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Ten Interiors Trends For 2021

Charu Gandhi of Elicyon, a London-based interior designer, discusses the top interiors trends for the new year. 


Charu Gandhi

We've all been spending more time at home this year. Before the Coronavirus pandemic was heard of, around 70 percent of British people had never worked from home, according to the Office of National Statistics. As of April 2020, some 46 percent were working from their homes as lockdowns ensued. 

Despite the discovery of a vaccine this week, we will likely still spend more time working from home in the near future, as tech giants like Google, Twitter and Facebook announce long-term working from home strategies and the need for expensive, prime office real estate is called into question. 

One upshot of being at home is gaining a more critical eye for what is practical, pleasing, as well as design-forward. As many seek to upgrade their living space for the New Year, Charu Gandhi, founder and director of award-winning interior design studio Elicyon, shares her insight into the key trends and features for the world of interiors in 2021.

Reimagining of forgotten furniture

2019 saw the return of the drinks cabinet and trolley, and we are predicting that other pieces of long-forgotten or antiquated furniture will be revived across the coming year. We recently worked on a private apartment within Chelsea Barracks where we incorporated a bespoke small chest of drawers with an adjoining upholstered bench – a contemporary take on the traditional telephone table. Looking ahead, the rolltop desk could be set for a comeback; not only are they beautifully crafted pieces, but they serve a practical purpose, allowing those working from home to hide away laptops and work paraphernalia at the end of the day.

Paint as a material

Far from being an afterthought, paint texture is becoming a pivotal element of a design scheme and we’ve noted a much more experimental approach being taken. High gloss paints and even 80s-style sponge techniques are being used to add texture, depth and interest to walls. Another popular choice is textured plaster – we love to work with polished plaster in a bathroom. 

The ‘new neutrals’

We were not entirely surprised to note that Brave Ground was named Dulux's colour of the year for 2021, as we have been incorporating the colour into our palettes for a number of recent projects. The 'new neutrals', as we often refer to them, comprise ivory base notes and a scattering of additional tones including rust, pink, beige, mustard and burnt orange. Brave Ground- a neutral colour - is the perfect complement to this palette and provides the ideal base to build from. It is a very 'liveable' colour and, considering that we are all spending much more time indoors, is very fitting to the new ways we use our living spaces. It allows you to build interest and focus with highlight pieces such as cushions, rugs and chairs in bolder colours which can be changed or rotated as required. 

Natural materials 

The move away from silk and sheen-textured fabrics continues, and as a studio we are focusing heavily on using natural materials such as linen, wool, rattan and light blonde timbers.

New green tones and explosion of yellow

Green has been a noticeably prevalent colour in our recent work, with many suppliers using varying shades in their fabric ranges and indoor foliage and botanicals featuring in many of our briefs. Green promotes a sense of connection with nature, which many of us are missing at present, and so we think the popularity of the colour will continue into next year but will move away from forest greens to more muted, olive greens. We’re also anticipating yellow to come to the fore, perhaps as a vibrant unexpected pop of acid yellow on the inside of a piece of joinery or a softer, warm yellow woven through fabrics and featured across accessories.

Experimental patterns

We are seeing a braver and bolder approach when it comes to pattern, with skilfully clashing prints and geometric monochrome styles becoming more widely used and patterns of contrasting scale featured across wallpapers and upholstery.

Celebrating imperfection

It is part of our duty as interior designers and champions of craft to educate clients on the beauty of imperfection. With sustainability and longevity at the forefront of our projects, we try to incorporate recycled, upcycled furniture and repurpose offcuts of materials wherever possible. These older pieces will of course have imperfections, but our clients increasingly appreciate the variations, patina and authenticity found in antique or vintage furniture and accessories. This side table is made with timber offcuts.

Sculptural furniture

Layouts are becoming increasingly informal, with people moving away from traditional entertaining or dining spaces in favour of more laid-back living arrangements, where curved, sculptural and playful furniture can work particularly well. Sculptural furniture helps to break up a space and creates a more fluid ambience. We’re using a lot of textured fabrics such as suede, wool and bouclé for our upholstery pieces and these lend themselves to rounder, softer pieces. It’s also all about the placement of the pieces – a curved sofa for example, can draw the eye to a particular view or lead you through to another room. They also speak to the fun and decadent spirit of the Art Deco 1920s.

Decorative and practical screens

With the majority of people spending more time at home and needing a more flexible, adaptable space, we are working frequently with decorative screens that can be used to break up an open-plan space and create ‘rooms within a room’. Cleverly designed and placed, a screen can create layers of privacy without closing off a space completely. Screens are also a great way to add decorative pattern or movement into a home and we are working with a variety of materials to create beautiful, eye-catching screens and dividers, from rich fabrics to mirrors and textured metals.

Exterior design

Due to the current focus on outdoor socialising, we are seeing clients putting much more thought into their outside spaces, whether they be an expansive garden, courtyard or terrace. How to create an inviting, warm and cosy outdoor ambience is now a key consideration on many of our projects and we have seen a growing demand for statement outdoor furniture and accessories such as wall lights and lanterns, durable throws and cushions and innovative heating solutions.