Table of Contents
- Decorating Trends 2021
- 10 Decor Trends to Embrace in 2021
- Top Trend: Comfort
- 1. Zen is (Still) On Trend
- 2. Minimalism
- 3. Biophilic Spaces – Bringing the Outdoors In
- 4. Color Trends
- 2021 Colors of the Year
- 5. Purpose and Functionality
- New Construction Trends for 2021
- Recommended Reading
- 6. Mixed Metal Finishings
- 7. Sustainable Products
- 8. Flooring Trends 2021
- 9. Minimalist Art is On Trend
- 10. Eclectic Design – My Favorite Trend
- What About Farmhouse Decor?
- What’s Outdated in Decor:
- Why Home Sellers Should Care About Decorating Trends
- The Difference Between Home Staging and Decorating
- 📚 More Recommended Reading on Home Staging
Decorating Trends 2021
As I’ve been writing about decor trends for 10 years now, as they relate to home staging and selling real estate, I’ve noticed that although trends change regularly, they don’t always stick around. Some trends just don’t catch on, while others seem to last quite a long time (consider the trendy color gray in home decor…we’ve been recommending it to home sellers for almost a decade.)
The importance of considering today’s decorating trends is to get you thinking about the spaces in your home, to consider some additions or changes that will keep your rooms more up to date. If you are considering selling your home soon, an updated home will be an easier sell and will get you a better return on your investment. A dated home is something you want to avoid. Certainly, updated decor will be important in your home staging, although it will not cover up items in your home that need to be renovated or updated.
Whether you are thinking of selling your home in the near future and are looking for ways to update your home, or whether you’re going to stay put for a while, you’ll want to know what’s the latest news in home decorating trends.
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10 Decor Trends to Embrace in 2021
It seems that every year, we embrace even more decor choices. In 2021 the decor trends seem endless! How can we embrace all of those trends with the minimum of stress and without being overwhelmed? The good news is we don’t have to embrace them all.
‘Trends are a great source of inspiration, but don’t feel pressured to incorporate them in their entirety,’ says Rob Ellis, designer at DFS. ‘You can take one or two aspects, such as color, texture or pattern, and use them in subtle ways to create a look that’s still personal and liveable for you.’ You don’t have to use any of this year’s trends.
With so many choices today, it’s good to take stock of what’s new, take stock of what you have, and brainstorm just a handful of changes you can make to bring your decor up-t0-date. I usually don’t recommend making sweeping changes, unless you find that you are so hopelessly out of date that a major overhaul is in order (and you have the budget for it!)
Top Trend: Comfort
I’ve gone to the usual resources, Elle Decor, Houzz, House Beautiful, and my favorite resource for all things home: Pinterest. The overwhelming majority agree that we are collectively craving a comfortable stress-less environment at home in 2021. After the upheaval in our working and living situations from Covid-19, our homes have taken on a new dimension. We are home so much more than we were just a year ago. What a change!
The pandemic has also led consumers to look more critically at the livability of their home in terms of safety, technology, flexibility, and comfort.
1. Zen is (Still) On Trend
We don’t need designers and decor experts to convice us. We have all spent much more time in our homes than ever before, as we have been through this pandemic. 2020 will be the year that got us all to focus on our homes, if we hadn’t before. But our focus has been different than ever as we have needed our homes to do double and even triple duty.
Our office, our school, and our restaurant, our homes have come to mean much more than before. They are also our respite and comfort, our fortress. This is where we are safe.
Trying to maintain a feeling of Zen has come to mean much more. Comfort, relaxation and cocooning are words that come to mind. More and more, people crave a less cluttered home life, as they have had to multi-task more than ever.
Zen is a big part of our current design and decor trends. The Scandinavians call it Hygge… Simple comfort. Zen design is both minimalist and elegant. Everything in the room is meant to calm the spirit and the eye. These are the hallmarks of Zen style:
- Uncluttered spaces with less ornamentation and more organization. It is relaxing to have everything in its place. People who practice making their homes more organized tend to get rid of what they don’t really need.
