Five Ways The Pandemic Has Influenced Interior Design Trends In 2020

The pandemic has changed life as we know it in every way, but especially how we live in our homes. In a short period, the home has become a place to work, exercise, relax, and even attend school. This has been the single biggest influence on design trends this year.

While many people have moved or are beginning to renovate, most of us are simply doing the best with what we have. After all, due to shutdowns, shortages, and demand for design-related services, there really isn’t an alternative. From the reality of COIVD life, to creating as pleasant an environment as possible, here are five ways the pandemic has influenced interior design trends in 2020.

Open Floor Plans Are On The Way Out

Had most homeowners, real estate agents, and interior designers been asked in January if they thought the open concept was here to stay, the answer would likely have been a resounding yes. But if you asked the same group in September, the answer might have been a little different. While open floor plans aren’t falling entirely out of fashion, they’re no longer as practical and desirable as they once were. “[My clients] still want big kitchens that open on to a family room—but home offices, outdoor spaces, and Zoom rooms (or at least a dedicated space for Zoom meetings) are big on wish lists,” interior designer Caitlin Scanlon of Caitlin Scanlon Design tells me.

Gavin Brodin of Brodin Design Build has received similar feedback. His clients have been looking for ways to create luxury upgrades to transform their homes into sanctuaries with amenities like meditation and massage rooms as well as secret gardens. But they want to limit the amount of money they spend on these projects. “During this time, many clients need to stay on a budget, so it’s a challenge to make a space beautiful and stay within a practical budget,” he tells me.

But the pandemic has truly had the biggest impact on those living in smaller spaces such as apartments. “All of the activities that we’re doing at home have kind of changed the game a little bit,” says Home Director of Apartment Therapy, Danielle Blundell. “[We’re] looking to actually have defined spaces again, and some semblance of privacy and compartmentalization for things like working from home, exercising and people being home at the same time and taking calls.”

Blundell has also noticed that when it comes to sectioning off spaces— people are becoming a lot more creative, using everything from divider screens to curtains and partitions to carve out dedicated zones. 

Home Offices Are Now Just Offices

While some people have gone back to their regular offices at least part of time, most of us are still working from home, including CEO and founder of Manna Kadar Cosmetics, Manna Kadar. She has no plans to return and wants her employees to remain home as well. “We will eventually get back into the office in the safest way possible, but we have adapted to this new normal and won’t rush into it,” she tells me.

Kadar has also used this time to make a few upgrades to her home office “It’s been important to make my at-home working environment just as beautiful as my office: an aesthetically pleasing clean, private area to focus!”

In addition to rearranging her furniture, Kadar added additional warm neutral elements and plants to the space. She also likes to work with her pets by her side.

Virtual Interior Design Is Booming

Lisa Landers, stylist, and owner of Swirl, a popular southern California clothing boutique chain closed on her new home just as the shutdown was beginning. She needed new furniture and realized that using a virtual interior design service wasn’t just a practical choice, it was essentially her only choice because all the stores were closed.

“Modsy seemed like the next best option,” she tells me. “After submitting multiple photos of our space, links to furniture we already had that we wanted to incorporate, and filling out a thorough design questionnaire, our beautiful plans were submitted to our inbox.”

Landers collaborated with her designer over the phone, as well as online. “We could swap out pieces in the actual plans and see exactly how they would look in our space.”

She ended up incredibly happy with the results. “We loved this experience so much that we would do it again.”

But virtual interior design isn’t limited to using services like Modsy, or it’s major competitor Havenly. Scalon, along with many other independent interior designers is getting plenty of requests for Zoom consultations and e-design services.

Happiness Is A Decorating Choice

It’s not a surprise that many people are trying to create uplifting moods environments in their homes right now. This is especially true when it comes to decor and accessories. “Maybe it’s a wallpaper with a vibrant pattern or a ceramic face that’s sort of a silly, squiggle shape. It’s nostalgia that could be a retro-inspired refrigerator or even a modern quilt. It can be that things can touch every room in the home, and furnishings that just bring you comfort and joy,” says Blundell.

While we’re not exactly saying bye to black, rich pops of color are very much on-trend right now. For example, Scanlon’s clients have requested bolder hues. “After hunkering down looking at the same (mostly white walls) I’m using a lot saturated paint colors—moody for some rooms, bright and uplifting for others. Clients are craving variety in their experience of home!

Retailers including Alix Greenberg, who is the founder of ArtSugar have also noticed an increase in demand for bright, kitschy items. “My customers want things that are happy and uplifting! And I understand this too! Because while we are all stationed at home, there is nothing like a pop of color on your wall to make your day a little brighter.”

