Design Trends to Embrace in 2021

In the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time at home.

Way more time than any of us would have guessed a year ago!

And along the way, many of us have rediscovered things we loved – and didn’t love – about our home.

If you’ve been spending more time at home, you may feel inspired to upgrade, renovate, or change your home to make it work better for you and your family.

For many of us, home has become an office, a classroom, or a gym. Most importantly, it’s been a place of safety and security when times are uncertain.

No surprise then, that many 2021 design trends revolve around soothing color palettes, coziness, and a feeling of safety and sanctuary.

Even if selling your home is not on your immediate horizon, you may want to be mindful of current design preferences – whether you’re planning a reno or simply redecorating. A renovation that’s over-personalized or not universally accepted could actually lower your property value. And selecting finishes and fixtures that are out of style will cause your home to feel dated very quickly.

We’ve rounded up five of the most prevalent design trends to share with you.


After years of grey, grey, and more grey, colors are moving toward warm and happy shades that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and well-being. The palettes we’re seeing this year encompass earthy hues, soothing blues and greens, and warm neutrals.

You’ll still see white and grey walls, and for now at least they are a safe option. But be on the lookout for alternative neutrals – not only for walls and furnishings, but also for cabinets and other finish work.

You might want to try one of these “colors of the year”:

We’re also seeing rich and intense colors such as ruby, sapphire, coral, plum, and indigo showing up throughout the home. These classic hues add warmth, depth, and perhaps even a touch of luxury to your home.

When using color in your home, think about the 60-30-10 color rule. You’ll start by choosing a dominant color – this will be used in 60% of the room. Large elements could be varying shades of the same color – like green, in the image below. Walls, large pieces of furniture, and flooring would be variations of the shade you choose.

Next, layer a secondary color in 30% of the room. In the example below, that would be the purple-grey shade, which would be used for chairs, accents walls, and smaller pieces of furniture.

Finally, you’ll select a third color that is an accent for the other two colors you’ve chosen. This color will only represent about 10% of the color in the room, and is perfect for throws, pillows, accessories, or artwork.


We’ve had more than a decade of minimalism in our interiors, and the pendulum is beginning to shift back toward more highly decorated and personalized interiors. More and more often, we’re seeing the addition of color, texture, and personalized character.

As this happens, the highly popularized styles that have been front and center (mid-century modern, vintage industrial, modern farmhouse) are being replaced with a more curated look. In effect, our homes are including fixtures, accessories, furnishings, and finishes that give the feeling of treasures having been collected over a period of time, rather than a home that looks like a showroom or an episode of an HGTV show.

In particular, it looks like we may be saying goodbye to the ubiquitous all-white kitchen. If you’re considering a major remodel (or even a minor refresh), think about adding unique touches for a more custom look. This could include the use of other neutrals (think black, gray, and light woods). And it may be that subway tile backsplash, which we’ve seen for many years now, could be taking a back seat to other more choices with character.


In the past year, the pandemic has forced many of us to use our home very differently. With more family members at home, and using the home for a variety of purposes, we’ve had to find creative ways to manage schooling-from-home, and virtual work meetings. The design industry expects these changes will impact the way we design in, and live in, our home for many years to come.

We can likely all agree that the need for home office space is likely here to stay. Homeowners without dedicated office spaces are turning to closets which can be retrofitted to accommodate workspaces. These “cloficces” are a relatively inexpensive and simple solution, although they may not work long-term for everyone.

Builders are predicting that the once-popular “open-concept” floor plans may wane in popularity as buyers search for homes with more privacy and separation. We’re starting to see the addition of small alcoves (perfect for a small home office), as well as sliding doors and/or partitions that allow homeowners to divide up their space on a temporary basis to suit their needs.


Most of us have travelled very little since the onset of the pandemic. With travel options limited, many homeowners have turned their vacation budgets into staycation budgets and are turning their homes into resort experiences they can enjoy 365 days a year! And the two rooms seeing the most attention? Master bedrooms and bathrooms!

Your bedroom should be a soothing sanctuary. And in keeping with the trends mentioned above, the minimalist décor and muted color palette of the past is giving way to a stronger design aesthetic.

To create the look and feel of a boutique hotel in your bedroom, start with a large, upholstered headboard. This is the perfect place to select a pattern, a rich color, or both. Add organic linen bedding, a chunky throw or weighted blanket, and beautiful textured accent pillows. The finishing touch? A pair of bedside lights wired into the wall rather than the more expected bedside table lamps.

Continue the vacation vibes in the master bathroom with luxury upgrades. Large format shower tiles with minimal grout lines not only present a strong visual statement, they’re also a breeze to clean. Freestanding tubs, especially “slipper tubs,” continue to be popular. Aromatherapy shower heads are the ultimate spa-like experience. And don’t forget to add a sleek floating vanity to make your bathroom feel just like those in high-end hotels.


The pandemic has led homeowners to spend more time at home, both indoors and out. Backyard pool sales skyrocketed in many parts of the country in 2020. Here in the Greater Seattle area, pools aren’t a popular choice. But there are many other ways you can upgrade your outdoor space.

Houzz, a popular home design website, named 2021 “the year of the pergola.” Available in many sizes, shapes, and styles, they’re a relatively simple and affordable way to add both style and shade to your yard.

Another hot trend? Tricked-out custom playgrounds for exercising all members of the family!

 But don’t limit your upgrades to the back yard. Landscapers report many homeowners are enhancing their front and side yards as well, with porch additions and extended seating areas high on the wish lists of homeowners.


Obviously, not all of these trends will work well in every house. If you plan to renovate (or sell!) your property, let’s talk first.

Every homeowner wants to know how upgrades could impact their home’s value. And because real estate is hyper-local, buyer preferences can vary greatly depending on neighborhoods and price ranges.

We have years of experience and would love to share our insights, offer tips on maximizing your investment, and help you steer clear of upgrades that may not make the impact you’re hoping for. 

Call, email, or text us today. We’d love to hear from you!

Marti Reeder, Realtor, Managing Broker