The start of a new year comes with renewed energy and the drive to achieve new and bold things. This is especially true after a year like 2020, which turned the way we live and work completely upside down. Last year, we spent more time at home than ever before, learned to work from our apartments, put our travel plans on hold and found new ways to pass the time.
But, how have these key changes affected the world of interior design? To find out, we reached out to 12 experts for their opinions on what the biggest trends of 2021 will be in this new context. Without further ado, here are the trends they’re placing their bets on in the year ahead:
1. Incorporating nature indoors
As renters spend more time at home than ever before, Alain Weiner, COO of Elegant Strand, expects biophilic design to make its way into even more interiors.
“Bring nature indoors with biophilic interior design trends. Wicker and rattan furniture, carved wood tables, and woven baskets have been popular the last few years — a trend that’s expected to continue into 2021.
“An even easier method, live plants throughout your home, [is] an excellent way to bring the beauty of nature indoors. Plant a fiddle leaf fig tree in an elegant pot by your living room window, hang spider plants in the corner of your bedroom or tend to a petite windowsill herb garden in the kitchen.”
Anastasios Gliatis, interior designer and founder of Anastasios Designs, also places his bets on natural inspiration. In particular, Gliatis offers some actionable tips on how you can evoke an outdoorsy atmosphere in your apartment.
“With intentional, simple moves and some creativity, you can update your home for a fresh feel in the new decade. For many people, spending time outdoors, immersed in nature, is often a great way to feel more at peace. Certain decor touches and elements can help recreate that feeling indoors, bringing nature and the outdoors inside.
“A simple way to incorporate the outdoors into your home’s design is by adding plants (such as the English ivy and snake plants) that are low maintenance and great air purifiers. You can also incorporate natural fibers or textures into your home, use colors inspired by nature, and add elements such as rocks, sand and wood to your decor.”
2. Eco-friendly materials
Eco-friendly design will continue its rise this year, along with the use of plants, according to David Cusick, chief strategy officer of HouseMethod.
“One huge trend in apartment design this year is the use of eco-friendly materials and decors. You’ll find more wood, stone, metal, and glass used in apartments. Aside from eco-friendly furniture and finishes, we’re going to see more plants incorporated into living spaces — particularly large ones, like the triangle ficus, corn plant and parlor palm.”
3. Dividing & conquering with partitions
Decorative room partitions will surge in popularity as more and more renters will want to make the most of the space they have on hand, according to Megan Dufresne, principal designer at MC Design.
“Since staying at home for most of 2020, many of us have had to use our spaces for much more than we originally intended to. In 2021, we want to incorporate this need for versatile spaces and do it with intention.
“Decorative room partition screens are a game-changer. They marry function and design in an easy and fun way. With so many options, these helpful decor pieces will fit into any home and budget. Whether you need to hide exercise equipment or create a better backdrop for your Zoom meeting, these mobile pieces work hard. You can change the way a room looks and feels with a strategically placed partition or add a bit of color and texture to a space without painting or changing the existing structure.
“This trend is perfect for apartment-dwellers because it adds a customizable element that can move with you and adapt to any style of room. In 2021, we want to create a bit more order in our spaces and express our personalities simultaneously. Room partitions do that and so much more!”
4. Flexible, multi-purpose furniture
Christina Johnson, creative director at Private Label International, expects multi-purpose furniture to rise in popularity as people continue spending time at home.
“As wellness and wellbeing are becoming more popular, design is finding organic ways to integrate layout options that promote a well-rounded lifestyle. One of the ways to do this successfully is with furniture that is flexible and has multiple uses.
Photo courtesy of Private Label International.
“For example, to incorporate a workspace into one of our model units, we utilized a desk that converts into a bed. Some examples of furniture items that promote overall wellness are treadmill desks, mirrors with augmented reality fitness options and foldable furniture that can clear out to make way for open floor space for physical activity.”
5. Fusing Scandinavian & Japanese styles
Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, sees a lot of potential in mixing two already-popular styles for an added minimalist effect with a touch of nature.
“One of the biggest apartment trends for 2021 will be a fusion between the Scandinavian and Japanese styles. This is a very minimalist style that is functional, yet simple. You’ll incorporate natural textures with open and bright spaces, and you’ll want to lean more toward neutral tones. Pair this with more rustic, Japanese-style elements to create a unique and clean fusion.
“Keep in mind that less is more with this fusion. Keep your furniture pieces simple and add pops of colors in throw blankets or pillows to offset the neutral tones and invoke calm and comfort. Incorporate hand-crafted items with wooden textures and clean lines. This can give you a feeling of having a deeper connection with your immediate environment, while pulling the whole room together.”
