Top 9 Design Trends for 2021

Filed in Awards, Design by on March 2, 2021 8 Comments
Design Trends - Outdoor Spaces and Sanctuaries

Sophisticated outdoor/indoor connections and sanctuary spaces are becoming increasingly popular. Photo credit: Dino Tonn

More than 160 single-family, multifamily, interior design, remodeling and community projects were honored at last week’s 2020 Best in American Living™ Awards (BALA) virtual ceremony. BALA winners showcase top design trends that home buyers can expect to see in homes and communities over the next several years, among them:

Updates to overall styles. Modern is dominating and now often paired with traditional elements to add authenticity to design. Contemporary and transitional designs still “wow” buyers; both styles are more refined than in years past. Traditional design becomes less fussy and rigid.

Mindfulness in architecture and design. Homes and communities are showcasing new layers and depth to design. Design is purposeful and carefully curated. Authenticity is a primary goal in all aspects of design and achieved through embracing existing landscapes, editing carefully and paying attention to materiality, proportions and details.

Design Trends - Streetscapes

Designs are prioritizing pedestrian experiences over cars to create attractive streetscapes. Photo Credit: Chet Frohlic

Emphasis on streetscapes. Planners, architects and designers showcase a strong understanding on how to design public spaces. Homes feature front-yard gathering spaces to welcome neighbors safely; urban streetscapes prioritize the pedestrian experience over cars.

More sophisticated indoor/outdoor connections. Architects and designers are looking for every opportunity to add visual and physical connections to nature. Windows continue to be bigger and more in number; when total windows are limited due to budget, windows are thoughtfully placed to ensure each captures a view, adds natural light and improves the space.

Programmed and multifunctional outdoor living. Homes feature multiple outdoor spaces, often creatively layered to respond to changes in weather, gathering size and activity. Multifamily projects are right-sizing balconies for residents to offer personal paradises that are livable and furnishable.

Sanctuary spaces. Indoors, buyers crave spaces to decompress and build human connections. “Unplug zones” (no or hidden screens) are becoming popular after much time at home. Owner suites feature spa-like details and finishes. Outdoor living offers cozy and oasis-like spaces, such as sunken fire pits, old-growth trees and warm materiality.

Home offices and flex spaces. New and remodeled homes offer at least one home office, often with an option or flex space for two. With more kids doing online schooling, separate work spaces are added adjacent to the kitchen that can be used for virtual school, homework, crafting, home command centers, etc. Architects take advantage of forgotten corners and circulation spaces by creating tucked-away flex areas, such as small desk nooks off a hallway.

Design Trends - Mixed Materials

Varying materials create an eye-catching design for this unique kitchen. Photo credit: Diana Sell Photography

Second (messy) pantries and kitchens. If square footage allows, homes include two kitchens: the primary kitchen for entertaining, and a second separate but adjacent kitchen for prep. Back alcoves or spacious pantries offer more work space while solving the problem and mess of fully open kitchens in open plans.

Updates to materiality. Varied colors, materials and textures don today’s façades and interiors. Playful materiality and maximalism in multifamily spaces, especially shared spaces, is on the rise. Neutrals, primarily white and gray, are paired with pops of color. The character of natural wood, and pairing of contrasting woods side-by-side, is emphasized; warm and natural tones are embraced.

The awards are sponsored by Monogram Luxury Appliances, and the media partner is Professional Builder. See more from the winning projects at

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Comments (8)

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  1. Amy Collett says:

    Would like to receive blog posts

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  2. You caught my attention when you talked about multifunctional and programmed outdoor living choices you can use in your house. Having a house that has options to help us experience the outdoors can help us fight the isolation of staying inside all day. I’ll try and see if I can find an interior design service that can help us design something like this for the new house we just bought.

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