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03 Mar 2021

2021 Trends forecast with Neale Whitaker


While 2020 was an extremely challenging year in many ways, it certainly kick-started a giant wave of home renovation and interior design projects around the country.

Being at home for prolonged periods of time, whether for work or schooling, encouraged an unprecedented number of Australians to think seriously about injecting some new life into their interiors.

"On a global level, the pandemic has seen most of us spend more time than ever in our homes, and this phenomenon is set to continue," says interior design expert, TV personality and Luxaflex brand ambassador, Neale Whitaker.

"Even when the worst of the pandemic is behind us, many of us will continue to work from home. 2020 was such an extreme year and it has totally shaped the trends that are now emerging," he adds.

According to Neale, 2021 is not so much about leaving behind the events of 2020, but more about looking forward with both optimism and pragmatism. Given this, here are his top trends for the year ahead.

Trend #1 - A shift away from open-plan living

With remote working set to stay, at least in some capacity, there is an increased need for homes to provide quiet spaces conducive to productivity. As such, new home designs are likely to incorporate more break-out spaces, or zones that can double as living/working areas.

"Whilst we still require our homes to provide a sanctuary from technology and the outside world, they also need to be functional and practical areas for living and working," says Neale.

"We're seeing a move away from the open plan living that has dominated interior design for many years, towards rooms that offer privacy and can serve many functions," he adds.

Trend #2 – Bold colours will dominate

Perhaps as a response to the depressing nature of 2020, the year ahead is set to be about bold, happy, bright colours.

While Pantone has declared a combination of yellow and grey as its colour of the year, the jury is still out on what other specific colours will be popular. The general consensus, though, is that strong colours will dominate interior design.

"It's also likely that a palette of soft browns and beiges, from sand through to caramel, will replace the greys that have been popular for several years," says Neale.

"Many design experts are predicting strong colour and bold patterns will increase in popularity, as will 'conscious consumerism' – a desire to know where and how the things we buy are made," he says.

Trend #3 – Functionality is key

When asked about shapes or structural trends, Neale suggests that functionality is "topping the list of design trends, with so many of us working from home indefinitely or perhaps permanently."

"Homes that offer respite from the world and our over-reliance on technology, whilst simultaneously providing functional workspaces will be sought-after. Multi-functional spaces, which offer privacy and a range of uses, will be at a premium," he says.

Trend #4 - Travel through design

With international travel off the cards at least for the time being, Neale also believes many new interior spaces will have interesting nods to the designs and styles of different countries and cultures.

"I don't believe any one country will dominate, but I think we will continue our romance with designs and fabrics from places like Morocco, Turkey, India, Mexico, Greece and Italy. Traditional Navajo designs from the US will also feature too," he says.

"Our inability to travel internationally will increase our need to 'travel' through our homes, and we will continue to look for inspiration towards countries that have a strong tradition of craft and heritage."

"The most interesting homes will be the ones that successfully blend eras and styles and make them relevant for modern living. As I've often said on The Block, nobody wants to live in a museum," he adds.

Trend #5 – Indoor/outdoor living will remain

According to Neale, indoor/outdoor living spaces will remain very popular, especially with those needing some fresh air and vibrancy in their home-working or home-schooling environment.

In many homes, outdoor spaces may also function as additional working spaces – aided by solutions such as the Luxaflex® Folding Arm Awnings, which provide protection from harsh UV rays and allow people to use their outdoor areas in all types of weather.

Neale's Top Design Tips

  • Never choose style over substance. Think about how you want to live and what spaces you enjoy being in.
  • Even though it's nice to be inspired by current trends, don't be a slave to them.
  • Always start with a firm budget and add a minimum contingency of 30% for over-run.
  • Establish a realistic timeline for your build or renovation and remember that 'reality' TV is anything but! Rome wasn't built in a day and nor can your kitchen be!

Interested in being part of a masterclass with Neale Whitaker?

Imagine having an exclusive, one-on-one session with the legendary Neale Whitaker. All you have to do is purchase a Luxaflex product, and upload photo of your transformed room, alone with proof of purchase on our website, and you could be in the running to win this once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus, everyone that enters will gain access to attend an exclusive online masterclass hosted by Neale.

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