To understand what’s hot in the year 2021, look to the past. This year’s interior design trends are all about making our homes comfier and cozier. Forget futuristic elements – what’s cool right now is hiding in your grandma’s closet, your shed or your local lumber supplier’s warehouse.
The “modern farmhouse” trend beloved by celebrity designer Joanna Gaines will likely remain popular this year, but a variation on the style may eclipse it by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around again next December. Watch out for the rise of “modern rustic,” which is more adaptable to a wider range of interior styles.
“Modern farmhouse,” which embraces traditional elements like barn doors, utilitarian farm-style lighting, oversized furniture, wrought iron accents and neutral color palettes, looks great in many homes. But when it began appearing in urban apartments, it became clear the trend had gone a little too far. “Modern rustic” embraces many of the same natural, unpretentious and antique elements, including exposed beams and wide plank floors, but instead of focusing specifically on farmhouse style, it finds rustic accents that fit your particular setting. For instance, you might mix contemporary furniture with reclaimed brick and old rusted city signage or repurpose industrial machinery as decor.
Wooden wall paneling is back in a big way. Shiplap paneling has had its time in the sun as part and parcel of modern farmhouse style, and it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon. But other forms of paneling are on-trend as well, and how you interpret the trend for your space is totally up to you. You might go with a clean, minimalist Japanese or Scandinavian influence for a modern look using pale tongue and groove Eastern White Pine, for instance, or choose rough-sawn planks for a modern rustic look. Ultra-narrow strips of wood that create a “pleated” effect look especially fresh, as seen over at Domino.
Contrast smooth contemporary surfaces and objects with natural textures like woven linen, seagrass, stone and, of course, wood. An easy and on-trend way to bring interesting natural texture and pattern into your home is to incorporate some raw, unpainted plywood. Long thought of as a sub-material that needs to be covered, plywood is now celebrated for its own unique characteristics. You get a big bang for your buck, adding visual interest at a very low cost.
You might think that after 2020, we’d all be feeling a little too much cabin fever to embrace the rustic cabin aesthetic. Not so. If anything, we’re itching to get out of our homes and into the comfort and refuge of a quiet natural setting. Pandemic-induced city fatigue has us all dreaming of wood, wood and more wood (oh, and complementary cabin-themed elements like lumberjack plaid, axes-as-decor, cozy fireplaces, oil lanterns and piles of cozy blankets). So, sort of like modern rustic, but much more on the rustic side.
What began several years ago with teenagers on Instagram and TikTok has become a full-fledged design movement embraced by all ages. “Cottagecore” is an idealized vision of country living that exploded in popularity during the pandemic as we all sought to make our homes more like cozy nests – described by r/cottagecore on Reddit as “your grandma, but like, hip.” Think floral prints, vintage tea sets, vases of wildflowers, twinkle lights and embroidery. Wood is a central element, whether we’re talking antique chairs, farmhouse dining tables, picket fences, real or faux exposed beams or sweet decorative millwork. One way to work this into your home design is to build and paint your own DIY window shutters.