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11 House Design Trends to Watch For in 2021

Last updated May 11, 2021

Clean, Modern, Sophisticated Features Will Be Hot in 2021

 

One thing that 2020 taught us is to be prepared for the unexpected and face its challenges with composure and calm. We look back at the DIY adjustments we had to make in our homes as they were transformed into schools, offices, gyms, and getaway areas – and how we got creative in redesigning and furnishing these spaces. These adjustments will certainly influence changes and carry over into the new year.

With this year winding down and images of new homes, renovations, and additions at top of mind, here are a few design trends that experts predict will be hot in American homes in 2021. From both home exterior and interior design trends to home decor, let’s look at the dominant styles and features that 2021 will bring into the picture.

 

1.  Islands in the Stream

It’s not surprising that every year, the kitchen has a presence in home design trends. Whether its bold backsplashes, floating shelving that replaces cabinetry, countertops, or walk-in pantries, kitchen elements seem to always get the attention of designers.

In 2021, the focus in the kitchen and a definite “must-have” is double-island design. Just think of all the additional counter space at your disposal with a pair of kitchen islands. You can designate one for meal preparation and serving and the other one solely for dining and gathering/socializing. In addition to all the functional space, double islands also improve traffic flow as the chefs, family members, and guests walk to, from, and around the space.

Another thing to keep in mind – you don’t need a large kitchen to accommodate double islands. It’s just important to have properly sized and designed islands to fit into your kitchen space.

Large, modern kitchen with two islands, one for food prep and one primarily for eating

This fabulous and spacious kitchen in a sprawling one-story Ranch style home comes with two huge islands – perfect for meal prep and dining. The home features 3,623 square feet of living space, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a half bath, walk-in pantry adjacent to the mudroom, a dining area with coffered ceiling, and a family room (Plan #161-1094).

 

2.  High on High Ceilings

While nine-foot high ceilings are now the industry standard for new construction, some homeowners who long for the grandeur of really high ceilings are including 10- to 12-foot high structures on their "must-have” features. Reminiscent of the ceilings in homes built between 1890 and 1940, modern high ceilings are appealing and enhance the spaciousness and elegance of a home.

From vaulted to beamed, barrel, tray, and coffered, there are many high-ceiling variations that you’ll see in homes. These are a few of the more popular ones.

  • Conventional – The norm in most homes, this ceiling is usually nine feet high and is a flat, seamless surface. 

Great Room with high ceiling and transom windows in a mid-century modern home

Truly a Great Room, this fabulous space in an amazing L-shaped one-story, 3,665-square-foot Modern home features a simple conventional high ceiling with recessed lights. The home has three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a split bedroom layout, large terrace with stacking patio doors, fireplace, family room, main floor laundry, and mud room (Plan #202-1027).

 

  • VaultedUsually associated with churches and basilicas, a vaulted ceiling is any ceiling constructed with a self-supporting arch, with many variations to achieve different looks. Most commonly found in Great Rooms, open kitchen-dining rooms, and sometimes bedrooms and bathrooms, vaulted ceilings have been transformed over centuries and seen in traditional and contemporary homes. Among vaulted ceiling styles are barrel vault, groin vault and dome vault.

Vaulted ceiling with natural timbers in Great Room of Vacation style home

This Great Room of a two-story, three-bedroom Vacation home becomes a comfortable, bright, and airy space with its vaulted ceiling and large windows. The home has a master suite on the main floor with two bedrooms and a family room on the lower level (Plan #168-1001).

 

  • Barrel-Vaulted This simple and popular style resembles a barrel cut in half and dates back to Babylon and Sumerian architects who used clay mortar and fired brick. It is also  known as a tunnel vault or wagon vault. You can incorporate barrel vaults in foyers, hallways, kitchens, bedrooms, master baths, and Great Rooms.

Beautiful master bath with soaking tub and barrel-vault ceiling

A barrel-vaulted ceiling is perfect for this luxurious master bath in a Ranch home with Arts and Crafts detailing. The home includes three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a half bath, an open concept kitchen, keeping room, and mudroom, which connects to the three-car garage (Plan #198-1117).

 

  • Tray CeilingDescribed as a raised portion of a ceiling that creates a second, higher ceiling, this type of vaulted ceiling is also known as an inverted or recessed ceiling. It features a center section that is several inches (or a foot or more) higher than the rest of the ceiling. It presents a lot of design options to make the ceiling into a focal point – like the use of colors painted on the trim, installing hidden tube lighting along the perimeter of the tray, or hanging a chandelier, pendant light, or ceiling fan.

Master bedroom with high ceiling that has a tray design

Bedroom with tray ceiling and detailed decorative trimwork

Top: This luxurious master suite in an amazing one-story Rustic style home with 3,469 square feet of living space features a tray ceiling with recessed lights and painted trim The lovely home has an open-floor-plan Great room with amazing kitchen and large family room and dining area, two bedroom suites, a half bath, grand foyer, and two 2-car garages, one on each side of the house (Plan #161-1091). Bottom: This bright bedroom also has a tray ceiling but with more elaborate trimwork than the room shown at top (Plan #198-1032).