- Neutral spaces are very Zen. Softer colors of nature are relaxing and induce calm.
- Let in as much natural light as possible. Window coverings should be a simple as possible. Plain white or natural sheers with no ornamentation are perfect.
- Furniture with simple, low lines works well with the minimalism that invokes Zen.
- Natural, comfortable fabrics. Silk comes to mind.
- Soothing environment, with natural elements like plants. The sound of a water feature is very soothing.
Minimalism has been a growing trend for several years. Scandinavian Minimalism, or Scandi, is very popular. Scandi incorporates the natural beauty of wood, stone and green plants, and uses white walls to reflect as much natural light as possible.
Simplicity in design is about mindful living and creating an environment to disconnect and recharge. Soft, washed neutrals, greens and sunset pinks are examples of popular combinations that accomplish this look. Color palettes like these are all about swapping contrast for color harmony. It’s not so much about the perfect color scheme as it is about the organic blend.
- Scandinavian style is trendy now, as it is the epitome of simplicity. The trend includes airy, spacious rooms, less cluttered and more straightforward. As our lives become more cluttered, we all seem to want our spaces to move the other direction. Hide-Away storage pieces are more in demand as more people are opting for smaller, but smarter spaces.
- Mid-Century Modern is still having its moment. Many are attracted to the simplicity and clean lines of mid-century modern furniture, accessories, and decor. A few iconic pieces can work well with any room. This furniture also mixes well with other styles, like today’s industrial looks..
- Textures – As decorating trends toward minimalism and simplicity, many designers are turning toward adding lots of texture to create interest and keep minimalism from become boring. Instead of luxe grand velvet, we’re seeing shearling, imperfect leathers, and soft textured mohairs. Look for boucle pillows and poufs everywhere.
- Handmade goods are hot, including items from around the world! Etsy is the place to score and it is one of the most lucrative business opportunities today. Recycling is big including crafty DIY decor. A touch of hand-made will cross all kinds of styles.
- Janpandi is a surging trend. A mash-up of elegant Japanese minimalism and rustic Scandinavian simplicity, Japandi is a hybrid trend bringing together the best of the two. This trend is the one for you if your home is your sanctuary and you take a less-is-more approach with uncluttered spaces, clean lines and a calm, subdued color palette. It’s an intriguing mix of Scandinavian hygge and the Japanese theory of ‘wabi-sabi’.Han.
3. Biophilic Spaces – Bringing the Outdoors In
Natural elements are still a big part of modern decorating and will continue to be as long as people are focused on better health and wellness in this complicated world. Experts say staying connected with nature affects our overall psyche.
There is a growing belief that biophilic design has health benefits. Including plants, wood, stained wood, bone and horns, leather, baskets and natural stone, granite, and marble in decor is a trend that crosses all styles, from modern, to traditional, and everything in-between.
- Botanical prints, and large floral prints are in style for art, furniture, window coverings, and even wallpaper. The “natural elements” don’t have to be alive to add life to a room.
- But we certainly are seeing more plants in design plans. The addition of live greenery, with indoor gardens, living walls and even hanging plants (macrame is back!) are everywhere on Pinterest.
- Floral is Everywhere – Large floral designs on wallpaper, curtains, pillows. It came back with a roar last year and it’s here to stay for a while. Remember the Chintz from the 80’s? Only now it’s updated for 2021. Straight up or abstracted, flowers are in.
- Cane and rattan are showing up not only in furniture but also in light fixtures, planters, shelves, and etageres. In the right doses, it’s the perfect balance to the more simple, streamlined furniture we love.
- Sustainable products are being incorporated into decor today. You can easily find repurposed furniture and decor products as well as recycled wood in furniture and flooring.
- Live edge tables are everywhere…Etsy, YouTube and on Facebook. They are stunning! A lovely way to bring nature inside.
- An easy addition of greenery is a “biomantage”. Yes, it’s a thing! Biomantage can be a framed vertical plant, or an entire vertical planter wall, or it can be a room divider with planters, the options are many and growing.
