accessories, and paint.