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tan leather sofa with mongolian throw rug in loft apartment

Interior Design Trends 2021: Four Real-World Looks That’ll Dominate the Year Ahead

It’s time to unveil the top interior design trends for 2021. It’s pretty exciting, especially because these looks are what I call ‘real-world’. You know how some trend forecasts are so removed from how we actually live? Well, this one is very grounded in reality; a vibe you can actually understand and execute at your place.

These four 2021 design trends are based off of furniture releases I’m seeing. They’re based off of what design clients are coming to me asking for in their homes. And they’re also unique to the Australian market. It’s great to get forecasts from overseas, but they’re not always an accurate reflection of how we design homes Down Under. So I hope you appreciate the local flavour.

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section at the end of the post. I’d especially love to know which of these four interior design trends you’re gravitating toward. 2021 is not far away, and considering this year has been quite the sh*it show, I cannot wait to start afresh on every front (but especially the home-front). 

The hero image in this post is via CB2.

Interior Design Trend 1: Neutral Luxe

neutral luxe lviing room with boucle sofa and nest of marble side tables
via cb2

Why Neutral Luxe Now?

Neutral luxe is going to be big in 2021 as we move to make our homes feel more refined. We’ve spent so long inside them thanks to Covid19.  We’ve done the declutter, we’re over the endless buy-then-purge cycle of decor. We’ve decided we want to embrace quality materials that feel striking and impressive. After all, we’re going to finally have friends over again; we want our interiors to look chic and stunning. It’s a buy-once-buy-well mentality that feels high-end and carefully curated.

Who’ll Love It?

If your current interior vibe would be described as luxe, then this one’s for you. Or, if you’re looking to introduce a feeling of effortless sophistication, Neutral Luxe has you covered. If you already like a calm colour palette, this trend encourages you to explore some new tones; a little muddier, but still subdued. It’s a rather sumptuous and detail-packed look but not in an over-the-top way, so move away from those brass accents.

neutral luxe interior design trends 2021

The Neutral Luxe Colour Palette

The calm colour palette is key here, but it’s important to look beyond white. It’s in the mix, of course, but there are more prominent colours at play. Think light grey, plus a sea of browns from beige to caramel, camel and beyond.

You also want to include black, but as a pop more than a dominant force. Think of beige and brown as your base, and use black and white as your accents. There are colours like green and blue and even orange in this look too. But they’re either so muddy they almost read as a brown (like in the rug further above) or so lightly applied that you barely notice they’re there (like in the canvas artwork directly above).

Other Key Inclusions

One of the consistent factors you’ll see across all of the inspiration images here is stone. There’s a lot of it. Marble in coffee tables, marble in lamp bases, marble in candelabras and vases. So in short, embrace stone. 

You’ll also notice interesting shapes come into play a lot. This is a luxurious look; because the colours and patterns are minimal, individual pieces with shape bring the interest. Think curved armchairs (bouclay is big, btw!), interesting profiles on sideboards and buffets, and detail-packed decor like candelabras, vases and sculptural ornaments.

Lastly, comfort is key. The furniture is plush and inviting, and the rugs are thick and soft underfoot. It’s the coming together of cushy and cosy, but still minimal and refined. Also, because there’s so much cold stone, you need to create balance with soft layers (just not tonnes of them).

Interior Design Trend 2: Earthy Organic

muddy green and terracotta living room in energy efficient home by metricon
via metricon

Why Earthy Organic Now?

If this year has proven anything, it’s that we want to connect to nature more. Not only because we haven’t been able to get out and enjoy it, but because we’re surrounded by so much technology. Our lives are dominated by gadgets; a cacophony of blinking lights and notifications. The over-stimulation has reached fever-pitch, and in response we want our interiors to resemble calm cocoons we can retreat to and feel cradled by. 

Who’ll Love It?

The popular all-white boho vibe has been huge for years, and this Earthy Organic Trend for 2021 is an extension of that look. So, boho lovers, consider this the next step in your style evolution. This new vibe has the same sense of relaxation and ease. The only difference is the abandonment of that ethereal bright white approach to colour. We’re descending from the sky and sinking into the earth when it comes to hue. It’s moodier and muddier, and it makes the home overall feel far warmer and layered.

earthy organic interior design trends 2021

The Earthy Organic Colour Palette

The colour palette for this 2021 interior design trend would be the most daring of the four. But to be fair, it’s still pretty safe. The one thing this trend asks you to do is embrace paint on walls; a gorgeous beige or subtle apricot is going to give your room the depth it needs to fully commit to the look. On top of that, layer on a nice balance of warm orange and red tones, and then cooler greens. Brown and white can be added in to bring calm and cosiness to each space.

Other Key Inclusions

This design trend is very relaxed. It’s not laboured over. The inspiration images above all feel quite easy to achieve, so approach your space in the same way. It’s also quite texturally diverse; so many materials at play. You have hard and soft, smooth and rough. The interesting thing missing: shine. Avoid glossy finishes on decor and furniture to really channel that organic beauty this trend evokes.

This would be considered a more is more look with the layers. There’s a lot of softness at play through things like cushions and throws. Materials like wicker and rattan bring their own sense of detail as well. There’s a lot to absorb visually. A lot of the decor features embellishments like tassels and pom poms, weaving and cable knits.

The other great thing about this look is the showcasing of handmade pieces. Think ceramics, think textural wall hangings, think handcrafted furniture. This is a craft-lovers trend, so don’t be afraid to experiment on that front.

Want to see this trend in action? Come tour this local Earthy Organic Home.

Interior Design Trend 3: California Cool

california cool interior design trends 2021 emily henderson living room
via emily henderson

Why California Cool Now?

