year in review | Dec 21, 2021 |
The 8 interior design trends that defined 2021

Let’s face it: 2021 was a trip. We started the year deep in the pandemic, and by fall we were fully vaccinated and back in action at High Point. Now, with COVID cases back on the rise, we’re closing out the year with a series of canceled events and a third round of vaccination shots.

It’s been a wild ride, and the trends were every bit as unruly. While things feel far from normal, the designs that reigned supreme the past four seasons prove that despite all the heartache, fear and confusion, we can still figure out how to have a little fun. From fuzzy bouclés to cobalt blue decor accents, here are eight looks that supplied us with endless inspo throughout 2021.


Fuzzy fabrics were everywhere, and we mean everywhere, in 2021. An old-school classic that continues to stand the test of time, nubby wools add a touch of texture and whimsy to a space. No doubt, you employed a shearling or two in a project this season, joining the ranks of designers John and Christine Gachot, Amber Lewis and Jenelle Lovings.


The clean, midcentury-inspired lines that dominated the marketplace before the pandemic were usurped by rolling, amorphous silhouettes this year. Though the curvy furniture trend dates back to the 1950s (when Vladimir Kagan debuted his iconic Serpentine sofa), it reemerged in 2021 as a curvaceous alternative to sharp geometric shapes, as seen in projects by Tom Lawrence-Levy of Natural Asthetik, Stefani Stein, and Brittany Hakimfar of Far Studio.


After an especially stormy year, designers focused their attention on bluer skies ahead. Sky blue fabrics and decor pieces were more popular than ever—Etsy even declared the hue its 2021 Color of the Year—as seen in projects by Keita Turner, Lauren Lowe of Lauren Elaine Interiors, and Alexa Hampton.


After a year of hunkering down at home, 2021 found us eager to find fresh ways to bring the great outdoors indoors. Designers Ariel Okin, Jenny Norris, and Frank Architecture’s Kelly Morrison, Kate Allen and Kristen Lien provided clients with a dash of nature by using undersea wallpaper, a light fixture that emulates the natural folds of flowers, and pendant lights made of mushrooms.


Exuberant, undulating shapes and patterns have been all the rage the past year, and it’s no surprise. After a year and a half of being on our very best behavior, designers including Kelly Wearstler, Lauren Lerner of Living with Lolo, and Young Huh relied on wavy silhouettes, squiggly prints, and free-spirited paint-splatter motifs to loosen up their clients’ spaces.


Bold and beautiful, burled veneers made a major comeback this year. Trendy in 1920s art deco designs as well as Hollywood Regency–style spaces during the 1930s, furniture and decor composed of burl wood (a unique tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner) reached peak popularity in the 1970s and are now popping up in contemporary interiors designed by the likes of Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25, Mimi Meacham of Marian Louise Designs, and Lisa Patton and Liz Dauwe of Studio White Interiors.


A little bit wavy and a lot like arches, scallop motifs were popular in the 1920s art deco movement and presently provide designers with a hint of geometric drama that still reads traditional. Beloved by Emily June Spanos, Jennifer Hunter, and Isabel Ladd, scalloped edges and patterns made playful cameos in an array of sophisticated projects this year.


Elegant yet energetic, electric blue decor pieces made appearances in a slew of color-savvy interiors this year. Though integrating the statement jewel tone into a room may seem challenging, designers like Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design, Chad Graci and Sarah Stacey proved that when used in small doses, cobalt accents can invigorate a neutral palette without overpowering the decorscape.

Homepage photo: A curvy couch rounds out this room by Nina Magon Studio | Courtesy of Nina Magon Studio

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