Interior Design

Worst trends of 2020: how the pandemic has made us rethink once-loved looks

Minimalism is out, and maximalism is in – but what other trends should we do away with in 2021?

Worst trends 2020
(Image credit: Future / Michael Sinclair)

The way we live has changed dramatically in 2020, and it's not only us who have had to adapt to the 'new normal' – our homes have had to flex, too, to cope with the new ways we are inhabiting them. 

And that, inevitably means that some of the trends we embraced enthusiastically at the beginning of 2020 have fallen out of favor far more quickly than they usually might.

So, mid-pandemic, which are the worst trends of 2020 – and why? 

For what to look out for next year, see: Interior design trends 2021 – the 12 biggest looks for the New Year

1. Open plan living

Worst trends 2020

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Once the design trend du jour, open plan living could very well become a thing of the past if the current 'new normal' persists well into 2021 and beyond. 

With more and more of us now working from home – we look to seek out secluded spots for us to hunker down and get to work. 

Step forward 'broken-plan' living – the new alternative for 2021. According to Merlin Wright, Design Director at British Standard (opens in new tab) and Plain English (opens in new tab), broken-plan spaces are 'set to define the next decade'. 

Zoning will replace open-plan in a phenomenon being referred to as ‘broken-plan’. Retaining the spacious feel of an open plan design, the trend employs the use of screens, freestanding furniture, cabinetry and house plants to create distinct zones and nest-like nooks intended for cooking, relaxing and entertaining.

2. Minimalism

Worst trends 2020

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Pre-2020, minimalism was everywhere – it was modern, cool and calm. And with the Maria Kondo phenomenon in full-swing at the start of the year, minimalism was seen as aspirational. 

Far removed from the starkness of the past – today’s interiors are anything but clinical – maximalism is back with aplomb. Think warm, cozy environments – a more elevated version of hygge

As we look to seek comfort within our homes, we are decorating our personal spaces with all the things that make us feel happy, so pep your home up with luxurious pieces, bold hues and deluxe patterns. More is most definitely more…

3. Lack of color

Worst trends 2020

(Image credit: Future)

Throw away the white paint and re-decorate your neutral schemes – color is back in a big way for 2021. 

Our homes have become a multi-purpose space – to work, relax and entertain in (when allowed) – so using color to define each zone is certainly something to consider. 

Whether it’s bright and brave or soft and subtle, a well-considered palette will lend design edge to any space.

But that doesn't necessarily mean we have to do away with our beloved gray palette. In fact, Pantone selected a rock gray and a sunshine yellow as their Colors of the Year for 2021 – just make sure to add a splash of color.

4. Straight lines

Worst trends 2020

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

With the emphasis today on the home as a family space, used for working, socialising and relaxing, sharp, straight angles on furniture can look a little stark. The answer? Curves. 

Full-on voluptuous or gently rounded, curves will lift the layout and soften the overall look of your room, adding a bold design focus or a subtle touch of shaping to your décor. 

This softer profile is shaping up to be big news in 2021. From pendants to pitchers, it’s time to herald a softer silhouette. 

5. Open shelving

Worst trends 2020

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

Open shelving, although beautiful, is no longer the practical solution it once was.

As we are spending more time at home, cleaning has become an everyday (often twice a day) occurrence. Therefore, having crockery, cups and curios displayed on shelves is a no-no for 2021.

'I am realizing that some of those overtly-styled moments – such as open shelving – are just not as functional any more,' says Hannah Pobar, Founder of Home Studio List (opens in new tab). Instead, clever storage solutions are at the forefront of design, especially those with curvaceous design elements and soft-close hinges.

Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.