The Worst Interior Design Trends of 2020

Jene J. Long

Every year seems to bring new interior design trends that demand attention, but perhaps just as important is identifying which trends you should say goodbye to as quickly as possible. In 2020, these movements were particularly unflattering:

Too Much of a Good Thing

Sleek, white minimalist pieces might be cool here and there, but an all-white interior is just too much.
Sleek, white minimalist pieces might be cool here and there, but an all-white interior is just too much.

Whether you lean towards stark white minimalism or eye-catching geometric patterns in your area rug, the key is to avoid too much of that thing you love showing off. All white kitchens, all gray family rooms, predominantly pink spaces, and blankets of geometric prints and wall decor can be overwhelming or downright boring.

Similarly, draping an area in wrought iron, copper, or brass can make a statement you don’t want to make. Instead, master the art of subtlety for a bigger impact. For example, use the gray flooring you love, but install a shiplap accent wall and add a pinch of visual interest to the space with your pick of hanging light and wall lamp. Mixing design styles is still en vogue and makes it much easier to make a quick change should you grow tired of the look later on.

Eliminating the Home Office

A simple home office space inside a sparse living area.
A simple home office space inside a sparse living area.

Over the years, the home office has come and gone, but most recently it’s taken a back seat in favor of more space for the kids or an open floor plan. Of course, if the year of COVID-19 has shown us nothing else, it’s that the home office is now more critical than ever before. As millions of jobs move to remote status, it’s likely many will remain that way. On top of that, remote learning is also likely to continue in some form, so you’ll probably want to hold off on turning that spare bedroom into a man cave for just a while longer.

Industrial Overdo

Who doesn't love a good industrial accent in there home? Still, always remember that one exposed wall is plenty.
Who doesn’t love a good industrial accent in there home? Still, always remember that one exposed wall is plenty.

There’s something appealing about an exposed brick wall or a hammered metal light covering, but if your home is totally indistinguishable from an industrial warehouse, you’ve probably gone too far. Take the pallet-everything furniture out and replace the stamped shipping box coffee table. Cover a few of those exposed pipes or box in the ductwork. While a touch of industrial here and there can do wonders for the appeal of a space, a completely industrial interior design is at best a fading trend in 2020.

Limited Color Palette

Instead of basing your whole aesthetic around one or two colors, try something more adventurous like five or six.
Instead of basing your whole aesthetic around one or two colors, try something more adventurous like five or six.

There’s been a trend in the interior design world over the past few years to dress the foundation of the room in neutral tones and splash around a single accent color to the entire space. Imagine a room with three shades of gray across the walls, flooring, and furniture. Then add to that a pink area rug, curtains, throw pillows, and maybe even an accent wall, and you’ll start to get an idea of what we mean here. To avoid this, just use a fuller color palette across the space, using five or six different tones at once for a less stark and more cohesive vibe.

White Light Bulbs

The warmth emitted by the light bulbs in your home plays a big part in setting the mood.
The warmth emitted by the light bulbs in your home plays a big part in setting the mood.

While daylight and bright white bulbs have brought newfound light to the darkest corners of our homes, they also change the look of paint, flooring, and furniture. The next time a bulb burns out, do a comparison with several different bulbs, not only checking for the colors you want, but also the feel and level or warmth each one exudes. You’ll likely discover a much cozier feel with a yellow or soft white bulb, and find your space that much more inviting as a result.

Bulky Curtains

Bulky Curtains like these are going to be unquestionably out come next year.
Bulky Curtains like these are going to be unquestionably out come next year.

Actually, perhaps this heading should read, “bulky anything.” Bulky is out. Streamlined, sleek design is in. Swap out your dark, ornate, clunky furniture for updated models and replace the heavy curtains with sheer paneling. Let’s face it: the weight of those thick curtains can be felt the second you enter the room. Lighten up the space figuratively and literally with a thinner material. If you really do need to black out a space completely, install a double curtain rod with sheer panels that can be covered with blackout curtains when needed.

All Wood Theme

Once again, too much of a good thing usually becomes a bad thing. Just take this stale-feeling all-wood room for example.
Once again, too much of a good thing usually becomes a bad thing. Just take this stale-feeling all-wood room for example.

The debate over wood floors rages on in regards to both look and performance, but again: when coupled with wood tables, wall paneling, ceiling paneling, and/or cabinets, too much of a good thing can actually be a very bad thing. It’s about providing a subtle mix in design elements by choosing the pieces you love and swapping out the ones you dispassionately live with. For example, simply swapping out the wood coffee table for a contemporary natural stone or metal and glass one can quickly transform the entire space.

TV Above the Fireplace

The spot above the fireplace might seem perfect for a flat-screen at first glance, but it means robbing yourself of a beautiful aesthetic focal point.
The spot above the fireplace might seem perfect for a flat-screen at first glance, but it means robbing yourself of a beautiful aesthetic focal point.

As televisions have become thinner and lighter, it’s become common to place them above an existing fireplace. While that might make everything convenient in the way of space management, the presence of a TV actually takes away from everything a fireplace brings to a room. Give the TV its own area and honor the fireplace as the focal point of the room its in.

All Over Granite

Better to stick with some granite some of the time than all granite all of the time.
Better to stick with some granite some of the time than all granite all of the time.

Whether we’re talking about kitchen counters, bathrooms, or flooring, granite is moving past its “must have everywhere” phase. If you’re fortunate enough to be considering a renovation, remodel, or update right now, keep the granite to a minimum, instead adding in some alternate materials such as stainless steel, butcher block, or cork. These not only add visual interest and break up the monotony of a pure granite room, but they also lighten up spaces that can easily be weighed down by the natural stone.

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