It wouldn't be January without somebody writing an article about interior design trends, making us doubt everything we've ever bought to date, and questioning if we really had any taste to begin with. Trust me, as an interior designer myself, by the time February rolls around even I start to question myself.
Do I really like that or was that just an algorithm and clever marketing at play?
As a blogger however, I've always puzzled if it is even worth decanting my bucket of opinions into the sea of contrasting and conflicting articles on the topic. I’ll be honest with you, an article about trends is a bloody easy article to write, so I know why people churn them out. I find however, that most of the time, these trend reports are really just precursors of self-fulfilling prophesies, written by interior designers and product makers about the designs and products that they already have in the pipeline.
It’s easy to make a wave or a scalloped edge the next big trend when you have 115k followers and it's the only thing you do well.
So why am I bothering to chime in now?
Well firstly, one of the pillars of The Basic Principle is "how to deal with trends" and to date I haven't really touched on that much. So there's that.
More importantly however, the year 2021 follows what can only be described as the write-off that was 2020.
Even the most fun of conga lines breaks at some point, and I feel like 2020 was that breaking point for trends. In a way, and a pretty morbid and extreme way at that, the pandemic created a universal reset of the cycle of blindly following trend after tend after trend.
I think we've sobered up slightly from this tipsy haze that was fast interiors, and we're now scanning the room for some dignity and answers as to how we ended up here.
So whilst we awkwardly stand around, deciding if we fancy starting a new conga line or would rather just pause for a little and catch our breath, I figured 2021 is the perfect time to write a blog about trends, because this year we get to redefine them and focus on the things that really matter.
My top ten trends for 2021 aren't necessarily a list of things you need to rush out and buy, but are mostly ideas and principles to create a home that puts in the effort, and is ultimately rewarding for you to live in.
1. Walls with depth
In 2020 we had two pandemics. The one we are all well aware of, the other was the never-ending stream of DIY wall paneling tutorials on Instagram Reels.
Regardless of the varying levels of success of these DIY endeavours, in this regard 2021 has picked up where 2020 left off in a big way.
The visual real estate that our walls themselves occupy is massive, and we really need them to do more other than just be there to hold up the roof.
It is not so much a case of out with the flat and in with the rough, but there is no denying that a wall with some sort of textural quality to it, be that wallpaper, paneling, or even a tile, creates a room with heaps of depth and character. We all want homes and rooms with character. We need it really.
Granted nailing strips of wood onto your walls isn’t for everyone, so for 2021, think sisal wallpapers, small format crackle glazed tiles, and contemporary T&G paneling. Flat, but textured.
2. The glass ceiling
Building on this idea that every inch of a room’s surface is vital visual real estate, and nothing should be left without some level of consideration paid to it, are feature ceilings.
The word “feature” scares me a little, but by this I mean not left white. We spend ages debating what floor finishes to pick, but will spend less than a millisecond deciding that white is the best colour for the ceiling.
The average room has a greater expanse of unbroken ceiling area than it does floor space, and we are slowly starting to realise that there is amazing opportunity here to make a real impact in our homes.
A painted, or even paneled and wallpapered ceiling, will help further add depth to a room, and if it means we can now finally leave feature walls well and truly in the past, I am all for that.
3. Lamps as accessories
Choir, preacher – preacher, choir. I have said this before and I will say it again, mood lighting is key to a well-considered home.
In 2021 we are kicking that up a notch. In the quest to make every item in our homes “work for us” lamps need to be seen as more than just things we turn to when it gets dark, but rather accessories that we can literally turn on and off.
Why have a vase or a random ornament on a shelf that you never use, when could have a cute sculptural lamp which actually contributes to the all over atmosphere of a room. Both aesthetically and practically.
Fortunately rechargeable and battery powered lamps have taken care of needing to have these hardwired in, but if you are in the process of planning your electrics, accommodate for accessorised lighting where you can.
Even just one or two extras in a room can change the whole vibe regardless of the overall scheme.
