This or That: Comparing 2021’s Hottest Home Design Trends

Articles & Interest

When it comes to design trends, social media is the perfect place to get the home dcor ideas flowing. And behind the anonymity of the keyboard, people are free to get what they really think out in the open. So we asked the RenoMark Instagram audience what they think about some of the best 2021 home design trends, and in some cases, the results were surprising!

Island vs. Galley

Left to right: “Natural Elegance in Rosedale” by RenoMark member Treehouse Developments, Calgary, AB; “Heritage Refresh” by RenoMark member Oakwood, Ottawa, ON

Canadian homeowners’ affinity toward kitchen islands has long been known. Take the results from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA)’s latest Home Buyer Preference Survey, powered by Avid Ratings Canada, which revealed kitchen islands were among the top five must-haves in Canadian homes in 2020 – a consistent move up the popularity scale from the eleventh position in 2015. But do kitchen islands still reign supreme in 2021? The answer… yes! When compared to galley kitchens, kitchen islands won a whopping 87% of the vote.

Kitchen islands were also prominent features in nearly every finalist submission in the new kitchen and kitchen renovation categories in the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence – one builder even incorporated two islands in one kitchen!

It’s not hard to see why islands are such a beloved feature by Canadian home buyers – not only do they offer added storage and functionality, but they’re a perfect informal space where families and friends can enjoy each other’s company over a delicious meal. And whether a home is big or small, the open-concept nature of an island will make any kitchen feel infinitely larger. Given the many benefits of this popular feature, there’s no doubt that kitchen islands are key components of today’s modern household.

Soaker Tub vs. Standup Shower

Left to right: “Simplicity” by RenoMark member My House Design/Build Team Ltd, Vancouver, BC – Finalist for Best Bathroom Renovation in the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence; “Dream Escape” by RenoMark member ARTium Design Build, Ottawa, ON

Everyone loves a good soaker tub – nothing feels better than a warm bath after an exhausting day. But is it imperative feature for home buyers in 2021? When asked if they preferred a standup shower versus a soaker tub, 74% of respondents said a standup shower.

CHBA’s 2020 Home Buyer Preference Survey, powered by Avid Ratings Canada found that 29.1% of Canadian home buyers listed an oversized shower as a “must-have” in their home, while 30.3% “really want” one. By contrast, soaker tubs were less important to home buyers and were most often listed as “might be nice, if affordable” by 28.2% of Canadian home buyers.

While soaker tubs are great for kicking back and relaxing, standup showers are a more versatile and convenient option for many households. Design possibilities are endless with standup showers; they can feature different colours, patterns, textures, materials, niches, and hardware to suit the needs and aesthetic leanings of the occupant. With so many options available, your shower can bring the feel of your favourite day-spa into your home.

And the big plus to stand up showers? They can fit in many spaces that a soaker tub can’t, bringing a touch of luxury to even the smallest washroom.

Brick vs. Stucco

Left to right: “Sandy Hill Heritage Home” by RenoMark member Sanchez Homes, Ottawa, ON; “Old World Charm” by RenoMark member Lupi Luxury Homes, Calgary, AB

The curb appeal of any home is majorly impacted by its exterior siding. Siding can jive with your personal style, but is also functional and durable for the climate in which you live. For that reason, popular siding options are impacted by location/province.

Two popular exterior home materials in Canada are brick and stucco, and each come with their respective benefits. Stucco is common in contemporary design, while brick is more suited to traditional design. Stucco is great for dryer climates (which is why it tends to be used more often in Alberta and Saskatchewan), while brick is suitable for more humid climates (like Ontario or BC). When asked if brick or stucco was the favourite amongst respondents, 54% preferred brick.

Whether you choose stucco, brick, vinyl, or another material for the exterior renovation of your home, it’s important to do your research on which material will best suit your needs.

