It used to be that our homes were just a part of our lives.
But 2020 changed all that.
Last year was a defining year for literally everything but more so for our common and everyday relationships with our homes. Before repeated lockdowns and quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we used to spend most of our time out of doors filled with activities and work. Now, we do everything from our homes – work, exercise and socialize – and it can be overwhelming.
We had to adjust the way we live. Consequently, we gradually adjusted the spaces we live in.
Though design trends are ever-changing, the happenings of 2020 have us focused on three main themes: functional spaces, creating calm and joy, and above all, comfort. Experts shared some design trends they see this year and, perhaps, the next.
Photo source: Negative Space
1. Break up your space
As offices remain closed and outside movement limited, the multifunctional home is the way to go. Especially in open concept homes (which is probably most home space layouts done in the past years), multi-hyphenated spaces are the new norm.
Lack of privacy and division of spaces equal to 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, 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 Forbes.
Not only that but designating separated spaces creates a sense of occasion as you enter that room. This return to distinctive living spaces can also be seen as reflections of different aspects of your life.
For example, keeping a dedicated and organized work or study space setup will allow more productivity – you’ll be ‘in the zone’ once you’re in that space.
Photo source: Unsplash | Jon’Nathon Stebbe
You don’t need to start renovating and putting up walls right now. These changes will not happen overnight. But eventually, closed or partitioned, functional layouts may become the standard.
As a starter, you can have room dividers that are functional and aesthetically pleasing. Charu Gandhi, founder and director of Elicyon interior design and architecture firm based in London, has seen rising demand in decorative screens that can create a room within a room.
“Cleverly designed and placed, a screen can create layers of privacy without closing off a space completely,” she said to Mansion Global.
2. Make your furniture work harder for you
And, within those designated spaces, multi-purpose furniture will be a game changer to accommodate the sometimes varying functions of that room especially in limited spaces.
Now that you’ll be working on that desk for far more hours than initially planned, you’ll need to find something that can serve a double duty – functional and beautiful.
“This means having an office chair that is both comfortable enough for long days but aesthetically pleasing enough that it could double as a dining chair or a dining table with slim drawers that are perfect for stowing a laptop,” said Janet McCulley, McCulley Design Lab comments to Mansion Global.
Photo source: Modsy Blog
3. Livable luxury and design versatility
With the increased use of furniture and furnishings around the house as we spend more time at home, the importance of durability will continue to rise. People will gear towards livable luxury and versatility in design as every piece will play multiple roles.
“It’s about quality over quantity. Now that our home environment is more important than ever, it’s all about adding livable luxuries – from iconic silhouettes to plush, design-forward fabrics,” says Maiden Home founder Nidhi Kapur tell Forbes.
Appeal of inexpensive, fast furniture and decor are on the decline. People look to create deeper relationships and meaning with the things they put in their spaces. Purchasing has become more intentional as we become more cognizant of the influences of things we choose to surround ourselves with at home.
Photo source: Pixabay | qimono
4. Less isn’t more – cozy up!
With the pandemic causing a strain on our physical and mental wellbeing, many are learning to incorporate self-care into their routines. And the first step: surround yourself with things you love.
This may be the time to abandon the minimalist design and make way for layered, enveloping and softer pieces and decor. All the time spent and the activities we engage in have made it very challenging to be, well, surrounded by an almost-empty or sparsely-filled home.
Patti Carpenter, global trend ambassador at Carpenter + Company, foresees this gravitation towards a maximalist, functional look as one that “harkens back to a slower, kinder, and gentler approach to life.”
Timothy Corrigan, top designer and founder of Timothy Corrigan Inc., also predicts a similar fate for minimalistic, sharp designs: “Now that people are actually hanging out in their living spaces for hours at a time, there is a strong trend towards furniture that is big on soft, comfy sofas and chairs that allow you to lounge with ease.”
Photo source: Unsplash | Spacejoy
In a similar vein, more formal rooms are being turned into functional, informal spaces where different members of the family can work, study and chill. These more laid-back living spaces mean that design will shy away from sharp edges and lean more towards curves, sculptural and playful pieces that give a more fluid ambience.
“You’ll feel like you’re inside of this cozy little nook and it’s less of these sparse, modern spaces,” interior designer Natalie Papier said to The Spruce. “People just want to feel like they’re being wrapped in a warm hug when they walk into a room.”
Photo source: Unsplash | Spacejoy
5. ‘Zoom’-friendly settings
When our most common connection to our colleagues, friends and family is through video calls, the stage and your backdrop matter (especially for formal meetings).
Lighting is important when considering how you look on-screen – softer lighting is said to be most flattering. Choosing decorative and functional lighting that can work for different occasions is the way to go – you’ll have to consider the ambience, mood, productivity, look and feel and also, how you will look and feel using it on-camera.
If not, utilize ambient light or some of the natural lighting around you.
Photo source: Apartment Therapy, Hayley Kessner
“For instance, swapping out regular incandescent bulbs for smart lighting options allow you to set schedules and create an ambience to fit your needs – whether that’s Zoom school, cooking prep for a family gathering, or just relaxing in the living room.” – Breegan Jane tells GoodHousekeeping.
Another is setting up a background vignette. Some of the key elements that people incorporate into their zoom background are graphic art, paintings, books and small decor items that show their personalities, or fresh flowers and greenery to soften the entire look and feel.
Photo source: Unsplash | Wu Yi
6. Popping and illuminating colors
Just as we crave for the soft, comfy, laid-back feeling and setting at home, away from the gray, bland designs, we have this growing sense to add more color and hues for an overall friendlier, more homey space.
