10 Interior Design Trends for 2021

Which design trends are going to make your home more fun and functional in 2021?

U.S. News & World Report

10 Interior Design Trends for 2021

Dark home interior in blue with open kitchen and dining area with round table
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Additional lighting meets a functional need.

If you’ve been working from home full time for more than half a year, there’s a chance you may continue working from home, even part time, after the pandemic ends. So while this trend for 2021 may not seem as fun and creative, it could be a good idea to consider your lighting needs. “Lighting plays a big role,” says Kevin Gray, founder and senior designer of Kevin Gray Design in Miami. He explains that lighting is key to making any home office, home classroom or reading nook a comfortable and usable space. Make sure all lights in your home are LED and add lighting to your workspace, eliminating shadowy areas with under-shelf lighting and surface-mounted lights.

Looking down on a cozy outdoor living patio.
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Outdoor living gets staple status.

Outdoor living preferences can differ widely among homeowners and renters, whether they want a comfortable outdoor couch for lounging, complete dining set to entertain, elaborate grill setup or a pool. As people have spent more time at home during the pandemic, private outdoor space has become highly desirable. For homeowners looking to create a fairly simple outdoor living space without overhauling their yard, Mitchell Parker, senior editor for home remodeling and design platform Houzz, recommends building a pergola, which can be purchased or built by a contractor in a day or two. “If you don’t have that shaded living space in your backyard, this is just a really simple solution,” he says.

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Woman working on new building plans while sitting at her desk. Female interior designer working at home office.
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Home offices are a priority.

It should surprise no one that the pandemic that took over much of 2020 has created demand for home office setups. While many people have managed to create makeshift workspaces at the dining table or couch, Hammond says 2021 is all about homeowners creating a designated space for an office, whether it’s converting a guest bedroom or transforming an unused nook. For households with more than one adult, expect to see two home offices become the norm.

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Update your decor this year.

You may not be moving into a new house in 2021, but you can still make your home feel new again by taking stock of each room and updating the design. You may want to find a better space for your home office, incorporate more cozy seating in your living room or go big with a full renovation of your kitchen for a more modern style. To make any design changes a success, however, you’ll want to know what styles will become more popular in 2021. Here are 10 interior design trends to consider in 2021.

Consumers want change for change's sake.

Many of the trends experts are spotting for 2021 are a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that people are spending so much time at home, which is expected to affect how people decorate their homes in 2021 and beyond. While function and convenience are big drivers as well, the desire to change a space because you’re bored with it is also valid. “Some are working from home every day and are tired of looking at the space that they perhaps haven’t spent much time in previously. And others have realized that, ‘Hey, I need new furniture, and I need better quality furniture,’” says Rodney Hammond, director of e-commerce merchandising for Raymour & Flanigan Furniture and Mattresses, a furniture retailer with locations throughout the Northeast.

Home offices are a priority.

It should surprise no one that the pandemic that took over much of 2020 has created demand for home office setups. While many people have managed to create makeshift workspaces at the dining table or couch, Hammond says 2021 is all about homeowners creating a designated space for an office, whether it’s converting a guest bedroom or transforming an unused nook. For households with more than one adult, expect to see two home offices become the norm.

Additional lighting meets a functional need.

If you’ve been working from home full time for more than half a year, there’s a chance you may continue working from home, even part time, after the pandemic ends. So while this trend for 2021 may not seem as fun and creative, it could be a good idea to consider your lighting needs. “Lighting plays a big role,” says Kevin Gray, founder and senior designer of Kevin Gray Design in Miami. He explains that lighting is key to making any home office, home classroom or reading nook a comfortable and usable space. Make sure all lights in your home are LED and add lighting to your workspace, eliminating shadowy areas with under-shelf lighting and surface-mounted lights.

Outdoor living gets staple status.

Outdoor living preferences can differ widely among homeowners and renters, whether they want a comfortable outdoor couch for lounging, complete dining set to entertain, elaborate grill setup or a pool. As people have spent more time at home during the pandemic, private outdoor space has become highly desirable. For homeowners looking to create a fairly simple outdoor living space without overhauling their yard, Mitchell Parker, senior editor for home remodeling and design platform Houzz, recommends building a pergola, which can be purchased or built by a contractor in a day or two. “If you don’t have that shaded living space in your backyard, this is just a really simple solution,” he says.