 

3.  Keep ‘Em Separated!

“Free-standing tubs are on trend now,” according to Debra Purvis of Design House Inc. And house designer Herb Shearer says that “more and more people are taking the tub (especially jacuzzi tubs) out and enlarging the showers as well as going with a Roman walk-in type shower.”

Large, sumptuous master bath separate tub and shower and two vanities

This stylish master bath in a 1.5 story Contemporary Colonial house plan features a huge walk-in shower and separate stand-alone tub. The 4,443-square-foot home has a covered front porch, five bedrooms, five baths, a huge kitchen with an island and breakfast nook, and an outdoor living space that includes a pool (Plan #204-1020).

 

  • Rethink the Bathroom – Over the last 10 years, the popularity of the half bath and Jack and Jill bathroom has been on the rise. As Shearer explains, a bathroom was generally built for the use of bedroom occupants – and placed around a hallway so that guests could also get access to it easily. But modern times and designs have changed this format and concept. 

Today, the powder room or half bath is more centrally located in the home – away from bedrooms – and is used mostly by guests.

The hall bathroom has been modified to a Jack and Jill to serve only the bedrooms and their occupants. Simply put, this is a full bathroom – with two sinks, a toilet, bath/shower – shared between two bedrooms, with doors entering from each room. (Remember the Brady Bunch?) For the privacy of occupants, there should be locks on the bathroom and bedroom doors. 

Half bath, or powder room, by the stairway in a Country Farmhouse style home

This attractively painted and furnished powder room in a four-bedroom Country-Farmhouse style home is conveniently located near the locker area and staircase leading to a bonus room above the garage. The 2,686-square-foot-home has 10- and 11-foot-high ceilings, covered front and rear porches, a spacious kitchen, and two full baths (Plan #142-1169).

 

4.  Multi-Functional Spaces

“Stay-at-home” has definitely changed the look of our homes. They are now – not only our dwelling places – but also schools, offices, gyms, recreation areas, and “staycation” destinations.

One of the newest home trends – and challenges – in 2021 is creating versatile and convenient multi-functional spaces in the home that accommodate all these needs – without adding costs or altering floor plans. With more people working from home (WFH), quiet spaces that allow privacy will be included in the interior design of homes to serve as home offices, Skype, and Zoom rooms.

For example, if the home has both an eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room (that’s used only on big holidays), store the dining table elsewhere and repurpose that room into office or schoolwork space. If the master suite has a small space used as a sitting room, you can convert that into a home office. Be creative with the available space in your home.

/Sitting room that is separated from rest of house and could be used at office or Zoom room

This cozy bonus sitting room in a stunning 1.5-story Country Craftsman style home can also serve as both a home office/workstation and videoconference room. The 2,499 square-foot, home includes three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a covered porch, patio, grilling terrace, and optional mother-in-law apartment (Plan #106-1274).

 

5.  Staying Active – And Healthy

While exercise rooms at home have been around for years, they take on a new importance in 2021 because of the pandemic. Most health clubs and gyms across the country are closing or at reduced capacity, and with stay-at-home directives, people are just not motivated to get out of the confines of their space to exercise.

So dedicated spaces for home gyms and play areas will be particularly important in 2021. Families need getaway time and space to “play” and unwind. Any outdoor space or indoor corner with a wall can serve as exercise space.

Game room and bar area in the basement of a luxury home

Complete gym setup in spare bedroom

Top: A fabulous playroom in an amazing two-story, 6,563-square-foot European style home has all the makings of a multi-functional space. With a little muscle and imagination, the ping pong and foosball tables can be moved around to fashion an exercise section; and movable room dividers can create a separate zone (Plan #161-1077). Bottom: if theres not space deicated to a gym, you can take over a spare bedroom as this homeowner did (Plan #198-1032).

 

6.  Farmhouse Goes Chic

Debra Purvis, with Design House Inc., says “farmhouse is still hot,” and Bill Martin of WL Martin Home Designs expects the biggest trend next year to be country living designs. His plans – basically the Contemporary Farmhouse – represent this trend. It’s the same warmth and comfortable feel mixed with sleek clean lines and materials like natural wood and galvanized steel.

Look forward to elements like white vertical siding – usually board and batten – and/or white painted brick not only in Contemporary Farmhouse styles but also in Ranch and Cottage plans. A timeless and classic paint color, white is always stylish and great for the home’s curb appeal. And the right shade of white paint can do wonders for the home’s exterior. In combination with the home’s structural elements like wood and brick, the white tones give the front facade an attractive and pleasing look. Then there are dark accents – window trims, shutters, doors, and metal roofing.

Classic farmhouse with forward-facing gable and white siding

This charming one-story, three-bedroom Farmhouse style home stands out with its white exterior – complemented by the gray roof, gray wood shutters and the huge door in brown wood. The landscaped front yard, welcoming covered front porch, and the white columns are elements that enhance its curb appeal (Plan #142-1183).

