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5 Big-Picture Trends Taking Off in Home Design and Remodeling

A look at Houzz search data reveals emerging trends that show what your clients are interested in right now

Mitchell Parker

It’s no secret that if you want to know what’s popular right now, just look at what people are searching for online. Think of it as a modern-day version of reading the tea leaves. We recently looked at searches on Houzz from April to June of 2021 and compared them with searches from the same time last year to see how home design interests are changing. What a difference a year can make.

Luxurious decor, the color green, swimming pools and dedicated spaces for work, art and exercise are just some of the trends taking off. Here you can glimpse more of what homeowners are interested in now — and get an idea of what your clients might want their home to look like in the very near future.

1. Dedicated Activity Spaces

Over the past year, many people’s homes became something of a mini village. The local gym, bar, theater and office turned hyperlocal as people made room to accommodate these activities at home. It’s a major shift in how people think about their homes and one that probably isn’t going away anytime soon.

The ability — or requirement, in some cases — to work from home accounts for perhaps one of the biggest recent changes in home design. On Houzz, searches for “home office” jumped 108% year over year.

There are many ways to carve out space for a dedicated home office area. Consider converting a spare bedroom or a portion of one. A standalone shed or ADU might be better for your situation. Or you might need just a little nook by a window for a laptop.

The design-build firm Benvenuti and Stein created this beautiful Chicago workspace in an open-plan living room. The wood-wrapped half wall provides a sense of privacy and hides office clutter from the living area and the dining room on the other side.

Houzz Pro Mood Boards lets you combine photos, products and backgrounds to communicate your vision for a project to clients.As you’re working with a new client, Houzz Pro can help you track your communication so that you have a central record of what’s been agreed to, as well as all your notes.You can also share photos and files with clients using Houzz Pro, as well as estimates, 3D floor plans and more.

Creating dedicated space for entertaining is important for striking the right work-life balance these days. For some people, a home bar gets right to the heart of that feeling. Searches for home bars spiked 277% year over year, while searches for wine cellars rose 271%.

Homeowners are interested in creating other entertainment experiences at home as well. Searches for a home theater increased 190%.

Here, a basement home theater by M House Development features plenty of stylish seating options in front of a large screen. There’s also a home bar and kitchenette nearby.

Many homeowners are also finding creative ways to burn off some of those calories gained from cocktails and movie night popcorn. Searches on Houzz for “home gym” climbed 156% year over year.

In this New York brownstone basement, designerAlicia Hassencreated a series of built-ins to store and display fitness equipment near an exercise bike.

In addition to creating space for physical health, many homeowners sought to carve out personal space for creative hobbies that support mental well-being. Houzz searches for art studios leapt 875%.

For the sewing studio shown here in Portland, Maine, Kaplan Thompson Architects designed a well-insulated structure made from locally sourced Eastern white pine. Wood fiber insulation made from sawdust and wax pairs with triple-glazed windows to help the studio reach 70 degrees in the winter without any heat on.

2. The Color Green

Green is having a moment — and not just in one area of the home, but in several.

Searches for green kitchen cabinets were up 829%. Jordan Design-Build Group used a green-blue color for the lower kitchen cabinets in this renovated 1930s bungalow in Washington, D.C. A reclaimed-wood island top and refinished original white oak flooring complement the welcoming color.

“I think green is trending for a few reasons,” color consultant Jennifer Ott says. “First off, after years of whites, grays and cool blues being popular, it seems folks are moving more toward warmer hues. Green bridges warm and cool, so it’s a good transition between the two. It works well with white and gray but also tans and creams.

“Also, organic botanical motifs are really popular right now in fashion and interior design. Green is an obvious color pairing, especially when combined with natural woods and fibers, which are also popular in home decor right now.”

New England Design & Construction went for a gorgeous forest green cabinet and wall color in this historic Victorian kitchen in Boston.

Searches for “green tile bathroom” were up 771% year over year.ProPacific Builders used a beautiful green picket tile in this San Diego bathroom, creating a complementary backdrop to all the brass finishes.

Houzz searches for “green accent chair” climbed 754%.MMI Design reupholstered these two Houston living room chairs in a striking green velvet fabric.

3. A Focus on Decorating

Renovations to kitchens and bathrooms command a lot of the home design conversation. But decorating seems to be experiencing a particular boom in interest.

Searches for home accents increased a whopping 2,417%, while searches for decorative accents rose 799%.

This stylish Mountain View, California, living room, which was updated as a surprise for a retired day care worker, features many decor trends on the rise. Searches increased significantly for velvet sofas (121%), gold wall mirrors (606%) and gold table lamps (1,166%). The search for champagne, likely in connection with champagne bronze finishes, increased 846%.

Grantola arched mirror: Uttermost; wall paint:Wickham Gray byBenjamin Moore

Interest in accent pillows is taking off too. Searches on Houzz skyrocketed 5,050%.

Jennifer Wundrow Interior Design used a stylish mix of color and pattern in the accent pillows shown here to tie together various tones and patterns for a cohesive design.

Slipcovers are a great way to add style that’s easy to clean — you can just remove the cover and toss it in the washing machine. Searches for slipcovers and chair covers climbed 448%.

This Columbus, Ohio, living room by KP Designs & Associates features a pair of stone gray slipcovered chairs near the fireplace. The chairs also swivel, which is another feature rising in popularity. (See more below.)

4. Flexible Design

As mentioned earlier, homeowners are looking to get more use out of their homes. Interest increased in flexible furniture and other design details that create multiple functions within a room.

For example, this Detroit room by RL Concetti doubles as a home office and TV lounge. But it hides a third use: The paneled wood desk area folds down to reveal a bed, turning the space into a guest room.

With the Murphy-style bed down, the room looks like a modern boutique hotel room.

Searches on Houzz for “queen Murphy bed” were up 2,081%.

A swivel chair is a great flexible design detail that gives users the ability to shift position toward or away from elements in a room. Searches for swivel chairs were up 1,922%.

In this Jacksonville, Florida, living room byLola Interiors, a pair of blue swivel chairs can face the interior conversation area or pivot around to views of the sunny outdoor area.

Another flexible design feature is nesting coffee tables, up 194%.

In this Raleigh, North Carolina, living room byJust Jill! Interiors, four square tables nest together to form one large coffee table. Each section can be moved around the room to serve as a table for guests. The poofs can function in the same way, providing flexible seating. Also notice the use of slipcovered sofas and chairs in the space, as well as the green curtains and botanical wall accent of plants, all trends on the rise according to recent Houzz search data.

Searches were up for other flexible design features as well, such as “TV armoire with pocket door” (2,259%), “nesting side tables” (1,918%) and “daybed sets” (867%).

5. Swimming Pool Design

Several factors probably led to a cannonball splash of rising interest in swimming pools in the past year. Many gyms with pools and local community pools were shut down for at least part of the pandemic, along with other public outdoor activities. That likely caused many homeowners to look to their backyards to create inviting outdoor experiences at home. Plus, swimming pools are just fun.

Searches for pools with water features, like those arching over this Phoenix pool by MTH Design Group, rose 797%.

A cascading waterfall creates a picturesque moment beneath a waterslide in this woodsy backyard by Kane Landscapes near Washington, D.C.

Searches also increased for “rectangle pool” (576%), “lap pool” (269%), “infinity pool” (214%), “plunge pool” (73%) and “geometric pool” (70%).

Houzz Editorial Staff. Home design journalist writing about cool spaces, innovative trends, breaking news, industry analysis and humor.

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