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Design Trends in 2021

Michelle Jackson has studied art and interior design since 1983. She attended design school and has worked as an artist/visual artist.

Home Decor in 2021

Interior Design is a journey in self reflection. We decorate our homes using things that speak to our personal taste. The home should be a clear reflection of the soul filled with meaningful and useful items that are a part of our daily lives. It took a while after the pandemic for people to return to business as usual. Many people discovered in 2020 that their spaces where an important part of their lives. The realization that we live where we are, changed the function of homes. 2020 brought about the beginning of the end for the gray and white color schemes. Personally, I couldn't be happier to see gray go.

It is worth mentioning that the Mid Century Modern craze is also about to threshold. Mid Century will always be a designer favorite in cities where the minimalist style and smaller furniture are practical. If you aren't fully committed to this design style then now isn't the time to jump on the train.

That leaves the question; What is coming up in design? Eclectic design has taken hold. Gone are the days of cookie cutter tract homes painted all one color with matchy-matchy furniture. We are seeing brave decor choices mixed together to form personality. One theme that is playing heavily into decor is nature. Natural materials, plants, things that remind us of outside are popular. Let's explore the decorating trends of today together and see what the future of design has to offer.

Green Kitchens

Going Green

This year Pantone picked a color they call "Ultimate Gray".Personally I think they missed a boat. If you haven't read my article about the color gray, I will summarize; your eye does not notice gray and gray is a depressing color. A few years back Pantone ran with evergreen as one of it's colors of the year. The current trend is to paint your kitchen cabinets green. As you can see from the Sherwin Williams- Pottery Barn ad, the white and gray counters are still in play. Most of the green kitchens are trending as a moodier darker green than this kitchen. We are seeing this switch to the color painted cabinets from the drab gray cabinets. The push to personalize a space is bringing people out of their decorating shell. Paint your cabinets a color you love and they will always be in style for you.

"Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style."

— Billy Baldwin

Wicker Making a Come Back

Wicker/Rattan Furniture Revival

In the United States the use of wicker furiture started in 1850. Most commonly thought of as patio furniture, we are now seeing wicker back in the home as accent furniture pieces. Everything from shelves to wicker couches are trending in eclectic rooms that mix furniture styles. Wicker is also an eco friendly furniture option made from renewable materials. It is not surprising that we are seeing the wicker revival. Wicker has an earthy textile vibe that is appealing to people. The down side is wicker is not practical in all climates. In dryer climates wicker becomes brittle and falls apart.

"There are two things that make a room timeless: a sense of history and a piece of the future."

— Charlotte Moss

Black is the New Black


Black Walls

I said it "Black is the New Black". People have embraced the first neutral as a wall color. This trend is creating lots of visual drama in homes all over the United States. People have a strong love or hate reaction to black walls. Environmentally, I can see the down side of turning your home into the bat cave. That said, rooms with a lot of natural light seem to handle the black paint color. Black goes with anything so you can play with creative color contrasts in a space. When you choose black walls lighting is key as the black will not reflect light or lighting. One last caution, black shows dust more than any other color.

"The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them."

— David Hicks

White Out or In?

White bathrooms

My mother use to say "you can't get clean in a dirty bathroom". If your bathroom is all white then you will certainly be be able to tell when it is dirty. Spa like bathrooms are on trend. Who could go wrong with a timeless white tile bathroom? People are mixing and matching neutral blacks and white tiles in their bathrooms. I'm a conservative when it comes to expensive and time consuming to replace decor items like tile. Choose something you love. On trend is great, but if it's not your style it it will wear on you faster.

The modern stand alone tub is also trending. The great grandchild of the claw foot tubs, these stand alone tubs are usually a compliment to a walk in shower. The reason people stopped using the claw soot tubs is that back then the claw foot tubs were used as tub shower combinations. If you have ever tried to use a claw foot tub with a shower, you know that curtain situation is a nightmare. Now that these tubs are just tubs, they are making a comeback.