Understanding Biophilic Design:
4. Color Trends
Subdued and Relaxed. These are the buzzwords for decor in 2021. As the major paint companies release their own “color of the year” they are harkening to our craving for comfort. Colors are easier on the eyes, not as bright as they were last year. We’re seeing a lighter, more neutral shade of popular colors.
Realtors® and home stagers recommend that the majority of wall paints and decorating be neutral colors, to appeal to the widest variety of people. Remember, neutral isn’t limited to beige any more. Gray has been the most popular neutral color for a few years. You may have noticed the obsession with gray is declining, at least we’re not seeing so much gray on gray. We’ll be seeing a different shade of gray, and probably not so much of it.
Here are the color trends to watch for in 2021:
2021 Colors of the Year
The good news: Monochromatic decor is out. We’ve been seeing color and pattern and it’s a welcome look, although it is toned down this year to reflect our desire for comfort. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re all in need of calm, relaxed vibes.
Every winter many paint manufacturers and decorating gurus announce the Color of the Year for the coming year. Several manufacturers have chosen a palette of colors this year. They all take their inspiration from nature and bring a calm, zenlike tone.
* * *
- The Sherwin Williams Color of the Year is Urbane Bronze, a “warm, sophisticated” dark bronze. “Urbane Bronze is a comforting color, drawing from nature for a feeling of relaxation and serenity, ” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. It is part of a palette of colors called “Rhythm of Color”, four color mixes, all muted and earthy. “Rhythm is the secret to how the natural world stays in step. The same sense of balance applies to our personal sense of nature through how we live—and how we design.”
- Valspar has come out with 12 soothing shades for it’s 2021 Colors of the Year. Blissful Blue, Soft Candlelight, Granite Dust, Cherry Taupe, Arizona Dust, Garden Flower, Academy Gray, Unforgettable, Gallery Gray, Dusty Lavender, Maple Leaf and Lucy Blue…wouldn’t it be fun to have the job of naming colors??? Sign me up please.
“Our homes have become offices, entertainment centers, and classrooms—which means the colors, sights, and sounds in our rooms have an even bigger impact on our daily lives,” says Sue Kim, Valspar color marketing manager. “These lifestyle changes coupled with a surge in DIY home activity helped guide our selection of a range of colors for Valspar’s 2021 Colors of the Year that can not only transform your space, but also elevate your mood.”
- Glidden has put their own spin on the idea of a yearly favorite color by announcing the Accent Color of the Year, Aqua Fiesta. Among all the paint manufacturers, this is the only bright and bold color. They suggest paring Aqua Fiesta with a cool gray and cream colored fabrics to offset the color’s boldness. What a cheerful color!
- It’s official, beige is back. PPG’s Paint Colors of the Year are the Be Well Palette, a trio of earthy neutrals: a ‘brown sugar beige,’ a soothing watercolor blue, and a shaded ginger that’s “the equivalent of a big, comforting hug for your home—the Be Well palette is “intended for the consumer who wants to fully embrace mindfulness and intention,” says the brand.
- Benjamin Moore selected a soft, soothing blue-green color called Aegean Teal. This is probably my favorite color! I love the gray undertone that keeps it modern and helps blend with neutral gray, which so many homeowners have embraced in the last decade.
- Dutch Boy’s Color of the Year for 2021 is “Earth’s Harmony”. This lovely shade of blue is “the color of a perfect sky”. Soothing, refreshing, and optimistic. I’m a blue-lover and this is a beautiful shade!
- Behr’s Colors of the Year are a comforting palette of 21 colors that keep a neutral tone. Smoky White, Almond Wisp are some of the neutrals, while blues and greens include Wishful Green, Royal Orchard and Jean Jacket Blue. Pink shades are earthy, including Canyon Dusk, Maple Glaze and Seaside Villa. Calm and relazing.
Which colors to choose??
