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  • Writer's pictureLily Dittschlag & Dennis Dittschlag


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What makes good interior design? A puzzling question, really, and very subjective to your personal taste, which also evolves. A few weeks ago, we ended our blog on the Top Home Building Trends in 2021 with the conclusion that homeowners are looking for versatility, comfort including health benefits, and sustainability. This should hold true for interior design and we are going to explore in more detail the popular interior design trends for 2021. Let's dive in...

Warmer Colors

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When it comes to the color palette of a home, and in particular wall paint, there is a growing trends towards warmer tones. This can range from an off-white over warmer blush or pastel tones all the way to colorful accents like a burnt orange. The lighter the tone, the more neutral it will feel, and the easier it is to adjust with other accents in the house (like art or furniture). You want to stay away from really dark colors as those are creating a more dramatic effect, which is nice for some time but can feel stressful on a constant basis.

With many people spending more time indoors at home over the past year, the typical modern all-white or all-gray finishes now feel too cold for many people. Of course, this doesn't mean that we will go back to the beige tones so many standard builder homes used to be finished with. But it means that you don't need to be afraid to change things up. And let's remember: Paint is pretty easy to change and a misstep can be corrected fairly easily.

Natural Finishes

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Along with the warmer color palette, one trend to warm up your home and have it feel more comfortable is to use natural materials. This trend carries through all rooms and aspects of the home, like upholstered headboards, wood accents in the living room, rattan or wicker seating in the dining room, area rugs, woven storage baskets, and all sorts of textiles.

More people also gravitate towards natural fabrics and sustainable materials. It is a sure tendency to use less faux materials and more untreated and raw elements. Some designers are also identifying a sub-trend called "eco-chic". At the same time, people are looking to have more durable pieces that will withstand the daily wear-and-tear around the family home.

Making use of different natural elements in the same room is a great way to add more texture and visual interest as well.

Coziness & Vintage

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Coziness is not just a trend for the winter but for all seasons this year. It's more than pillows, blankets, and candle lights. Coziness this year means bringing back memories that make you feel homely, including vintage furniture pieces, old china, and art. These also go along well with bolder floral patterns. Now, this doesn't need to result in an all-new renovation project, but it's meant to combine the modern elements of most recently built homes with more traditional and time-worn pieces.

There are plenty of names and nuances for this design trend: Grandmillennial, Granny-chic, Cottage chic, and modern vintage are just some of the terms we came across in our research.

Many of the style elements used here are supposed to invoke homeliness, comfort, and nostalgia --- just like you would find at your grandmother's house or at the family cottage.

This trend stands opposite to what has been the trend in many areas to date, minimalism. At this time, people's homes are much busier around the clock and carry more stuff than they used to. For these reasons, people feel it's impossible to keep up a minimalistic style in their homes, and it simply becomes impractical.

Textured Walls

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Feature walls have been a thing for a while now, but this year, the focus is more on texture. Anything goes: Wallpaper, stone, board-formed concrete, plaster, rustic ceramic tiles, wood, leather, fabric, and of course green or living walls.

This design element is another great opportunity to add texture and color to any space. It's also perfect for adding character and bringing in a personal touch.

Obviously, this needs to go together with the overall design style of the home and you want to be careful not to overdo it. Some feature wall elements may also feel a little more dated. The modern farmhouse look with horizontal shiplap we have seen on many home reno shows is probably on the way out.

Depending on the finish, feature walls maybe harder to change and therefore more costly down the road.

Let The Sunshine In

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Natural light is super important, first and foremost for us and our health and well-being. But natural light can also be a great design element that highlights all the textures in any room.

Bright spaces also feel larger and more inviting, which is important to many who feel like the walls are pushing in after the past year being stuck at home. Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic has had huge impacts on many of this year's design trends.

An easy way to increase the natural light available in any room is to use window treatments that don't block the sunlight during the day. Another trick is to place a mirror or reflective art piece on a wall without window to enhance the light that does come in and help illuminate some darker areas. And don't forget that a clean window let's in more light than a dirty one...


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House plants are a key component to making a home feel livable. They help to freshen up the air in your home and brighten your mood. This is definitely one of the major back-to-the-basics trends that has emerged over the past year. Many florists or nurseries have high demands and in Toronto, you can now order house plants via food delivery apps.

