As it was in the latter part of 2020, working, learning, entertaining and living will be laser-focused on our homes in the coming year. The “once-in-a-hundred-years” health and economic explosion has assured this. As many may have predicted, all the design trends in 2021 will be based on this reality.
Whether it involves something as monumental as millions of people working from home or something as frivolous as finding a cool background wall for Zoom meetings, 2021 will continue the evolution from the previous year. Ironically, for many families, this learning to better live together is a decidedly positive trend.
The annual Acme Brick What’s Hot and What’s Not predictions for 2021 are based on the insights of hundreds of architects, interior designers, home builders, and residential real estate experts. Let’s take a peek into the crystal ball again.
Ten Trends That Will Shape Your Life
#1 The Three Most Important Letters of 2021 - WFH
From its peak of 40 percent in late 2020, it is estimated by many economists that more than 20 percent of the workforce will be working from home in 2021. Pre-COVID, that number was less than 5 percent! This Work From Home (WFH) trend will continue to have a BIG impact on home design in the coming year.
Even large home builders such as KB Home are including customized home offices in many of their homes. According to an article in Forbes, the “KB Home Office” package includes built-in workstations and cabinetry, an upgraded electrical package, ultra-high-speed USB outlets, charging outlets and additional data connections on the desktop, custom lighting, additional windows, soundproofing, and a beverage center. Additional options can include a half bath, and doors that go directly outside the house.
Interestingly, many interior designers are crediting/blaming this WFH trend with ending the love affair that homeowners had for the “open floor plan concept.” (See WHAT’S NOT below)
There is another, more subtle requirement caused by the WFH phenomenon. Home delivery of important documents, product samples, and the occasional sandwich from food delivery services are often left on the front porch of the new “office.” This has resulted in “porch pirates” doing their evil deeds. Products that secure these deliveries, such as Ore Mailboxes, have gotten overwhelming acceptance from the home workforce.
#2 Let Nature Take Its Own Course
According to this article, “Our plugged-in culture has left us thirsting for homes that welcome the sky, the sun, a breeze. We’ll see windows that open, Juliet balconies, and tiny terraces. Even a skylight offers a reprieve from connectivity.”
This trend has been growing for several years, but the health demands to “stay home and stay safe” has shifted it into pandemic overdrive. There will continue to be more than a little “stir craziness” in everyone’s life. This will lead to several ancillary trends, such as the utilization of the largest room in the house - the backyard and patio. Also, expect larger, easy-open windows, lots of real plants, and newly built homes that have as many rooms as possible flooded with natural light.
#3 Kitchen Is Still King - Inside and Outside
The habit of eating out two or three times a week came to a sudden, screeching halt in 2020 and this has made the kitchen an even more important room than it has been in the past. While the trend of the kitchen being an entertainment mecca has been growing for several years, this room has now become a family hang-out, entertainment space and study hall, along with being a cooking and dining room. This renewed popularity of the kitchen has also spawned interest in such furniture as the French-inspired “bistro chairs”
Because of a need to “social distance” from friends and neighbors, the pandemic has also caused a dramatic up-tick in a trend that has been around since prehistoric times - grilling outdoors. High tech grills, such as the Renaissance Cooking Systems (RCS) grills, which turn even novice cooks into full-fledged “grill masters” will continue to be in great demand.
#4 Home Entertainment 2021 - The Show Must Go On!
The pandemic forced social distancing in 2020 and this led to thousands of movie theatres being closed, professional sports teams playing in empty stadia, “Broadway” shows being canceled, music venues shuttering and amusement parks and bowling alleys locking uptight. Meanwhile, home video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have enjoyed record increases in viewership, with millions of home-bound viewers binge-watching new and older shows. Plus, the sales of video games and equipment such as consoles have enjoyed a huge jump (15 percent) growth since 2018.
This “stay-at-home” alternative for entertainment will likely accelerate in 2021, and this will drive even more home interior changes. These will include more sophisticated lighting and acoustic enhancement for media rooms, higher-quality audio, and video equipment for gaming and streaming, and growth in demand of appliances for outside entertainment.
#5 Personal Wellness Comes Home
While stress has been a problem for many “hard-chargers” for decades, the pandemic has caused the old outlets of “hitting the gym or yoga studio” to cease and desist. In 2021, personal wellness rooms - for everything from stationary bike and weight training to meditation - will continue to proliferate. According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, “Home gyms will evolve beyond a place to pump your Peloton. Wellness rooms will include yoga and barre studios, steam rooms, and infrared saunas.”
This type of workout activity can wreak havoc on many floors. Don Koesling of Acme Brick Tile & Stone notes, “As more people choose to exercise at home, we’ve seen an increased demand for our "Luxury Vinyl Planks” and “Luxury Vinyl Tile.” Why? They are extremely durable and always look great under any circumstance.”
#6 Multiple Generations Under One Roof
The high cost of independent living and a need for closeness to one’s family during trying times will change contemporary home design for many families in 2021. More than any time in the past hundred years, multiple generations will live in a single household. With grandparents and older children joining the beleaguered “sandwich generation,” separate entrances, added apartments, more bedrooms and baths, noise reduction, and most of all, privacy will be the new normal in homebuilding and renovations.