During the pandemic, ArtSugar’s top selling products have been their bright and colorful acrylic trays, as well as acrylic mountable smilie faces and gem stone wall art. In addition to that, the Home Sweet Home Cutting Board has also been incredibly popular.

Home Is More Important Than Ever 

Being forced to stay at home has made many of us realize just how important interior design really is. “I personally was able to realize how much I could do from home within my own business,” says Landers. “With Amazon, virtual meetings, workouts, and food delivery it really made being at home all the time more palatable and we are willing to invest more into making it our sanctuary because home is not only where the heart is…it’s where everything is now.”

The home decor trends that will be popular in 2021, according to interior designers

Modsy's Trend Report was released on Wednesday.
  • On Wednesday, Modsy released its Trend Report for 2021, which predicts what home decor trends will be popular in the coming year.
  • Experts think that people will embrace comfortable and traditional furniture to make their homes more welcoming, as well as natural-looking materials and lighter wood.
  • Sustainable and affordable designs are also becoming more popular.
  • Designers are expecting to see more color in homes in 2021 as people tire of a neutral color scheme.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Like anything else, home decor evolves. And although the bigger shifts are more noticeable over longer periods of time, there are typically new trends that enter the design space each year.

To help people keep abreast of these trends, Modsy releases an annual Trend Report full of predictions of what will be popular in people’s homes in the coming year.

Insider spoke to Modsy’s vice president of style, Alessandra Wood, about the trends people will embrace in 2021 and why they’re making people feel at home.

Comfort and tradition became a big focus for people in 2020, and that’s going to continue in 2021.

Traditional, comforting decor is returning. 

“We think that the old-school, Pottery Barn vibe, which was oh-so-popular in the 1990s, will be making a strong comeback,” Alessandra Wood, the vice president of style at Modsy, told Insider.

“People are spending a lot more time at home and looking to add layers of functional comfort to their space,” Wood added.

For instance, if you had a formal living room for years, you might be trying to think of ways to make it a more inviting and functional space.

“Overstuffed furniture, softer curves, and traditional styles that you can count on always looking the same provide comfort and support for many during these unprecedented times,” Wood said.

You can embrace comfort and tradition by bringing simple, rounded furniture into your home.

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Buy with comfort in mind. 

“Look for sofas, sectionals, and armchairs that have a comfortable look and feel — something that you could really curl up on and binge-watch TV or read a good book,” Wood advised people who want their homes to be more comfortable.

“Choose furniture pieces that lean less minimal or mid-century, and instead are more traditional, with simple decorative carvings and knotty wood surfaces,” she added, like the simple chairs in this dining room.

People are embracing bold wall colors.

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Colorful walls are in. 

Neutral wall tones have been all the rage the last few years, with color coming from paintings or maybe an accent wall.

But Modsy predicts bold colors are going to fill entire walls in the coming year.

“We think this trend is really inspired by people’s disconnect with the outside world and a yearning to create a home that has a bit more flair and personality,” Wood told Insider. “Looking back at a few golden eras of home entertaining, such as the Victorian era or the mid 20th century, people decorated their homes with bold and intense color palettes.”

“Perhaps as we lead lives that are more centered at home, we too are turning to more bold statements via color,” she added.

Wood also pointed out that restaurants or hotels often have colorful walls, so people might be trying to re-create that effect at home.

If you want to add color to a space in your home, make sure you’re thoughtful about which room and what color you choose.

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Don’t put color in the wrong room. 

Although it can be fun to go bold with your walls, you’ll want to consider how the color you choose could impact how you feel in a space before you paint.

“Intense colors in bedrooms or offices could influence your mood when trying to work or sleep,” Wood pointed out.

“Pick a space where you will not feel overly impacted by an intense color palette, such as a living or dining room,” she said.

People are going to embrace lighter woods in 2021.

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Lighter woods are replacing deeper colors. 

“Whether it’s Scandinavian blonde or a more rustic light oak, we’re seeing lighter-toned wood replace medium and darker shades,” Wood told Insider. “This color wood is uplifting and easy to design around creating a slightly more modern look, even in cozy and comfortable spaces.”

Modsy thinks the rise of light tones is a result of people’s newfound love of minimalism, which is found in Scandinavian and Japanese decor.

“Marie Kondo taught us to edit and keep only what we love, and our culture’s move towards great sustainability supports having less but better-quality pieces,” Wood said. “Living in a space with a minimalist vibe creates a sense of zen as there’s literally more room.”

A light wood reinforces that feeling of more space, as the hues create the illusion of a bigger room.

You can buy lighter-toned wood items no matter what decor style you like.

