Design Must-Dos

Home and design experts look ahead to what will be trendy in 2021

Home and design experts look ahead to what will be trendy in 2021

1701 Alta Vista Austin house for sale
Turning your backyard into an oasis is big. Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Never before has your home's style and functionality felt more important than in 2020. We've all become a lot more acquainted with our living spaces thanks to the pandemic, and many have undertaken remodeling projects as a result.

What will we be seeing more of in the new year? Zillow has put together a list of the top home trends for 2021, and on it you'll find everything from "Zoom rooms" to vacation-like amenities to a fancier place to cultivate that sourdough starter.

Intergenerational living
Young adults and grandparents alike have found themselves moving back in with family for financial and health reasons, so new construction is progressing with that in mind.

According to Generations United, about one in six Americans currently live in multigenerational households, and this year, the share of young people moving back home reached all-time highs.

Katie Detwiler, chief experience officer at Pennsylvania home builder Berks Homes, says there are more requests than ever for a finished basement with a full bathroom, as well as bedroom additions.

Gourmet kitchens
If we've not all become successful amateur cooks this year, then at least we tried — and learned what does and doesn't work in our current kitchens.

A previous Zillow survey finds 41 percent of people value a well-equipped kitchen more than before as a result of social distancing recommendations, and more people want the space to show off their new culinary skills in the next year.

"We've seen an increase in requests for gourmet kitchens," says Detwiler. "This includes bigger cabinets and island additions so homeowners have the space they need to cook their gourmet meals."

"Zoom rooms"
Think of it as a home office: upgraded. A Zillow survey found that Americans working from home say they would consider a move for a dedicated office space, if they were to continue working remotely at least occasionally.

As of November, the number of listings mentioned "home office" or "Zoom room" increased by 48.5 percent compared to the same time last year. Berks Homes also says requests for an at-home study in lieu of existing living space more than doubled this year.

"Homecation" amenities
With lots of time and nowhere to go, homeowners are coming up with creative solutions to create vacation vibes right at home. "Pool" was the top Zillow keyword search term in 2020; "waterfront" and "dock" also landed in the top 10.

Additionally, homeowners may be looking for big and small ways to create a luxury experience at home, from upgrading to a spa-like bathtub or relaxing rain shower. Zillow research found listings that mentioned a free-standing tub typically sold for 5.5 percent more than expected, while the listing keyword "spa-inspired" contributed to a 1.8 percent price premium.

The rise of remote work will also allow more homeowners to turn their favorite vacation destination into their hometown. Page views of for-sale listings in areas typically considered vacation destinations — such as Key West, the Jersey Shore, and Cape Cod — are up nearly 50 percent compared to last year.

Backyard oasis
A Zillow survey from the Harris Poll found that 41 percent of people say they value a large outdoor space more as a result of social distancing recommendations.

Homes mentioning "fire pit" in the listing sold for 2.8 percent more than similar homes, and "outdoor kitchen" sold for 4.5 percent more. Smart sprinkler systems and outdoor lighting are other features that add a contemporary flare to a backyard but also help your home sell up to 15 days faster than expected.

Smart and safe tech
It's more vital than ever that our homes stay as germ-free as possible, and smart home technology has saved the day with products like touchless appliances, self-cleaning toilets, and bidets. And while a lot of these products are niche right now, Zillow predicts they will evolve to become the standard in home design.

"Our tech-driven appliances, solid surfaces, and smart fixtures have come to the rescue," says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow home design expert and founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. "Features like voice-activated faucets, robotic vacuums, and electronic assistant-controlled lights have updated the traditional tasks of cooking and cleaning by incorporating thoughtful innovation into home products."

Smart home technology is becoming increasingly appealing to buyers. A Zillow analysis found that listings mentioning a smart light in their description sold seven days faster than expected, and listings mentioning a smart thermostat sold six days faster.

Pet-friendly living
The flexibility of remote work gave many people the opportunity to be home all day, and in turn, made it easier to add a new best friend to their family. According to a Nielsen survey, 20 percent of respondents in July said they adopted one or more dogs or cats between March and June, up from less than 5 percent over the same time last year.

A 2020 Zillow analysis found for-sale listings mentioning a pet shower or dog wash in their listing description sold for 5.1 percent more than similar homes, while listings mentioning a fenced backyard in their description sold 6.8 days faster than expected.

More new construction
Traffic for new construction homes has increased significantly on Zillow, up 82 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter a year ago, signaling an increasing number of shoppers interested in personalizing their home's features and living in a new, clean space.

A 2020 Zillow survey found more than a quarter of buyers who bought a new construction home did so to customize home features, while 37 percent chose new construction because everything in the home was new and never used.