Every now and then, a slow-burning shift in the way the world works suddenly starts to gather pace at a rapid rate. That is what is happening with our homes. In a relatively short space of time, the pandemic has made interior designers of us all, with decorating experiencing a particular boom in interest. A focus on decorating has made renovating redundant throughout the pandemic. We don’t necessarily want an entirely new house, but small inconveniences have become enormous daily irritants over the past 18 months. If only that home office were private, quiet and well organised; instead of a desk in the middle of the living room, if only we had soundproofed the walls; and if only we had a pool.
Dedicated spaces for work, a focus on luxe decor and swimming pool design, are just some of the trends really taking off.
It’s no secret that if you want to know what’s popular right now, just look at what people are searching for online – it’s a direct reflection of the home’s evolving role. Renovation platform, Houzz recently looked at searches from April to June of 2021 and compared them with searches from the same time last year to see how home design interests are changing. What a difference a year can make. ‘Top 10 Design Trends For 2021: Meet Your New Home.’
The colour green is having a moment – it bridges warm and cool. Several factors have probably led to a cannonball splash of rising interest in swimming pools in the past year. And nesting is the height of fashion from Hermes to Dior, Armani and Versace all extending their homeware collections at Milan Design Week, last month.
Now, as life returns to some kind of normality, here is the consensus of trends that will enhance your home and your life. Some research suggests a reluctance to leave our homes – despite the world opening up. They are the place we healed, and one of the interesting things about the pandemic was that it reconnected us to our homes and put heart back into our places of shelter. Take a glimpse at what homeowners are interested in now — and what homes might look like in the very near future.
One thing is certain: there is a direct link between the way you feel about your home and the way you feel about your life and your happiness.
1. Nesting is the Height of Fashion
At Milan Design Week last month, nesting was the height of fashion. Brands like Hermès, Dior, Armani, and Versace have all expanded their home collections and were out in force at the global design fair reports Elle Decor in its report of the fair. “In a massive and stunning display in Milan’s teeming Brera district, Hermès took over a jai alai sports centre and exhibited its burgeoning home line in a series of monumental plaster pavilions designed by set designer Hervé Sauvage. A highlight was Studio Mumbai’s Sillage d’Hermès armchair, handmade in Puglia in recycled materials using a papier-mâché technique”.
Dior’s iconic Medallion chair—a pared-down version of the Louis XVI dining chair that furnished the designer’s midcentury Dior salons—was reinterpreted by 17 artists and designers in a massive installation. At Armani/Casa, the offerings included a leopard-print velvet armchair, a home gym, and a blanket that doubles as a chess set; meanwhile, Versace Home debuted buttery leather sectionals and pastel bedding sets.
Home spending is skyrocketing. In the latest US stimulus package, American consumers spent 21% of their checks on home-related items, according to GlobalData.
2. A Focus on Decorating
Renovations to kitchens and bathrooms command a lot of the home design conversation. But decorating seems to be experiencing a particular boom in interest. Searches for home accents increased a whopping 2,417%, according to Houzz, while searches for decorative accents rose 799%. Searches increased significantly for velvet sofas (121%), gold wall mirrors (606%) and gold table lamps (1,166%). The search for champagne, likely in connection with champagne bronze finishes, increased 846%. Read more, ‘Introducing Our New Ultimate Decorating Book.’
3. Creative, Tech-Free Zones
Tech-free spaces may be one of the silver linings of the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, these types of spaces didn’t really exist, and people weren’t asking for them from a design perspective. Now they are a necessity. As shelter-in-place orders continued, they become COVID-proof havens and throughout the pandemic places where people could stay creatively engaged, productive and extremely prolific. A trend we see continuing. Read more, ‘The 7 Most Impractical Design Trends of The Last Decade.’
4. Dedicated Activity Spaces
Over the past year, many people’s homes became something of a mini village. The local gym, bar, theatre and office turned hyperlocal as people made room to accommodate these activities at home. It’s a major shift in how people think about their homes and one that probably isn’t going away anytime soon. Read more, ‘The Dream Home Has Changed.’
The ability — or requirement, in some cases — to work from home accounts for perhaps one of the biggest recent changes in home design.
