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Top Interior Design Trends of 2020: From Home Offices to Two-Tone Kitchens

There is an upside to spending more time at home: researching your dream house, down to the cabinet handles.

These days, many are ushering in brass-adorned kitchen cabinets and high-contrast living rooms, and are rethinking office areas. They seem to be saying goodbye to the all-white kitchen, acoustically challenged open-floor plan and unequipped outdoor space.

Homeowners also are moving away from a single style of home throughout—be it contemporary or farmhouse—toward mixing and matching décor elements.

The home office

Homeowners want versatile, well-lighted spaces that are soundproof and can be closed off from the main living area, perhaps via sliding or pocket doors.

They are interested in the notion of separable space—having the option to be part of the living space, says San Francisco-based architect William Duff. In some instances, families request two or more nooks to accommodate quiet areas for everyone in the home, including children needing space to do classwork. In past projects, he says, home offices were set up in a spare bedroom as an afterthought.

Utilitarian spaces

Utilitarian spaces, including the laundry room, mudroom and walk-in pantry. These private areas are getting a makeover for the benefit of families. Daring wallpaper choices, funky floor tiles and thoughtfully chosen wall sconces or chandeliers help these smaller areas feel more playful. Families are spending a lot of time in those rooms, and they want to make them functional and beautiful.

The Kitchen

Meanwhile, the dream kitchen is getting more down-to-earth. Popular photos show soft greens and browns, with wood accents that complement brass or mixed-metal fixtures. Light-colored oak shelving is another common accent.

All-white is becoming less popular, people are leaning toward a two-tone or three-tone kitchen.

San Francisco interior designer Caitlin Flemming designed a two-tone kitchen that was popular for its simplicity. She used Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon paint for some of the brass-adorned cabinets, then installed a plain white quartz countertop instead of one in veined marble. “It is all flowing together; sometimes marble can be a little distracting,” Ms. Flemming says.


Bathrooms are getting their own updates by blending neutral colors with interesting textures to make small spaces seem bigger, says Stephanie Fryer, a Newport Beach, Calif., interior designer. In one of Houzz’s most popular photos, Ms. Fryer hung a painting above the toilet and expanded the shower tile to the entire bathroom to create a cohesive modern space. “It makes it more like a room than just where to use the toilet,” she says.

Outdoor spaces

The pandemic is influencing the outside of the dream home, too. Favored outdoor spaces have décor and lighting that wouldn’t be out of place indoors. Covered cooking areas with built-in grills, fire pits with comfortable seating and dining areas are making it easier to relax or to work outside.

“The patio and the deck are really just another room in the house,” says Ms. Colby.

Many homeowners are asking for easy-to-open walls that can create indoor-outdoor spaces to bring in fresh air and make it easier to entertain during a pandemic, adds Mr. Duff.

For most families, the idea of a dream home shifts with their values and goals, adds Lindsay T. Graham, a researcher at University of California Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment.

“That notion of I’m going to do this once and it’s going to be done is kind of a misnomer,” she says. “We grow, so our spaces are going to grow.”


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