6. Rich jewel tones
“The use of color in design is often a sign of the times as much as of the inhabitants. Jewel tones — such as cobalt blue and emerald green — are gaining favor in 2021, and definitely add luxury and maturity to a palette. I find that, as people have spent more time indoors, they desire to embrace the outdoors by using more grounded colors that evoke a sense of comfort and calm. There seems to be a subtle shift toward the humbler earth tones, and we believe richer hues will redefine how the whole home feels: comforting, safe and inviting.”
7. Bold, graphic accent walls
Accent walls will maintain their long-lasting popularity — but with a bolder touch — according to Laura Bonucchi, interior designer at DTSH Interiors and strategic real estate advisor at Real Estate Bees.
“One incredibly easy way to achieve a personalized and chic designer look in an apartment in 2021 is to add an accent wall. Very on-trend right now is a bold, graphic printed wallpaper. Just choose one you love and follow the directions provided to adhere to the wall.
“Alternately, go for a bright pop of color with a favorite paint hue, or even an on-trend dark, moody color, such as black, navy blue or dark, jewel-tone green. The great thing about adding an accent wall is that it’s only one wall to cover! First, choose a wall with the most visual impact. If you select the perfect location, such as an entry wall, window wall or behind your bed, it can have a lot of impact. There is little cost and time commitment — just a couple of hours! Also, it is easy to restore to the original color.”
8. Decorating with vibrant colors
Vibrant colors will be hugely popular this year, says Phuong Mai, interior designer and interior design blogger at La Chouetta.
“One trend that I have high hopes for in 2021 is the use of vibrant colors. As Pantone has announced their colors of the year to be Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, bright colors are certainly making a big comeback soon. Yellow, teal and fuchsia are great choices that will create a positive, inspirational atmosphere, especially for young and creative people. Incorporating them into apartments is also simple and does not require any significant renovation. It can be as easy as adding some throw pillows, blankets or area rugs to your space (think accent colors!). Or, for kitchens, you can invest in matching tools and appliances with a cohesive color scheme. This would make the space much livelier and welcoming.”
9. Revitalized outdoor spaces
Jessie Minor and Erica Reinter of Eco Method Interiors explain how important outdoor spaces have become and how more renters could take the opportunity to revamp them in 2021.
“We think formerly neglected patios, balconies, and outdoor spaces that used to act as storage or were gathering dust will be reinvigorated. With the COVID-19 pandemic allowing for less access to communal outdoor areas or places to gather safely, people are starting to appreciate their own little outdoor space.
Photo courtesy of Eco Method Interiors.
“Ways to revamp your patio, balcony or deck: You could use outdoor floor tiles to cover damaged concrete, modern outdoor furniture to liven up the space, fire pits, railing flower planters, balcony railing clip-on bar tops, wall-mounted table sets, plants and ambient lighting like lanterns or cafe lights.”
10. Statement headboards
According to Rosie Axford, co-founder of Wicklewood, statement headboards are the perfect new trend to incorporate some worldly, eclectic design into your apartment during these times.
“With the lack of travel in 2020, interior aficionados are looking to bring the colors and cultures of far-flung shores into their homes this year. Adding an eclectic touch to a space — classic or contemporary — will give a room personality. And, there’s no better place to let your imagination run wild and your interior dreams become a reality than your bedroom.
“Apartment-dwellers often have their hands tied when it comes to adding personal touches to their rented space, so it’s great that the statement headboard is set to make a huge comeback this year. Think of it as art above your bed. Be brave and choose a bold style and fun fabric to really add character and charm to your bedroom. Then, have fun picking out a contrasting throw to add some pizazz to your sleeping area. The best bit? You can move headboards from room to room or house to house — they’re yours to keep for a lease or a lifetime.”
11. Powerful, expressive art
This is the perfect time for renters to showcase their style and values through bold art, according to Diana Stelin, professional landscape artist and educator.
“My observation for this coming year is that people are much more concerned with their success spaces seen on screen. Working from home while making a consistently positive impression is vital. Renters need to make their spaces speak through powerful art that reflects their values. Go for something with bright colors and positive vibes. Make sure it’s not too small on the wall, as it gets lost behind you. At the same time, don’t make the art overpower your presence. Ideally, a piece should have one-fourth of its width left on each side. Opt for landscapes or abstract. Portraits don’t translate well over the screen.”
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