It doesn’t matter what decor you like if you want wood in your home. 

Whether you have modern sensibilities or want your home to look like a rustic farmhouse, light wood can work for you.

“No matter if you’re leaning towards a Scandinavian or rustic style, when it’s time to choose pieces of furniture, lean for lighter-toned woods as opposed to dark wood, metal, or lacquer pieces,” Wood told Insider.

People are gravitating towards the “grandmillennial style” as a welcoming, unique vibe for their homes.

Grandmillennial is becoming popular. 

The grandmillennial style combines modern design with the decor you might expect to see in your grandparents’ home — and it’s about to take over the interior design space.

“From elements of cottagecore to crochet, we’ve seen this rise into fashion in 2020 and think it will be stronger than ever before,” Wood said of the style’s role in 2021.

“This trend is all about younger generations who love design and decor that we might culturally view as ‘old lady’ or ‘grandma-ish,'” Wood said. “It hinges on classical design forms and patterns, historic architecture, and, of course, ‘brown furniture.'”

“Just as people are looking for traditional styles to soothe the uncertainty of the world, the grandmillennial style offers similar comforts,” Wood said of why it’s winning people over. “This style, however, pulls from classic design styles, leaning into antiques, busy patterns, and preppy elements such as ruffles.”

Grandmillennial is also an appealing design style because it’s affordable and eco-friendly in practice.

Shop at thrift stores or flea markets. 

The style hinges on antiques, which makes it sustainable and more affordable than buying new furniture.

“This style feels attainable and under the radar, as Victorian and neoclassical styles have not been part of trending design movements, so these antiques are often a deal — especially considering their build quality and the inherent sustainability factor of buying secondhand,” Wood told Insider.

“For young professionals, buying these old pieces is a great way to make their budget go further while purchasing something that will last a lifetime,” she added.

Wood recommends making trips to flea markets and antique stores to find one-of-a-kind items that can transform your home.

Much like in the world of fashion, the ’80s are making a comeback in 2021 home decor.

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The decor of the ’80s is trendy again. 

Although comfort and tradition will be big in 2021, the modern look that became big in the ’80s will be popular too.

“Interior design suggested one’s success through new, modern shapes and materials,” Wood said of the home decor of the 1980s.

Angular shapes, glass and stone materials, and Art Deco are hallmarks of the style. Those formerly modern shapes have become retro, which is why people like them now.

“Just as antiques are a bargain, for the past few years, furniture and decor from the 1980s have been easy and inexpensive to obtain on secondhand marketplaces,” Wood told Insider. “As the style comes more into the forefront, authentic pieces will command higher prices, and we’ll start to see mainstream retailers offering their own modern takes on the style.”

You can give your home an ’80s look using a contrasting color scheme or modern furniture.

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Set the tone with your furniture. 

The decor of the ’80s had a very specific kind of popular furniture, which can immediately set the tone for your home.

“Look for some hallmark ’80s pieces such as a glass dining table with chrome or marble base,” Wood advised. “Incorporate lacquer, glass, and marble into your decor via accent pieces.”

The colors you choose for a room can also give it a retro feel.

“Opt for high contrast color schemes such as black and gold, or muted palettes that include mauves and dusty rose,” Wood said of the colors that best suit an ’80s-themed room.

People will also be buying pieces that have a natural look for their homes in 2021.

Natural is in. 

Rather than choosing harsh decor, people are embracing materials that have a more natural look.

“We’re seeing a softer, earthier look come out to play, filled with natural materials such as cane, jute, leather, ceramic, plants, and other organic fibers,” Wood told Insider. “These spaces feel more tied to nature and have a calming effect with oodles of texture.”

Like the grandmillennial style, Wood thinks the love of the natural look comes from an interest in sustainable decor.

“People are starting to think more and more about the environmental impact of home design, and many natural fibers are sustainably produced without leading to deforestation,” Wood said. “As fast-fashion extends its reign over furniture and decor, we’re seeing pushback and a desire among our customers to shop sustainably and invest in quality pieces they can keep for years.”

Wood said that layering textures and shopping smartly make it easy to create a natural look in your home.

Layering can be a big help. 

The natural look relies on distinct pieces creating a cohesive vibe, so it’s smart to layer fabrics and textures in your home if you want to incorporate the style.

“You might layer a wool rug atop a larger jute rug, and add a cane or rattan chair to the space,” Wood gave as an example. “Pile pillows and throws atop the sofa to create softness and fullness in the space.”

“Look for materials that are certified sustainable by their manufacturers to ensure that you’re buying pieces that you believe in,” she added.

You can read Modsy’s full Trend Report for 2021 here.