We Asked Designers Around the U.S. for the Biggest Home Trends for 2022, and Here’s What They Said

published Dec 14, 2021
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Last year, after the pandemic forced pretty much everyone to shelter in place and rethink their living spaces, people brought in natural touches with plants galore, embraced comfortable furnishings, and carved out nooks dedicated to Zoom calls, home workouts, and other hobbies. It was a tough year, but homes are perhaps in a better place because of it. Around this time last year, all of these changes prompted us to take official stock of the design movements that emerged. We polled a wide variety of interior designers who shared information on just how values and design choices surrounding the home had shifted during unprecedented times.

A year later — a lot has changed, and yet, some things have stayed the same. Close friends and family can finally come over, and many schools have reopened full-time, but people aren’t exactly back to life as it used to be either. Makeshift home offices have had to evolve and upgrade into more permanent home features. Travel is tricking back into the picture, bringing some much needed inspiration back into decorating projects.

To get a sense of where home design is headed for 2022, we surveyed a new batch of designers and asked some of the same questions as last year — as well as a slew of new ones — to find out about the trends that stuck and those that are fizzling. Like last year, we tapped designers that belong to a variety of professional organizations and networks, including the American Society of Interior Designersthe New York Design Center, the Female Design Council, and more to get insider insights. During the survey, designers discussed everything from trending materials and colors to what pandemic decorating phenomenons they think will stick around for good. Read ahead for everything we learned about home design for 2022.

People continue to crave coziness and comfort — but with a side of sheer joy 

Hey, we’ve been through a lot recently (pandemic, police brutality, and climate disasters come immediately to mind). Many people still need their homes to function and feel like a personal security blanket — safe and cozy. One way to achieve this cocoon-like feel is through the materials, colors, and shapes you surround yourself with. 

It’s no surprise, then, that 83 percent of surveyed designers said curved and rounded sofas and chairs will dominate living spaces next year. These sinuous shapes, with soft edges, were also the top silhouette last year. Perhaps we can thank the deluge of low-to-the-ground models like Ligne Roset’s Togo and B&B Italia’s Camaleonda couch flooding Instagram feeds everywhere — 63 percent of designers predicted that their popularity will skyrocket 2022. Think body-contouring pieces you can really sink into — chairs, settee, and sofas that feel like literal hugs. “Having a comfortable spot to relax makes a huge difference and adds to the warmth and homeyness of that space,” says designer Jennifer Matthews, the New Jersey-based creative director of Tempaper, on that note.

Fabrics and tactile materials are also introducing extra warmth to interiors everywhere. Nubby bouclé’s a favorite that’s carried over from last year, with 68 percent of respondents saying they expect to see it in homes going forward. Instead of the white and creams you’re used to seeing though, a variety of bouclé colorways are now available to choose from, including darker browns to light blues. When it comes to materials though, stain-resistant and easy-to-clean performance fabrics reigned supreme (78 percent of designers saw this category as a top trend). “In 2022, I’m expecting [to see] spaces that nurture our lifestyles,” says Brooklyn, New York-based designer Erin Roberts. This includes the advancements of performance fabrics. “Clients are now being educated on the benefits of luxurious fabrics that live well with the kids and pets,” she says.

In addition to being just plain comforting, designers say that clients now want their homes to also make them feel happy with decorative touches of joy, exuberance, and hope in the the face of bleakness. The main way designers are seeing this transpire is through the use of color. In addition to ubiquitous neutrals, prepare to surround yourself with optimistic hues like sage green (75 percent) and vibrant shades like rust red (53 percent). Green and red tones are consistent with findings from last year, but on the whole, they’re more brilliant in tone and bolder in saturation. “We had a rough year-and-a-half,” says Gainesville, Florida-based designer Melody Vaughn. “As trends show after dark periods in society, color and happiness show up heavily in fashion and home design.” 

Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Macte Studios

Brooklyn, New York-based designer Katrina A. Peralta of Livlet Studio also sees people experimenting with color more in 2020. “Safe is becoming boring,” she says. “People are moving away from the earth tones and going with more pop and personality.” There’s no part of the home that this rings truer in than the kitchen, where 68 percent of surveyed designers predict bold colors will cover cabinets and decor. Just take a look at the pretty blue kitchen designed by Brooklyn, New York-based designer Alice Tedesco of Macte Studios shown above. Fun is back, so rounding out all of the color, you can also expect to see funky patterns and whimsical shapes on everything from wallpaper to decorative objects. 

Credit: Photos: Shutterstock

Warm minimalism continues to rein supreme as a top design style, supported by tactile touches

Can it be true? Are people finally ready to ease up on their love of mid-century modern’s tapered legs and walnut woods for lighter, brighter options? According to our survey, popular home design styles and trends are slightly shifting. What should you invest in? Designers predict warm minimalism will take over as the desired aesthetic (78 percent). The style was predicted to be big in 2021, and it’s definitely going strong with its soft palette, natural touches, and light and airy woods.

