4 of the Biggest Design Trends We Spotted in House Tours This Year

published Dec 30, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Erin Derby

Trends are a common topic of discussion around here. After all, it’s fun to keep tabs on what’s on the rise in the design world, whether that’s the meteoric rise in popularity of #cottagecore or the slow and steady climb of wall murals. It helps to give context to what you see your favorite designers experimenting with on Instagram and TikTok—and daydreaming swaps for your own home can be fun, too.

However, there’s something to be said for actually seeing those trends in action in the homes of real people (with real budgets and real square footage constraints). Maybe it’s how it can open your eyes to the possibilities in your own home. Or maybe it’s all about borrowing a little bit of bravery from those who have come before us—they tried it, so we can try it too. Whatever the reason, trend spotting in the wild — via the epic home tours here on Apartment Therapy, of course — is my favorite way to gauge what is actually catching fire in mainstream design, not just lookin’ good on the ‘gram. Below, check out six of the year’s biggest trends — and the homes that are making them look so great.

Credit: Mackenzie Schieck

Reclaimed Furniture

Between the treasure trove that is Facebook Marketplace, flea markets, and a good bit of roadside hunting, secondhand furniture is having a moment. More people than ever are turning to well-loved pieces to lend a thoughtful patina (and budget-friendly ethos) to their home decor. And for good reason—not only is shopping second-hand helpful for the environment but with supply chain delays still impacting the retail industry, it’s often the faster alternative to decorating your home. So many Apartment Therapy home tours feature second-hand furniture that has been given a new lease on life—including the Tacoma, Washington abode of Jessica and Justin. Their 100-year-old house is full of gorgeous vintage pieces, many of which have been rehomed from friends or found roadside (as is the case with the above painted dresser—I mean, can you even?).

Credit: Erin Derby

All-Over Color

Color is the name of the game in the Long Island, New York home of vintage curator Kate Pearce—including an especially trendy application in the living room: all-over saturation (the hue she chose is Locally Grown by Magnolia). While color will always have a place in our homes, we’ve definitely seen it return bolder than ever in the past few years. Some especially gutsy homeowners chase after the “jewel box” effect achieved by painting an entire room the same shade—from floor to ceiling, with trim and built-ins included. The end result? A confident and evocative environment that exudes personality and pretty much screams, “Someone very cool lives here.”

Credit: Minette Hand

A Funky “Fifth Wall”

Why focus your design attention on just your four walls when you could take the fun to the ceiling, too? Creatively dubbed “the fifth wall,” souped-up ceilings are having a moment, transforming from quiet accents to beautiful show-stoppers. From statement wallpaper and saturated hues to slatted wood textures (like seen in the Hemphill, Texas-based Airstream of Erica and Kristen, above), these considered ceilings are just one more way to bring a touch of personality and design to your space. 

Credit: Jess Rankin

Modular Furniture

Our homes have had to wear a lot of hats over the past year-plus, and nothing has become more important than flexibility. It’s no longer unreasonable to expect a room to flex between a homeschool space and a dining room; a cozy living room for two and a game night zone for… several. With this increased need for a chameleon-like space comes the need for equally-flexible decor elements. Enter: Modular furniture. Pieces that can be separated and dispersed throughout your space easily lend an added element of personalization to any space. Take for instance the Tufty-Time couch seen in the Oakland, California home of Alyssa and Abe. Designed with an emphasis on form and function, it can easily be configured into any number of arrangements depending on exactly how you’re using your home at that moment.