There are so many choices today, and you don’t have to choose any of them. If you want to add a touch of one of these new colors, or maybe more, take stock of what you already have in your decor. Consider changing out one of the colors you are currently using. Add a pop here and there to a predominantly neutral space. If you find that you end up liking the change, then consider a more extensive overhaul.
If you’re set on a major re-do, then pick a few favorites, then go to the paint company website and check out the entire color palette. They do an excellent job of pulling together a dozen or more colors that go well together. Then narrow down your choice to no more than three: a main hue, which may be reflected in your upholstery; a contrast; and a highlight.
If you are building your confidence in decor, then start with one room and try your choices out. Paint is not expensive…and it’s not permanent. Pillows, throws, curtains, towels, and duvet covers are not expensive either. You might just get in touch with your inner designer!
You Can order Wall Paint Online!
…And Paint Supplies!
5. Purpose and Functionality
Now that so many of us are working from home, we need more from our houses. We need dedicated work space, sometimes school space, and mazimized storage. Our current spaces need to be multifuncional. Furniture that serves more than one purpose, like fold-away pieces, are a great solution. Think of a Secretary desk, for example.
We’re seeing a lot of double-duty decor, because of smaller spaces, as well as the desire for less clutter. Take a look on Pinterest for mirrors and you’ll find round mirrors (and other organic shapes) with shelves along the bottom to hold your keys, wallet or sunglasses…perfect for an entryway.
You’ll find lots of stylish storage carts and containers meant to be on display.
Another double-duty item we’re seeing is planter lamps. How clever is that?!
New Construction Trends for 2021
We are beginning to see new homes designed with more purpose and functionality…and more space. Builders are telling us that people are opting for larger homes. Our interpretations for “what is necessary” is changing during this pandemic. The number one request: a dedicated home office…a Zoom Room.
Other changes in consumer demands include a spacious and livable back yard. As we are staying home more, our back yards are being used more. Gardens are a priority again for a lot of homeowners. Yards and outdoor rooms need to be spacious for a growing list of necessities.
Another trend we’re seeing is an exodus from crowded cities into the suburbs, or even rural areas. People want more room to breath. Living further away from the job isn’t a problem with more people working remotely.
- Are you the home decorator who loves to change out your decor for the season, or for holidays? Here’s an article full of great ideas from Realtor® Anita Clark in Warner Robbins GA: Winter Decor Changes for Your Home. Winter is a great time to add some cozy touches to set a welcoming tone.
6. Mixed Metal Finishings
Metals are going to be all over the place in 2021. We’re talking silver, gold, tin, and copper…anything goes. Tin panels are predicted to be a popular backsplash option for kitchens. Be careful to stick with matte finishes. The ultra-shiny metals of the 80’s look dated today.
Mixed metals are gaining popularity, although they can be tricky.
Click the image below for a good tutorial from Studio McGee on How to Mix Metals:
Designers suggest using no more than two or three together. Some metals mix well with others, and some patinas work well with others.
Silver and brown metals will work well together, like iron and gold or bronze. Copper is especially popular lately. It’s always best to try them together in the store before you make the commitment.
Another element of the 80’s that is having a come-back: gold or copper finishes on the legs and details of chairs and sofas.
Shop Light Fixtures:
7. Sustainable Products
Sustainable products are making their way into hard surfaces, flooring, and products, as well as furniture. We’ve seen a huge growth in bamboo products. Recycled elements are making their way into kitchen countertops and cabinets.
One of the reasons I believe we’ll be seeing more recycled and sustainable home products is the recent shortage in lumber and building materials. One of the effects of Covid-19 has been material supply disruption, across many product categories—windows, cabinetry, doors, hardware, flooring, and more.
Lumber is one of the top issues in the housing industry right now. In mid-September, lumber prices were up more than 170% since mid-April, adding more than $16,000 to the price of a typical new single-family home, according to the NAHB. (National Association of Home Builders)
“We face daily challenges of skilled labor availability. This has been going on for several years but has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” says the NAHB blog. “The operational challenges of building with a slower-than-normal labor force, coupled with product delays, has proved to be a significant obstacle.”
