The home was reinvented in 2020—transitioning from a place of rest and relaxation into a multi-faceted living, working and learning environment. More than ever, design trends are focused on functionality and comfort as the world redefines its relationship with the home.  

“There’s a desire for a soothing environment with ethereal colors, soft and cozy fabrics on furniture, sanctuary spaces that promote wellbeing,” said Pamela Rainey, vice president, residential product design, Shaw Industries. “Moving into 2021, consumers search for ways to feel secure from the world outside—cocooning shapes, happy colors and playful designs will have stronger appeal.” 

In 2021, experts anticipate consumers craving an escape from reality—opting for a home that makes them feel like they’re on vacation. “In the Bay Area, we’re seeing our buyers go for that quintessential beach-house look,” said designer Lisa Perlman. “Think navy walls or cabinets, paired with natural wood furniture and white accents. On the floors, we’re seeing a much wider wood plank in lighter colors and washes.” Unlike the boho beach style that emerged years ago, this trend lends itself to organic beachy elegance, she noted.  

With so many homes turning into workplaces, schools and gyms, designing cozy and inviting living spaces has never been so important. “The neutral palette has become very popular among our buyers. They want natural wood flooring and cabinetry and neutral wall colors—all in warmer hues,” said Denver-based design expert Stacy Ristedt.

This is echoed in Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze. “The home is now the ultimate retreat from the world, and color is an easy and effective way to create a personal haven,” said Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Urbane Bronze encourages you to create a sanctuary space for mindful reflection and renewal.” 

According to Charlotte, North Carolina-based designer Brittany Wightman, home trends will continue to move away from cool greys and toward moodier, dramatic hues. On the rise is dark cabinetry, vibrant or dark tile backsplashes, and contrasting bright white countertops.

“Grey beige continued to be the neutral direction,” Rainey said. Concrete becomes a desirable component in kitchen design, and she is seeing concrete being elevated by oxidation techniques and Travertine visuals that are inspired by concrete. 

“In the South, we’re seeing a big push for a more modern farmhouse,” said Terance Manly, design studio manager for Taylor Morrison in Atlanta, Georgia. “Expect to see light wood flooring, geometrical patterns, earthy undertones, shiplap and mid-century modern furniture with touches of leather and velvet.”  

What’s In for Floors?

  • Natural hues
  • Ethereal and European influences
  • Minimalism
  • Wood and wood-looks
  • Handcrafted influences
  • Basketweave and herringbone patterns
  • Large, clean shapes

While the classic farmhouse look has been around for a while, this modern trend merges old style with new world elements. 

Aesthetically, design preferences in both kitchen and bath will continue to be more contemporary and transitional in style, with added influence of a new leading trend of “natural and organic”, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) 2021 Design Trends Research.

The bathroom becomes a space for selfcare, and materials are combined to feel more European in style and scale, with clean lines, minimal detailing, the warmth and texture of natural finishes, and larger windows to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside. Homeowners are demanding easy-to-clean surfaces.

“The kitchen has long been the heart of the home. But especially during the pandemic, it has emerged as the most prominent, multitasking room as well,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “We see this continuing with more open-space concepts, an extension into multi-season outdoor living spaces, larger kitchen island hubs and increased functionality and storage to allow homeowners to cook, eat, work, home-school and play, all in the same vicinity.”

Learn more about the latest home improvement trends and products

The NKBA also reports that quartz, particularly in lighter colors, will continue to be the driving material for countertops, large-scale backsplashes will feature a solid slab or long subway tile, and homeowners are liking a mix of complementary colors and materials on perimeter countertops and islands. In the bath, radiant-heat flooring is a must-have.