I don’t normally write about trends. Don’t get me wrong, trends are fun, and they can bring unexpected inspiration. And as a designer, it’s part of my job to be aware of emerging trends. It’s just I don’t think people should be led by trends, and I think too many new-year-new-trend posts can perpetuate this. So this post isn’t one of those. I won’t be telling you what colour I think will be hot this year, or what material you should be sourcing for your kitchen island unit. Instead, I’ll be talking about how I think 2021 is an important one for interior design. After 2020, the year we stayed at home, our relationship with our homes has changed dramatically, and even when (hopefully) covid is a distant memory, I’m sure lockdown living will have a lasting impact on our homes.
So here’s how I think the pandemic has changed how we design our homes, and the general trends we might see as a result in 2021…
More Multifunctional Spaces
Staying at home means working from home, learning from home and teaching from home. And most of us have compromised with our space in some way, at some point. The kitchen table has seen it all. It has been a craft table, school table, office and breakfast spot. Many a spare room has become a make-shift office. But even after the pandemic eases, the reality will be more working-from-home, and more learning-from-home than before. So it makes sense that we’ll be looking to create stylish work and learning zones within our homes, and often they’ll be within rooms or spaces that already have a function. Homes will need hard-working, multifunctional spaces and in the long-term these have every right to be as beautiful as the rest of the home.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to focus our mind on health and wellbeing. There’s also nothing quite like lockdown restrictions to make us crave the great outdoors. Biophilic design has becoming increasingly popular but expect to see more in the coming year. It’s all about connecting with the natural world through design, and is aimed at promoting wellbeing. Adding plants is a good start but there’s also so much more. Think natural patterns, organic shapes and designs that work with, and maximise natural light and space.
Online shopping has been a saviour throughout lockdowns. But let’s be honest, it’s not the same as browsing the shops in person, and I’m sure most people at some point have found it hard to get hold of exactly what they want or need. Many people have also found themselves with more time (although with 4 children at home all day during lockdown I can confirm I am not one of those people!) so it’s not surprising that people are becoming more creative, and more resourceful. With more time to craft, knit, draw, paint and generally DIY, 2021 could see a much more imaginative and inventive approach to making a home. And that’s before we discuss the increasing financial hardship faced by many which means that being resourceful and reworking your home with what you have already got will be here to stay for a while.
The shopping that we are doing has become more considered. It’s not as easy to pop into a showroom, fall in love with a piece and hand over our credit card. Instead, there’s a greater need (and opportunity) to research, to think, to consider. Its been a thought-provoking year in other ways too; diversity, sustainability and environmental issues have all been under the spotlight. I suspect (or hope) as a result there’ll be a shift in shopping patterns; that there’ll be a move towards sustainable materials, support for local and independent brands, and a move to promote and support a more diverse range of artists, designers and brands.
Keep it personal
Having spent so much time at home, having really lived in our homes, my hope is that people start designing for themselves. Not for visitors, not for trends and not for resale. People have spent more time than ever within their homes and I’m sure, as a result, now really get what works, and what doesn’t. We’ve all realised the impact out home has on our mood and our wellbeing; we’ve experienced the impact our surroundings have on us. It may be as simple as changing a layout, or decluttering and improving storage. Or it may be taking your maximalist styling to the next level, or embracing a few more minimalist clean lines. I think we’re moving away from needing a perfect home to wanting a home that reflects our family life, that lets us tell our story.
And don’t forget the children
I’ve had so many new enquiries about childrens’ bedrooms, and in the main it’s prompted by a feeling that kids are spending so much more time at home, in their rooms, learning, playing and sleeping that they need (and deserve) and functional happy space to do this. Interior design can have such an impact on mental wellbeing and we shouldn’t forget that this applies to children too. Making sure they have a safe, creative space to play, work and sleep is so important. I think there’ll be some fun childrens’ room designs this year!
