Style stories

My top 4 predictions for interior design trends in 2021

…and what we’ve learned in 2020

A detail of the Crowell Hill project. Photo by Anna Yanovski

As we come to the end of one of the strangest and for many, toughest years in living memory and try to put it firmly behind us (double locking the door), it’s quite nice to actually look ahead in hope to 2021 (Tiers, R numbers and vaccinations allowing). And while the coming interior design trends aren’t quite as important as some of the other headlines, it’s interesting to see how much this fateful year is influencing them. Collectively, we have never spent so much time in our homes over the course of one year, nor have we spent so much money on home improvements. Property wish lists are now topped by a home office and outside space and most of the design trends that I expect see in 2021 are a clear reaction to what we’ve been through in 2020.

I’ve highlighted four themes below that I’m already seeing among clients and reading about in trade publications and while I’ve split them into separate points, there’s a clear common thread running through them. Being stuck at home hasn’t just focused our attention on making the best of our interiors, it’s made us appreciate the outside world so much that we’re bringing as much of it as we can inside. Colours, materials and the things we want to surround ourselves with are, without exception, shaped or inspired by the natural world.


Brave Ground by Dulux

What do you think of this colour?!

Always a great starting point for the conversation about future trends is the Dulux colour of year. 2021’s is called Brave Ground and, I was pretty surprised when I saw it! A little bit dull for me! And yet it goes straight to the heart of the biophilic design trend (I’ve talked about what that is here!) as a warm, earthy, elemental, almost soil colour. It’s not just organic and natural in its feel, but it subconsciously gives us that stable bedrock vibe that we all need right now.

Liven it up with some colours like coral, navy or green and suddenly I think it really works as a grounding neutral!

Image courtesy of Dulux
Image courtesy of Dulux

This fab design by Andrew Griffiths at A New Day studio uses muted tones with some lovely use of bold colour. The walls are actually painted in the deliciously named Truffle by Paint and Paper Library but the tone is very similar to Brave Ground.

Photo by Harry Snook

Organic materials

Extending the "natural" theme, synthetic materials are out, given their lack of connection to nature, but wools, cottons, light woods, rattan and earthenware are in. Tying in with the sustainability point below, all these materials are also widely available in the UK and relatively inexpensive and will enhance our feel of the outside (if we’re locked down again). If you’re lucky enough to have them, exposed beams and original floorboards increase the sense of natural surroundings, so some carpets are coming up to be replaced by rugs too. Dried flowers are taking centre stage on Instagram as the go-to accessory right now, and this "driftwood" style in terms of dressing our designs looks set to stay, given its proven links with wellbeing.

This is a great example by Em Gurner of Folds Inside. Em used a cooler grey paint for the backdrop to highlight the natural warmth in the wood.

Dining room by Folds Inside


Whether it’s just a continuation of the increase in sustainable practices in general, or whether it’s also a reaction to the plummeting economy this year and a need to spend less, sustainability will be one of the major buzzwords in interior design in 2021. Up-cycling, repurposed, salvaged pieces, as well as antique and retro items are becoming increasingly popular and sit well in a vintage, eclectic or classic scheme.

As you know, I’ve been a big advocator of upcycling for years and have collaborated with both Zoe at Muck n Brass and Sarah at RelovedMCR for a few of my projects.

An upcycled cabinet in Cole and Son Prism wallpaper by Muck’n’Brass
An up-cycled cabinet in House of Hackney Majorelle wallpaper by ReLovedMCR

Reclaimed wood and the reusing furniture is becoming commonplace but people are making more ethical choices in everything to do with their design projects. To read more about making sustainable choices in your designs, see my earlier blog here.


Another buzzword you may hear more of in the coming 12 months is cottagecore. Again, possibly brought to the fore in 2020 as we search for crumbs of comfort or nostalgically remember better times, cottagecore ties in well with the other trends in that it harkens back to a time when items weren’t mass produced in plastic. The modern take on it is retro pieces, classic reclaimed furniture, ginghams and checks, on a natural pastel palette. It’s not about sitting round a candle in a pre-war living room, but more subtle. People are taking out modern shower cubicles for freestanding baths or going for butler sinks and rustic tables in their kitchens, in small, but positive nods to times gone by. You still get to binge Netflix, don’t worry, but your feet might be on an antique leather footstool instead of that Ikea coffee table!

The living room of Crowell Hill project. Photo by Anna Yanovski

Or how about this bold and bright version by Sophie Robinson who has used vintage pieces and a freestanding bath to create a unique sanctuary.

The bathroom of Sophie Robinson

To sum up…

All of these predictions work alongside a general feeling of slowing down, self-care, reflection and authenticity. This could only be a good thing for us all (as well as the planet) and just maybe as we move into the new year and can begin to put some distance between us and the infamous year of 2020, we will be able to take some good things with us.


I hope that gives you a little bit of inspiration to take into 2021. Until then, I hope you can enjoy some rest and relaxation and for those who are working, caring for others, or just holding it together, I salute you.

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