The 9 Home Design Trends We'll Embrace in 2021
After an unpredictable year, we’re making a few bets on the design trends people will be embracing as they head into the new year.
If there’s one thing we know about 2020, it’s that we didn’t really know much. We faced new challenges, shifted the ways we work and play, and many of us got very well acquainted with the inside of our homes. This extra time spent indoors changed the way we see our homes, not as places to sleep and eat, but as our refuge and our safe spaces. We’re closing out the year with a keen sense of what matters most, and a focus on small changes—embracing the little things that can have a big impact on how we feel in the spaces where we spend the most time.
While it might seem a bit silly to try to predict anything these days, we’ve curated a list of the top home design trends we believe will shift the design language (for the better) in the new year.
There’s no question that our homes have become our sanctuaries, but the definition of a safe and calming space is as varied as our taste in food. Whether you gravitate toward maximalism, minimalism, retro, modern, or maybe even a mix of all four—anything goes in 2021. Bespoke touches like family heirlooms, curious trinkets from trips abroad, or that garage sale floral sofa that just speaks your language will all be proudly displayed. We won’t worry about fitting into a certain design genre, but will instead curate the specific experiences we need by collecting those meaningful items we love. In this unpredictable world, we all deserve homes that bring us life, reflect our own stories, and ground us emotionally.
Finding the Right Light
If there’s ever been a time when we need the mood-boosting qualities of natural light, it’s now. Building or designing for optimal light in a room will be top of mind in 2020, not only because natural light makes any room look a little bit more cheerful, but because it can help regulate healthy sleep and wake cycles.
In fact, “Designing for Happiness at Home,” a survey fielded by The Harris Poll on behalf of Marvin showed nearly 70% of homeowners agree natural light is a top contributor to their feeling of well-being at home. We think we’ll see a lot of sheer curtains in neutral colors that let energizing light in, paired with large window and door openings and a growing interest in nighttime lighting options that help mimic the spectrum of natural light.
Closing the Door on the Open Floor Plan
As homes become the location du jour for school, work, cooking, lounging, exercising, and everything in between, an open floor plan can pose its own challenges. We predict a return to favor for more compartmentalized floor plans that can help reduce the number of “guest stars” making cameos on important video meetings.
In trend casting conducted by the Marvin Design Lab, we also found that many people who are now working from home have adopted an in-home nomadic routine that involves floating from room to room throughout the day, fulfilling the body’s urge to move and change positions on a regular basis. Having separate areas to explore might stave off feelings of boredom and take the edge off the antsy.
The New Nostalgia
We believe that 2021 will be the year of coziness, just maybe not the specific brand of hygge we embraced in 2020. In 2021 we’ll see a turn toward “grandmillennial” coziness, where Millennials (and anyone, really) will turn to years gone by for the comforting magic of better memories in their everyday lives. Think overstuffed furniture, softer curves, and nostalgic pieces that remind us of family get togethers at grandma’s place or our childhood homes. Busy wallpaper patterns and Laura Ashley-inspired florals will liven up small spaces and nooks. Tasseled lamp shades and vintage china will once again find their place in the sun. Comfort will trump aesthetics in favor of a “lived in” look, since “living in” is what we’re doing these days.
Home Offices That Inspire More Than Just Hard Work
As we turn our attention to our well-being at home, it’s impossible to overlook new needs for the increasing number of people who are working from home. In 2020, office workers took video calls from their dining tables, from makeshift workspaces in spare bedrooms, from unfinished basements, and from their living room couches. Trend casting conducted by our Marvin Design Lab, also showed that home workers gravitate toward 3- or 4-season porches, rooms with large sliding glass doors, or other well-lit spaces. Basements, closets, and bedrooms are areas many retreat to temporarily to focus on work, but they don’t inspire us or feed our senses.
The home office of 2021 is an opportunity to step up the inspiration factor with an emphasis on spaces that encourage calm and focus, that use natural materials, nature-inspired patterns, and light-reflecting paint to create the zen needed to tackle those spreadsheets. Architects, designers, and builders will include more dedicated office spaces than before, and they’ll make them well-lit, well-insulated (think double or triple pane windows to block out unwelcome noise), and designed for both well-being and the ideal Zoom background.
Finding Togetherness in the Open Air
The coming year (and years, most likely) will see a renewed excitement for spectacular outdoor spaces. Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, kerosene heaters, and heated blankets will allow us to entertain outdoors through all four seasons, and that gorgeous outdoor pizza oven you’ve been eyeing will give the whole family a reason to join.
And, since a good view and large doses of greenery help us gain perspective and boost our moods, large scenic doors that make the outdoor space a focal point will be in demand. We predict seeing an outpouring of love to all types of outdoor spaces, from mini city balconies to roof decks to expansive backyard patios.
Nooks for Books and More
Cozy nooks have been all the rage lately, and we think this trend will endure—with a twist. In 2020, nooks will be inherently double duty—closets that moonlight as distance learning focus zones, window seats that serve as both a “me” space for a quick escape and a spot for story time, or an under-stair alcove retrofitted as a miniature yoga zone. Enter the Marvin Skycove, a three-dimensional glass nook that actually adds square footage to a room and can easily fit everyone for a little after-dinner stargazing.
Expecting More Plant Babies
Plant moms and dads should rejoice, as plant companions will continue to fill homes in 2021. The selection and care (even propagation) of plants has become a hobby for many who wouldn’t have ordinarily considered themselves green-thumbed, and those who choose greenery for décor can benefit from refreshed air and the mood boost that comes along with bringing natural elements indoors.
Though Millennials are known for being plant lovers, our Marvin Designing for Happiness at Home survey revealed Gen Xers are the most attentive plant parents, with 50% saying they often move plants around their home to ensure they’re getting the best light.
A Year for Self Care
Maybe most importantly, 2021 will be a year where people will prioritize the objects and activities they need to feel happy and healthy at home. Whether that’s completing the kitchen remodel you’ve been dreaming of, covering a blank wall with joyful wallpaper to bring a pop of color and energy into an otherwise drab space, or investing in the super soft sheets that bring coziness to your bedtime routine. It will be a year where we unapologetically create the spaces that will help us feel our best, both physically and mentally.
As designer Alexa Hampton told Veranda magazine, “During this time of the pandemic and deep social unrest, I think we’ve all learned the importance of our home—or where we’ve made one—and the need to find the joy inside of it. Whereas, once upon a time, home was where the heart was; now, home is also where the work is done, where the lessons are learned, where the food is cooked, where the drinks are raised, where the entertainment is had, and where the heart is. If we can ask this much of our homes, then we owe it to them to give them the attention they need to do so much for us.”