Autumn is definitely in the air, but what a glorious weekend we had in Yorkshire. After such a long, sunny summer I’ve got rather used to spending time in the garden, so it was nice to be out there again. I’m certainly not ready to close the door on my outdoor space yet. Admittedly, I am excited about updating the interior for the seasonal changes, but this year I’m keen to incorporate the garden a little more, alive to the possibility that it too is a magical place to be enjoyed all year round. Garden lighting may not be the obvious choice for an Autumnal Design Edit, but when it’s cold and dark outside, what’s better than looking out into your very own enchanted forest?
And if you’re garden-ready, as soon as there’s another sunny day, you have the perfect excuse to get outside. Throws, lanterns and candles; perhaps even throw a log on the fire pit. Now’s the time to wrap up and enjoy some cosy, alfresco autumnal evenings. Who’s with me?
So here are my top picks for the optimists who refuse to make the garden redundant for the next half of the year …
#1 I love a floor lamp. And now there’s one to take outside. Make a sophisticated statement with this Elsa outdoor floor lamp, £120 from Cox and Cox (www.coxandcox.co.uk/elsa-outdoor-floor-lamp)
#2 Hang these squirrel festoon lights in a tree for a magical effect all year round, £45 from Garden Trading (www.gardentrading.co.uk/lighting/outdoor-lighting/festoon-lights-squirrel-10-bulbs.htm)
#3 Now’s a good time to update your hardwired outdoor lighting; welcome your guests in style with this contemporary carriage light, £95 from Garden Trading (www.gardentrading.co.uk/lighting/outdoor-lighting/wall-lighting/belgrave-carriage-light.htm)
#4 Giant lanterns are a great way of creating a bold look while making an outdoor snug cosy and inviting. I love the Mosi giant lantern, £140 – £190 from Nkuku (www.nkuku.com/product/mosi-giant-lantern)
#5 Admittedly alfresco dining opportunities may be few and far between until the Spring, but these pendants would look amazing hung from a tree over a cosy seating area. And then you’re ready for next year’s outdoor dinner parties! £75 from Amara (www.amara.com/products/sunlight-pendant)
#6 Add some architectural definition to your patio area with these luminous orbs, £50-100 from Cox and Cox (www.coxandcox.co.uk/stone-effect-boulder-lights)
Whether it’s for your bedtime reading or morning cuppa, a good bedside lamp is essential. Not only practical, but a pair of bedside lamps leaves your bedroom beautifully styled. And, if you’re feel confident, mix them up. No one ever said they had to match.
Take a look at the lamps I’m loving right now….
#1 Rose tinted glass makes everything better.
Glass shade lamp (£78) from www.oliverbonas.com
#2 Simple style. Beautiful combination of marble and glass; just add a vintage bulb.
Oracle domed £49.99 from www.dowsingandreynolds.com
#3 Easy and elegant. Choose the dark pleated shade for a touch of sophistication.
Bessy Table Lamp £145 from www.loaf.com
#4 Soft and dreamy. Perfect in light airy rooms as well as dark moody spaces.
Eos tripod lamp from www.vitacopenhagen
#5 Sleek and stylish. Brass finish adds a touch of elegance.
Octavia £39 from www.made.com
#6 Classic combination of blush pink and polished brass. A favourite of mine.
Ewer £59 from www.made.com
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of dark, inky hues for creating spaces which envelope and cocoon. Dark, rich walls evoke a real sense of drama, which I love. But, whilst dark greys and navy have been recent go-to dark tones, here I want to explore some other options.
Source: The Design Chaser
So, in this blog post I’m looking at chocolate brown. Brown is not a colour often embraced in interiors and it can be met with a love/hate response. Yet, I’m keen to explore what this often overlooked, rich colour has to offer. Well suited for an Autumnal post, the earthier tones of deep brown can give a really warm and comforting feel.
Perfect for creating a modern elegance, dark browns work well with other deep, earthy colours such as greens and reds. Layering these rich tones gives a really sophisticated feel. Add in a pop of vibrant blue and you’ve got something really rather decadent.
Or keep things simple and dark for a smart, contemporary look. All you need is a little colour pop to finish off the look. As with all dark hues; creating depth in the backdrop really lets a touch of colour sing!
