Interior Designers Say These 8 Living-Room Trends Will Be Big in 2021
Fair warning: They all have a penchant for color.
2021 is here, and with the new year comes fresh living-room trends to revitalize your space. As one of the rooms you’re spending much of your time in—chances are it’s turned into an office, remote-learning, crafting, and lounging hybrid space—versatile design is key. But not solely for getting through the next several months, while school- and work-from-home life subsists. Interior designers are predicting a creative stir among apartment and house dwellers alike. Not to mention a move toward cozier, more colorful, and textured spaces. Minimalism? We no longer know her.
“In larger homes, people will be using more unique furniture layouts to really play into the space and create something dynamic and less predictable,” says Los Angeles–based interior designer Jake Arnold (he counts Chrissy Teigen & John Legend, Dan Levy, and Rashida Jones as clients, among others). “In apartments and smaller spaces, introducing a cozier and less rigid sensibility will be preferred, given how much time people are spending at home,” he adds. Some of the comfortable and livable additions on his list: dimmers, full linen drapery, mohair textiles, and textured walls.
Ahead, keep scrolling for a look at what interior designers say will set the bar for living-room style in 2021, from wall color and furniture trends to decorative accents guaranteed to define your space.
There’s been no shortage of Pierre Jeanneret Chandigarh chairs and seductively curvy ‘80s-era couches on our Instagram feeds of late, and according to New York–based designer Colin King, the vintage furniture trend remains for 2021. “With dealers forced to put their inventory online and on Instagram, more vintage furniture is available to us than ever before,” he explains. But COVID-19–related shipping and manufacturing delays aren’t the only reason for this trend. The earth-friendly benefit of buying secondhand plays into effect, too. “The quality, personality, and sustainability that comes with buying vintage pieces for your home is converting consumers,” King says. The best part? No long lead times, with plenty to choose from on retail sites like 1stdibs, Chairish, and LiveAuctioneers. King adds, “There’s something for everyone that fits every budget.”
Multi-purpose Furniture & Storage Solutions
COVID-19 has caused many to rethink and rework their living-room spaces, leading to the trend of multi-purpose decor, from furniture to storage. Kiyonda Powell, a Washington, DC-based interior designer, tells Coveteur, “We are still in some ways adjusting to our new normal, and with that comes being creative with how we live and work in our homes.” The designer says multi-use spaces are essential, especially for smaller square-footage, with function as the number one priority. She recommends furniture—new or vintage—with clever storage solutions and “go-go gadget” pieces like extendable or collapsible tables to make the perfect work surface for spreading out or to accommodate several people at once. “Creating that non-traditional home office really has no exact formula—in true Tim Gunn fashion, you will have to make it work,” she says.
Gabriela Gargano, the founder and principal designer of the New York City–based design firm Grisoro Studio, also notes an increased desire for storage solutions. “While this is always a request for city dwellers, we found this to be even more top of mind, with many people working from home and wanting to keep their spaces organized,” she tells Coveteur. “Built-ins are always our go-to, as they provide a beautiful and efficient way to create the specific storage a client needs.” Gargano also favors sleek storage systems for more flexibility, adding, “The functionality can change over time.”
King’s multifunctional prediction includes versatile furniture and storage pieces that can suit ever-evolving needs and solutions. “I think we will see less dense and smaller-footprint pieces that can easily be moved around the home,” he says.
Color & Texture
Across the board, interior designers predict a turn toward cozy, textured, and warmer spaces, from furniture and paint color to textiles and accessories. “More will be more, and a more lived-in sensibility will be a trend versus stripped back,” explains Arnold.
Among his predictions: color as a leading trend, but thoughtfully and organically to achieve a subdued and livable space. “I see the use of colored plasters, linens, and mohairs in textiles and wall finishes,” he says. Gargano also predicts warm, soft tones and textures will dominate, like cream, taupe, ochre, and terracotta, as well as sheepskin, boucles, and mohairs in the textile department.
King says rich, warm hues—think earthy reds, ochres, and warm browns—will become the new neutrals. “Bold yet natural, these colors are comforting and grounding during the day and cozy and cocoon-like in the evenings,” he says. The designer also predicts a rise in textured walls. “If you’re looking to add more texture to a wall versus color, trying plaster à la Kamp Studios or a lime wash from Domingue Finishes, which can really add dimension to a living area.”
According to designer Eneia White, blue might be the new millennial pink. “I’m noticing blue hues showing up in very feminine spaces, and my clients have been showing interest in blue palettes for their homes much more than they used to,” she says. “I enjoy blending blues with softer, more ‘traditionally’ feminine hues for a balanced look, but I think this direction is powerful and unique.”
Dramatic marble countertops and backsplashes have been trending in kitchens and bathrooms, and Arnold and Gargano predict the look will extend into living rooms. “Bold marble that has color and movement drew more attention in 2020,” Gargano says. In 2021, she says everything from decorative bowls to bar tops extending into lounge spaces works well in a living room.
Arnold adds, “I’ve always been obsessed with furniture fabricated from natural stones and marble, but look for more high-impact pieces with a less rustic feel.”
Bold & Thick-Pile Rugs
Though neutral rugs are versatile, King says bolder designs are next for 2021. “Think of it as art for your floor,” he says. “Where the rest of the decoration and furnishing is restrained, rugs can all inject a welcome accent of color, pattern, and texture less insistently because they are underfoot.”
Arnold is predicting a return to thicker piles. “We have seen a lot of flat weaves, which are timeless, but I think there will be a resurgence of thick, plush rugs, mainly in wools and natural fibers.”
Handmade & Organic Accessories
Perhaps it’s the lack of travel, but Powell and Gargano are both betting on artisanal and handcrafted decor accents for accessorizing living rooms in 2021. “Bringing in more handcrafted statement goods like sculptural pottery and one-of-a-kind area rugs always win when creating a more global and thoughtful aesthetic,” Powell says. “They also enhance the idea of a mental escape while spending more time at home [with] the ability to transport you to faraway lands!”
Gargano adds, “Sculptural pottery, both new and vintage, add depth and visual interest.”
Fewer Pillows Sans Chop
A remarkable shift is afoot in the pillow department for 2021: The chop is out! According to White, “The V-chop is far too overbearing, and now it’s all about the subtle lean of your favorite throw pillows. Instead, she suggests pinching the sides of pillows to give them shape. “That’s all the ‘styling’ you’ll need—2021 is going to be all about the natural look,” she adds.
Arnold predicts fewer pillows overall. “I hate too many pillows on a sofa, so I’m happy this will be a trend where people edit more and bring in more layers through throws and plush textiles.”
Whether you’re deep in a wallpaper phase or not entirely convinced, White says smaller repeat patterns are the new approach for 2021. “I’m finding wallpapers with smaller patterns are accepted much faster than wallpaper with large strokes and repeats,” she explains. If you’re intrigued but a total wallcovering phobe, ease into the trend by trying a peel-and-stick white wallpaper with a black pattern.
Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson
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