This trend is enhanced by the fact that homeowners are living in their residences for longer than they had previously done. This makes “future-proofing” a home, where floor plans are nimble even more critical.
#7 The Color(s) of 2021
In the same way that clothing fashion changes annually, popular colors for home decor are changing for 2021. Prominent designer, Paloma Contreras notes, “After all of the craziness that we have experienced in 2020, I believe people gravitate towards warm, rich colors that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and safety. Think rich chocolate brown, moss green, and deep blues.” Well-known paint manufacturer, Benjamin Moore recently picked “Aegean Teal” as the paint color of the coming year. Several respected designers are forecasting that neutral in taupe, muted yellow and warm whites are making a comeback as the color trend for 2021. For those who prefer a richer palette, expect to see a share of jewel toned plums and soft, sultry purples accenting the walls for a little pop of color.
#8 Smart Homes: Not Just for Nerds
How important is “smart” technology for homes in the coming year? Consider this. The four largest technology companies in the world - Apple, Amazon, Google, and Comcast - are backing the Zigbee Alliance’s launch of its smart home standards in 2021. According to Input Magazine, “Where smart home technology was once considered a luxury reserved for the ultra-nerdy, it’s now nearing omnipresence in many parts of the world. But because of that, there are also so many varieties of smart home devices, and they often can’t communicate with each other beyond basic recognition. Standardization isn’t just overdue; it’s necessary for the smart home to thrive in the future.”
#9 Size Matters - Smaller is Better
Replacing the “baby boomers” as the largest demographic group in the world, are consumers who are under the age of 40 and they have discovered the benefits of homeownership. With the lowest mortgage interest rates in modern history, they are buying and making their design preferences known.
Research suggests that this group favors eco-friendly, newly built homes that require low maintenance and upkeep. This is driving demand for such things as brick construction. These younger families also want to leave urban areas and move to suburban communities that have close proximity to the entertainment, sporting events, and culture of city centers. Finally, this large group is not that wild about homes with enormous square footage. They prefer a smaller footprint home with luxury amenities such as upscale baths, kitchens and technology, and artificial turf. This type of residence even has a name. It is a “jewel box home.”
#10 Furniture Design: Softer and Heirloom Quality
In response to the stress of the pandemic, furniture, and objets d’art are predicted to “soften” in the coming year. According to this piece, “Rigid rectilinear design will further recede. Think beyond curved sofas and rounded-back chairs to curved countertops, walls, and millwork,” said Vancouver, British Columbia, designer Gillian Segal. “The psychology of shapes shows us that hard edges represent order and discipline, round and organic shapes evoke harmony and warmth.”
Plus, homeowners are moving away from the throwaway pieces found in big-box retailers. They will be investing in “heirloom-quality” items rather than fast fixes. With these mindful decisions - being more conscious of where money is being spent - “maker-made” items will be hot in 2021.
Turning to the Dustbin of Decor - Ten Trends That Are SO Over
The gurus of interior design have a low tolerance for the “good old days” and they can be merciless in these opinions. According to many prominent designers, here are 10 looks that have run their course. Read ‘em and weep.
- The open floor plan, loved by millions, is kaput! Why? The work-from-home phenomenon has forced workers to forage for a quiet space to work, and this requires a few more doors (which can be closed) in the home.
- Subway tiles for the kitchen backsplashes and bathrooms are done. You might want to replace these cute little white blocks with something a little warmer like thinBRIK.
- Remember how they raved about “Rose Gold” for fixtures last year. Yeah, well that was last year, and a lot has changed.
- Themed bedrooms for children are way overrated. Kids get bored with anything after a few months and then you’re stuck with a look that is no longer hip for the kid crowd. It’s best to design a child’s room around his or her personality, not the latest animated movie.
- Kitchen clutter, in the form of coffee makers, toasters, knife holders, and even that adorable little rooster/egg timer that Aunt Jewel gave you 20 years ago, needs to be stored somewhere other than on the counter. Experts recommend an “appliance garage” or butler pantry to store this stuff.
- Speaking of kitchens, the white on white on white kitchen is so OVER. Get some color in there.
- The giant kitchen islands have gotten out of hand. Rule of thumb: If you have to climb UP on the island to clean it...it’s too big.
- Backsplashes that are not tall enough look weird to everyone else. A stovetop backsplash that ends mid-wall at the bottom of the vent hood or in line with the bottom of the upper cabinets looks like you ran out of money for the project.
- Window treatments that are too short drive designers nuts. When homeowners hang the rod right above the window this makes the room feel shorter and more squat. If you are doing this, stop it immediately! Don’t make us call the design gendarmes.
- Hey, millennial pink! Sorry. The pale blush tint was fun for a while, but we’ve moved on and so should you.
Did we miss any hot trends? How about in the design faux pas category? Let us know your thoughts.
Oh yeah. If you would like some expert advice and a ton of great ideas for making your house a home, Acme Brick Tile & Stone has them. Click here and let’s talk.