I’ve been doing professional interior design for twenty-two years. As I write that I still can’t believe it. I remember graduating from design school with this four-year degree thinking, I have no idea what I am doing! Sure I could put beautiful plans together and I had the technical skills of hand drafting and CAD, but what I lacked was working with a person, a real human that had likes and dislikes. Did you know that people have opinions?! They also never taught us about budgets. In fact, I had only one semester of finance, and when our instructors gave us projects we were never required to look up pricing and put it all together for a certain budget. Did you know that people have budgets?! And a-hem, the internet was only a few years old and NO ONE was using it for anything other than this thing called electronic mail. But I digress.

I graduated from design school in May 2000. For a short stint, I worked for a high-end commercial and residential firm called Western Interiors. They were the largest game in town. Then I went to another firm called Design Galleria. What I soon discovered is I didn’t fit into their maximalist way of design and high volume numbers. Then 2001 happened.

I’ve said it for years and I still stand by this thinking, whenever an event occurs, a big one, the design world takes a major course correction and heads on a new path, and a new trend. Prior to the twin towers being hit, there were two types of designers, the ones who I believe overcompensated with too many gaudy accessories for lack of talent, and then there were the talented designers who used a lot of light wood, neutral paint, and travertine floors.

When 2001 happened a course correction occurred. Our safety had been violated and people desperately wanted to feel secure. Enter in the Tuscan phase. Deep moody colors of sage green, heavy browns, Tuscan yellows, and bold reds. Travertine floors, dark cabinets, and lots of yellowy granite lined every home. And let’s remember, prior to this granite was still a novel concept in design. But money was flowing, loans were practically free and the early 2000s brought a wave of granite to the masses and lots of faux painting! These deep, nurturing colors allowed us to feel safe, even though we had no idea what was coming…..and it wasn’t the copious amounts of faux paint we’d regret!

Classic 1998 interiors

Then the 2008 crash happened. Yet another course correction occurred. Enter the grey trend. Did we feel violated? Yes. Was our security rocked? Yes. But this wasn’t an outside threat like last time, this occurred from people on our own soil, so we were pissed. We were angry. We lost the homes that made us feel safe. The mood was….well, grey. Before you know it everything from cabinets to walls to floors was all grey. Meh. The furniture within the homes, all grey. Devoid of life, devoid of color, and this is how we felt. Empty and grey. The problem is we designers were already starting to use grey just prior to the crash. In fact, this is where you saw a glimpse of new color combos like Blue and Brown and Blue and orange. God, it felt good to use fresh colors! But then 08 happened and everything turned 100% grey. No more color. The trend at its finest:

Another great example from Laurel Bern’s blog, the overuse of grey.

In 2015 and 2016 we were finally in recovery mode. Many people had moved past the trauma, regained their footing and we started to see the emergence of color again. In 2016, I was a part of the design bloggers tour at High Point Market, and color was everywhere! REJOICE! The grey trend was over! Unfortunately, many builders didn’t get that memo.

Photo: Amanda Gates High Point

In 2017 and 2018 we started to see color pop up in kitchens and bathrooms, which you can see here, here, and here.

Photo: Amanda Gates KBIS

Everything seemed to be coming up roses but another shift was brewing. It was the black and white trend. Interior designers had already started doing it around 2018 while some builders, who refuse to work with designers, continued to do all grey interiors. meh.

And then 2020 happened with its “unprecedented” pandemic. Once again, we see another course correction taking place. “I’ve said it for years and I still stand by this thinking, whenever an event occurs, a big one, the design world takes a major course correction and heads on a new path, a new trend.” And now that we’ve all experienced a new trauma, this new trend will start hitting the masses.

The new direction? It’s the farmhouse, black and white trend combined with warm organic woods. In my opinion, this is the relaxed California vibe from the mid-90s, only more up-to-date and less fussy. And this makes sense. We are spending more time at home, meetings are being done over ZOOM and life has become more casual. We want less of the “busy-bubble” and more time with those who matter most to us. We want our interiors to feel like home, not something to impress our friends. So what to choose if you’re embarking on buying a new home or building? Here are the hottest trends.

9 of the Hottest Home Trends for 2021 and 2022

1) Warm wood kitchen cabinets – all white is OUT!

The all-white kitchen is out! The new kitchen has warm tones and warm woods with light counters. This trend started to emerge in the design world in 2018, and I wrote about this trend in 2019 – that all-white kitchens were out along with stainless steel appliances, and I got A LOT of angry emails! Then I wrote about it again in 2020. And I got more angry emails. And here I am again, writing that the all-white kitchen is out. Hmmm, seems my predictions were right! Listen to the interior designer!

2) Lighter floors – Dark Walnut floors are out!

Dark wood floors are being replaced with wide-plank hickory, white oak or French oak.

Light floors and white walls with organic, all-natural textures are in!

3) Black accents – hardware, fixtures, trims.

Whether it’s a lighting fixture, cabinet or cabinet hardware, or faucet, the hottest choice right now is black. You’ll even notice many people are getting away from the white and taupe windows and now choosing black.

4) Painted doors.

Gone are the days of boring white doors. In today’s modern house the white walls are accented with dark and or painted doors.

5) Painted accent cabinets and walls

Keeping with the broody mood of dark accents, another popular trend is having areas with dark colors. Whether it’s dark green, blue, charcoal, or black, having that space is on point.

6) White walls – Grey is out, out, out!

I’ve been writing about this since 2018, that grey was very much OUT. You see, interior designers always do things for their high-end clients for two to three years before it starts hitting the masses. So if you wanna know what’s gonna be big, keep an eye on the multiple million-dollar homes. I was doing all-white walls back in 2016, mainly because I was so sick of grey. Remember, designers had been using grey since 2007. To say it was dead to us is an understatement. White lends a neutral backdrop. It feels fresh, new, and most importantly, it feels hygienic!

7) Wood and organic accents

White and black can feel cold, but add in some warm blonde woods, hand-sawn beams, and aged brick, and the space immediately feels warm and inviting.

8) Black and white appliances – dare I say, stainless is fading…

As stated above, I mentioned this trend two years ago and got a lot of hate mail. Is stainless still a thing? Yes, people are still buying it and will likely continue buying it. But if you look to the million-dollar homes, where million-dollar designers are, they ain’t using stainless. Appliances are headed back to black and white, or integrated. It’s all about creating a seamless look or showing off that high-dollar range in a rad color. Listen, people will always buy stainless because it’s a commercial staple. But as we spend more time at home, white, black, and integrated appliances are easier to keep clean and feel fresher.

Amber Interior design, Oh hi Ojai

Amber Interior Design – What’s the story Spanish glory

9) Dark exteriors with personality

White still reigns supreme for exteriors, but a dark horse that goes by the name, moody with personality, is on the horizon. Moody charcoals, and broody blacks combined with lighter siding and brick not only create an exterior that pops, but it stands out in the crowd saying you’ve got modern style. In addition, sleek outdoor lighting, high-style garage doors, and lots of bling like copper gutters tell everyone your exterior is on-trend.

Interested in getting help for your new project? I offer virtual design consultations, contact me today to learn more or book online.


Sources 1, 2, 34, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Amber Interiors