One thing that 2020 taught us is to be prepared for the unexpected and face its challenges with composure and calm. We look back at the DIY adjustments we had to make in our homes as they were transformed into schools, offices, gyms, and getaway areas – and how we got creative in redesigning and furnishing these spaces. These adjustments will certainly influence changes and carry over into the new year.
With this year winding down and images of new homes, renovations, and additions at top of mind, here are a few design trends that experts predict will be hot in American homes in 2021. From both home exterior and interior design trends to home decor, let’s look at the dominant styles and features that 2021 will bring into the picture.
1. Islands in the Stream
It’s not surprising that every year, the kitchen has a presence in home design trends. Whether its bold backsplashes, floating shelving that replaces cabinetry, countertops, or walk-in pantries, kitchen elements seem to always get the attention of designers.
In 2021, the focus in the kitchen and a definite “must-have” is double-island design. Just think of all the additional counter space at your disposal with a pair of kitchen islands. You can designate one for meal preparation and serving and the other one solely for dining and gathering/socializing. In addition to all the functional space, double islands also improve traffic flow as the chefs, family members, and guests walk to, from, and around the space.
Another thing to keep in mind – you don’t need a large kitchen to accommodate double islands. It’s just important to have properly sized and designed islands to fit into your kitchen space.
This fabulous and spacious kitchen in a sprawling one-story Ranch style home comes with two huge islands – perfect for meal prep and dining. The home features 3,623 square feet of living space, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a half bath, walk-in pantry adjacent to the mudroom, a dining area with coffered ceiling, and a family room.
2. High on High Ceilings
While nine-foot high ceilings are now the industry standard for new construction, some homeowners who long for the grandeur of really high ceilings are including 10- to 12-foot high structures on their “must-have” features. Reminiscent of the ceilings in homes built between 1890 and 1940, modern high ceilings are appealing and enhance the spaciousness and elegance of a home.
From vaulted to beamed, barrel, tray, and coffered, there are many high-ceiling variations that you’ll see in homes. These are a few of the more popular ones.
- Conventional – The norm in most homes, this ceiling is usually nine feet high and is a flat, seamless surface.
- Vaulted – Usually associated with churches and basilicas, a vaulted ceiling is any ceiling constructed with a self-supporting arch, with many variations to achieve different looks. Most commonly found in Great Rooms, open kitchen-dining rooms, and sometimes bedrooms and bathrooms, vaulted ceilings have been transformed over centuries and seen in traditional and contemporary homes. Among vaulted ceiling styles are barrel vault, groin vault and dome vault.
- Barrel-Vaulted – This simple and popular style resembles a barrel cut in half and dates back to Babylon and Sumerian architects who used clay mortar and fired brick. It is also known as a tunnel vault or wagon vault. You can incorporate barrel vaults in foyers, hallways, kitchens, bedrooms, master baths, and Great Rooms.
- Tray Ceiling – Described as a raised portion of a ceiling that creates a second, higher ceiling, this type of vaulted ceiling is also known as an inverted or recessed ceiling. It features a center section that is several inches (or a foot or more) higher than the rest of the ceiling. It presents a lot of design options to make the ceiling into a focal point – like the use of colors painted on the trim, installing hidden tube lighting along the perimeter of the tray, or hanging a chandelier, pendant light, or ceiling fan.
Top: This luxurious master suite in an amazing one-story Rustic style home with 3,469 square feet of living space features a tray ceiling with recessed lights and painted trim The lovely home has an open-floor-plan Great room with amazing kitchen and large family room and dining area, two bedroom suites, a half bath, grand foyer, and two 2-car garages, one on each side of the house. Bottom: This bright bedroom also has a tray ceiling but with more elaborate trimwork than the room shown at top.
3. Keep ‘Em Separated!
“Free-standing tubs are on trend now,” according to Debra Purvis of Design House Inc. And house designer Herb Shearer says that “more and more people are taking the tub (especially jacuzzi tubs) out and enlarging the showers as well as going with a Roman walk-in type shower.”
- Rethink the Bathroom – Over the last 10 years, the popularity of the half bath and Jack and Jill bathroom has been on the rise. As Shearer explains, a bathroom was generally built for the use of bedroom occupants – and placed around a hallway so that guests could also get access to it easily. But modern times and designs have changed this format and concept.
Today, the powder room or half bath is more centrally located in the home – away from bedrooms – and is used mostly by guests.
The hall bathroom has been modified to a Jack and Jill to serve only the bedrooms and their occupants. Simply put, this is a full bathroom – with two sinks, a toilet, bath/shower – shared between two bedrooms, with doors entering from each room. (Remember the Brady Bunch?) For the privacy of occupants, there should be locks on the bathroom and bedroom doors.
This attractively painted and furnished powder room in a four-bedroom Country-Farmhouse style home is conveniently located near the locker area and staircase leading to a bonus room above the garage. The 2,686-square-foot-home has 10- and 11-foot-high ceilings, covered front and rear porches, a spacious kitchen, and two full baths.
4. Multi-Functional Spaces
“Stay-at-home” has definitely changed the look of our homes. They are now – not only our dwelling places – but also schools, offices, gyms, recreation areas, and “staycation” destinations.
One of the newest home trends – and challenges – in 2021 is creating versatile and convenient multi-functional spaces in the home that accommodate all these needs – without adding costs or altering floor plans. With more people working from home (WFH), quiet spaces that allow privacy will be included in the interior design of homes to serve as home offices, Skype, and Zoom rooms.
For example, if the home has both an eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room (that’s used only on big holidays), store the dining table elsewhere and repurpose that room into office or schoolwork space. If the master suite has a small space used as a sitting room, you can convert that into a home office. Be creative with the available space in your home.
This cozy bonus sitting room in a stunning 1.5-story Country Craftsman style home can also serve as both a home office/workstation and videoconference room. The 2,499 square-foot, home includes three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a covered porch, patio, grilling terrace, and optional mother-in-law apartment.
5. Staying Active – And Healthy
While exercise rooms at home have been around for years, they take on a new importance in 2021 because of the pandemic. Most health clubs and gyms across the country are closing or at reduced capacity, and with stay-at-home directives, people are just not motivated to get out of the confines of their space to exercise.
So dedicated spaces for home gyms and play areas will be particularly important in 2021. Families need getaway time and space to “play” and unwind. Any outdoor space or indoor corner with a wall can serve as exercise space.
Top: A fabulous playroom in an amazing two-story, 6,563-square-foot European style home has all the makings of a multi-functional space. With a little muscle and imagination, the ping pong and foosball tables can be moved around to fashion an exercise section; and movable room dividers can create a separate zone. Bottom: if there’s not space dedicated to a gym, you can take over a spare bedroom as this homeowner did.
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