On Houzz, searches for “home office” jumped 108% year over year. There are many ways to carve out space for a dedicated home office area. Consider converting a spare bedroom or a portion of one. A standalone shed might be better for your situation. Or you might need just a little nook by a window for a laptop. Creating dedicated space for entertaining is important for striking the right work-life balance these days.
5. Brown Is the New Black
“Brown furniture,” is back in fashion, bringing presence, gravitas and warmth to rooms, plus it’s sustainable and remains good value, making it a great investment. Avoid using too many antiques in the same room; you don’t want an interior filled with brown furniture that makes you look like a museum-keeper, monomania or risk creating an interior that resembles the set of ‘Downton Abbey.” Pair brown furniture with its opposite such as sisal matting or contemporary art to counterbalance its visual weight. Read more, ‘9 Design Trends We Will Be Seeing In The Very Near Future.’
6. Natural Colours and Materials
Bring the outdoors in by tapping into a colour palette loaded with natural shades and materials. In fact, Houzz predicts a surge in earthy tones, tactile textures, and comforting colours such as peach, beige and warm browns.
The world may be reopening again, however our love of the great outdoors and an undeniable stillness is going nowhere.
7. Serene Lighting
If the home interior is a painted canvas, the lighting fixtures are the brushstrokes that determine its focus, mood, and ambience. The more ways we can find to calm our nerves in today’s unpredictable world, the better—and when it comes to lighting, that means simplicity and serenity. According to an Architectural Digest trends report out in September, we’ve been moving away from the sometimes overly complex geometries that have emerged since the ’90s, particularly with the arrival of new computer design technologies. There’s a renewed desire for serene and calming forms. Read more, ‘Can You Design A Happy Home? It’s Easier Than It Looks.’
All hail the sconce as stylish sconces adorning walls in bedrooms, bathrooms, and sleek sitting spaces, that are perfect for reading.
Also lookout for a rise in lighting under shelves and cabinets to highlight curated collections in communal spaces. The sconce is still a highly desirable type of lighting due to its ability to not eat up precious floor space in dense urban environments, but also in the context where screens and computers are so predominant that we often require more lateral wall-washed lighting rather than a direct ceiling illumination or direct light.
8. Deck Everything
Allover pattern—whether its skinny stripes, soft geometrics, florals or fauna —is a cornerstone of design right now. People are going for it with pattern and fabric – and applying a single print everywhere, from wall coverings to bedheads and lampshades. Others are mixing the scale of their prints, says WSJ in an article this week. Either way, the impact is swift and dramatic. It’s all about effect and impossible for it not to create a mood. It’s just so easy and sets the tone instantly. You don’t have to make lots of decisions. If applying an allover pattern strikes you as too much of a commitment, limit your swathing to curtains and walls, and cover a sofa or headboard in a solid colour that appears in the print.
9. Sustainable Design Has Left “Niche” Status
The latest research according to Architectural Digest reveals six out of ten consumers want to learn about environmentally safe and sustainable furnishings from designers—but the same number reported that they didn’t know any designers that do sustainable design. People increasingly want certifications, low-carbon materials, efficient appliances, and designers who can show us how to create spaces that heal our mind, body, and soul while taking function and style to new heights.
10. Scallops, Ruffles and Dressing Up
Look out for ruffled trims on sofas, and scallop-edged cushions, lampshades, tablecloths, bed linen in high-contrast colour schemes. It’s a throwback to ruffle-edged soft furnishings by legendary 20th-century designers such as American Albert Hadley and France’s Madeleine Castaing. We are also dressing up our rooms with textile skirting around tables and bathroom basins that adds pretty texture and softness to any space. It’s a great way to add another pattern into the room with plaid ruffles under the sink complementing a fruity floral wallpaper while obscuring ugly plumbing.
11. Making space
According to Houzz, less homeowners are searching for open-plan living ideas, but turning their attention towards internal glass doors, room dividers and pocket doors instead. No doubt the pandemic has forced many of us to reassess how we live and use our space.
12. Humble Materials
It does not just shape that we are returning to a more organic state. “I find that materials such as raw metals, ceramics, and glass are very desired in contrast to a lot of the plastics we’ve seen in the more recent past,” says Bellardi Ricci, who adds that tastemakers are beginning to prefer the composition of humble materials over complexity and extravagance. Read more, ‘Be Part of The Rattan Resurgence (Buy A Piece of History.)’
