Say Goodbye to These 6 Trends That Are Leaving the Design World in 2021

published Dec 18, 2020
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Credit: Elaine Musiwa

Let’s face it: Keeping up with the latest design trends wasn’t necessarily anyone’s main prerogative in 2020. While many of us spent the bulk of the year inside, a lot of our efforts were focused on disinfecting belongings and converting free corners into makeshift workspaces. As many continue to prioritize homes that are safe, comfortable, and functional, some of the decorating trends designers thought would strike it big in 2020 will continue to be on the back burner for the foreseeable future. Which trends are here to stay and which will officially become a thing of the past? Of course, what’s “in style” in your home is up to you and only you. But I asked a handful of designers to weigh in—and here are the decorating ideas they’re ready to kiss goodbye, plus a few welcome alternatives that can take their place.

Credit: Matt Sartain

Out with open-concept layouts

Who doesn’t love the airiness of an open floor plan? Well, daily life in 2021, for starters. While this spacious layout was once all the rage, you can expect to see more separation—with and without walls—in the new year. “This past year we’ve been confined to our homes for work, play, and relaxation, and people have learned it’s tough for a home to play so many different roles with no physical division of space,” says Mary Catherine Murray and Amanda Khouri, co-owners of Murray Khouri Interior Design. “If your workspace is also your relaxation space and your cooking space, you might find it difficult to shift from one mindset to the next.”

Before you mourn the loss of open layouts, it’s important to note that some semblance of division is possible with features like room dividers, curtains, and even area rugs. Moreover, individual rooms with doors, if you have them, offer distinct design opportunities. “It’s easier to wrap one’s mind around a suggestion to put a fun wallpaper in a small space like a sitting room than it is to commit to it for an entirely open first floor,” says Murray and Khouri. “As lovers of art, color, and wallpaper, we won’t be sad to see the open floor plan go!”

Stop with the sterile, standardized spaces

From the ease of ordering fast-ship furniture to the ubiquity of mid-century modern style, interior design has become a little, well, standardized. Since many of us are spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, it’s time to add some personal touches to your space so it truly embodies your point of view.

“I also think that homes will start to lose some of their universality,” says designer Robert McKinley. “The stark simplicity of 2020 lent itself to a kind of placelessness. This is emblematic of a larger, global shift, but I expect that we will see design that is more regional and place-based than ever—design focused on thoughtful, one-of-a-kind objects.”

The upshot here: Instead of meticulously designing a space that’s Insta-friendly, focus on creating something that’s unapologetically you. “In 2021, the trend of excessive coordination will be replaced by a willingness to mix and match colors and finishes” says Liana Thomson, an accessories developer at EQ3. “People will begin to incorporate new colors and textures—like terracottastone, or dark wood—and have fun with their spaces. We have never been more grateful for home than we are now, and I think people will begin to break free from the typical design molds.”  

Move over, mirrored furniture

Once upon a time, mirrors were a fixture you’d hang up on your wall. Now this reflective surface is everywhere: on coffee tables, accent chairs, trinket boxes, and more. However, designer Joy Williams thinks over the top, glamorous mirrored furniture will soon be a thing of the past.

“I do think clients want more livable spaces that are more comfortable and durable because they have spent more time in their homes this past year,” she explains. For as much light as they can throw around a space, mirrors tend to be fragile, so Williams sees the resurgence of Art Deco style going in a more natural route. Think materials like rattan and wicker—as opposed to reflective or smokey glasses—for bigger furnishings.

Rule out formal rooms

Nowadays your home is so much more than just where you get a good night’s sleep. It’s also a gym, workspace, and beyond. As homes continue to work overtime to serve increased needs, rooms that only have one purpose—especially those formal living rooms and dining rooms—are on their way out of favor, at least, according to many designers.

“People need to be able to use, sit, and relax in every room of the house, especially for the foreseeable future with limited travel and staying in,” designer Amanda Lantz explains. “Gone are the days of the spaces or chairs that you don’t sit in or only sit in once a year; we need to use every inch of our homes!”

Turns out, formal living rooms aren’t the only areas that are getting the boot. “I see homeowners feeling less of a need for a formal dining room,” designer Liz Caan adds. “Use your home to the fullest, let it reflect the way you truly live, and focus on making it functional for your family’s needs, especially happiness.”

Credit: Erin Derby

Buh-bye, black-and-white

Okay, this is probably going to be a controversial one because you can’t go wrong with a classic black-and-white color scheme. All that aside though, designers do see this dynamic duo waning a little bit in popularity in 2021, at least when it comes to purely black-and-white spaces.

“This time last year, many designers were moving to simpler, black-and-white-anchored palettes,” says designer Isabel Ladd. “While both those colors serve a purpose in an overall design, people living and working from home are subconsciously starting to understand how colors bring happiness, confidence, and calm to a space. Plus, who wants to see another white background on a Zoom call?”

You know what that means: Go ahead and taste the rainbow in your rooms. Embracing a few more shades in your spaces just might make you smile a little bit more each day.

Credit: Andrew Bui

Open storage isn’t all the rage anymore

From spare computer monitors to hoards of cleaning supplies, there’s a good chance you’ve collected a lot more stuff in 2020. Open shelving might’ve been the storage system of choice back in the day, but it’s not always conducive with newfound clutter.

“Because 2020 has made so many of us realize that we’re massively disorganized and have way too much clutter, we’re left craving streamlined spaces with seamless—and unseen—top notch organization,” says Karina Lameraner, creative stylist at Modsy. “As a result, open storage options will start to be replaced with furniture options that include closed storage within them such as the storage coffee table.”