Mid-century modern, which was in the top spot last year (and for what seems like forever) fell to 60 percent and is in a tie with maximalism. While mid-century decor continues to stay relevant, the style seems to be evolving in an exciting direction. More and more current designers are pulling references from France and Italy in the ’50s and ’60s, mixing up all the “Mad Men”-esque decor with more refined pieces like what you see in the interior above. Boxy silhouettes are softening up a bit, too, with walnut showing up less frequently than before.

Like regular minimalism, warm minimalism aims to cut down on clutter and distractions, but the nature-inspired style is far from cold. In fact, one of the key principles is adding a soothing tactile appeal through textures. Think materials like woven jute, washed linen, and plush faux sheepskin, which can instantly make any room cozier. Some of the materials designers predict will overtake our recent obsession with cane and rattan are influenced by this trend, too. Burl wood (68 percent) and alabaster (54 percent) top the list of what designers see surging in the home for 2022. Burl, which features unique swirls and patterns formed from growth on trees, adds interesting depth, while elegant alabaster, the soft white stone often used for carving statues, vases, and light fixtures, elevates a room with a touch of classic sophistication.

Speaking to that desire for more fun: Enter maximalist decor. This movement for adding more personality and color to spaces is gaining ground. More and more, designers and dwellers alike are creating rooms that mix multiple patterns and decorating styles to come up with a space that’s unique and extremely individualistic, similar to this lovely layered, eclectic interior designer David Quarles, IV created in his own Memphis, Tennessee, home. Bravo!

Credit: Apartment Therapy

In with the old

In part because of supply chain issues and awareness around the importance of sustainability, 70 percent of designers say all things vintage will be major in 2022. “Supply chain issues have shown us that we can be inventive with what is local and available to us,” says Hyattsville, Maryland-based designer Erica Riggio of Green Owl Design. This includes buying vintage and repurposing or refinishing what you already have. Denver, Colorado-baed designer Heather Goerzen, who works with Havenly, says rummaging vintage stores and online antique auctions is an especially great way to find artwork. “Fifty dollars can go a long way in the right antique shop,” she says. “Investing in one statement piece, or smaller frames for a gallery wall, brings a discovered and soulful feel to your home that’s anything but cookie cutter.”

If you’re setting your weekend agenda for antiquing or just doing a good scroll through Facebook Marketplace, keep your eyes peeled for fabric chairs and sofas in interesting silhouettes that can be reupholstered and given a new life. Designers say these pieces offer the best return on investment and will be in highest in demand. Another hot commodity: ceramics and glassware.

Form is following function

If 2021 taught us anything, it’s that, above all else, having a comfortable, functional setup is crucial in every well-designed home. When looking for furnishings, designers say you can’t go wrong when splurging on seating, especially on a statement sofa. “The sofa is the cornerstone of your living space,” says Clayton, North Carolina-based designer Casey Hardin. “In today’s day and age, it’s more than just a lounge piece — it’s a place to converse, to eat, to work, and to relax.” You won’t regret spending on a quality piece that you’ll use every day for years to come.

According to designers, lighting is one home feature that makes a big impact but is often overlooked. A well-lit room does more than illuminate a space; it creates emotion, dictates ambiance, increases productivity… and let’s not forget, makes you look incredible in selfies or family photos. So don’t neglect the source! A majority of designers surveyed stressed the importance of selecting the right bulb for fixtures and adding dimmers to lamps, too. If you’re overwhelmed by bulb choices, Brooklyn, New York-based designer Gia Sharp says go for warm lighting. She recommends “3000k for task areas, like the kitchen and bath, and 2700k for ambiance like the living room and bedroom.” Another bright idea: Make sure your light bulb temperatures are consistent within a room for maximum visual harmony.

Finally don’t underestimate the power of a good rug. “They make a space feel finished, and can bring color, texture, and style in through one piece,” says Baltimore, Maryland-based designer Tiffanni Reidy of Reidy Creative. When picking the right option for your living room, New York City-based designer Lauren Behfarin says the right rug should be expansive, soft, and used to tie in other colors from around the room. “Rugs are often neglected but can really make a space feel larger, richer, and more finished,” she says.

Credit: Apartment Therapy

Home layouts continue to evolve

The pandemic prompted many people to get wiser and craftier with their interiors. Spaces were section off to accommodate home offices and Zoom school, and while the dust has settled a little, many dwellers are still making tweaks. The biggest trend with real staying power so far though? The home office. “The home office is going nowhere,” says Atlanta, Georgia-based designer Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow. If anything, she suggests more people should invest in the workspace. Matthews agrees especially, she says, “as more and more companies realize they can get the same work done with remote employees.” 