There’s a trend towards ceramic sculptural lighting and natural materials such as cork, leather, bamboo, and raffia.
13. Swimming Pool Design
Several factors probably led to a cannonball splash of rising interest in swimming pools in the past year. Many gyms with pools and public pools have been closed for most of the pandemic. That likely caused many homeowners to look to their backyards to create inviting outdoor experiences at home. Plus, swimming pools are just fun. Searches at Houzz for pools with water features rose 797%. Searches also increased for “rectangle pool” (576%), “lap pool” (269%), “infinity pool” (214%), “plunge pool” (73%) and “geometric pool” (70%). Read more, ‘How To Create A Garden That Pleases the Whole Family.’
14. The Colour Green
Green is having a moment — and not just in one area of the home, but in several, overtaking navy blue as one of the hottest hues. It isn’t just kitchens that are getting the green treatment though, as the search terms “green bathroom“, “green living room” and “green bedroom” have all increased according to Houzz, since 2020. Searches for green kitchen cabinets were up 829%. Green is trending for a few reasons. After years of whites, greys and cool blues being popular, it seems people are moving more toward warmer hues. Green bridges warm and cool, so it’s a good transition between the two.
It works well with white and grey but also tans and creams.
Also, organic botanical motifs are really popular right now in fashion and interior design. Green is an obvious colour pairing, especially when combined with natural woods and materials like wood, which are also trending in home decor right now. Green was also everywhere at Milan design week, reported Elle Decor, noting a slightly more confrontational acidic green has been trending in interiors for some time, but this year’s fair made a strong case for more soothing earthy, jewel-like green tones. Searches for “green tile bathroom” were up 771% year over year, according to Houzz, who also noted searches for “green accent chair” climbed 754%.
15. Grown-Up Illustrations
If splurging $30,000 on an original piece of artwork isn’t an option, consider hanging a grid of 12 prints for a fraction of the price. High-quality prints from places like Designer Boys of botanicals, bird and shells, with frames in simple black or faux bamboo, adds instant confidence, elegance and gravitas.
16. A Playroom
Reimagining a room for a child does not have to be complicated or expensive. A playroom should be a place to retreat, to spark play — the decor is important for dreaming and imaginings. Aim for magical and theatrical rather than cutesy. A cluttered playroom is inevitable, but children’s rooms should not be overwhelmed with decoration and detail. You don’t want constant stimulation. Plain walls and a ceiling mural is effective in smaller spaces for the greatest impact. We love circus-tent ceilings, for an optical illusion and immersive effect that is simple to achieve in an afternoon with the help of a friend. Cubed, open, off-the-peg neat rattan boxes make great storage that small children can chuck toys into easily when it’s time to tidy up, which gives them a sense of independence. We recommend nightlights for security and comfort. Keep your playrooms technology-free, at least on the surface.
Sometimes plain and simple is better for the imagination.
17. Checkered Prints
It may be the homeware world’s answer to dopamine dressing, but you can’t scroll past an interior shot on Instagram over the past few months without spotting a checkered interior. Bath and beach towels, coasters and cushions—in an array of blues, reds, terracottas and yellows — have dominated the home and living category on Etsy, seeing a 889% jump in searches.
It’s a mood-booster.
18. Designers Usher in A New Stone Age
It was somehow appropriate that Italy—home to some of the world’s most beautiful marbles—was the setting for what we’re calling the “new stone age.” at this year’s Milan Design week. Stone was everywhere, from the deeply veined tabletops in Patricia Urquiola’s Senga table for Cassina to the Carrara marble surfaces of Ini Archibong’s dramatic tables for Se Collections (exhibited at Rossana Orlandi’s innovative space). But no firm made a bigger statement than stone specialists Antolini, whose new bilevel flagship by designer Alessandro La Spada in the heart of Milan exhibits its wares (marbles, crystals, quartzites, and precious stones from around the globe) to spectacular effect, from bathtubs in solid stone to micro-thin veneers backlit to magnify the stone’s amazing natural patterns.