2021 Design Trends: What to Phase Out and What to Embrace

If you're like us, you're ready to put 2020 behind you and set your sights on a brighter future in 2021. In the upcoming year, we're going to be steering clear of a lot of style trends that have had plenty of traction in the past decade but, as design trends do, have overstayed their welcome. 

We'll start by discussing a few things to avoid in the new year and then move on to the exciting shift on the horizon.

Stay Away from These Interior Design Trends in 2021

To prevent from going overboard and naming every single trend that's on the way out, we've set our sights on two major themes to which we're saying goodbye, namely "rustic farmhouse" and "gray on gray."

AVOID: Rustic Farmhouse

Yes, this has been a positively charming style, and it's easy to see its appeal. There is something warm and cozy about the farmhouse look and feel, something almost otherworldly. And, for the better part of 10 or so years, it's had its place in the design community. That being said, this is a theme that has been done over and over and over for quite some time. Let's focus our attention on a few specific items that are, for lack of a better word, tired (and ready to be retired):

1. Shiplap Walls

This is one of those trends that appeared on just about every home design show on television but, as many experts agree, this style peaked somewhere around the early 2010s, dropping out of style, to many, by the end of 2016. That is not to say it won't make sense anywhere, but that it should probably be reserved for actual farmhouses. Otherwise, this year is looking forward to walls with a heavier dose of personality, patterns, and colors.

2. Sliding Barn Doors

These large statement pieces were right at home with the rustic farmhouse aesthetic. Some of them were executed better than others. What many of us found out was that they weren't quite as practical as we once thought. There was always space around the doors that affected airflow, sound, and so on. Then there was the amount of heavy-duty hardware required to support the barn doors, which, in many cases, detracted from the overall look. If you've got your heart and mind already set on one, go with something low profile to remedy most of the issues mentioned above. Otherwise, we'd suggest you avoid them altogether.

3. Pallet (Everything)

This was a really exciting trend for the simple fact that people were finding immensely creative ways to use and reuse pallets. They created furniture, wall art, you name it, all out of simple, cheap, easy-to-find wooden pallets. But, just as with the aforementioned trends, their time has come and gone. What we're looking forward to in 2021 is a unique return back to more traditional furniture, though, of course, with a modern twist. This is more than a trend - it's an overall mindset shift that will no doubt phase out pieces like pallet furniture in the new year and the years to come.

AVOID: Gray on Gray

Year after year, the major paint vendors have released some version of a gray for their "colors of the year." In 2021, we're looking forward to brighter colors, warmer tones, and less flat, dull grays layered upon each other. Yes, gray is a neutral color and, in that sense, it doesn't necessarily go out of style. The only thing is, we've been graying everything for years, something that tends to create a bland, dry interior, to put it one way.

In one sense, there will always be a place for gray and, in fact, we'd argue, there is even a place for it in 2021, but with a caveat.

What we'd encourage you to seek out are warmer, richer grays that typically fall into the "greige" category. We want to move away from too much flat gray, which can feel institutional and cold. Check out Benjamin Moore's 2021 color palette and you'll see a positively thrilling suggestion of "Amazon Soil," a heavily brown-toned gray that is just gorgeous and rich, see below.


In these applications, the idea is to bring out that depth of color, to present it, as it were, rather than letting a few shades of gray create an overall muddled interior. Side note - we're also seeing fake plants give way to more natural décor - real plants potted in warm, natural-toned planters, which is excellently exhibited in the above photo.

Benjamin Moore isn't the only one setting its sights on warmer grays in the new year. Check out Sherwin Williams decadent "Urbane Bronze" color of the year 2021.

Once again, we're seeing an absolutely vibrant shade of deep gray here with the perfect bronze tone. It was designed with warmth in mind, as well as the idea of being "rooted in nature" as the page describes. These are the two major characteristics that we're searching for, post-2020. Here's a brief description from their website:

"Tap into nature with a hue whose warmth and comfort breathe down-to-earth tranquility. Our 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze, captures that simple sophistication every space is searching for."

Trends to Embrace in 2021

There is plenty to cover here, but we'd thought it would be helpful to not just tell you what to avoid but also what to embrace in 2021.

Rich, bright colors are back in full swing, as evidenced by many bold color choices by the major paint vendors and their "colors of the year." Every designer is excited about the reinvigorated interest in deep greens and the unanimous welcoming of lavish indigo blue. We're seeing a renewed interest in traditional furniture but with a modern, more contemporary twist, which some call "traditional 2.0" or "modern traditional" or any host of names. 

Naturally, we're excited about lighting trends, and 2021 is looking up to embrace a strong use of natural daylight, among other things. We'll be sure to post more about upcoming 2021 luxury lighting design trends in detail but we'll segue off our last point with the below little reminder.

Remember, your interior ever only looks as good as the luxury light fixtures used to light it. Here's to a brighter 2021! 



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