Related Articles on 2021 Trends
- Kitchen Design Trends 2020 – “The kitchen is the heart of the home.”
- Bathroom Design Trends for 2020 – Zen is In.
- Home Improvement Return on Investment – Some improvements don’t have a good return on investment
- Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating – There’s an app for that!
8. Flooring Trends 2021
The new home community nearest us is no longer offering wood floors. That’s a special order item. Besides the supply chain problems, the cost of several products has increased.
What now comes standard is engineered wood and luxury vinyl. They found that they had to come back and fix too many problems during the first year warranty with wood floors. Interesting, isn’t it?
More manufacturers are using other materials to replicate wood floors. What technology is giving us is more options. What’s growing in popularity:
- Wood-look porcelain tile
- Marble-look porcelain tile in the bathroom
- Water-proof Vinyl Plank flooring
- Large 12 by 12 tiles, or even larger, ceramic or porcelain
- Slip-resistant flooring, as more people are looking to age in place
- Responsibly sourced materials, like bamboo and cork
- Terrazzo floors are making a comeback
Nevertheless, hardwood floors are still wildly popular, no matter what style your home is. Hardwood floors add value to a home, compared to many other flooring types. There are so many more choices than there were even a decade ago. Dark hardwoods have been surging in popularity for a few years. This next year we’re going to see all varieties of hardwood floor shades. How to know which is the best choice for your home? My friend Debbie Gartner has all the info you need to not only make smart decisions about hardwood floors, but to best care for them.
- Hardwood Flooring Trends for 2019
- Light Vs. Dark Hardwood Flooring – Pros and Cons
- Hardwood Flooring Stain Trends
- Red Oak Vs. White Oak Flooring – What’s the Difference
- What Types of Hardwood Flooring is Best For Dogs?
For much more great information about choosing and caring for your hardwood floors, be sure to explore Debbie’s blog.
Carpet Trends: carpet is still the most popular flooring option on the market, and technology is affording us lots of options in carpets. Today’s carpets are hard working and durable. Options include:
- Waterproof carpets
- Sustainable and environmentally friendly materials
- Patterned texture is trending
- Nostalgic carpets with a new look
- DIY carpet tiles
- Lots of options in accent and area rugs
- Multiple styles and colors
9. Minimalist Art is On Trend
Wall art is often a very personal part of decorating.
I admit, I am not an expert on the subject. The items on our walls are all very personal in meaning, and reflect our travels more than anything else. Unfortunately, nothing matches or has a particular style. And that’s ok with us!
Luckily, eclectic mixes of art and decor is on trend. Abstract and modern art is very popular right now. Here’s what is trending in the art world:
- Line art is popular. If you’re a minimalist, this is for you. Inspired by the drawings of Picasso and Matisse, it uses only simple black lines on the white background. This is truly a DIY opportunity for your inner artist. Face Line Art is everywhere! Find some on Amazon, >>>
- Bold abstracts are trending. Retro prints, color blocking, cubism, geometry, space race references, and large contemporary pieces are in.
- Photography is popular and fits with any style.
- Botanicals fit with any decor trend above.
- Socially engaged art.
- Motif art. This type of art is perfect for those who need to collect. Whatever you love can be a motif: animals…especially dogs and horses, famous people, artists, musicians, favorite flowers or birds, travels or places…you name it. This is a great way to use antiques or flea market finds.
- Bold, colorful abstract art. Bright and bold colors are great to add with your wall art. When you’re ready for a change, just replace without breaking the bank.
Karen’s Contemporary Art Recommendations:
10. Eclectic Design – My Favorite Trend
The New Modern – What we define as modern changes throughout the years. Modern decor includes a fusion of styles, including ethnic patterns, mixed metals, rustic and natural elements, organic and eco-friendly touches, and the addition of hand-made items, especially items from different cultures. Eclectic and layered is the New Modern..
What is the mix and match? To avoid boredom, the best of decor never tires of mixing everything! Rustic and industrial, artisanal and retro, ethnic and modern, everything is negotiable. And I say, thank you!
