Textured surfaces, warm colours and natural vibes are just some of the trends bringing optimism to our interiors this year.

We may have spent the past year struggling with lockdowns, but it’s not complete doom and gloom out there. The field of interior design is having a moment. After all, if we’re stuck indoors 24/7, what better time to make our homes look fabulous?

There’s no doubt that we need to inject a little joy into our lives right now, and interior trends for 2021 have optimism and wellbeing at their very heart, with designs, textures and shades that promote a soothing, uplifting atmosphere, bringing cheerfulness and light to the darkest of days.

Here are just some of the top trends hitting interiors for 2021...

Coats of many colours

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Adding a little colour to our homes is one way to lift our spirits, and this year, designers are using vibrant, warm hues such as tangerine, aubergine and inky blues to beautifully combine our cravings for contentment and cosiness.

“Rich, earthy tones of terracotta, blush and mustard yellows were huge last year, and we don’t see that trend decreasing in popularity anytime soon,” says British Institute of Interior Design member Leah Chisnell from Absolute Project Management. “These colours add real warmth and happiness, especially when used for upholstery and other textiles, and make a huge difference to how we feel when activities outside are limited.”

Global colour authority Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2021 is a combination of two hues: Ultimate Grey and Illuminating – a rock grey and a sunshine yellow, respectively bringing a message of strength and reliability with the joy of sunshine-filled days to come.

A textured approach

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This year is all about embracing texture, using delectable natural elements such as stone and wood, wools and linens in a bid to create comfort and pleasure for the senses.

Textures are for walls too, says BIID member Robert Thake, of Robert London Design. “There are all sorts of alternative finishes which give texture and depth. Waterproof plaster and lime washed paints, for example, provide a lovely character-rich, lived-in, light-reflecting finish.” Tadelakt is a good example of this, as shown above.

Wooden panels can also help bring real depth and atmosphere to a space and complement furnishings. For instance, a shiplap wall like this one brings out the softness of a handwoven rug and a jute-style lampshades.

Are you sitting comfortably?

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Now that we’re hanging out in our living spaces for hours at a time, we’re plumping for furniture that is big on softness - think squishy sofas and chairs we can sink into. “Comfort is definitely a key priority now,” says Robert Thake. “Deep, snuggly sofas and warm and natural tones are replacing the stark, modernist look.”

Hard lines and geometric shapes are giving way to softened curves and gentle outlines; think sofas and armchairs with gently rounded armrests and backs, and bed headboards with softly scalloped edges. Everything is more relaxed, with calming designs creating comforting cocoons.

The call of nature

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Spending so much more time indoors has left us all yearning to escape into nature and reconnect with the outside world - and we’re doing everything we can to bring it into our homes. 2021 means rooms filled with greenery, leafy wallpapers and floral furnishings galore.

Nature’s vibe will be everywhere, predicts Leah Chisnall. “Greens in sage and forest tones will permeate, as we seek to bring the outdoors into our homes.”

In fact, anything that helps us feel connected to the outside world, from roof windows, orangeries or conservatories to green and floral furnishings is in demand, according to research from Roofing Megastore.

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It’s no surprise, then, that Cottagecore, with its emphasis on rural life, is set to be the most popular interior design trend for 2021. Embracing Mother Nature, with a modern spin on classic rustic countryside style, Cottagecore is simple yet sumptuous, invoking feelings of comfort and a closeness to the countryside. Think traditional, romantic and nostalgic, but without the chintz.

Hotel chic

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As well as finding ways to bring nature into our interiors, we’re desperate to recreate many of the outside world’s other pleasures too.

“We’re not going to restaurants or spas or hotels, so we’re trying to simulate some of these lovely experiences at home instead, with inspiring decor and beautiful objects becoming a real focus, says Robert Thake. This could mean redecorating your whole property or simply splashing out on small things that make you smile - a beautiful ceramic coffee cup or a vase of flowers, for example.”

Robert says he’s noticed a recent clamour for home coffee stations, for example. “It’s no longer a case of a quick coffee and out the door we go,” he says. “People need somewhere they can take real pleasure in spending time.”

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In fact, creating separate stations and ‘zones’ for different purposes is becoming increasingly popular in our bid to define the boundaries between work, rest and play. Work zones away from relaxation spaces and tech-free zones to wind down in after work are all on the rise. 

The pandemic has also led a desire for anterooms just inside the home, featuring wash zones where you can scrub up before entering the house - and mud rooms where caked wellies and coats can be kept in between woodland adventures.

A light touch

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Spending hours at home means lighting is a big issue, and our light fixtures are becoming a bit of a fixation. Layering lights for cosy homey effects, and flattering glows for Zoom calls, is now considered essential, while at the same time we need jolly good functional lighting for working and cooking.

“Wall lights and side lamps, wired into the walls where possible, are increasingly in demand,” says Rob, pointing out that spotlights are becoming less alluring. “It’s great to have lots of lighting options, some ambient, some directional, some functional. ” he says.

Fanatical about furniture

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Our nostalgia for pre-lockdown life, alongside an increasing desire to protect the environment, has led “forever” furniture to be at the fore for 2021. Sustainable, locally sourced, unique and long-lasting pieces are now much in demand.

“Interiors that take time to unfold through layering with original pieces hold interest, as they appear timeless, unique and highly personal,.” says Robert Thake.

Vintage, bespoke, original or upcycled furniture also allows for experimentation and personalisation, and worn pieces with patina and small scratches make us feel relaxed about how we live in our homes.

Taking it to the max

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Now that our homes have become our world, is maximalism the ultimate trend for 2021? Not quite, says Robert Thake, who stresses that storage is still a huge requirement for all those things you don’t want to sit and look at all day.

“The emphasis is on having beautiful pieces to look at, because we’re spending a lot more time looking at them,” he says. While we want to surround ourselves with fabulous things, clutter is definitely out.

“We're paying attention to everything - the textures on our walls and the shapes of our sofas, the vessels we’re drinking out of and the kind of bath towels we use. And that’s a very positive thing.”

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