Paint Accent Wall vs. Wallpaper Accent Wall

Left to right: “From Country to Eclectic” by RenoMark member Whitestone Building and Renovations, Halifax, NS; “European Dream Kitchen” by RenoMark member Aquarian Renovations, Edmonton, AB

Could wallpaper be back in style? This one was a bit of shocker. When asked whether a painted accent wall or a wallpaper accent wall was more appealing, 71% of respondents said they preferred wallpaper!Wallpaper is versatile and available in bright, subtle, or abstract colours and patterns that can bring visual interest to a space. But with whites, greys, and natural tones at the forefront of popular home design, it’s interesting to see that home buyers are open to unexpected colours and patterns to jazz up an accent wall. While long gone is the ’80s trend of full interiors wrapped in busy wallpaper, when used tastefully, wallpaper can add a little fun to a home. Home dcor afficionados, consider adding a cool wallpaper feature wall in your home.

Drywall vs. Shiplap

Left to right: “East Meets West Cultural Crossroads” by RenoMark member Hasler Homes Ltd., Vancouver, BC; “Lawrie Residence” by RenoMark member Creek Stone Fine Homes, Okotoks, AB – Finalist in the Best Whole Home Renovation – $200,000 to $400,000 category in the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence

Drywall is a staple material used into today’s modern interiors. It’s easy to install, simple to paint, and holds well over time. But the rising “modern farmhouse” trend has increased the use of other wall covering materials, like wood planks and shiplap. When asked if drywall was still the preferred choice for walls, it narrowly edged out shiplap by 3%.

Shiplap is a solid material that, because of its overlapping joints, was originally used as a durable exterior wall covering for homes in harsh climates. In recent years, its design features have grown in popularity as home buyers increasingly vibe with modern farmhouse home design. Its rustic, handcrafted feel makes shiplap visually interesting for walls or ceilings, bringing warmth to even the most modern of homes. And when installed vertically, shiplap’s stark lines draw the eye upwards to make a room feel more spacious, which in turn makes it a popular choice for smaller homes.

One Colour Cabinets vs. Two Toned Cabinets

Left to right: “The Phoenix” by RenoMark member Effect Home Builders, Edmonton, AB; “The Next Generation” by RenoMark member reVISION Custom Home Renovations, Vancouver, BC

Cabinets come in many colours, textures, shapes, and sizes, and are traditionally designed to match throughout an entire kitchen. But lately, two-toned cabinets have been on the rise. Think light on top, dark on bottom – or neutral uppers and deep-toned islands – to draw the eye up and create the illusion of space. When asked whether one- versus two-toned cabinets were their preferred choice, 61% of respondents said two-toned cabinets take the cake.

This trend seems to be growing in popularity. In the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence, two-toned cabinets popped up in several designs – new homes and renovations alike.

As homeowners increasingly prefer smaller homes, two-toned cabinets can add visual interest to a small kitchen, which can also make it seem brighter and more spacious. Whether it be a mix of thermofoil/acrylic-coloured cabinets with wood-grain finish, or two contrasting paint colours, homeowners are embracing two-toned cabinets to enhance their kitchen’s aesthetic appeal.

Hidden Appliances vs. Statement Appliances

Left to right: “Double Island Dream” by RenoMark member Ultimate Renovations, Calgary, AB – Finalist in the Best Kitchen Renovation – Over $100,000 category in the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence; “Keeping Up with Kenilworth” by RenoMark member Amsted Design Build, Ottawa, ON – Finalist in the Best Whole Home Renovation – $200,000 to $400,000 category in the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence

A unique design trend that has popped up recently is the use of hidden appliances. Sure, sometimes dishwashers aren’t the most visually appealing to look at. And when asked if hidden or statement appliances were all the rage for home buyers, a small majority of respondents (54%) preferred hidden appliances.

Some builders/renovators in the 2021 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence incorporated understated appliances in their homes. Why? Hidden appliances can streamline a kitchen’s design and create an effortless, luxurious look. And if you’re a someone who loves the look of continuity, hidden appliances are a great option. Overall, whether you want your refrigerator to blend in with your cabinetry or stand out the same way it might in an industrial or chef’s kitchen, it’s too early to say if hidden appliances will stay popular into the next decade.

Looking for the latest trends in home and design? Follow RenoMark on Instagram at @renomark_ca.