A quick note about the Jacuzzi tubs that are being replaced. I know everyone wanted a Jacuzzi tub there for a while. I'm going to admit that I rarely use my Jacuzzi tub. You have to clean out the jets every few months to keep the mold from building in the lines. The bubbles cool the water so if you want the water to stay hot, you have to start with really hot water. I'm not replacing my tub simply because I do not see myself using the stand alone tub anymore than the Jacuzzi tub so there is no point in going to that expense. It is helpful to have the Jacuzzi tub if you have certain health conditions.

Walk in showers are the most practical design choice since indoor plumbing. The title options for walk in showers are so diverse that anyone can find a tile they like. After having a walk in shower for a while I will tell you that the less grout the better. Choose the biggest tiles you can find. Life is too short to have to spend four hours cleaning grout. Other than that, the walk in shower is life changing. To say that I don't miss climbing over a tub wall to take a shower is an understatement.

Molding Details

Molding on the Wall

If you have been following my articles on design you know right when this trend started. There was a designer who used this grid pattern on a wall in an ocean themed dining room in 2018. It took off and now we are seeing this wall treatment everywhere. Using wood or molding on the wall isn't a new concept. There was a time when homes were build with fancy molding in the common (guest) rooms and the private areas were plain. Today we use these molding details as a form of self expression. Everything from geometric patterns to some free form designs are popping up as wall details. In this example we also see the black wall making an appearance. You are only limited by budget because, there are videos online about how to do these wall techniques. Although time consuming, this isn't difficult. I have to say this is way better than the wood accent wall and much easier to change if you get tired of it.

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Welcome to the Jungle

It's About to Get Wild!

Bold wall paper choices have been popular for a few years. This Milton & King cheetah wallpaper is trending on Pinterest's top for 2021. These wild bold jungle prints are on the rise. The bigger the print the better. This is not a surprise since these prints pair well with the extreme neutrals such as the black walls. Also bold wallpaper creates a mood that cannot be created with paint alone. It is a personal choice and commitment when you pick wallpaper. In design this is a "you only live once" situation. Again this is about picking something you love. Having to peel wallpaper is never a good day. Choose Wisely.

Live Plants from your Home!

House plants

You cant open a magazine right now without finding a "how to care for" article about house plants. People are even getting into "rare" house plants. Tiny home people are turning dividing walls into gardens. If you have a green thumb, or can read the care instructions then caring for house plants might be for you. Plants bring our connection to the earth indoors. A good house plant livens up a room in ways that artificial plants can never accomplish. To be a good house plant owner you have to know yourself. If you are neglectful, maybe go for something low maintenance like a succulent or cactus is a better option.

Not so Honorable Mentions

There are a few other things trending in design. Some are DIY and others are DIY disasters.

Here is the list:

1. Extreme color and style front doors.

2. Sliding wall patio doors. (these are pricey and while this might be a great new construction option, I'm not sure people are going pay for this $5-10k upgrade)

3. Built in bookcases. They are everywhere from studies to living rooms.

4. Smart homes. This is happening. My son has had his house smart rigged for years. Sometimes when we are there we will say "Hey google good night" just to mess with him because google then shuts off all his lights.

5. Painting old floors. Any paint that will hold up on a bathroom floor is going to be toxic. Your home is an investment. Save and get a new floor.

6.Cabinet front appliances. People are disguising refrigerators to look like cabinets.

Lastly certain designers have predicted pastel color pallets for the coming year. While some people are not ready for bold colors, people are getting braver when it comes to design. The pastels are way too Martha Stewart in the 90's. People want things that are new and different. Who could blame them, it's been a rough year! I hope all your decorating choices bring you joy for years to come. Happy decorating!

© 2021 MD Jackson MSIOP


SmartAndFun from Texas on July 17, 2021:

Count me as another who is glad to see gray go! Personally, I'm ready for warm colors like gold and tan, and woodland colors like browns and greens. Black and white ever looks stale to me, but I prefer it with an accent color other than gray. Great article!

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 16, 2021:

You are welcome. Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 16, 2021:

I am also glad gray is gone! I really enjoyed your article with so many good ideas, Michelle. I like the bold wall paper, the plants and almost everything else you covered. Thanks for an article full of good information for decorating.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 16, 2021:

This article gives an interesting and helpful review of current design trends. It also includes plenty of inspiration for upcoming household projects.

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