Gone are the days when all gray or white kitchens and super clean monochromatic designs are selected. The rise of colors and textures will make a space more comforting, and joyful to spend hours in.
“Warm to the eye as much as to the hand, palettes of organic, natural colors will be important to have a nourishing effect. The focus will be on nuances of greens, blues, and earthy pigments such as terra-cotta,” says Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors shares with Architectural Digest.
Right now, you can be bold and decorate like you mean it by adding pops of color and using unconventional ways to make your space a happier one for you. These fun color bombs also add a sense of personality that makes your space more you.
Photo source: Natalie Papier
If not, the scattering of softer, additional hues like blush, rust, and mustard will also make the spaces softer and more ’livable’. Or, adding them into decor if those color bombs are too much.
“But it won’t be all soothing neutrals and demure mid-tones,” says Michelle Lamb, editorial director at The Trend Curve. “Brights are another factor because they are so joyful. Consumers won’t call on them for an entire room but will add them as accents.”
Photo source: Unsplash | Collov Home Design
The Pantone Color of the Year is Gray + Illuminating. Color is used as a way for people to better express themselves and their thoughts.
“As society continues to recognize color as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolize thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of color to engage and connect.” — Pantone Color Institute’s Laurie Pressman
7. Peel-and-stick wallpaper and wall art will be trendy
Wanting to create more pizzazz on our interiors as we make the space more comfortable sees the rise of peel-and-stick wallpapers – an easy choice to get that dramatic change. When you get tired of one design or feel like swapping for another look, just peel off and stick another.
Wallpapers are making a comeback as experimentation happens on different looks that can make our space comfortable and fun yet functional.
In a way, this follows the previous point of adding colors and designs that break away from the monochromatic look and feel.
Photo source: Pexels | Max Vakhtbovych
Wallpaper murals are another option. Replacing accent walls, they can be unique, art pieces in themselves that make a bold statement, adding a visually dynamic effect to your space.
“An affordable way to add drama to your home, murals are art in their own right,” says founder and president of DecoratorsBest Barbara Karpf. “They cover the wall and provide unique art at the same time.”
Similarly, people are realizing how a piece of artwork can tie a space together. Graphic art can occupy an entire wall and be a conversation-starter, or be placed on smaller decors like pillows or displays and catch the keener designer’s eye.
Photo source: The Spruce
8. Artisan small decors instead of big, statement pieces
As we look to connect more to our spaces and the things in it, more people are investing time and energy into their home’s decor details. Since we do so much more now than just sleep and shower in our homes, we aim to collect meaningful and artisan pieces that we can admire and be happy with.
“As we spend more time in our homes, we need more objects to hold our attention – all that empty space can be suffocating. I’m not advocating for clutter, however. I’d say that 2021 will be a year of attributing meaning to carefully selected pieces – the year of the craftsperson, the artist, the artisan.” – Robert McKinley, Studio McKinley
Raw, casual aesthetics complement that laid-back living style that we long for while at home. Apart from giving a friendly touch to a space, they are soft and gentle compared to large, statement pieces that dominate.
“I think we will move away from grand, sweeping styles and towards a rawer, more casual aesthetic. Homes will become textural and layered with elements of warmth, grounded elements,” Robert McKinley added to Vogue.
Photo source: Unsplash | Manja Vitolic
9. Granny chic (or ‘grandmillennial’) is on the rise
In a turn of trends from sleek, mid-century looks, ‘granny chic’ is rising in popularity. According to Heather Goerzen, interior designer with Havenly, ‘granny chic’ or ‘grandmillennial’ is a modern revival of homey designs, a mishmash of patterns and things that can be found in your grandma’s house.
It is fun and sustainable while able to evoke feelings of comfort and reassurance from its traditional, nostalgic flair. Imagine visiting a vintage store – like turning back in time and being surrounded with floral designs, delicate china, vintage ornaments and hand-me-downs.
Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors noticed that a growing number of designers and brands are looking at revamping and refreshing vintage decor and furniture to cater to this trend and also for sustainability purposes.
“It has an incredibly reassuring power—in times of uncertainty, a well-known past is looked at with fondness and longing,” she says.
Photo source: Domain
10. Keeping it natural
Natural-looking furniture is making a comeback. According to the trend forecast by WGSN, use of ‘raw’ materials and elements for different spaces will see a rise, especially wicker and rattan.
Natural elements and earthy tones like terra vases or wooden furniture can add textures to a space as well as make it feel warmer and more homey. These can create that organic look and feel that translates to a calmer, more relaxed vibe.
Photo source: Unsplash | Alexandra Gorn
11. Sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials
Along the same lines, with the growing awareness of environmental issues, people will tend to choose more natural and organic materials.
“It’s all about sustainability and people will prefer stones, wood, natural fabrics, and natural coloring methods,” says Aurore Martial, interior designer and founder of Domus Venus. “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!”
12. Bringing the outdoors in
Lastly, and probably one of the biggest trends over the past few years, and made more prominent due to the pandemic, is the outdoors influencing the indoors.
Biophilic design – a way of connecting the interiors of a home to nature – has become a necessity, not just a trend. The outdoors have become a seriously considered component of the home, instead of just an afterthought.
Photo source: Unsplash | Andrea Davis
“I think it’s because this year, in an unparalleled way, nature has really been our big refuge and the greatest decorating inspiration. I think it’s an expansion on the idea of bringing the outdoors in,” says Danielle Blundell, Home Director of Apartment Therapy.
This movement is largely seen in more people becoming plant parents to bring those greens inside. There’s also greater appreciation and welcome for natural light with wide open windows. Blending the indoor with the outdoor through natural pieces – like rattan, wood, wicker – will continue to be important and appreciated in the coming years.