6 interior trends set to be big in 2021

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A lovely modern white kitchen with marble worktops and high-end design features
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By Sam Wylie-Harris, PA

After an unprecedented year, how will the pandemic have shaped interior trends to come?

There’s no doubt how we used our homes, and what we want from them, changed dramatically during 2020. According to home renovation and design platform Houzz.co.uk, this is already being reflected in popular search terms and design directions.

So, what can we expect to see more of in 2021? Houzz analysed their site data, browsed hundreds of home design photos, and interviewed professionals on Houzz Pro to reveal six key home design trends for the year to come.

Here’s a look, along with tips on how to make them work in your home…

1. The return of the all-white kitchen

(Mia Mortensen/Houzz/PA)

This neutral, light-enhancing choice for the hardest-working room in the house is growing in popularity again, with searches for ‘white kitchen’ rising significantly during 2020. We’re also seeing many popular photos on Houzz that have white worktops and expect to see more in 2021, perhaps reflecting a pandemic-fuelled desire for clean-looking cook spaces.

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“We’re seeing a resurgence of white kitchens but with people leaning towards matte designs rather than gloss, which was favoured a few years ago,” explains Josh Delane, director of kitchen designers, The Wood Works. “It pairs well with metallic accents like brass, bronze, copper and even matte black fixtures.”

In terms of worktops, Delane says: “Veined and marble effect quartz worktops are surging in popularity – a good alternative to real marble, which is porous and can be stained easily, making it challenging to maintain in a kitchen. White Corian is also a popular choice and nice on longer islands, as it can be cut and joined seamlessly.”

2. Outdoor entertainment spaces will reign

(iStock/PA)

Unsurprisingly given all the pandemic restrictions, there’s been huge interest in outdoor spaces. Houzz’s pandemic survey back in July showed that, hands-down, the garden was the area most of us wanted to improve, with 30% of those surveyed wanting to make upgrades. Homeowners have increasingly been searching for ‘summerhouses’, ‘firepits’, ‘hot tubs’ and ‘outdoor kitchens, which have all risen in popularity as search terms. We expect to see more of these features in gardens in 2021.

And it’s not just for summer – professionals on Houzz Pro report an increase in demand for designs that will allow them to use the garden later into the evening and year. “Since lockdown, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in leads through Houzz for our garden design business,” says Paul Dracott of Paul Dracott Garden Design. “People have rediscovered the importance of outdoor space and how it can enrich modern life. The most popular requests are for outdoor eating and cooking areas, including pizza ovens, and also for firepits to extend the use of the garden into the evening.”

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3. Nature-inspired interiors

(Space Shack/Chris Snook/PA)

The incorporation of nature into our interiors looks set to continue, with colour experts on Houzz predicting warm earth tones, such as burnt umber, terracotta and clay, and contrasting forest colours like sage, pine and turquoise will be strong choices for 2021. These colours are perfectly complemented by natural materials such as rattan, jute, wood and concrete, which have all featured heavily in the most-saved photos on Houzz lately.

If you’re wanting to embrace natural materials in your home, rattan is a good place to start and will continue to be big in 2021. Omar Bhatti, director of Space Shack, says: “It has a bohemian vibe, which you can mix with any interior. To avoid overkill, my top tip is to use it in moderation. I would suggest investing in a rattan accent chair or small planter baskets and see how you like this in your space.”

Plants are another easy way to incorporate nature into interiors. Bhatti agrees: “You can never have enough plants. If I’m ever in doubt and need to fill an empty space or shelf, I always use plants. This is also a great way to bring the outdoors in and breathe some much-needed life into any space.

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“I’m all about an oversized plant, this is a great way to bring some drama into any room. Banana plants and birds-of-paradise are good options.”

If you’re going to get the paint out, Bhatti suggests a palette of natural neutral tones. Beige and taupes are classic options that work in any space. “I recommend painting all your stark white walls in a light sand or beige tone, which will warm up the space, and you wouldn’t even need an undercoat,” he says.

4. Healthy homes

(Mia Mortensen/Houzz/PA)

Searches for ‘home gym’ and ‘garden gym’ have both risen dramatically during 2020 too. In 2021, we expect to see more exercise equipment that fits seamlessly into interiors, or furniture that doubles up.

“When thinking about portioning off a room in your home as your dedicated exercise space, it’s important to choose a room that has a fitting purpose, lighting and mood,” advises Joe Robertshaw, director of Place for Humans. “Being motivated to exercise at home also comes down to ease and accessibility, the more hurdles that stand between you and the exercise, the more likely it is to go undone.”

5. Multi-functional spaces

One thing 2020 really brought about was a need for rooms to be multi-functional. As a result, we’re starting to see professionals incorporate more hybrid designs, detachable units, and convertible pieces to create a home suited to the ‘new normal’. One example, which saw a surprising rise in popularity as a search term, is ‘murphy bed’ (a pull-down design), suggesting a need for homeowners to hide away large pieces of furniture in bedrooms or spare rooms during the day, so they can double as offices while many of us work from home for the foreseeable future.

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“Given the current circumstances, our spare rooms have never been so important. Making spaces work for multiple occasions is critical to being able to utilise every centimetre of space in the home,” says Richard Hobden director of RHJB Architects. “A comparatively easy win is to replace the divan or fixed frame bed in the spare room with a simple folding bed. This can be a stand-alone piece of furniture or built into a storage wall, disguised as wardrobes. This will free up space elsewhere to create a multi-purpose study, home gym or playroom solution.”

6. Luxury vintage

(Sofie Barfoed/Houzz/PA)

Sustainability, climate change and the impact we have on our planet continue to be a big theme for 2021. Professionals on Houzz are reporting a growing interest in high-end, second-hand furniture, which aligns with the interest in sustainability we’ve seen.

When buying second-hand furniture, try to see the item in person if you can (safely, of course). Buying online is very convenient but it’s much easier to hide any serious damage in a photograph than in person. “I like to be able to touch the item and check it’s in good condition, so I’m not too keen on buying from online resources, unless they have an option for you to view it first,” says Bhavin Taylor, director of Bhavin Taylor Design.

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And make sure you know all of your measurements – an absolute must for multiple reasons. “There’s usually no returns policy when buying second-hand,” Taylor explains,. “If you buy a piece that’s the wrong size, it’s likely you’ll be stuck with it.” So remember to measure your doorways and other access points first. “There’s nothing worse than buying something and not being able to get it through the front door,” adds Taylor.

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