Kitchens get zoned.

Traditionally, a well-designed kitchen includes what’s known as the “work triangle,” made up of three points: the sink, refrigerator and stove. Ideally, the distance between each point isn’t too far, all three aren’t in a line on one wall and nothing blocks the way to move among all three as you prepare a meal. But over the years, kitchens have gotten bigger, and kitchen islands have become a place for homework, snacking and socializing. The evolving use and greater number of people in the kitchen has led to a new trend of creating zones in the kitchen, whether it’s a coffee station, snack station or cocktail area. “If a person is in the kitchen cooking, the guests or kids don’t have to come into the high-traffic area and interrupt where someone is working,” Mitchell says.

Walls make a comeback.

More than a decade ago, the open floor plan changed popular home construction, design and even the way people spend time at home. But with work, school and leisure all conducted in your residence, the open floor plan can make it hard to relax, focus on work or get instruction. You don’t need to call a contractor to put permanent walls up, however. Gray says large pocket doors, where possible, can close off a space while still allowing it to open it up later, or you can even opt for retractable and movable wall options. Wall dividers can serve as a budget-friendly separation tool, though they’re less likely to block out noise.

Wallpaper serves more than an aesthetic purpose.

Wallpaper has continued to evolve from grandmotherly floral patterns. While a texture or geometric pattern can add depth to a room, its use in some spaces serves an even greater purpose now. “In newer construction apartments, the ceilings are higher and the walls are concrete – and it echoes,” Gray says. Sure, you can put down rugs and incorporate window treatments to soften the space, but Gray says acoustically rated wallpaper allows walls to absorb sound and cut the echo. Acoustic wallpaper is available in a variety of options to fit your design style, and it allows you to enjoy high ceilings and tall windows without sound bouncing around.

Statement prints counteract neutrals.

When investing in a large piece of furniture like a sofa, Hammond explains that most people opt for a neutral shade and often stick to a solid or discreet pattern. Where the creativity comes in is with statement pillows and upholstered chairs that serve to catch the eye with the otherwise blank canvas. Whether an individual’s style preference falls more under farmhouse, cottage, coastal or midcentury, Hammond says he’s seeing statement prints pop up in all design aesthetics. A living room designed in the farmhouse style, for example, may see more “gingham or floral print to balance out the solids within the space,” Hammond says.

Multipurpose furniture gets more fans.

While an ottoman with hidden storage space or a coffee table with shelves have long been the kinds of solutions for people who live in a home short on closets and cabinets, multipurpose furniture is growing in popularity, Hammond says. As more activities are done at home and different rooms serve more than one purpose, dual-purpose furniture makes it easier to put work away after 5 p.m. with hidden storage, or to make a guest bedroom an additional living space with a sleeper sofa or Murphy bed.

Spa-style bathrooms get amplified.

Bathrooms are always a popular renovation choice for homes in need of an update. While the clean, spa aesthetic with bamboo floor mats and sleek fixtures has been popular for a while, innovations in bathroom and appliance design are giving homeowners even more options as they look for ways to create new space to enjoy time alone at home. “Nobody’s going to bother you if you’re in the bathroom, so it’s kind of taking the idea of a spa-like sanctuary bathroom to another level,” Parker says. He notes that aromatherapy shower heads and shower heads with speakers are becoming popular, as are heated floors in the bathroom, tubs with a built-in spot to place a wine glass and more.

Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2021 include:

  • Consumers want change for change’s sake.
  • Home offices are a priority.
  • Additional lighting meets a functional need.
  • Outdoor living gets staple status.
  • Kitchens get zoned.
  • Walls make a comeback.
  • Wallpaper serves more than an aesthetic purpose.
  • Statement prints counteract neutrals.
  • Multipurpose furniture gets more fans.
  • Spa-style bathrooms get amplified.
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Updated on Dec. 10, 2020: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.