This is truly the way we all live, isn’t it? We have treasures from our travels, heirlooms that we dare not part with, and our favorite items that have no natural fit with our overall decor tastes. After reading the trends above, you’re probably wondering how to make it all work. I’m relieved to hear that it’s all good! Mix and match at will.
Karen’s Decor Recommendations:
What About Farmhouse Decor?
Farmhouse decor has been huge. But it has been most popular and seems to thrive more in the Southeast United States. To be honest, we don’t see a lot of Farmhouse decor in Maryland. I think what we see is a more modern version of Farmhouse decor.
Farmhouse is still having a moment, but like all good things, the end is near. What is likely to happen is that Farmhouse is evolving into something else…something a little more sophisticated.
This is a good example of the fact that decor and style are always changing. That’s why it’s always best to invest in classic pieces that will not go out of style. Then you can always change out your less expensive decor with more trendy pieces and colors.
What’s Outdated in Decor:
I thought it would be a good idea to consult the decor experts on this topic. If you have some dated features in your home and want to focus in on making the most important changes first to update your look, these are the places to start:
…tile countertops, shag carpet, wood paneling, linoleum flooring, terrazzo, millennial pink, futons and other dorm room looks, nautical motifs, Edison bulbs, Tuscan kitchens, damask (instead, large statement blooms), wallpaper borders, matching window valances or any valances, mason jar mania, dusty pastels, Hollywood mirror lights, vertical blinds, sponge-painted walls, ruffled bed skirts, chintz fabrics, faux and silk plants and fake fruit, lace tablecloths and doilies, popcorn ceilings.
That was a lot! Hopefully you only have a minimal number of these, and maybe you’re lucky and you have none.
Why Home Sellers Should Care About Decorating Trends
Whether you are thinking of selling your home in the near future and are looking for ways to update your home, or whether you just bought a home, you’ll want to know what’s the latest news in home decorating trends. When selling a home, you don’t want it too look too dated.
Getting your home ready for the market includes some very practical steps, like repairs and replacement of broken items and systems, lots of cleaning and certainly de-cluttering. But part of the process involves some psychology, the psychology of using decor to appeal to buyers.
Preparing your home to appeal to the largest number of buyers includes some smart and careful staging. Staging works well when you add elements of what is hot in decor. Small touches of the latest decor trends suggest to savvy buyers that your home is updated…and probably well cared for. Incorporating decorating trends may be just what is needed to make your home more salable.
The Difference Between Home Staging and Decorating
Home staging is different from home decorating. Although decorating and home staging are different, they both focus on what is trending in decor. In very simple terms, decorating is about making your home suit your own style and tastes. It is all about expressing who you are. Home staging is the total opposite.
In a nutshell, home staging is about neutralizing your personal home decor tastes and creating a look that appeals to the most likely buyers. Your spaces must be painted in neutral shades, and have a minimal amount of furnishings and decor. The goal is to allow buyers to imagine their belongings in your home.
If you are thinking of selling your home, consider a fresh coat of paint in some contemporary neutral shade from a contemporary color palette. A few touches of the new color palettes in the pillows, towels, window coverings or occasional pieces, some touches of wood or trendy metals, and you can have a great new look that appeals to today’s buyers.
📚 More Recommended Reading on Home Staging
- Did you know that professional home staging can cost you between $1,500 to $10,000? Danny Margagliano, Destin Florida real estate pro, walks you through numerous DIY tips for selling your home faster and for more money. DIY Tips for Selling a Home Fast.
- Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts real estate pro, has some easy Interior and Exterior Home Staging Tips to help sellers prepare for a quick sale.
- When staging a home for for sale, it’s possible to overthink things, and to go overboard. Michelle Gibson, with Wellington Home Team has some important advice about ugly home staging that does not work. Take a read and avoid some common mistakes.
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The 2021 decorating trends forecast was written by Karen Highland, blogger and licensed real estate agent in Central Maryland. Happy Decorating!