Plants don't need to be fancy and you can never have too many. A few easy to care for houseplants in some decorative pots that are made from natural elements with some texture will work great in any home. Growing your own herbs and veggies indoors is also a very valid option to bring more plant live into the house.

One more thing we are seeing is dried plants and florals being used in home decorations. If you are a crafty family, this may be a good DIY option for an inexpensive design impact.

Outdoor Spaces

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Everyone's balconies, decks, yards, and gardens are an extension of the indoor living spaces. Many people are upgrading their landscaping and backyard features to make the available space more usable for the whole family.

In terms of design, the trends don't stop indoors. In fact, many design trends are equally applicable outside. Weather-proof area rugs, cushions, and fire pits are essential elements to make the outside more comfortable. Overhead lighting is a popular option which makes the outdoor space feel more like a regular room and thus cozy.

Multi-purpose is another key term for the outdoors this year. Many people have started growing some of their own vegetables which requires either a flower bed or a designated area. At the same time, you want to have a play area for the kids and options to safely meet with family members and neighbors, and probably a barbecue or outdoor cooking setup.

The outdoors is definitely where it's at this year!

Multi-Functional Rooms and Privacy

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These days, any room has to fulfill multiple roles. Kids' bedrooms for example are used for sleeping (of course), homework, play, crafting, gaming, etc.

Making the best use of the available space is always in trend. But creating flexible solutions with clever design ideas is a dominant trend this year.

While homeowners still want the main living areas of the house to be open and connected (think kitchen, family room, dining room), many of us have found throughout the year that it is equally important to have a certain level of privacy and separation.

Room dividers are nice to visually segregate spaces, but they are not enough to create privacy. For that, nothing beats closing a door behind you. It is an important factor in design this year to consider this aspect and think about introducing additional elements that help with isolating different rooms, for example by adding fabrics that absorb sound.

Home Office

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For many of us, a home office was never in the plans and we scrambled to get one set up. For us personally, we created work areas in two different bedrooms and are often using the dining table as well.

As many companies are declaring expansion of their remote work policies, the home office is here to stay beyond the pandemic. For interior design, this makes the home office not just a new area to plan for, but actually, an area to focus on.

Many new homes are now designed with a designated office, study, or library. And the same interior design trends named above apply to the home office. In fact, the trend is so strong that work areas are no longer hidden away or an after-thought. They become a design focus and statement piece in itself!

Kitchen Design

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For many, the most important room in any home is the kitchen and for good reasons, it is often referred to as the family hub and party gathering place.

In terms of the design, there are a few elements that will stand out this year:

  • The cabinetry will be two-tone; one tone is likely still white. There could be a combination of tones between upper and lower cabinets, wall cabinets and island, or from side to side.

  • There will be accent pieces in the kitchen that are made of natural materials, likely wood. This could be a range hood cover, backsplash, or shelving for example.

  • Hardware will be reduced and in many cases even hidden or integrated into the cabinetry itself.

No matter what, kitchens remain a huge focus area in any interior design.

Gray and Yellow

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If we had to make a bet on the most popular color combination this year, it would be gray and yellow!

The Pantone Color Institute has named this combination their color of the year. It is to indicate both resilience and hope.

Looking at some recent real estate listings in Toronto, this combination has already found its way into the repertoire of a number of stagers that are implementing this into the home they are hired to stage for sale.

By the way, we did not plan this, but our window frames are going to be gray and our front door will be yellow.

Design Is Personal

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Many of this year's design trends are here for a good reason. Our homes have an entirely different meaning in our daily lives than they used to. Many of the practical reasons behind these design trends will remain and we will see their design impacts continue to stay around. Other elements, such as color choices, will change more quickly.

When we first started talking about and researching for this blog post, the interior design world was very confusing --- and to some extent it still is. Everybody has an opinion and there are many so-called experts. We are not professionally certified or accomplished interior designers, but like everyone else, we have our own taste. And so do you and your family members, friends, and co-workers. This makes the interior design very personal.

At the end of the day, it's your home and you need to feel comfortable in it. So make choices that you like, and change what you don't.

If you are working with a professional designer, it should be an integral part of the relationship that they understand your personality, lifestyle, and needs to come up with a successful design concept that you will be happy with.

Enjoy the process!

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