Farmhouse style home with wide covered front porch and white siding

This three-bedroom, two-bath Ranch style Farmhouse home packs character and beauty with its asphalt-shingle-covered roof, white vertical wood siding, dark shutters, and dark-trimmed windows. The covered porch with the white columns and the forward-facing gable add to its appeal (Plan #123-1112).

Cottage-style Farmhouse home with covered front porch and side-entry garage

Look at this stunning Farmhouse plan in the Cottage style that oozes charm and curb appeal. Simple and classic lines characterize the home – from the horizontal wood siding, dark window shutters, slate gray roof and the covered front porch anchored by white columns on brick pedestals. There’s the short white picket fence, along with landscaped front yard with orange flowers (that match the pedestals) lining the side of the house. The residence – with 2,487 square feet of living space – includes four bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a family room, library, and mudroom (Plan #178-1376).

 

7.  Style It with Large, Straight-line Windows

Windows – in all shapes and sizes – are must-haves in any home. They provide more light in the home, making the interiors brighter and breezier. In 2021, new home construction will feature large – often multi-pane or even floor-to-ceiling – windows.

With all the natural light that filters into the home through large windows, staying at home – especially during the pandemic – is more conducive for the family.

Contemporary Colonial style home with large windows and white siding

Windows, windows, and more windows … check out the large straight-line windows in this 1.5-story, Contemporary Colonial style home – especially the floor-to-ceiling windows on the main level. Adding to the charm and appeal of the four-bedroom, five-bath home are its varied roof lines and levels and the combination white vertical siding and whitewashed brick (Plan #204-1020)

 

8.  Outdoor Space Makeover

Perhaps it’s time to reimagine and transform that outdoor entertaining space. One of the popular exterior home design trends in 2021 is the pergola. An outdoor structure consisting of columns that support a roofing of beams and rafters, pergolas have been around for a while – and if you watch HGTV shows, you’ve seen a few of them.

A pergola enhances the backyard, extends the home’s entertaining space outdoors, and provides shade and privacy.

Beautifully hardscaped backyard with natural-wood pergola

A simply designed pergola is the finishing touch to this gorgeous patio in a two-story Country Craftsman style home with four bedrooms. The exterior entertaining space includes an outdoor kitchen, a water fixture, colorful blooms, and shrubbery (Plan #153-1781).

 

9.  Think Handicap-Accessible

Herb Shearer notes that “this trend has really shot up in the last year, as people of more age are planning for the senior years.” With Baby Boomers now in their senior years – and with some already with disabilities – we will see this trend on an upward tick in the coming years. Currently, Shearer’s clients are requesting wheelchair accessibility – as in wider doors and hallways, and easy access to plumbed fixtures such as toilets and sinks.

 

10.  Color it Tranquil

In 2021, the color palette is a mix of earthy tones and ocean blues to bring warmth and comfort to the home. Paint companies from Sherwin Williams to PPG, Benjamin Moore, and Valspar have come up with a combination of color trends including rusts, warm greens, deep reds, soft gray, slubby browns, taupes, shades of blue (aqua, teal), and lavender. All these shades were selected to evoke a feeling of comfort, peace, and serenity – just what we need during these challenging times.

Color swatch from Sherwin Williams called Urbane Bronze

Entry foyer with white walls and wainscot treatment painted in slate blue hue

Entry foyer painted in neutral color and flooded with light from glass-panel doors

Top: Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year – Urbane Bronze – is described as a “calming gray hue” (image source: Sherwin Williams). Middle: The entry hall foyer in an amazing two-story, five-bedroom Transitional style home is painted a shade of slate blue that is part of the color palette of 2021. The luxurious residence has a stunning outdoor living space, kitchen with a large center island, recreation room, theater room, library, mudroom, three baths and two powder rooms. (Plan #161-1003). Bottom: Step into the entry hall foyer of this lovely four-bedroom, two-bath Transitional Ranch style home, and bask in the coral cream painted walls. The soft shade adds to the bright and airy atmosphere of the space. The 2,095-square-foot home has covered front and rear porches and a family room, mudroom, and bonus room (Plan #142-1237).

 

11.  Expand the Garage

Need room for another car or cars? Shearer describes increasing the garage as a BIG trend in 2021. The most common expansion is from a two-car to a three-car garage. In many cases, however, four garage bays are not unheard of, and there are even homes with five or more garage bays. This added space not only is used to hold cars but can serve as both work space and extra storage.

One-story Country style home with white siding and a three-car garage

This elegant one-story Country Craftsman style home features many modern amenities including a three-car garage. From its exterior façade to the interior design and fixtures, this three-bedroom, 2,531-square-foot home with 3.5 baths, is an attractive mix of the classic and contemporary (Plan #106-1283).

 

So gear up for 2021 with these exciting design trends that will perk up the home and help us adapt our homes to the challenges of the pandemic. Check out our newest house plans available that include some of these features.

 

Footnote: The top right photo in the lead image of this article is a one-story, 2,095-square-foot Transitional Ranch style home. Adding to the charm and appeal of the four-bedroom, 2-bath home are its varied roof line levels and the beautifully maintained front yard. For more information, see Plan #142-1237.

 

Additional Sources:

Home Bunch

HGTV

Brick & Batten

Home & Gardens

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