Love It Or Leave It: Our Designers React To The Latest Trends of 2021

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on September 16, 2021

Let’s face it: the world loves a good “hot or not” debate, and we’re certainly not immune. From Fashion Police and award show red carpets to modern-day Instagram polls, debating industry trends in a no-holds-barred sort of way provides endless entertainment. 

So, we decided to turn our attention to our area of expertise: design. Or more specifically, our favorite 2021 home decor trends. From the 1980s revival that’s made headway in the last three-plus years to the newfound fixation on all things checkered print, there are plenty of trends to dissect, debate, and, for lack of a better term, eviscerate. 

With that, we tapped five Havenly designers to share their *very* candid thoughts on eight polarizing trends of the moment: 1980s Revival, Check Mate, Textured Moments, Makeshift Murals, Cottagecore Romance, All Things Angular, MCM with a (Much Needed) Twist, and Cane for Days. Find their unfiltered thoughts below, courtesy of Havenly lead designers Melissa Wagner, Brady Burke, Kelsey Fischer, Heather Goerzen, and Vivian Torres.

The Trend: 1980s Revival

80's trend furniture

1. Prince In Chicago With Black Frame-1984″ //  2. Acrylic Cart //  3. Marble Table Lamp  // 4. Decorative Boxes  //  5.  Lacquered Console Table   //  6. Eggplant Modular Sofa   // 7.  Barrel Chair  // 8.  Ivory Coffee Table  //  9.  Velvet Blush Pillow

They say fashion and interior design trends often mirror one another, so it’s no surprise that curved sofas and lacquered furniture quickly followed the 2017 blazer and neon renaissance. Fortunately, the 80s look has softened considerably for 2021 — designers are leaning into more subtle touches like curved statement chairs, circular pillows, sculptural lighting, and lucite accents. But is the trend here to stay? Or better yet, worth embracing at all? 

  • MELISSA: I love it. I’m here for it. I enjoy seeing it. Personally, I think the style is best integrated with a few statement pieces here and there, rather than an entire home like an ‘80s sitcom. That’s not really what we’re talking about here. The ‘minimal eighties’ of today, with curvilinear furniture and mushroom lamps, is totally working for me. 
  • BRADY: I’m very middle of the road on this trend. I either love it or hate it depending on the situation. I’m really enjoying some of the larger furniture pieces like mirrors, coffee tables, and credenzas, but can pass on some of the smaller decor items, like table lamps. It’s a delicate dance making decade pieces feel fluid and organic instead of dated, and if you can do it, more power to you.
  • KELSEY: This is a hard no for me. Of all the decades that produced amazing, long lasting design, the eighties falls into the “tacky” category, in my opinion. When I source for a project or look for inspiration, I want timelessness. No one wants to take Memphis style furniture or carpeted bathrooms into the future. Let’s all just leave the eighties where they belong. 
  • MELISSA: NOBODY wants carpeted bathrooms anymore, Kels. Just so we’re clear. 😉
  • VIVIAN: I couldn’t be happier to let the seventies fade away and see the bolder, louder and even a little tackier eighties step into the limelight. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the eighties in Miami — a city that still embodies the decade’s pizazz — or because I’m still trying to figure out how to rock an oversized blazer. Whatever the case, I’m really excited to bring the eighties and all of it’s curvy, neon, and lacquered glory into the home.

The Trend: Check Mate

checkerboard decor

1. Blue Abstract Art //  2. Skirt Art //  3. Throw Blanket  // 4. Lumbar Pillow  //  5. Square Velvet Pillow  //  6.  Modern Check Pillow  // 7.  End Table  //  8. Black Woven Chair  //  9. Rug   //  10. Outdoor Bench // 11. Pouf // 12. Coffee Table  // 13.Credenza  // 14. Table Lamp

Pants. Cardigans. Rugs. Throw pillows. Hats. Shoes. Hair clips. Vases. Throw blankets. You name it, you can currently find it in a checkerboard print. With roots in the 1960s and 70s, this retro print has likely taken over your instagram feed this summer, whether you’re a fashion lover, a design connoisseur, or both. But is buying a $1,000 checkered area rug a wise long-term design investment? Let’s battle it out. 

