Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).
9 Decor Trends That Are In and Out
Find out what’s attracting buyers’ eye in 2021, and what looks have grown outdated.
February 26, 2021
After nearly a year of quarantining at home, many homeowners are putting a laser focus on their surroundings. All this time at home has made some trends less appealing, while others have soared.
Some homeowners have found they don’t have enough counter space—or the right anti-microbial surface—while other can’t find enough workspace for everyone in the house to get projects done in peace and quiet. And some have grown tired of their aqua-blue or pink shaded dining room walls that they once thought divine.
The interior designers at Living Spaces, a La Mirada, Calif.–based furniture retailer, see and hear the buzz firsthand. Staff designer Emilie Navarro says she and her colleagues source data from Google Trends to look at design ideas over time, which they use for the company’s annual report. This year’s 2021 Decor Trends: What’s Out & What’s In highlights 19 home trends the designers found to be outdated, and the chic new ones replacing them.
Here are nine of the 19 that caught our interest; the other 10 can be read in the full report.
- Since its peak in the beginning of 2018, millennial pink has dropped in popularity by 53%, giving way to warmer, earthier tones like terra cotta.
- Interest in shabby chic has dropped by 43% since the beginning of 2016. Instead, grandmillenial style—which is much more eclectic—is in. “It’s a different kind of granny chic, with more classic and timeless pieces and bright and airy rooms,” says designer Shelby Greene.
- There has also been a 33% drop in interest in artwork with words and language since early 2017, filled by upticks in abstract canvas art in soft warm colors and in photographs of scenic places.
- Monochromatic tones, like all white and all gray, have fallen in popularity by 30% since their peak in mid-2016, giving way to layered hues throughout homes. For example, in kitchens there might be an accent color for an island that differs from the colors on all of the perimeter cabinets, Navarro says.
- Since its peak in mid-2016, interest in floral patterns has decreased 28%, part of the shabby chic decline. Instead, minimal stripes and lines are filling the void, showing up most in rugs and drapery.
- Yet another example is industrial style—its metals-heavy look has dropped 22% since the beginning of 2017, replaced by softer, warmer, more comforting designs and more touchable textiles (what’s termed “transitional decor”). As an example, designers suggest swapping out iron furniture for wooden furniture legs, or bronze and silver wall art for wall tapestries and hanging quilts, says designer Satsha Lopez-Jaimes.
- Botanical prints have lost some cachet since their peak at beginning of 2017—down 14%—with grand, hand-painted art on canvas or moody photography prints blown up and framed now popular.
- Despite its pervasive appeal, even subway tile has dropped, but only by 10%, replaced by geometric honeycomb and octagonal tiles with a marble material or metallic hints. The reason, says Greene, is the warmth and character they add. But don’t expect subway tiles to disappear, says Navarro, since they’re a classic option. For the time being, they’ll used a bit less and in different ways, such as vertically.
- Since its peak at the beginning of 2019, shag carpet has declined 9% with an uptick in more high-pile area rugs, which are considered a less permanent choice. “Rugs also give you a chance to contrast with the floor underneath, and you can place one strategically under a furniture set to help pull the look together,” says designer Brynna Evans.
At the end of the day, Navarro says the most important influence for a homeowner’s choice should depend not on its trendiness but on what they love.
“Trends come and go all the time, but you want to see what makes you happy every day,” she says.
Almost every buyer makes some changes when they invest in a home, she says, and part of the influence should be on whether they plan to stay for a longer term, which may mean going with bolder colors, or flip the house, which then could suggest more timeless choices for a higher value in a fast resale.