4. Bob’s your uncle
If you have not bared witness to the literal tsunami that is the trend of bobbin furniture, you have been taking government guidelines to self-isolate under that rock a little too seriously.
What our fixation for bobbin furniture has opened the door to, is appreciation of the craftsmanship in furniture making. Bobbin furniture feels handmade, because it is.
It is this value and importance of the human hand, the craftmanship in furniture, that we are going to see more and more as the year unfolds. Be that in the form of more bobbin furniture or in the celebration and appreciation of visible joins and junctions that are true of a handmade piece.
5. Brown Beauty
Brown antique furniture is definitely making a comeback. I don’t know why it ever left to be honest (let’s blame the advent of a lime wash, and Annie Sloane paint for that one) but it is back, and for a while I feel.
I can write an entire blog on the topic, but in short, opting to use your grandmother’s old chest of drawers rather than buy new, is environmentally friendly, and it shows a sensitivity to the times we live in. People are realising that, and the use of real brown antiques (not the West Elm rip offs) are going to be finding their way into our homes, with pride, more and more.
6. B*tch pleat
I get that not everybody can stomach pattern, but when it comes to fabrics, we really should all get on board with texture as the best alternative.
In the effort to amp up the volume of texture, and provide even the most subtle pops of three dimensional interest throughout a room, the pleat is back.
It’s not exactly a new technique by any means, but a pleated lampshade is far superior to a flat cylindrical drum, and likewise a pleated trim on a cushion beats your standard oxford boarder.
It’s the little flourishes like that which make even the most ordinary of items a little more special.
Obviously the likes of actual textured fabrics like boucle and velvets will still feature heavily, but an applied texture in the next step up.
7. A room you also happen to bathe in
Not to harp on the fact that we’ve all been spending more time indoors lately, but I think the lockdowns have really highlighted the importance of creating mini sanctuaries where we can. Much of what I have mentioned above falls into this rationale, however there is no greater sanctuary than a bathroom.
I don’t have kids, but I do own a puppy, and I look forward to shutting the door on that little f*cker once a day for shower.
In recent years we have seen a distinct move towards kitchens feeling more and more like curated and pieced together spaces, and less and less like box bought, bland rooms, and now finally bathrooms are following suit.
Vanity units should read more like furniture, mirrors more like art. Again lighting isn’t just there for when you need to pluck a grey, but an opportunity to soften the mood.
We have said goodbye to shopping for furniture in a suite, it’s time to do the same for bathrooms.
8. Nature knows best
2020 saw a surge in the popularity of heavy grained marble, and it’s sparked this fascination with being able to see the natural and imperfect movement and graining within materials in general. 2021 is going to see this more and more in design. Not just in marbles, but with timbers and even how fibers and grasses are intertwined to make fabrics and threads.
It goes back to that notion of wanting to see the authenticity in materials. An imperfection means something is unique, and imperfections are found in natural products.
9. Cut some rug
The global appeal of the Berber rug showed even the most staunch of pattern-phobes how easy it is to introduce a pattern into literally any scheme via the rugs we choose. 2021 will see us upping the ante. Obviously.
It is really all about letting loose with rugs. Colour will inevitably win over pattern (as it does mostly) so be bold and take risks. It’s generic advice that, but once you’ve layered the rest of the pieces of furniture in a room onto a rug, the rug itself really jut becomes this accent colour rather than a dominating force.
If you have however only just arrived at the Berber party, aim for something that isn’t from the high street. Sites like Etsy are FULL of suppliers that sell authentic ones for the same price. Again, we're after the authentic experience.
10. Me, my shelf and I
Nothing adds dimension and life to a room more than well styled shelves, we know this. But 2021 is going to see the spotlight shift slightly, and the shelves themselves are going to become a bigger contender.
Like Kate Moss in the 90’s, it’s easy to style something that is already cool to begin with.
To date shelving has been seen as something practical, something you get because you have stuff to display. This year we’re switching that. Shelves first, style them later.