Expert Advice

We Asked 11 Interior Designers to Weigh in on the Biggest Décor Trends That Defined 2021

Nature leads the way.

By Isabelle Eyman
camille styles cozy living room design ideas, bench

The upheaval of the past two years has impacted and changed how we inhabit our homes (along with just about everything else.) While it may have once seemed romantic, it’s unbelievable to me that in my early 20s I rented a 15-square-meter apartment in Paris. Nowadays, so much of our lives has been relegated to our homes. With return-to-office dates being pushed back (and the promise of actually returning looking less likely), spare bedrooms that may have once housed guests have now become home offices. And with more at-home entertaining, kitchens are truly the centerpiece of our spaces. So, it’s no surprise that the biggest décor trends of 2021 are influenced by these changes to how we live now.

I tapped some of our favorite interior designers and decorating experts to reflect on the biggest trends of the year. Read on for insights and advice from some of the best in the business. Nicole Fisher, Leia T. Ward, Decorist designers Megan Wright and Samantha Stathis, Sarah Stacey, Lauren Meichtry, Hilary Matt, Kate Lester, Anastasia Casey, Shawna Percival, and Christine Turknett all shared their thoughts on which trends defined the past year, and how we might be able to bring them to our homes in 2022.

feature image by michelle nash

Archway Aesthetic

“The archway trend is taking over just about every space—bathrooms included. Archway designs add a heightened sense of character and architectural interest.” — Anastasia Casey

biggest décor trends 2021_Japandi Style
image by reid rolls for decorist

Japandi Style

“This style has been on the rise since boho lovers and naturalists around the world have evolved their taste into something a little more elevated. Japandi is more of a curated and cultured style as it pulls from both Scandinavian and modern Japanese design. People are drawn toward this style because of the perfect mix of minimalist design with a focus on warmth, natural elements, and earth-toned color palettes to balance everything out.” — Megan Wright

Oversized Art

“Large scale art is back in a big way (pun intended!). We’re seeing the desire for large-scale art over large gallery walls. We love using the always fabulous and affordable Juniper Prints for this application, as it puts grand-scale art in reach for so many homeowners.” — Shawna Percival

What’s Old Is New

“With the massive shipping delays and increased raw material prices we’ve seen as of late, vintage pieces have become even more desirable. I’ve seen some stunning vintage pieces brought back to life with new upholstery and a little refinishing. Nothing like a global pandemic to force our hand into getting even more creative.” — Lauren Meichtry

A Rainbow of Blue

“In 2021, I noticed a lot of different shades of blue. A number of clients chose navy options when they might normally choose a neutral option like gray or cream. I found myself using shades of blues that have more green undertones, which I find to be a refreshing change.” — Kate Lester

Open Concept

“In 2021, we saw many homes moving away from the once-popular idea of open concept everything. Now that homes have become where many families live, work, and play, the need for some separation is clear.” — Anastasia Casey

Natural Elements

“There’s been gravitation toward natural fabrications and finishings, specifically rattan, caning, and textiles that are a more woven ground. In the same vein, I’ve also seen an increased use of light and natural-colored wood, moving away from darker stained pieces.” — Kate Lester

graber motorized shades, blackout shades in the bedroom
image by Michelle Nash

Bouclé Abound

“It had its debut back in the 1940s when Knoll began using it on its chair to create a more comfortable look and feel. Since then, bouclé has always been around. It started trending in 2019, and it’s still going strong with no signs of slowing down. You can find many major retailers offering bouclé in their assortment and almost any designer using it because of the texture it creates in a space.” — Megan Wright

Wellness Zone

“I’ve received an increasing amount of requests for meditation and yoga spaces as more people are working from home. Work-life balance takes on a new meaning and creating an at-home sanctuary can make a difference in someone’s well-being.” — Christine Turknett

biggest décor trends 2021_A Muted Color Palette
image by reid rolls for decorist

Hues on Mute

“With everyone being more or less stuck in their homes, 2021 was another year full of muted colors, organic shapes, and natural materials such as white oak and pine, heavily-veined natural stone, and décor featuring textures like linen and earthenware.” — Samantha Stathis

Traditionally Elegant

“We saw a lot of traditional English style—a little nod to the farmhouse but is overall more simple and elegant, less thematic and literal. Small elements here and there that give an overall more classic look. What’s great about Traditional English is that it can be interpreted in whole rooms or accessories alike. This means you can dial it up or dial it back based on your particular style.” — Sarah Stacey

The Kitchen Island Returns

“We saw clients asking for innovative kitchen island ideas over the last year, and one of our favorites was an integrated butcher block. This makes the workspace both beautiful and highly functional, perfect for a large charcuterie spread!” — Shawna Percival

biggest décor trends 2021_Modular Furniture
image by andrea carson

Go Modular

“We love low-profile, modern, and modular pieces. Whether they’re pushed together as a sofa, made into a sectional, or separated into accent chairs, they always make an appearance in our projects.” — Leia T. Ward

A Nod to Nordic

“2021 saw an increased presence of Nordic furniture. As distribution increases, many retailers are carrying Scandinavian furniture and accessories, and are making Nordic design more accessible to the public. The aesthetic’s simple and functional design features can blend with so many other styles.” — Christine Turknett

Double Duty

“Over the past year, many of our homes have taken on the roles of workspaces, school spaces, entertainment spaces, and play spaces. We are seeing a steep rise in multi-purpose spaces. Due to many people working from home for the foreseeable future, functional workspaces are popping up in every nook and cranny. Along those same lines, we’re seeing more well-designed school-at-home spaces made for virtual learning and/or homework.”  — Anastasia Casey

Curves Ahead

“Curvature is making a statement both for interiors and exteriors. Some versions of this includes: arch doorways, rounded millwork, and curved furniture. It particularly stands out in a modern space by softening up the clean lines you would normally expect to see.” — Christine Turknett

Flex-Space Living

“2021 was full of flex-space living. The integration of the Samsung Frame TV was a game-changer for our clients. We added them everywhere from offices to playrooms to main living rooms. We’re so excited to have a beautiful alternative to the giant black box TV!” — Shawna Percival

Social Media Cycling

“Social media plays a big role in determining design trends. I think it makes trends come and go quicker because access to them is right at your fingertips. At the same time, people also get sick of trends faster because they’re seeing them more on social media.” — Hilary Matt

Maximalism Is Here to Stay

“Layered textures, patterns, and colors are everywhere. Cozy, lived-in rooms have been especially important to clients who are spending all their time at home. Every open space has the opportunity to be a special moment.” — Nicole Fisher