While 2020 was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were grateful for the extra time spent with families inside the home. As 2021 approaches, it is looking like that home-bound time will continue well into the new year, which stands to influence how interior design will trend in the future. With most Americans spending more time at home in 2020, design trends for next year are focused on creating ample space utilization, plenty of greenery to maintain connections to nature, and sustainable (and budget-friendly) features — just to name a few. Inhabitat rounded up some of the most sustainable interior design trends predicted for 2021 so you can stay ahead of the curve.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
recycled glass jars filled with plants

Repurposed décor

Kelly Hoppen, one of the world’s top interior designers, told Homes and Gardens Magazine that the pandemic caused many people to look at design in a different way this year. More of us focused on reusing and repurposing things like furniture and accessories, and that trend will likely continue into the new year. This goes along with longevity, either by investing in higher quality pieces that may cost more but will last longer, or by spending more time shopping at thrift stores to save money. There’s also something extra special about finding a unique item, whether it’s vintage or simply recycled, that makes it one of the most rewarding and easiest ways to design sustainably.

woven baskets with plants inside

Natural elements

Staying indoors for longer periods of time throughout 2020 left many of us yearning for a deeper connection to the elements of nature we’ve always relied upon. It’s no surprise that more people started turning to gardening and indoor plants as a new hobby during the pandemic. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is with an interior garden or by using more organic materials in your design. Even better, adding a few plants to your place aids in better air quality and may even help brighten your mood.

Related: The top 10 houseplants of 2020 and what’s trending for 2021

white and gold kitchen with energy-efficient appliances

Energy efficiency

This is an easy one, because incorporating more energy-efficient appliances can appeal to a wide range of designers. While they may be more of an investment in certain situations, appliances with high energy efficiency usually lower utility costs and can even pay for themselves in a short period of time. Not to mention, they are better for the environment as well, something that has been on everyone’s radar due to the global climate crisis.

two chairs in front of a wood wall

Sustainable building materials

Australian-based Kibo Construction Company says that organic options like wood, wool and stone are great choices, but being mindful of where our building and design materials come from is something that is becoming more important. This is partly because it has become much easier to access fair-trade materials and find out if they were extracted with minimal environmental impact. It’s also important to be aware of legitimate certifications, like FSC-certified wood from sustainable forests, for building materials to avoid potential greenwashing.

child's murphy bed next to a small wood desk

Modular spaces

It’s no secret that we are big fans of modular design at Inhabitat, so we’re definitely hoping to see more throughout 2021. Modular spaces have the ability to create a fully hybrid experience in a smaller area, but it also has environmental benefits in terms of construction as well. Incorporating modular design into your home is an amazing space-saving technique, meaning you can do more with less space.

gray bedroom with sofa at the food of the bed


Modular spaces and objects also promote minimalism, a movement that is gaining more and more popularity each year as the earth’s resources continue to dwindle. The idea of only purchasing what you absolutely need and minimizing single-use purchases is one of the best ways to live sustainably. “Luxury Minimal Design is a top inspiration,” according to Trend Book. “The clear spaces are becoming more desirable for decor enthusiasts. Spaces with few pieces of furniture are the inspiration for 2021.” Minimal furniture and accessories, especially those made by hand or with natural materials, can add a touch of luxury to any space.

smart thermostat on white wall

Smart tech

According to Ben Wu, winner of the International Interior Designer of the Year Award 2020, smart tech that makes the home more eco-friendly will be another big trend going into 2021. “Diversity and globalization will go hand in hand,” he told Homes and Gardens. “Future technology like 5G will take place more and more in the home design.” Smart home technology is already on the rise with popularity gaining for gadgets that connect to your smart phone such as the self-learning Google Nest and smart doorbell cameras. It makes sense that that trend will continue.

Images via Press Loft and Unsplash