2020 delivered a rude awakening that helped us realize the importance of our homes. After attending High Point Market as well as the national Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (both virtually), I have focused on five trends for 2021 that will likely be with us for quite a while. Most of these trends have been slowly building, but the pandemic supercharged them.
1. The Healthy Home
Never before has a healthy home taken on so much importance. During a pandemic, cleanliness becomes extremely important. One of the biggest shifts in home design is happening in the mudroom, where the space is taking on a bigger role than simply a place to drop the backpack and shoes. Builders are getting requests to add handwashing stations, washer-dryers, and even showers to existing mudrooms. Water and air purifiers are also trending for a healthy home.
Enlarged pantries for additional food storage and second freezers are also trending. Food preparation was either a source of stress or a pleasure in 2020, but having the space for plenty of extra supplies is a comfort to all.
In the bathroom, luxuries such as bidets (never worry about toilet paper hoarding again), steam showers and soaking tubs are also trending. An at-home spa when we can’t get out makes a huge impact on our health and wellness.
2. Cozy and Safe
We want our home to be cozy and safe as well as healthy. Organic shapes and soft, rounded edges have been trending in furniture for the past few years. We want to feel safe and wrapped in comfort while we spend days on end inside. Curvy swivel chairs, rounded tables and organic elements such as plants, raw wood, and nubby-textured textiles all add to the sense of coziness.
After spending months inside, homeowners discovered that the previous color trend of gray does nothing to lift the spirits and can add to feelings of depression. Going forward, the use of color is trending as homeowners look to brighten their mood. Deep jewel tones along with earthy olive greens, blues, bronzes, taupes and browns are all trending.
In kitchens, the popularity of white cabinets is fading and being replaced by painted and two-toned units — one color for the upper cabinets and a different painted color or natural wood stain on the lower cabinets or island. Black cabinets had been trending before the pandemic, but now navy and cobalt blue have edged ahead. Going forward into 2021, look for deep green and other earthy variations as green is predicted to be the new “it” color for kitchen cabinets.
2021 will also see a rise in nostalgia decorating. Small patterned prints and floral country wallpaper are trending. Vintage furniture, frills, ruffles and grandmillennial or granny chic decor is trending because it hearkens back to a time when the world seemed less complicated.
3. Flexible Spaces
One of the most impactful things we learned during 2020 is that one large common space is not conducive to the whole family being together 24/7. Noise levels became a daily battle as video conference calls for Mom and Dad competed with homeschooling Zoom calls for the kids. Thus, the latest coveted home feature is a “flex room.” This is a room that can function as whatever the home-owner needs it to be: office space for adults or homeschooling areas for the children, or maybe a makeshift gym with a spot for the new Peloton, or perhaps a podcasting or video conferencing room. The luxury of a flex room is that the usage can change depending on the need.
4. The Smart Home
Smart home technology has become more popular every year, but the pandemic energized this growing field. Touchless faucets and easy to clean germ- and stain-resistant surfaces are the latest must-have for the kitchen. Voice control continues to trend strongly, including voice-controlled appliances and watches that sync with our heating, lighting and door locks. We can even ask Alexa to turn on the shower from the comfort of our bed and tell her the exact water pressure and temperature we desire.
5. The Fifth Room
Anyone who lived through quarantining in an apartment became painfully aware of the value of outdoor living space. Whether it’s a modest balcony or 5 acres, space outside is now being called the fifth room. Homeowners are investing heavily in their outside space, adding pools, water features, big-screen TVs, luxury firepits and beautifully landscaped gardens. There is a demand in the market for outdoor furniture that is as comfortable and durable as inside pieces. Tricked-out kitchens complete with pizza ovens and stoves that function for gourmet cooking are trending.
The events of 2020 magnified what we appreciate and dislike about our homes. We found out what worked for us and what didn’t. One thing, however, became crystal clear — our home is everything when it comes to keeping ourselves and our family safe and happy.