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2021 Home Decor Trends: A Nostalgic Look Forward

by Jen Masseau — Rainsford Company January 12, 2021 5 min read

2021 Home Decor Trends: A Nostalgic Look Forward

Maybe it’s a collective nostalgia for the pre-pandemic times, or a yearning for a reason to get dressed up again. Either way, this year’s home style trends all share the same primary undercurrent: Layered rooms with a more formal feel — not fancy, exactly, but definitely not completely casual. It’s decor that feels “decorated” again, and we are so ready for it. These are key overarching elements to decorating in 2021:

Style

If you were into the grand millennial look of trend reports past, you’ll be glad to know it’s going strong, and now comes with options! The look has split off into several related sub-trends, and there’s good reason for it. As people settle into being more ‘in’ their homes, both physically and mentally, our living spaces have naturally become more lived-in, and we’re decorating them in ways that feel much more established.

The looks taking over our Pinterest boards feature decor that feels more “permanent.” A prime example: Wall treatments like wallpaper, panelling, deep paint colours, and decorative trims and mouldings are everywhere in every style, from traditional to contemporary.

Use of Space

For many homeowners, vacation funds and travel budgets are being redirected into renovations. The projects showing up on our Instagram feeds are expanding beyond remodelling outdated bathrooms and kitchens, into add-ons like built-in bookcases and banquettes, tricked out patios and decks, and elaborate home gyms and kids’ playrooms.

The most commonly added element: a home workspace — and depending on the size of your family, sometimes several. Many of us scrambled last summer to pull together the necessary elements to work and learn from home: proper desks, ergonomically-supportive chairs, laptops stands and computer monitors.

Now, we’re now fleshing out those spaces with decorative touches to ensure that working from home doesn’t start to feel like living at work (and to make the wall behind the workspace Zoom camera-ready). No one wants a home office that looks like an office. But a home office with a gallery wall of inspiring art, aesthetically-pleasing-yet-functional task lighting and file storage, enveloped in homey colours and fabrics? It’s the 2021 real estate essential.

Colour & Palette

2021’s trending colours and patterns are pulled from nature, but with the intensity turned way up. These aren’t serene and quiet earth tones, chosen to calm and soothe us when returning home from a long workday and the hustle of city life. Instead, rich teals, vibrant leafy greens, and pure sky blues fill spaces with vibrant life & energy.

Forget hygge — the new nordic word to know is friluftsliv, a Norwegian term for the concept of getting outdoors. What to do when you can’t unwind in the open air? Bring the outdoor feeling inside, through a combination of verdant colour, floral prints, and organic textures.

Another twist to the natural palette: High shine, lacquered paint finishes and wallcoverings with a matte metallic sheen or lush grasscloth texture take the look out of rustic reality and into pretty and polished territory.

Ready to dive in? Here are 2021's top five trends in decor and design.

NOW TRENDING

1

MCM Gets Pretty

We know what you're thinking — mid-century modern, again? Been there, done that. But this isn't another Mad Men rehash. The look's new pop-culture touchstones: The Queen's Gambit and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, in all their floral wallpapered, ruffled upholstery, matchy-matchy pastel glory. The future of MCM is decidedly feminine, pulling inspo from both '50s and '60s styles and colour palettes (hello, minty turquoise and millennial pink).

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Hydrangea print floral linen (coming soon in pillow form!)

2

Burl Wood Furniture

Simple shapes get a lot more interesting when made with show-stopping materials. Case in point: the resurgence of burl wood. Rather than the heavy, ornate chests or rustic live-edged tables of the past, it's now shining bright as clean-lined, light-feeling furniture. The wood's natural knots and whorls take on new beauty in these fresh contemporary pieces.

3

The New Neo-Classical

Suddenly, every Instagram influencer we follow seems to have a Roman bust on their mantle. Grooved columns, rounded arches, and footed urns are the hallmarks of this throwback trend, though we hesitate to even call it that — after all, the historical style is almost as old as human civilization. Look for these timeless references in architectural features such as windows and doors, as well as in art prints, vessels, and sculptural accents.

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4

White Square Zellige Tile

Move over, subway tile! The coolest all-white kitchens and bathrooms are now clad in a grid of white squares. While that doesn't sound like a particularly exciting update, it gets a major upgrade thanks to an eye-catching finish. When stacked side-by-side, the uneven surface of glossy, handmade zellige tiles deliver surprising depth. It's officially hip to be square. (Sorry, we had to say it!)

5

Setting the Table

More home cooking = more home dining. But with dinner parties off the table, there's no time like the present to host yourself. To turn a weeknight dinner into a special occasion, bust out the good china, decorative flatware, and patterned table linens, and set! that! table! The fun part of this trend is that it isn't about any one style. Mix, layer, and clash patterns if you please — the point is to make sitting down for a meal at home more fun, no matter how many others you're with.

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