Interestingly enough, designers are fielding more requests for utility spaces like laundry rooms nowadays, too. “These were often afterthoughts but are now being reprioritized in terms of design,” says Brooklyn, New York-based designer Kathleen Walsh. “I do think the trend will continue as we spend more time in and truly appreciate every aspect of our homes.”

One of the most striking findings from last year’s survey was that almost half of the designers (44 percent) polled predicted closed floor plans will make a huge comeback. Boy, were they were right! “We absolutely rediscovered the need for walls,” says Walsh. “While an open floor plan is lovely and definitely has advantages, we’ll continue to prioritize separate spaces and privacy moving forward.” Quarles, IV says a key learning from the height of the pandemic is that people do too much in one single space. “Having set spaces where we can work, create, rest, and close off when we need to is something that I think we will continue to see in the future of design,” he says. It’s no wonder then that 50 percent of designers think dining rooms are making a comeback. The often underused room can easily serve as an office, classroom, or a meditation corner to take a beat for yourself. That being said, there’s reason to believe designers meant the formal dining room as we used to know it; what better space is there for hosting dinner parties again and showing off all the cooking skills you’ve picked up during the pandemic.

Credit: Photo: Courtesy of Plot Twist Design

Curb the clutter

If your pandemic purchases are no longer serving you, it’s time to get rid of them. Visual clutter — you know, the piles of clothes flopped on the bench in your bedroom, stack of bills shoved in your kitchen drawer, and stray toys lying everywhere — can really keep you from being productive and impact your energy and focus. When asked in the survey what’s the one thing they want their clients to leave behind in 2021, a resounding amount of designers said clutter. “Clutter is one of the biggest obstacles to a well received and livable home,” says Humble, Texas-based designer Christopher Charles Evans. “I always ask clients to start by decluttering their home during a design project. The process of decluttering helps clients to see the space with a new appreciation for what is usually their biggest investment.”

How do you know what to get rid of? Quarles has a simple rule: He advises clients to do away with “any items they’ve not thought about in the past three months, and/or anything that no longer serves them in how they see their home being curated in the future.” If that’s too drastic for you, make the time period six months or a year, and break down the decluttering process into small tasks. You can start with a drawer, a surface, a dresser… and then work up to a closet or a full room. Let this well-organized closet by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based designer Kelly Collier-Clark of Plot Twist Design be your inspiration.

Credit: Apartment Therapy

Inspiration is more local than ever

In the past, designers have relied on their travels to inform their eye and act as a major source of inspiration. With travel bans and quarantine requirements making leaving the country a challenge, they’re turning to their own neighborhoods, cities, and backyards to discover what’s next. With so much more opening up, make like a tourist and hit up the latest cultural events and sights in your town, or plan a weekend staycation in a nature retreat close by. Your mind just needs new ideas to be excited by. When it comes to inspiring decades, 23 percent of the designers polled said they’ll be looking to the future for ideas followed by the 1970s (20 percent).

Credit: Photo: Margaret Wright, Stocksy
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Think Fast: Design Edition

What’s an Apartment Therapy designer questionnaire without a round of decorating “This or That”? We asked designers to pick one decorating idea over another rival concept, and we were able to suss out out a few additional trend predictions this way. First, plain lamp shades won out over the trendy pleated versions you’re seeing all over your Instagram feed, so don’t feel like you have to invest there if you don’t want to. Surprise! Textured tiles are almost twice as popular as patterned tiles. For an easy update, you can’t go wrong with any type of mirror: Frameless asymmetrical mirrors only slightly won out over gilded framed mirrors. If you’re buying big pieces of furniture (say, a dining table for your newly installed dining room), maybe go for blonde wood. Light woods won over dark woods the tune of 65 percent to 35 percent. Finally, when it comes to shopping vintage, designers prefer hitting up antique stores, estate sales, and flea markets over perusing picks online.

After polling our panel of designers, it’s clear that while colors, materials, layouts, and design styles might have shifted year over year, most people still want their homes to be their havens — but it’s not just strictly about feeling safe anymore. Part of the equation now includes full-on happiness and unbridled joy, and that’s created an exuberance in home design through the embrace of color, whimsy, pattern, and personality — for some folks, even all at once! Warm, cozy shades and soothing textures are still appealing to the senses, but the visuals in many homes are getting bolder, brighter, and on the whole, more stimulating. People are also embracing vintage furnishings, whether out of necessity or for aesthetic and/or environmental reasons. The coming year will be all about optimistic, personal interiors that work harder and smarter, even if part of their function is just to put a smile on their occupants’ faces.