Looking for a new home in 2021? You may see fewer radical changes in design trends but one thing is certain: you will look at a home with different eyes. We are all spending more time in our homes than ever before. Now it is more significant that our homes feature comfortable zones that provide meaningful space. With the current emphasis on working from home, virtual classes for our children, and Zoom meetings for everything from seminars to church services, dining rooms are now more often filled with computers than dinnerware, and bedrooms have become class rooms. We even look at walls and light sources in rooms differently since we need a decent setting for those virtual meetings.
So change is coming in home design in 2021. Builders are reacting to the new way homeowners are thinking about their floor space. “Dining rooms are becoming flex space,” stated Lewis Sadler of Sadler Construction. “We are adding French doors so they can be closed off if needed for virtual classes, study areas, or computer setups. Depending on the buyer’s preferences, the chandelier one normally sees in a dining room may be replaced with more casual lighting that better provides light for people working. Even rooms usually set up as offices are now flex spaces as home buyers may prefer to set them up for home schooling.”
Exteriors will get a new look
Stone, so popular on exteriors this past year, will become less popular, giving way to painted brick. Board and batten siding is combined with brick siding in gables or other accent areas but also is used as the full front elevation. “This has become a very popular look,” stated Sadler. “I used the white board and batten siding vertically on my modern farmhouse style home and combined it with the black framed windows which are very popular now, too.”
Mary Gibson, Designer for Jim Allen Group, also points out that stone is still popular, but in new, lighter colors like white, soft gray, and creams. “Shakes are becoming less popular and we are seeing the use of board and batten siding in its place,” she stated. “The black windows are popular with minimal grid patterns and few shutters.”
Some homeowners have even repeated the black décor by painting the interior doors black as well. They complement the more popular contemporary designs from the industrial farmhouse, where interiors are more monochromatic and crisp, to the up and coming grand millennial style, where interiors are a little more traditional, but with a modern twist.” Front doors will become simpler, with fewer sidelights and transoms. “Younger buyers like double doors but without the formal look,” said Gibson. “Glass panels still let in light and add to the décor of the entry.”
Floorings set the tone as never before
There are so many choices for flooring now that homebuyers will be able to get the look they want in any price range. While wood floors are the most popular, look-alike LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) flooring is being used in homes more and more and has really become popular. It comes in many levels of quality depending on price point. Less expensive, its hardwood grain patterns are available in wider planks than wood and have greater resilience to moisture and damage. “We find that homeowners with pets and young children often prefer LVP for their floors as it has the same look, is easy to clean and resists scratches and dents, so it’s less upkeep,” Gibson pointed out.
The wider plank engineered wood floors are also on the rise, even in higher-end homes. Then there is site-finished wood flooring, which is more customizable as far as stain colors that will always be a classic.
Sadler used wood in his modern farmhouse to get the rustic character he wanted. “The flooring has grain with the natural knots and light to dark shading,” Sadler stated. “I felt like it added to the character of the farmhouse.” He also effectively uses wood in tongue and groove ceilings and beams, both characteristically bound to be popular in 2021.
A new color palette sets the tone in the next year
Neutrals and earth tones will replace the gray of 2020, colors destined to ease the stress of the 2021 homeowner. Urbane Bronze is Sherwin Williams’ 2021 Color of the Year, Benjamin Moore has selected the sunbaked hues of Aegean Teal, and Behr’s 2021 Color Trends Palette includes tones like the pale conch pink shade called Seaside Villa. While white walls will dominate, these soothing colors will show up in wallpaper accents in eating areas and powder rooms. Accent walls in bedrooms or flex rooms painted in these colors will add to the Zen atmosphere of these spaces, but don’t be surprised to see navy walls or even black crocodile wallpaper.
