2020 Vision: Home design trends for the new year and beyond

You may not be old enough to remember the 1970s but you can probably picture the groovy living rooms, wood paneling and shag carpets of the era.

Home and lifestyle design sets the stage for our memories, experiences and collective history. It reflects the mood and attitudes of our times, showcasing triumphs of technology and artistic aspirations. As we look with optimism and hope to a new decade, we address new questions as well: What comes next? Who will we be in the months and years to come? And is farmhouse still happening?

Regarding trend directions for 2020, the answers are resounding and clear: less anxiety and stress, more design that aligns with health, wellness, sustainability and a sense of calm. We want to exhale — and perhaps install an indoor water fountain or backyard playhouse for our miniature goat (really).

The decade ahead will be spent in pursuit of serenity and wellness, along with a passion for increasingly multifunctional spaces, global influences and customization, according to data and analysis from online design platforms like Pinterest, Houzz, Etsy and design network HGTV. Here’s how it all breaks down:

“People are looking for calm,” said Mitchell Parker, editor for Palo Alto-based renovation website Houzz with more than 40 million monthly users. “With all the tech and screen time, the environment [issues] and political landscape, I get a sense from talking with the designers and homeowners that people are really looking for their homes to be these kind of calm, quieting, soothing spaces where they can unplug and recharge.”

Cultural shifts in how we live are also demanding increased emphasis on functionality and multipurpose spaces.

“The home is becoming the hub for so many different activities,” said Enid Hwang, director of community and culture for San Francisco-based Pinterest, the vision-board-on-steroids platform that boasts more than 320 million online users per month. “It is your office, not just where you live. It’s also your gym and where you want to entertain. So all these different facets of life — like wellness, fitness, entertaining — there’s this desire to bring what was previously an out-of-home experience into your actual living space.”

“People are staying home a lot more,” said Alessandra Wood, vice president of style for San Francisco-based online design platform Modsy. “It changes our relationship with our spaces, and people feel more comfortable investing in them.”

The ability to shop, stream theater-quality content, and virtually connect without leaving our living rooms is not just changing our habits, it is inspiring the way we want our homes to look. Isolating and insular? Not at all.

“Our data is telling us so strongly that people are thinking sustainably and getting global inspiration more than ever before,” Hwang said. “So those two big themes are being tripled in importance through everything that includes style and home and all of the purchasing and decorating decisions therein.”

Bringing elements of nature into our homes is also on trend for 2020 as people look to reconnect and find balance with the great outdoors, even inside — an effort represented by trends in color choices (greens, blues and earth tones), materials (natural wood, stone, jute), organic shapes, houseplants (real and faux), indoor herb and micro greens gardens, and even indoor water features. Searches for indoor water fountains, for example, rose 917% on Pinterest over the last six months.

Sustainability with a capital “S” is another overarching theme set to influence design in 2020 and beyond.

“Sustainability has snowballed into something that is so mainstream,” said Hwang. “It’s present in everyday decisions as well as milestone decisions, like travel and even weddings.” Think: everything from plastic baggie alternatives to thrifted wedding dresses and zero-waste celebrations.

At Brooklyn-based Etsy, the online shopping resource representing 2.6 million artisans and makers, trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson referred to 2020 as the “year of purpose.”

“People are changing their shopping habits,” said Johnson. “I think for so long people just bought stuff. For the last couple of years we’ve really been shifting into, OK, do I need this item? There was the moment of the Marie Kondo toss-out, but this is raising the bar. This is about starting at the beginning of the purchase: Why am I purchasing this? What meaning does it have? What story does it have? And how can I directly support a good cause? And a good cause doesn’t necessarily have to mean a philanthropic effort; it can mean supporting a small-business owner.”

A strong sense of classic style and tradition is a common thread throughout the design forecast for 2020 as consumers yearn for increased levels of comfort, literally and figuratively. Modern materials, improved technologies, updated and bespoke details make it fresh.

A sense of warmth is key, said Mariel Clark, vice president of digital video and editorial at HGTV. “In terms of colors, rich woods and even finishes like brass opposed to nickel, we see warmer tones coming back, ” she said.

Here’s a closer look at how it all breaks down:

20 trends designed to inspire and shape 2020