Single mom looking at a laptop computer with her child in their dining room.

7 Simple and Affordable Home Decor Trends for 2021

Nov 17 2020

New year, new home decor.

It’s time for a refresh, but how do you get started? And how much will it cost you to spruce up your digs?

A little can go a long way, say design experts like architect and blogger Nadim Maani. Simple changes in lighting, window decor, flooring, houseplants, or a design theme can work wonders to update your home.

Here are seven simple and affordable design trends for 2021:

1. Channel your quarantine time

COVID-19 created a great opportunity for DIY interior decorating. It’s given many of us not only more time at home but more time to learn about room design and creating things by hand (think ceramics, tie-dye, quilting, knitting, and macramé). Plus, craft projects are a great outlet for pandemic stress!

“Not only do we find satisfaction and pride in our newly learned skills, old-fashioned crafts help calm anxieties and are a very affordable way to give your space a focal point with a personal touch,” Maani says.

Have small children at home? All the better! Crafts are a great way to teach children about our world and keep tiny hands occupied.

The timing couldn’t be better to freshen up your home, agrees Bryan Stoddard of Homewares Insider, a home improvement website.

“During 2020 we’ve felt somewhat uncertain and — at times — bleak,” he notes. “The last thing we want is for our homes to look dull and depressing especially since we’re spending more time there than ever.”

Heads up! Check out our post on decorating your home during COVID-19 for more tips to turn your home into a quarantine sanctuary.

2. Sort your stuff

It’s always a good time to get organized, says Drea Montali, professional organizer and founder of Dream Organization in New York City.

“My clients want organized space with matching bins, boxes, and customized closets,” she says. “It’s become part of their interior design process because people want to live in a functional and clutter-free space.”

Pro tip: Feel free to part with things that no longer please you. It’ll free up some space and help you decide what elements of your decor you still love (more on that later).

3. Paint (or wallpaper)

2021 interior design

(Photo credit: Little House On The Corner)

The first and most basic step in decorating any interior is painting the walls.

“The new color trend for 2021 will be dark blue and grey so it would be best to design your space with these colors in mind to produce an elegant effect,” says Jessica Proper, a DIY blogger for Banging Toolbox, also based in New York City. If you have dark walls, open the space with white, off-white, or soft gray.

You can even paint everything (walls, baseboards, trim and door) the same color to make the room feel larger and more tranquil.

“This modern and sophisticated look can easily be created on a budget and, best of all, it’s a look that even the most novice DIYer can quickly achieve,” says Christine Wessling, a home improvement blogger for Little House on the Corner.

Another way to liven up your interior a bit is to determine one wall to paint in an accent color or stick wallpaper on to give a room contrast and texture. Modern wallpaper murals (like this peony wallpaper) are an easy way to add color, plus they’re removable and can be reused if you move.

In addition to blues and grays, the “happy” colors in 2021 will be empowering pinks and optimistic magentas, says Adrienne Scanlan, owner of About Murals.

4. Create a focal point

A focal point is an object that catches our attention — a red accent wall, a beautiful window letting in natural light, a brightly colored floral arrangement, a favorite piece of art.

“These don’t have to be expensive changes, just effective,” Maani explains.

For example, use lighting (natural or artificial) to direct attention to a focal point, such as a table or statue. You can also use a non-traditional item, like a fountain, in your living room as a focal point.

Craving a statement piece? Scour estate sales for deals on furniture, art, and accessories that feel one-of-a-kind. Think oversized art, unique lighting, or vintage armchairs or accent pieces. If buying new isn’t in your budget right now, repurpose something you already own! Paint a chest or side table in a pop color or reinvent a piece of upholstery with a bold new fabric.

5. Choose multi-purpose furniture

Even if your home office is small, or in a multi-purpose area, you’ll want to make the most of the space you have, says Caitlyn Davidian, a Los Angeles-based interior designer who serves on the advisory board for Home Life Digest.

Office furniture should serve multiple purposes, she suggests. Instead of a heavy oak desk, how about a decorative folding table that can also serve as an outdoor table?

“It’s all about what you need it to be,” says Davidian. “Multifunctional pieces of furniture are a great way to maximize your budget since they can be tucked away once they are no longer needed.”

6. Make what’s old new again

After such an unpredictable 2020, folks are craving spaces that feel tranquil and take them back to nature.

Antiques, fringing and wallpaper are back in vogue thanks to a new trend known as Grand Millennial style (think your grandma’s wallpaper and real wood furniture). Designers predict a renewed appreciation for things made by hand as an antidote to our hi-tech, digital lives.

“We want to see and feel materials with natural textures like wool, linen, wood and stone – the opposite of the screens we spend a lot of hours looking at,” Davidian says.

And because we’re all traveling less (or not at all), many are making more use of their outdoor spaces.

“We are going to start seeing our outdoor spaces becoming just as important and as comfortable and functional as our indoor spaces,” she adds.

Psst – check out our roundup of creative ideas for tiny outdoor spaces.

7. Don’t forget the details

If you think your walls are looking a little empty, or you have knick-knacks, books, and plants you don’t know what to do with, add a few shelves that visually fit into the space.

New to the whole plant thing? Our handy guide to houseplants has you covered.

Wooden shelves add a rustic vibe while doubling as a decorative detail. Plus, they’re typically more affordable than new cabinets, Stoddard adds.

What about your floors? If you have hardwood, freshen them up with a deep clean and polishing. Looking to get rid of some old carpeting? Consider vinyl or laminate flooring, bamboo or cork floors, or new carpet tiles. With all of these materials, you can choose from an array of patterns, colors, and finishes.

One more tip: Simply swap out the handles on your cabinets or drawers for new ones. Even if you don’t repaint the furniture beforehand, effective gold or boho handles can add charm and originality in an instant.

As you’re preparing yourself to take on 2021, remember that even the tiniest details can make you smile.

For more inspo, check out these posts:

Recent Posts