Kitchens are still the heart of the home
Whites will still dominate kitchens in 2021, sometimes in shades like Alabaster or Blanche White. Even appliances are going to be white although black and stainless steel aren’t gone yet. Hardware in the kitchen will be more minimalistic, popular finishes being black, aged brass, softer gold tones, and chrome or a combination of these finishes. Even the lighting will reflect these combinations. “You will see lights that are mixed finishes like black and chrome or black and one of the gold tones and even mixed finishes throughout the home. Years ago you wouldn’t think about putting a black light in the kitchen and chrome lights in the bathrooms, but today, anything really goes. The newest thing in our kitchens is the scullery,” said Gibson. This small room about the size of a pantry contains a prep area, a microwave, a sink, occasionally a refrigerator, and space for food preparation. Shelving and cabinets also store food preparation equipment and supplies. “This has been really popular with homebuyers,” said Gibson.
Bathroom tile is really making a statement
Hello! 1920 has called! They want their tile back! It’s the new craze for 2021. Featured not only in bathrooms but in accent areas in kitchens, fireplace surrounds, or drop zones, the retro patterns come in geometric patterns or floral designs. They definitely add to the pizzazz of the room. “We find the tile very popular,” says Gibson. “We have installed it in a kitchen as a backsplash behind an oven, on a full bathroom wall behind a tub, and on bathroom floors. It really added to the décor of the rooms in every instance.”
Sadler agrees. “We installed the 1920s honeycomb tile – the small hexagonal tile – on the walls and the floor of a bathroom in a home, and it really looks good. It was even in the butterscotch color. Our client was really happy with the effect.”
Many future master baths will not include a tub, a trend begun in 2020. However, Gibson described wet zones, a new trend for some home builders. ”These are areas where the shower along with the tub are enclosed in glass together, keeping all of the wet floors contained and away from common bathroom walk ways. With a wet room, you can optimize the space in your master bath. Our homebuyers have really loved them.”
Exposed bulbs are still popular
Lighting fixtures with exposed bulbs are still in but the styles are different. Combined with the black, bronze or gold metal structures in open designs featuring bulbs in many styles and sizes, light fixtures will be interesting elements in a room’s décor as well as a contributory factor to its use. As wild as a sputnik chandelier to a contemporary horizontal bathroom light fixture, light fixtures will definitely express the personality of the homeowner in 2021. Smart home lighting will continue to be popular as technology grows in home design.
Even friends need to be six feet apart
In this craziest of years we have learned a whole new standard of entertaining. Getting together has taken on a completely different meaning. We won’t gather with friends in the living room for drinks or sit around the dining table with family members sharing stories from the day. We have to find ways of spreading out, and 2021 new home design trends are reflecting that.
Screened and covered porches, even elaborate ones with fireplaces and grills, become really important entertaining spaces when you add retractable accordion doors across the wall separating the area from the living room or family room. Combined with these luxury open air spaces, the homeowner is now able to spread out his guests comfortably. “This has become one of the most important aspects of outside living for homebuyers,” stated Sadler. “Connecting these two areas increases the well-being of guests for home entertainment. They can move around and sit farther apart so it makes for a more pleasant experience.”
“Sliding doors can create a whole new entertainment area for homeowners,” agrees Gibson. “With these doors open, the family room space is tripled, people can freely walk from the inside to the outside and have more space to gather and spread out. Homebuyers are making them more of a living space where they feel more cozy.”
We are seeing outdoor kitchen areas with built in grills, beverage refrigerators and/or coolers as well as the popular outdoor fireplace or firepit,” continued Gibson. These days, homeowners are thinking increasingly about the ability to spread out when they entertain.
What will the future hold?
Who knows where we will be by the end of 2021? Hopefully back in school, attending church services, and eating out more. But some things may never change. Working at home may be more common than it’s ever been, and the need to accommodate that in our homes will remain. The fact that we’ve been at home so much may mean that we will feel differently about our homes, how we live as a family, how we entertain, and how the layout and design contributes to our comfort level.
Home buying choices we make now will contribute to that future lifestyle.
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Two of the above images show Riverstone Estates.