2021 Interior Design Trends: Q&A with Frankel’s Interior Designer & Selections Coordinator

January 4, 2021

For better or worse, the word “trend” carries a bad notoriety. It’s the notion that a leading style, preference, movement or way of thinking will soon fade in popularity — or worse — is already on its way out. That said, trends are critical for progress and experimentation. Interior design is no exception; we couldn’t imagine a world without the mid-century modern design movement. 

Design trends are constantly coming and going, and as custom interior designers ourselves, it’s important to stay abreast of what’s in, what’s out, what’s here to stay — and why. For many, resale value is a significant factor, but 2020 has proven there are many factors besides ROI that have shaped our design preferences. 

Frankel’s Registered Interior Designer and Selections Coordinator, Megan Reuss, breaks down this year’s style preferences and predicts what interior design trends are on the horizon for 2021.

Q: Has the pandemic affected interior design trends at all? 

A: Absolutely — and in more ways than people imagine. With millions of people around the world working from home, the pandemic has compelled individuals to create functional spaces in their home (where one might have never existed) where they can get work done. Some people already had a home office, but others, it was the dining room table.

This surge in “WFH” life has influenced interior design demands and a huge spike in home remodeling. People want their homes to be cozier, more comforting and more functional — while also beautiful.

Q: What were the most popular interior design trends in 2020?

A: Bold colors, natural materials, and dramatic prints were hugely popular this year. For example, we designed several bars and powder rooms to feature dark, dramatic and bold colors, such as deep teal. 

Rattan and woven natural fibers were everywhere this year — and for good reason. From light fixtures to cabinet insets to complete sets of furniture, rattan represented more than just a return of a past trend. 2020 was the year of the at-home retreat. Being a staple building material in tropical climates, it makes sense why rattan has flooded the homes of so many this year. People want an escape. 

Prints, specifically floral and geometric, were some things we saw on repeat this year. Wallpaper is not like it was 10 years ago. Besides bold choices in color, homeowners are turning toward statement prints as a way to add an element of je ne sais quoi.

Q: What design trends are here to stay? 

A: 2020 has utterly changed the way we live at home, and I can honestly say I don’t see us going back. Our home has become our everything — our movie theater, our workplace, our shopping destination, our entertainment space. 

I see people using their homes to define themselves and applying their unique lifestyles to their home design, even more so than before. People want to tell a story. The use of bold colors, textures and fun prints will all be used to tell that story in 2021. 

Q: Which trends are going away? 

A: Grays. People want cozier living spaces, and gray tones do not reflect that. 

Q: What do you think will be the biggest design trends in 2021?

A: With grays going away, warm earth tones — rusty and terracotta reds, warm greens, and blush pink tones — will take center stage. The reason? These colors make people feel good.

This particular color palette creates a relaxing and comforting vibe in the home, something everyone needs in 2021. These color tones also pair great with the rattans and unfinished white oaks that characterized the natural material movement this year.

Q: How important of a role do you think sustainable design will play in 2021? 

A: LEED for Homes has been the gold standard in home design and construction. However, as people spend more time than ever at home, I absolutely see clients more concerned about the environmental impact of what actually fills their spaces.

This is why Cottagecore — a newfangled design aesthetic that emphasizes simple, rural and sustainable design — has blown up during the pandemic. It goes well beyond interior design to encompass an entire lifestyle centered on connecting more with nature and the outside world.

Q: What colors or textures are you seeing more and more of? 

A: I am seeing a shift toward warmer hues: blush tones, taupes, browns and creams. As far as textures go, I am seeing more people utilize interesting textures in the place of bold colors. Bouclé —a soft, curly fabric with lots of visual interest — has especially been on repeat.

Q: Any new materials people are requesting? 

A: Large-format porcelain — especially porcelain countertops — has slowly been gaining popularity in the past couple of years. With the pandemic, I suspect it will explode in popularity for several reasons: porcelain is scratch-proof, heat-proof, stain-proof, resistant to UV light and — importantly — non-porous.

I am already seeing an uptick in porcelain and other nonporous countertops as people are becoming more concerned with cleanliness of their home. Although sealed, granite and marble countertops are porous, which can stain and harbor bacteria if not properly sealed. 

Q: What about outdoor spaces? 

A: Outside social gatherings are the “new normal” now. At Frankel Building Group, we’ve seen a huge spike in homeowners wanting a pool or outdoor living space. The backyard has now become the focal point of a home instead of an afterthought. 

I see summer 2021 as the summer of outdoor cooking. The outdoor kitchen will be the new heart of the home, with more people purchasing green eggs and pizza ovens to add to their home entertainment repertoire. 

Q: What’s been your favorite project to design in 2020? 

A: It has to be this pool bathroom we designed. It is the exemplar of what modern interior design is all about, featuring warm and natural materials like stone and wood throughout. 

Although 2020 couldn’t end sooner for many of us, it was no doubt a big year for interior design and set the stage for yet another monumental year in 2021. We are eager to see all that 2021 brings to the design table.