Design Trends for the 2020's

Design trends making a “break-xit” for the 2020s

Dated. Retro. Passé. These are terms so often quoted on design shows and magazine editorials that are all a polite way of describing “old-fashioned”. We’ve seen design trends come, go, and come back again over the years. But personal taste aside, many sources agree on the ones we’ll say goodbye to for the coming decade.

Open concept floor plans

Did that make you gasp? We should have seen this one coming. For years the rally-cry of home seekers, open-concept is no longer the holy grail of floor plans. With what 2020 has taught us about multi-functional living spaces, it’s now clear that a little separation goes a long way. Spaces for home gyms, offices, classrooms, and laser projector-outfitted home theaters need the zonal definition offered by room dividers, bookcases and area rugs.

Open shelving and storage

Okay, it seemed like a cool idea at the time. Those neatly-stacked plates and mugs proudly displayed our design and color sensibilities to all and sundry, and looked great in a magazine shot. Unfortunately, reality came crashing in to reveal, none too politely, that we just have “too much stuff”, and keeping those open shelf spaces aesthetically pleasing would be a no-go in the long run. Closed cabinets and furniture pieces with built-in storage are coming to the rescue in 2021 and beyond.

Big-box furniture

A big thought shift is occurring with regard to sustainability and the consumption of goods and resources. “Buy better, wear longer, waste less,” is a current ad line being used today for a well-known clothing company, and the same can be said for furniture. A desire for better quality, longevity and eco-sensitivity is kicking flat-pack, fiberboard, matching sets of “disposable” furniture to the curb, in favor of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces that speak of artisanship and enduring value.

Rocks of ages – granite and marble

There can always be too much of a good thing. Granite, granite everywhere is one such example. Expense and sheer weight aside, granite and marble’s unique patterning and color can dominate a space when used exclusively on countertops, islands, and tile. Quartzite, soapstone and concrete provide similar durability, and be on the lookout for manufactured (aka sintered) stone that’s even self-cleaning, to make more frequent appearances going forward.

Modern farmhouse

Shiplap walls and barn doors might still work at the cottage, but are definitely heading for the exit inside urban homes. The drab colors and ungainly hardware of barn doors are uncomplimentary to modern spaces, and take up a lot of room. Look for more instances of pocket and French doors in the months to come. Wood paneling went out with the 70s, and no matter how you cut and paint them, shiplap and its relatives are still—wood paneling. Texture can be better added with plaster, tile, and wallpaper.

Nothing’s black and white. Nor gray, either.

The all-white kitchens and minimalist, neutral-backdrop living spaces we previously strove for quickly lost their appeal in the face of increased home-time, and fostered a distinct craving for color, personality and warmth. The austere and dramatic black-and-white schemes that epitomized coldness are going away, along with the ubiquitous “shades of gray” (sorry, couldn’t resist) in kitchen cabinets and walls. What really is gray, except indecision between black and white? Watch for indigo and green to be spicing up the kitchen spice cabinet.

Mid-century mania

While you can’t keep a good man down, there are limits to the “mad men” 1960s vibe in home décor. Spindle legs, molded plywood, and organic, minimalist lines punctuated with geometrics had their time, twice. Truly innovative design never goes out of style, and we may yet see another return of Eames and Erickson, but for now, warmer designs with more body and “soul” are once again ushering the mid-centurions backstage.

This blog post was generously contributed by Karl Kennedy of

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