These Are the Biggest Interior Design Trends in 2021


The events of 2020 saw us spending more time at home than ever before. As a result of lockdown measures, there was a drastic shift to the way we work, live, and socialise. As well as this, our expectations of “house” changed, as did our needs and wants from the space we call home.

The dining table became the school desk, the office, the hobby zone. The living room floor became our yoga studios, home cinema, and meditation space. While we’d previously been happy to co-exist with clutter, in iso, decor in disarray felt stressful, and home without plants was hardly home at all.

On a more granular level, colour became more important than ever. We craved tones that soothed us and brought about feelings of calm amid the chaos beyond our doors. For many, this meant re-painting or embarking on other DIY projects that enhance the way we felt in our spaces.

“If there’s one thing architects, interior experts, forecasters and leading designers agree on, it’s this: our collective experience of lockdown will fundamentally alter the way we live in our homes in the future,” says Vanessa Walker, editor of Houzz Australia and New Zealand.

“What we place importance on, from the materials we choose to the design of our living spaces, has changed dramatically and may continue to evolve as we cautiously navigate our way through the pandemic.”

Referencing its own data, home re-design images, past articles and feedback from the Houzz Pro community, the group was able to conclude a handful of decor and interior trends set to define our homes in 2021.

Here, we explore our favourites.

1. Antibacterial materials

Increased awareness around germs and bacteria is driving the trend of antibacterial materials. Whether it’s reducing touch-points through automation and voice-activated smart technology or embracing antimicrobial copper for tapware.

“As sanitary practices have become a life-saving routine that we’ve integrated into our daily lives, on Houzz we’re seeing a rise in automatic washbasins, touch-less flushing, and infrared sensors in bathrooms to meet the desire to reduce unnecessary touching,” says Walker.

In addition, surface coatings that are bacteriostatic, or capable or limiting bacterial reproduction, as well as antimicrobial metals will see a big come-up in future renovations.

“Copper and its alloys, brass and bronze, fulfil this criteria, so we expect to see more of these materials in tapware, and kitchen and bathroom fixtures such as sinks and splashbacks in 2021.”

2. Indoor plants and greenery

Many of us discovered the hard way this year just how much nature impacts our mental wellbeing. As a substitute for bushwalks and park visits, homemakers in lockdown began buying indoor plants at speed. According to Houzz, this trend will continue into the new year.

“The lockdown certainly heightened the value we place on our outdoor areas. A Houzz Covid survey from mid-2020 found the outdoor area to be the most desirable for upcoming improvements,” says Walker.

“Increasingly, architects and interior designers on Houzz reported a demand for designs that connect the indoors with the outdoors through biophilic design including green roofs, internal courtyards and garden walls.”

Houzz trends
Houzz / Paolo Fusco

3. Rich, earthy colour palettes

The days of minimal white and beige are running out. In 2021, homemakers will seek to warm their interior palettes with earthy tones reminiscent of the natural Australian landscape. According to Walkers, they’ll complement these hues with pops of rich red, inky blues and mustard yellows.

“It’s not just through actual fauna that we will seek to simulate a natural environment, colours will help us to achieve this too. Colour specialists on Houzz predict that earthy tones will be strong interior colours in the new year, which include sand, soft greens, warm browns and terracottas,” she says.

4. Small-space design

City living often means less space, and with the majority of Australians living in the capital cities, Australians are having to get creative with the ways they utilise their compact digs.

“This year and into the next year, we will see more homeowners making better use of their small space using joinery and furniture to create functional areas of the home,” says Walker. “Small spaces and awkward layouts are common pain points for homeowners, which is confirmed by increasing Houzz search terms such as ‘small apartment’ and ‘U-shaped kitchen’.”

In the home, Aussies are making the most of small home design elements like study nooks, hidden storage and clever joinery to combat these concerns.

5. Artistic tiles

Plain white subway tiles are so 2020. In the year ahead, renovators will be looking to engage bespoke designs from skilled craftspeople around the world for a more artistic look and feel in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries.

“Many international artists have started working with manufacturers to turn these common furnishings into an artform, and now this influence is working its way to Australian shores,” says Walker.

“Due to Covid-19, many Australian designers on Houzz have started working with more local manufacturers for their tiles and stones as, due to supply chain delays, materials from Europe may not come in time.”

Walker says the year ahead will bring a resurgence of the zellige tiles. The wabi-sabi tiles are commonly handmade in Morocco and throw light in stunning ways.

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