10 Horrifying Home Design Trends: 2021 Edition
While I may not agree with all of them, who am I to argue with those who follow the trends. See below for what the experts are saying:
The most regrettable fads designers hope will fade away.
October 25, 2021Design TrendsBy: Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Home trends come and go, but designers hope some will vanish faster. At the Styled, Staged & Sold blog, we compile an annual list of the “scariest” home design fads. This year, we’re highlighting trends that may start to make a property look dated. Here’s what’s giving home designers the frights.
10. Sliding Barn Doors
As the farmhouse style loses traction, barn doors are sliding down designers’ priority lists. They’re bulky and can be impractical because they don’t always glide smoothly on a track. On the other hand, smaller sliding panels hung on both sides of a doorway—such as those that mix in glass or trendy colors like navy or green—are gaining popularity and offer privacy when needed.
9. Open Kitchen Shelving
Swapping out upper cabinetry for open shelving has become a go-to method to make kitchens airier and brighter. Plus, open shelving can lead to savings on a kitchen remodel. But in reality, open shelving can be a tough look to pull off. Dishes and glassware must always match and be perfectly organized. That goes against the current grain during the pandemic as homeowners seek to hide their clutter—not put it on display.
8. Nautical Motifs Run Amok
Coastal design is one of the most beloved styles featured on Instagram, according to a 2020 study from Angie’s List. But you don’t need in-your-face nautical motifs like anchors, seashells, and sailor’s rope. Coastal interiors in locations far away from the beach can look silly rather than stylish. Make sure any design theme for your home matches your location. Get coastal inspiration without being so literal about it: Try mixing in trendy blues, adding driftwood and weathered wood accents, or even the occasional coral accessory.
7. All-white Interiors
White walls, furnishings, and rugs can feel uninspiring. Homes are getting more color treatment, particularly on the walls and cabinetry. Accent walls are making a comeback, adding a pop of color to a space with bright paint or bold wallpaper. Cabinetry is getting more colorful, too: Use of blue vanities(link is external) in bathroom renovations has doubled over the past year, according to the 2021 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. Meanwhile, kitchen islands are getting premium attention in all-white kitchens by being painted blue, gray, or even green.
6. Oversized Desks
The home office has taken center stage as more people work remotely. But big, brown, claw-footed desks are no longer on trend. Instead, smaller, more modern styles are in vogue, such as glass tabletops with shiny metal frames or light-colored wood tones that don’t overpower a space. Even adjustable desks—like those that allow you to stand—are adding more flexible designs to home offices.
5. Painted Arches
The painted arch trend has been all the rage on Instagram. Whether it’s a brightly colored or pastel-toned arch, these focal points help to highlight furniture or open shelving. However, some designers say painted arches can make a room feel smaller and the ceiling appear lower. “I really hope painted arches will stay in 2021,” says Jessica Harris, manager and production design for Living Spaces, a national furniture firm. “I have seen them everywhere the past year, and it feels overdone and outdated. At first, I liked this trend, but the more I look at it, it makes a room feel smaller and darker rather than giving it height.”
4. Tuscan Kitchen Designs
The Tuscan kitchen style from the 2000s was dominated by dark reds, chocolate browns, and golds. The lighting was ornate, with wrought iron finishes. The granite was often speckled with gold tints, and the cabinetry was in a deep brown. This fad is now making homes look dated and motivating more owners to renovate. Today’s trends are moving toward lighter, brighter kitchens. Designers are helping homeowners “de-Tuscanize” their Italian villa-style kitchens by painting cabinets, swapping in white quartz countertops with gray or beige veining, and adding modern pendant lighting.
An uncluttered, sparsely decorated home can feel sad because of the lack of personality. With people spending more time at home, they’re seeking more meaningful interiors and placing more personal home accents on display. More of a maximalist look is taking root, thanks to the influences of cluttercore and Grandmillennial style. One hot trend is the mixing of old and new finishes; antiques are popular for adding a more unique look. Popular antique home touches include travertine tables, scalloping (like in lampshades and headboards), and antique lighting (like vintage holophane lights with ruffled glass edges), according to Homes & Gardens. The minimalist trend of “hard, strict lines and layouts will soon go away,” says Channa Alvarez, designer at Living Spaces. “Round, organic shapes to soften the design will be big in 2022. Furniture like poofs and coffee tables without hard corners will be more popular.”
2. Acrylic Furniture
Tables and dining chairs made of industrial plastic were popular in the 2010s, essentially vanishing into the room and making it look larger. Nowadays, homeowners want their furniture to stand out, not blend in. So, splurge on a chair you can actually see and a table you can’t miss as you put down your drink. Bolder furnishings are taking precedence, such as green or velvet sofas. A green accent chair is among one of the biggest emerging design trends of the year, according to Houzz.
1. Moss Walls
Everyone loves indoor plants, but adding them to your walls may be overkill. “Living walls”—which actually have greenery growing on them—have been touted for their health benefits, such as purifying indoor air and reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But those benefits aside, watering or growing anything on your walls is not a trend we can condone. Keep the vertical greenery or gardens beautifying the outside of your home. Inside, opt for an old-fashioned houseplant—in a decorative pot on the floor or along the windowsill.
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Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, editor of the Styled, Staged & Sold blog, and produces a segment called “Hot or Not?(link is external)” in home design that airs on NAR’s Real Estate Today radio show. Follow Melissa on Instagram and Twitter at @housingmuse.