Feature Article /
Aug 19, 2021

Emerging Home Design Trends 2021

home design 2021

Photo: Windstar Homes / Windstar Design Group

Searches on Houzz provide a direct glimpse into what information and inspiration homeowners need for renovation projects—so the site identified top growing searches to discover emerging design trends.

By analyzing the year-over-year growth for the most popular search terms between April and June 2020 and 2021, the site found a growing interest in dedicated activity spaces, indoor-outdoor connections, flexible interiors, and creative swimming pool styles. 


The Houzz report suggests that the effects of pandemic lockdowns still linger amongst homeowners, spurring interest for more ways to enhance their homes’ functionality and design. Specific search terms may come as a surprise, too, when compared to other trend reports and discourse in the residential industry. 

Here is a closer look at each emerging home design trend identified by Houzz:

Dedicated Activity Spaces

Spiking interest in specific activity spaces reflects changing lifestyles and priorities for many homeowners. Of the six dedicated activity space searches noted by Houzz, five could act as an in-home substitution for public businesses.

Home bars, for example, increased search volume by more than 200%, as did wine cellars. Defined as entertainment areas by the National Association of Realtors, bars and wine cellars are most likely to use these features when hosting, but when you can’t venture out of your home to enjoy a cold one, it can be helpful to have it just down the hall. 

These results are consistent with the general theme of homeowners wanting advanced functionality, as John Burns Real Estate Consulting noted in a previous trend report. But in this case, homeowners seem to want entertainment and activity functionality rather than a more practically designed kitchen, for example. The top search term for dedicated spaces was for art studios, pointing toward a desire for hobby spaces as well.


design trends 2021

Photo: courtesy Houzz / Caroline Sharpnack


Increased interest in personal hobbies could align with the trend of wellness design in terms of emotional well-being. The America at Home Study, conducted once in April 2020 and again in October 2020, found 83% of respondents said emotional well-being is important and only 67% were satisfied with their emotional well-being. Another 76% said physical health and fitness were very important, but 59% were satisfied with their physical health and fitness levels.

Homeowners searched for home gyms 156% more often, and increasing searches for art studios could point toward solutions for addressing these downfalls in their lifestyles.

Moving past fun, home offices took sixth place out for dedicated activity spaces searches. With the spike in remote working one might imagine home offices would be a hotter topic, but homeowners appear to be most interested in renovating their homes to accommodate for leisurely activities.


A survey of 1,242 homeowners in September last year conducted by the New Home Trends Institute found the majority of respondents would make changes to their work-from-home space, and only 30% work from a formal office at home. The real estate data firm estimated 22 million mid- to high-income households began working from home in 2020 and 60% (i.e., 13 million households) would continue working remotely either part-time or full-time post-COVID.

Dedicated Activity Space Results:

  • Art studio: up 875%
  • Home bars: up 277%
  • Wine cellars: up 271%
  • Home theater: up 190%
  • Home gym: up 156%
  • Home office: up 108%

Bringing the Outdoors In

The Houzz search results show green as the emerging color for the year—a contradiction to paint companies’ predictions for their 2021 color of the year.

Pantone chose Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray, Sherwin-Williams opted for Urbane Bronze, and Benjamin Moore forecasted Aegean Teal. All companies did say organic themes and soothing palettes were going to be big, but it seems homeowners increasingly want green to accomplish this.

Homeowners searched for green kitchen cabinets significantly more this year compared to last (up 829% to be exact). Several other data points help explain this trend. 

For one, kitchens continue to be the most popular renovation project and continue to expand in size. Houzz’s 2021 Kitchen Trends Study found 26% of surveyed homeowners opted or planned to enlarge their kitchens, while the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) annual trends report found more than 80% of surveyed residential professionals forecast an increase in the size of kitchens.

With kitchen projects being the top renovation project, more homeowners inherently search for kitchen inspiration, yet green goes against previously noted trends. For years, white has been the top choice for kitchen cabinets, and if not white, then most likely gray or natural wood, according to data from Houzz, the NKBA, and the National Association of Home Builders. Many homeowners are embracing pops of color via their kitchen islands, specifically 41% of homeowners who renovated or added a kitchen island, according to Houzz data.

The tile sector has noted a huge trend for green tiles, and Houzz’s search volume shows an interest in green tiles for the bathroom. It’s not a specific shade, shape, or style of green tiles either, designer Alena Capra of Alena Capra Designs shared at Coverings 2021. 

Bringing the Outdoors In Results:

  • Green kitchen cabinets: up 829%
  • Green tile bathroom: up 771%
  • Green accent chair: up 754%
  • Artificial plants & trees: up 658%
  • Green bedroom: up 379%
  • Indoor pots & planters: up 353%


Design That Offers Flexibility


design trends 2021

Photo: courtesy Matthew Niemann Photography / Paper Moon Painting


There are lessons to be learned from the products and furniture highly popular with homeowners, as well. These layout alterations and accommodations represent common downfalls with specific areas of the home.

Houzz search results illustrate a need for flexibility in bedrooms and living rooms—they might also hint at needs for newly added guest suites and home offices. 

The “TV armoire with pocket door” term took the top place for flexible design searches, up 2,259% this year, along with Queen Murphy bed, swivel accent chair, and nesting side tables. All of these products are likely to be used in bedrooms, home offices, or living rooms that need to offer more space and/or easily change functions—possibly even accessory dwelling units.

Design That Offers Flexibility Results:

  • TV armoire with pocket door: up 2,259%
  • Queen Murphy bed: up 2,081%
  • Swivel accent chair: up 1,922%
  • Nesting side tables: up 1,918%
  • Daybed sets: up 867%
  • Nesting coffee tables: up 194%

Making a Splash with Pool Design

Leading in-ground residential pool manufacturer Latham chatted with PRODUCTS earlier this year to discuss pool design trends, and Houzz’s search results show a clear correlation between the discussed themes.


Houzz noted an increase in pool demand and specific pool styles, shapes, and designs. More homeowners seem to be interested in pools with water features, modern shapes, and specific functions.

Search terms represent a large array of pool needs from homeowners. Some seem to desire pools made for swimming, noted in the increase of lap pool searches, and others want a budget and size-friendly plunge pool. 


emerging design trends 2021

Photo: courtesy Houzz / Carolyn Reyes


Spikes in searches for rectangle, infinity, and geometric pool shapes correspond with trends noted from Latham’s Chief Marketing Officer Joel Culp. Rectangular pools fit nicely with a modern design, said Culp.

“The shape really conveys a sleek, modern feel, which is very much on-trend with today's new buyers,” said Culp. “So as we look at the business in shifts with respect to the form or the shape of the pool, we are seeing a slight shift towards more of the modern feel and more of the rectangles.”

Pool Design Results:

  • Pools with water features: up 797%
  • Rectangle pool: up 576%
  • Lap pool: up 269%
  • Infinity pool: up 214%
  • Plunge pool: up 73%
  • Geometric pool: up 70%

Houzz’s 2021 Emerging Home Design Trends report ultimately hints toward specific trends while remaining in line with data from various associations across the last two years. These emerging trends show that a year and a half into the pandemic, the pandemic-influenced housing design shifts are consistent, they just might be manifesting themselves in differing ways than noticed before.

Caroline Broderick

Caroline Broderick is the associate editor of PRODUCTS.

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