Home Design Trends to Look for in 2021

Covered patio trends.

A new year, a new look

It is a new year, and time for a new look. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve experienced a year of significant change in how we live, work and play. Trends are showing that we still want our homes to be comfortable and relaxed, but we need them to be functional as well. Design styles are also exhibiting calming influences, symbols of hope and a feeling of warmth.   

If you are looking to remodel, purchase a new home or just freshen up your look, we’ve researched the latest styles to help you find your inspiration. You can also attend the Fox Cities Parade of Homes Feb. 6-7 and 11-14 to see some examples of new design trends.

The Parade of Homes features 15 new-construction homes varying in square footage, design and finishes. The event is a great way to explore and see how various features might work for your next home or project,” said Megan Schlimm, Director of Marketing and Business Development of the Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities.


home office Trending home interior styles

For over 20 years, Pantone’s color of the year has influenced design trends in multiple industries from fashion to home furnishings. Pantone is considered the global color authority of professional color standards for the design community. Each year, the color is chosen based on what is taking place in our global culture. The 2021 shades of the year are Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray, symbols of hope and strength. 

The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid, but at the same time, warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. 

Other colors that are popping up in furniture, paint and accessories include warm amber tones, burnt oranges and peacock blues. Calm, tranquil colors like ocean hues and aqua are showing up in bedrooms and sitting areas. 

According to local Interior Decorator Anastasia Reetz of Home Interiors Flooring & Design, there is a trend away from all white interiors in favor of more colors and textures. “It is very common for world events to impact design. When things are going well, you usually see light colors trending. When there is a recession or other challenges, people tend to gravitate toward darker, cozier-feeling colors,” she said. This is also reflected in the Sherwin-Williams color of the year Urbane Bronze, a dark earthy brown, inspired by nature.  

Some additional style trends to watch for according to Better Homes & Gardens include:
  • Rustic/Vintage Look – antique paintings, fine china, crocheted blankets and repurposed, mismatched furniture
  • Cottage Style – pastel, vintage patterns, ginghams and checks and muted prints
  • Industrial Style -- exposed stone, high ceilings, wood and metal features
  • Earthy tones and textures – camel, olive or forest green and burnt orange walls and accessories instead of gray and white
  • Casual interiors – less formal look with natural materials like wood, stone, concrete and cozy, layered textiles. 

Common themes are comfort and purpose

Social distancing and quarantines have made our homes multipurpose centers where some of us need to carve out space for working, studying and exercising. “Formal dining rooms are being turned into offices, and multifunctional furniture is becoming more popular, such as an entry table that converts into a desk,” said Reetz. “People are also creating a separate cozy corner or a nook with an armchair and a lamp where they can go for downtime or to join a Zoom call – these have been very popular,” she added. 

Even though function is a priority, the importance of comfort, wellness and sustainability is emphasized. There has been an increase in mixing old and new, repurposing furniture, and adding table lamps and bookshelves for video conference backdrops.

Residential architect Cindi MacSwain of Vanney-MacSwain Home Planning has seen a definite increase in the importance of home offices. “Some people are recognizing that remote working might be long-term or even permanent, so they are putting more emphasis on creating a separate work space with privacy, especially for sound and view,” she said. “I’ve also seen a higher demand for spaces that are conducive to family activities and social distancing with friends. Outdoor movie rooms within covered patios are really popular. Indoor hobby rooms and exercise spaces are given more importance.”

Other trends cited by Good Housekeeping, HGTV and Realtor.Com that reflect comfort and purpose themes are:
  • House plants and green walls freshen the air and bring the clarity and calm of nature indoors
  • Smart home technology, like touchless bathroom fixtures, lighting and temperature controls
  • Edible indoor gardens, like mini herb gardens
  • Outdoor patio fireplaces or covered porches
“The outdoor patio enhancements have become very popular, as more people have been gathering outside for social distance purposes. Today, people are choosing covered patios with a fireplace and a television rather than a screened-in porch or sunroom to allow more air circulation,” said MacSwain. 

Ways to save

With the increased cost of building supplies, more and more people are looking for ways to save money on their new construction and home remodeling projects. One way to do this is to talk to your contractor about sourcing your own fixtures and finishes. Working with your builder or a professional interior designer can help you achieve the look you are after while sourcing more affordable materials.

The interior and exterior finishes can make up 40-55% of the cost of building your home, so taking the time to look for less expensive, repurposed materials can help cut costs. Keep in mind that some initial costs may help you save money in the long run, such as energy efficient appliances. Other ways to save are:
  • Check Habitat for Humanity ReStore and second-hand stores for things like cabinets, vanities, mantels and retro furniture that you can repurpose.
  • Look for inexpensive hardware/handles for cabinets and drawers
  • Laminate is often more affordable than wood flooring, and can have a similar look. New advancements offer a lot more options and versatility.
  • The rustic industrial look that is popular is less costly since the unfinished materials are intentional
  • Solid wood, butcher block adds warmth and durability for a kitchen counter instead of high-end granite or marble.
You can also consider attending the Fox Cities Parade of Homes to get your creative juices flowing. 

Tips for staying on budget

Once you have prioritized your home interior design ideas and space needs, using a Community First Credit Union online loan calculator can help you determine what you can afford. “It is important to be realistic when putting together your budget, but talking to a mortgage loan officer can help you figure out the best financing approach to help you take advantage of record-low rates,” said Mary Lornson, Senior VP Lending at Community First Credit Union.

Researching various materials, outlining costs and seeking supplier discounts will help you start with a more realistic budget. Staying on track will mean reviewing the budget often and paying attention to the details:
  • Plan for changes and budget misses – it is a good idea to include a 10-15% contingency for unforeseen expenses
  • Don’t forget to include taxes and shipping for materials and/or accessories
  • Account for delays with materials and labor
  • Understand how fees apply for contracted work (designers, installers, contractors) and clarify how change orders, fixtures and finishes are handled.

Find your inspiration

Whether you are ready to get going on your home improvement project or you’re just starting to think about a new home or remodel, taking a look at current trends can help you find your inspiration. “It used to be that trends stuck around for seven years, but now we see design trends changing every two years due to the flow of information and ideas on the internet,” said Reetz. “Even if the current home design trends don’t appeal to you, it is more important to just stay true to you and what makes you feel good.”

Once you find your inspiration, you can create a vision that is personal to you. Many of us are spending more time at home than ever before. It is no longer a place to just eat and sleep, and wind down after a long day.

Today, our home might need to serve as our school, workplace, entertainment venue, place of worship, gym, playground and refuge. “At a time when there are still many uncertainties, it has been very rewarding to help our members find a way to make their vision a reality,” said Lornson. “Helping them save money, meet their goals and build that trusted relationship is truly a gift.”   

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