It’s a really effective colour for creating an eclectic look too. Mix up some vintage-style wooden frames for a quirky look or, if you prefer a sharper look use simple black frames and mix in some colourful, vibrant artwork.
Source: Unknown via Pinterst
For a more laid back look, soften it slightly and mix in some simple linens. The warmth of the brown walls here creates a relaxing, sensuous vibe. I really rather like it.
Whilst it might not be a look as easy to pull-off as a moody dark grey or a sultry navy, the earthy, rich qualities of dark brown are really quite endearing. If you want to give it a go, Abigail Ahern’s Bedford Brown is a really good starting point. It’s dark, rich and versatile, creating a really cosy space. Which all sounds perfect for the start of Autumn.
I wrote a blog post a while ago for Nrth Lass which started “Working from home is such a joy”. I wonder how many people will say the same right now?! I’ve run my business from home for the past 4 years and I love working from home. Admittedly though, the current working-from-home-during-lockdown situation has its challenges, and isn’t quite what I had in mind when I wrote my original post.
But the sentiment of making sure you don’t neglect your home office space is probably even more relevant today than it was then. Obviously we’re all having to make-do at the moment. Especially with schools closed, more people are working in each house than was ever envisaged, and it’s impossible to think that every working space will be perfect. I’m sure dining tables around the country are groaning at the constant multi-functioning demanded of them (as well as under the weight of all the school books, laptops, crafts and coffee cups piled onto them!).
But with our family, working and social lives all merged under one roof, it’s probably more important than ever that we carve out a space for the working part of our life right now. So, how can you make your working space work harder for you whilst you’re slogging it out at home?
1/ ALLOCATE A SPACE
This sounds obvious, and it’s not always easy when there are numerous demands for office space, but try and have a space assigned for working. A space that is yours. This is probably even more important if you aren’t able to dedicate a separate room to it. So whether its a little nook, a space on the landing or a spare table set up somewhere, make sure you claim it for your own. It ensures you have a proper space to focus in, and is at least an attempt to prevent the work/home blur!
2/ INVEST IF YOU CAN
I like to be optimistic, but the reality is that many of us will be working from home, in some capacity, for some time to come. It’s likely that this pandemic will change working patterns forever, and that many people will work from home even for part of the week going forwards. So, if you can, it might be worth thinking about investing in the important pieces. A comfy office chair is essential. Your back will thank you for it. But don’t feel that you have to compromise on style and restrict yourself to conventional office furniture. There’s some great options around and as long as it offers the comfort and support you need to sit there for long periods, be as creative as you like.
3/ ITS ALL ABOUT STORAGE
No-one works well surrounded by stuff. If your working space was an impromptu set-up doing lockdown its likely storage wasn’t planned as part of the design! Now’s the time to take a look, be realistic about what you need, and get those papers filed into a drawer. Good storage doesn’t need to be expensive, or boring. Be creative; add some wooden shelving, buy some colourful drawers. You’re not in the corporate office now, so you can make it as personal and interesting as you like!
4/ LIGHT & BRIGHT
Good ambient and task lighting is essential for work spaces, and this can be tricky if you’re working in a temporary set-up, or can’t make electrical changes right now. But a good plug-in desk light will go a long way to improving the situation. If you have very limited desk space, think about a floor standing lamp next to it. Just make sure you think about the height and direction of the light.
5/ ADD TEXTURE; MAKE IT COSY
It’s no secret that I love sheepskins but there’s no easier way to add softness, warmth and texture to a space. And even if you’re using a spare dining chair, add a throw and it’ll make it that little bit more inviting. I can’t promise you’ll never want to leave your desk, but it’ll help make it a little more cosy!
6/ MAKE IT YOURS; STYLE IT UP
No one does their best work in a sterile space (well, unless you’re a surgeon I guess). Make it personal; style it up. Add a photo gallery wall or frame a couple of those pictures your little one brought back from school (remember those days?!). Or, if lockdown means you’ve seen far too much of your immediate family, perhaps add some photos of your former office buddies!! Buy that cool stationary and add some plants. It’ll brighten up your office, and your day. And if it helps to justify it, remember it’s for work!