The pandemic, and its many impacts on our daily lives, continues to play an outsized role in home remodeling trends. If 2020 was the year many of us reinvented our outdoor spaces for respite and entertainment, then 2021 has triggered an even deeper rethinking of our home quarters.
The recently released 2021 Emerging Home Design Trends Report from Houzz, which is based on search insights from the platform’s community of homeowners, home design enthusiasts, and home professionals, identifies the top trends of the year thus far.
Among the leading remodeling projects is the creation of home art studios. People have been relying on their homes to provide new avenues of activity and entertainment since the beginning of the pandemic, leading to an explosion in the popularity of dedicated activity spaces. Home art studios are the latest manifestation of that movement.
“This has been a hard time for people. We’re spending more time at home. It’s been a stressful time, and things like art and crafting and sewing are very popular,” says Houzz senior editor Mitchell Parker. “It’s a way to channel stress into something productive and creative.”
Here’s a closer look at the top six emerging design trends of the year—and some of the potential costs associated with each trend.
1. Dedicated Activity Spaces
Searches for art studios have increased nearly tenfold. Luckily, creating your own art studio doesn’t have to be an expensive renovation project. For instance, if you already have a spare or unused room, then it might just be a matter of purchasing the right accessories, such as an artist easel for painting, which can be found for as little as $80. A tabletop easel is even less expensive, at about $40.
Of course, depending on your goals, the creation of an art studio can be far more involved and might even require the assistance of a professional, says Parker.
“If you’re going to do a stand-alone unit, such as an art shed or shed structure, you’ll probably want to consult with a designer and builder to get the dimensions right,” says Parker. “A designer can also help you assess how you want to treat the space, making sure you have enough storage and that you have good light, including considering where the sun is coming into the room for those who are painting in the studio.”
Art studios aren’t the only dedicated activity space growing in popularity, according to the Houzz data. Interest in home bars and wine cellars has increased nearly four-fold, followed by home theaters, home gyms, and home offices.
Prices for all of these projects run the gamut based on a homeowners’ budget, space, and preferences. Purchasing a home bar, for instance, can be as much as $3,315 (or far more), but there are also options in the $1,499 price range. A top-of-the-line wine refrigerator for your bar can also be a significant investment at more than $3,000.
Home theaters can also be an expensive project to embark upon. The seating alone sells for nearly $6,000 in some cases—though less expensive options are also available for around $1,600.
2. Nods to Nature
Kitchens are always a popular redesign project, and the Houzz report confirms as much. Although, it also shows that many homeowners have a particular goal in mind with kitchens these days: One in five are opening up their kitchens to the outdoors. The report found that openness to nature and the role of greenery in our homes is an accelerating trend.
This includes searches for artificial plants and trees, as well as indoor pots and planters, which have increased more than sevenfold and fourfold, respectively, over the same time period last year. There’s also been a significant uptick in searches for the color green—in the form of green kitchen cabinets, tile, and even accent chairs.
“A lot of the interest in green is a reaction to the popularity of whites, grays, and neutrals of the past few years,” explains Parker. “Green is a very warm color, and it has a connection to nature and organic materials, which we’re also seeing a lot of interest in. Green also compliments wood and brass finishes very well, both of which are also popular right now.”
If you want to add green to your home, the cost will depend on how you choose to incorporate it. A large green kitchen island, for instance, might be more than $600, but simply painting existing kitchen elements green will likely cost far less. Adding green kitchen cabinet hardware is another way to be on trend without spending a fortune, with some options available for as low as $30 for a set of 6.
3. Living Room Refreshes
The living room has always been an important gathering space within the home, and perhaps never more so than the past year.
With all the time we’ve spent in our living rooms, people are starting to seek ways to refresh the space. According to Houzz, searches for living rooms are up 52% compared to the same period in 2020. Accent pillows and home accents, in particular, have seen some of the most dramatic increases—up 51 times and 25 times, respectively over last year. Decorative accents, abstract paintings, display shelves, and chair covers are also increasingly popular this year.
“We’re seeing a bigger focus on decorating, as people are spending more time at home. And maybe they’re happy with their space and the furnishings but just need to refresh it and give it warmth and style,” Parker adds. “Accent pillows are a great way to do that and to give a space a finished look.”
There’s a variety of online resources if you need living room inspiration. And while this doesn’t have to be a costly project, it certainly can be. Some luxury accent pillows list for as much as $900, but of course, you can also purchase much less expensive options as low as $8.
4. Flexible Designs
Many homeowners are also turning to design options that offer more flexibility within the existing footprint of their homes. Evidence includes searches for armoires with pocket doors (up 23 times over the past year), queen murphy beds (up 21 times), and nesting side tables (up 20 times). All of these items allow for dual uses of a room or flexible definitions of rooms.
“This ties back to trying to get more out of what you already have to work with,” says Parker. “People are at home more, and they want flexibility. They want a home office, but they also want a guest bedroom, should that time come.”
Murphy beds are ideal for flexible spaces, but adding one to your home will likely require assistance. “The mechanisms can be quite heavy, and you’ll want to make sure that it’s anchored properly to the wall,” continues Parker.
5. Luxury Fabrics, Finishes, and Colors
Being at home for vast stretches of time can certainly get a little dull—which is probably why luxurious accents are incredibly popular among home renovators this year. Fabrics, finishes, and colors are going glam, with searches on Houzz that incorporate velvet, gold, and crystal all jumping during the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same time last year.
“As homeowners are spending more time at home, they’re looking to spaces to create an environment that uplifts them, cheers them up, is interesting to be in, and that they feel good about,” says Parker. “Style is a way to do that. Bringing in stylish accents and colors and having that feeling you’re in a space that’s inviting.”
This design trend includes adding glam pieces of furniture, such as velvet accent chairs or sofas, as well as accessorizing with gold mirrors or lamps.
The costs for glam accessories run the gamut, with gold table lamps priced between $20 and $3,000 each. Velvet accent chairs can also be uber-luxe or more wallet-friendly at around $150. The same holds true for bold mirrors. You can spend thousands on an ornate Venetian mirror or just $49 on something less extravagant that still adds a metallic pop to your space.
6. Unique Swimming Pool Designs
Much like in 2020, outdoor spaces are a top priority and homeowners are looking for ways to make their yards ready for entertaining. This desire has more recently included an increased interest in pools, according to Houzz.
During the first quarter of 2021, searches for swimming pools and pool houses both more than doubled compared to the same timeframe in 2020. More specifically, people are searching for pool styles, shapes, and designs, with searches for pools with water features up nearly eight times, and rectangle, lap, infinity, plunge, and geometric pools all seeing a significant uptick.
The price for this type of project, however, is not easy to estimate, says Houzz, as it can vary wildly from one home to the next, one style of pool to the next, and one project to the next.