Interior design is central to luxury real estate—it takes a home from concept to comfort. And design, like every other facet of society, was transformed by the pandemic.
While the office remains at the center of today’s interior redesigns, more time spent at home has prompted a change in clients’ interests in the realms of color, texture, and smart features. Here’s a closer look at what buyers are seeking, what sellers should be staging, and the interior design trends to watch this year.
The home office reigns in 2021
Any discussion of interior design trends has to start with the office space. This living space has shot up the priority list as buyers and sellers look to improve their surroundings.
“Homes don’t always have a dedicated work space, and the new challenge is to repurpose existing rooms to accommodate not only one but often multiple users—and often at the same time,” says Wendy Wenger, Real Estate Salesperson at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.
“Designers and clients are letting go of previous concepts of usable space and coming up with creative solutions to meet their new needs. Closets, nooks, formal dining rooms, and spaces under stairways are all being transformed into high-functioning and frequently used spaces.”
Wenger recommends staging and showcasing potential offices in property listings so buyers can, at the very least, visualize what their work-from-home space could look like.
Unsurprisingly, homes with dedicated office space remain hugely desirable. Donna Conway, Sales Associate with Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty, has taken note of how her clients are decorating and differentiating their work spaces.
“A well-designed home office helps curb distractions and inspire creativity,” she says. “The traditional office featuring built-in bookshelves with a dark wood interior is being replaced by a clutter-free space outfitted with simple furnishings and a neutral color palette.”
Conway points out that a dull office can actually drain a person’s energy and enthusiasm, which is why emphasizing interior design in these spaces is critical. “Adding hints of color, accent lamps, or elegant office furniture—like a mirror-top desk—and framed original artwork creates an upscale and warm office space,” she says.
How else can homeowners imbue their spaces with vitality and visual appeal? Keep an eye on these five emerging trends.
1. Maximalism returns
“Wallpaper and bolder colors are gaining popularity; all-gray designs and all-white rooms are no longer as popular as the use of color to create visual interest,” says Conway.
Mia Cottet with Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage is seeing the same shift in her market. “Whimsical wallpaper has made a huge comeback. I have clients papering everything from the interiors of closets to ceilings with competing patterns.”
“The leading trends I see focus on increased comfort that indulges all the senses—light, color, texture, touch, and scent,” Cottet continues. “Fluffy faux sheepskin throw rugs, pillows with pops of color, and scented candles are all in demand right now.”
2. The natural look
Breathing life into the home, and bringing the outdoors indoors, has led to a newfound appreciation of natural fibers in furniture, drapes, and décor. “Woven wall coverings add texture and warmth to rooms,” says Wenger. “There is now an inclination to layer the home in woods, sisals, rattans, wools, and leathers. The focus is on warmth and tranquility. Edited but welcoming. Comfortable but simplified.”
3. The open air
Part and parcel with the need for naturalism is the desire for window dressings that are ethereal—or even non-existent. “Sheer window treatments, or no window treatments at all, have been a prominent design choice to give a space the feeling of being outdoors,” says Cottet. “It’s a way to bring the outdoors in.”
4. Soothing colors
“Homeowners are opting for warm, comforting hues, producing color schemes that promote wellness and healing,” says Wenger. “Shades of soft serene blues and greens that mimic sea glass and ocean waters are rising in popularity, as colors that promote serenity often allow for more creativity and productivity. Notably, Benjamin Moore’s 2021 color of the year is Aegean Teal.”
5. Feel the power
In today’s homes, intelligence is elegance. With everyone working and playing on digital devices, there’s an enhanced need for high speed networks, strong wireless connections in every room, faster routers, wifi boosters, and multiple power-access points on each wall. Adjustable lighting is also a plus when people are spending more of their time on screens.
“Adding a wireless sound system for music provides another dimension that reduces stress and creates a positive environment,” says Conway.
How does this impact interior design? With visual clutter. Hiding away cables while still offering power stations is key to keeping spaces organized and restful.
Tips for the design-savvy agent
As clients redesign their homes to infuse a sense of joy, comfort, and color into their personal space—or to prepare their property for sale—there are several ways agents can assist them.
“You need to have a working knowledge of what’s trending—being a source of information is the best way to support clients,” says Wenger. “It’s imperative to read design magazines, follow interior design trends on social media, visit showrooms to see what’s current, and talk with designers and architects about their newest projects.”
Cottet’s recommendation for luxury agents: “Listen to and celebrate even the wildest design choices, and have a great referral list of artisans to execute them,” she suggests. “Travel is still very restricted for most of us, and our home décor offers us a chance to travel through time and continents. These days, too much is just enough!”