There’s a lot of reasons this interior design trend for 2021 has become so prominent. Firstly, there’s a big movement toward sustainable living, and this look has a lot of pre-love furniture in it. Secondly, it brings together four popular interior design styles, so it’s easy for people to see something they identify with. And lastly, overseas designers like Studio McGee, Emily Henderson, Anne Sage and Bobby Berk have been executing this look for a while (we’re just finally catching onto it).

I’ve given this trend a dedicated blog post here which gives you a tonne more inspo and where to shop the look.

Who’ll Love It?

The best thing about the California Cool trend is that it blends four popular interior design styles: Scandi, mid-Century, Boho and Coastal. The four styles are seen in different measures depending on the home and the room in question. But essentially if you love any of those looks, then California Cool is going to rock your world in 2021. The other reason you’ll love it is because it’s so easy to work into your existing scheme.

california cool interior design trends 2021

The California Cool Colour Palette

Lovers of white, you’re well and truly taken care of here, because the base colour is light and bright. White is contrasted with a good dose of black in the Cali Cool trend, and then there’s a big slap of warm oak and tan tones. Grey is a main player as well, and let’s not forget the pops of deep blues and muddy greens. These accent colours are definitely introduced in small doses though, so don’t go wild with them.

Other Key Inclusions

The key to getting this look right is to blend new and old, that’s the first place to start. It’s not a look that’s all about new, mass-produced furniture. The character you see in the inspiration images above comes from keepsakes and treasures, it’s from vintage furniture, or it’s in the showcasing of travel mementoes. 

The look has a sense of crispness and cleanliness in the shapes and configuration of rooms, but it’s also rather comfortable. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a formal look, but each piece is a bit of a design moment in its own right, so things are well thought-out. Pattern is quite prominent in pieces too in things like rugs, tiles and cushions. 

Mid-Century is the big influence here, and in Australia it’s fair to say we don’t use enough of it. That’s why I’m rather excited for this interior design trend to take off in 2021. The easiest way to channel the mid-Century look is through things like lighting. There’s plenty of it on the market right now that’ll work in this look.

Interior Design Trend 4: Modern Industrial

black and brown modern industrial kitchen design with grey floor tiles
via metricon

Why Modern Industrial Now?

I’ve forecasted this one as an interior design trend for 2021 because I’ve noticed a significant increase in design clients wanting this style. It’s certainly not new in terms of the look and feel, so I put the yearning for it down to the fact that people want more mood in their homes. They’re open to going darker in places, to embracing grittier textures and materials, and are seeking out a more masculine approach to spaces. I find that clients where the male half of the couple is involved often gravitate to this style.

Who’ll Love It?

If you love a contemporary design style at home, elements of the Modern industrial trend will appeal to you. If you like dark colours but don’t want a dark home, this look will appeal. If you like industrial but find it often goes too hard and cold, this new version is your saviour. It’s so much cleaner than the traditional industrial style of the past, yet it celebrates all the best parts of the classic aesthetic.

If you love the Modern Industrial trend, come tour this home that has tonnes of it!

Contemporary urban interior design trends 2021

The Modern Industrial Colour Palette

It’s a wonderfully moody batch of colours here. White and black are the main players, and then grey is introduced to keep things monochromatic. On top of that foundation, there is some colour to be seen. It’s mostly brown, and we’re exploring all of the tones here; warm tans right through to deep walnut. Olive greens and petrol blues are nice shades to bring in as well; they break up any potential monotony, but they don’t read as bright. It’s always moody, always deep and rich.

Other Key Inclusions

While we are embracing classic industrial moments like concrete effects on walls, lashings of leather and exposed-bulb lighting, there are new elements in the mix. Marble is a big one. It’s a great way to bring a sense of modernity to this style, plus it brings with it some elegance. The spaces are softened through plants, flowers and soft furnishings with embellishments like tassels on towels and stitch detail in bedding.

Striking black features are the key to pulling off this look. You’ll see it in things like window frames, tapware, door hardware and lighting. It’s that bold black against the crisp white that really makes this trend shine. Make sure you find ways to work in soft grey though, otherwise the room will feel like a checker board.

Beautiful timber is another component you’d be wise to include. But the difference with the Modern Industrial vibe is that while you can see the wood grain, it’s smooth to the touch. It’s out with the rustic, and in with the refined. The lines are really clean too. You’ll notice there’s a lot of sharp edges and not a lot of fluid shapes.

modern home with bi fold doors leading out to alfresco area metricon riviera show home
via metricon

What’s Your Fave 2021 Interior Design Trend?

I’d be interested to hear which of these four design trends for 2021 you feel most drawn to. Could you see yourself channelling any of them, or perhaps tweaking some of the spaces in your home to introduce a little flavour from any of them?

Drop me a comment below and let me know what you think.


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Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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17 Responses

  1. Chris,
    I’d love to know how the natural luxe transfers to a kitchen space. I can easily see if in a lounge or bedroom, however the textures and ‘softness’ goes out the window with stone benchtops etc. As many places are open plan kitchen/lounge, and not all of us are lucky enough to have a house big enough for these zones to feel seperated, the style needs to carry through to lighting, accessories and kitchen stools. Any ideas?
    I’d love your thoughts!

  2. Definitely love the California Cool! I’ve been decorating my home with a blend of a mid century modern/boho styling, and I really love a look that blends a few different styles successfully. I think it gives a home a less contrived feel, has a welcoming atmosphere and really allows you to show your own personality. By not following one specific trend, I hope I may have more longevity in my pieces.
    (Well that’s the plan anyway!)
    Thanks for a great read and fabulous tips and tricks as always! I really enjoy reading along!

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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