  • HEATHER: My first thought was just… no. Then I was targeted with a lovely check dress (thank you Instagram gods) that had me do a double take. And now, I think I’m into it. But sparingly. I would use it for pillows, plateware, vases, etc. alongside a lot of complementary pattern play and a vibrant palette to make this classic pattern feel fresh and fun.
  • VIVIAN: I’m a sucker for structured, tailored patterns or anything else that offers collegiate or preppy nostalgia. Plaid, stripes, cardigans, varsity sweatshirts — all of it feels very timeless and comforting to me. This trend ultimately reeled me in like a late-night pizza joint after one too many drinks.
  • KELSEY: Part of me wants to love this. There’s definitely something timeless about a checkered floor in a kitchen or entryway, for example. But the other part of me sees the checkerboard patterns making its way into clothing, textiles, accessories — like I am supposed to just surrender my disdain with no fight? It’s already become so ubiquitous. I’m judging this one on a case-by-case basis.

The Trend: Fuzzy Furniture

boucle furniture
  1. Boucle Chair //  2. Mongolian Stool // 3. Harper Chair  // 4. Fur Armchair  //  5. Boucle Sofa  //  6. Boucle Pouf  //  7. Sheepskin Pillow

If your chair, couch, or throw isn’t giving off incredible, visceral texture, what are you even doing? That’s the general sentiment shared by the design gods as of late, as bouclé, shearling, leather, faux fur, jute, and rattan continue to dominate collections season after season. But is a statement-making curved bouclé sofa in the center of your living room taking it too far? Is this trend already on its way out? Discuss! 

  • KELSEY: Good, but don’t get too wild. I also have a bouclé glider in my nursery and I love the texture. It adds that something extra to a space. As a super tactile person, I like when you can add that depth. But it can be a lot if you over do it, so add in touches but don’t go crazy. 
  • HEATHER: Gimme all the texture. I have a shearling accent chair in my own home, and I personally love weaving these textural beauts into a design. It’s such a fantastic element that immediately reads “cozy.” I will say that I’m partial to the more muted bouclé and shearling pieces than the overly wooly-mammoth-esque look (but in the right space, for the right moment, I still stand behind them).
  • BRADY: It’s time for this trend to be put out to pasture. Pasture. Get it? Like sheep and shearling? Whatever, I’m over it. It’s everywhere from clothing, to wallpaper, to the inside of Kim Kardashian’s car for some reason. It’s played out and overused. 
  • HEATHER: I’d put it inside my car if I could. 🙂
  • MELISSA: If you don’t have at least one bouclé throw in your home, you are MISSING OUT.

The Trend: Makeshift Murals

painted wall shapes

cozy happy home // liz kamarul // the k wendy home

Maybe it’s a result of quarantine boredom or simply another eighties-inspired design trend, but funky DIY murals are the weekend project of the moment. From arched accents to geometric color-blocking, design lovers are using paint to highlight pieces of furniture or simply add personality and color to their homes. Plus, it’s 100% temporary and very renter-friendly. But is this just a post-pandemic trend that’s having its 15 minutes of fame? Go! 

  • MELISSA: Given that I just did this in my own home, I’d say I’m into it. It’s a great way to highlight and delineate space, and it can enhance beautiful architectural details! It can also add vibrancy to an otherwise simplistic style when used to highlight a piece of furniture or sub for artwork. I will say that I’m not a fan of the overly colorful and complicated shapes — that negates the idea in a chaotic way for me. I prefer the look of the simpler arches, columns, or minimal color blocking with soft shades or one single bold color.
  • KELSEY: A little paint never hurt anyone! I like it. It feels creative and allows you to add personality without having to make any structural change to a space. I like that it gives you the ability to segment or adjust the visual lines of a room in a non-permanent way. 
  • VIVIAN: NOPE. This trend goes against my living, breathing need for balance and symmetry. Perhaps it’s my inner Libra, or the fact that anything asymmetrical makes me uneasy (give me two nightstands framing a bed or give me death). I’m not clear on the origins of my disdain, but what I am clear on is this: don’t try to sell me on any type of accent wall. If you love a color that much, paint the whole room. 
  • HEATHER: I would pin the heck out of this, but probably wouldn’t try it in my own space. I love the arches, I love the color, I love the whimsy, but I confess: the commitment phobe in me comes out. I could see myself trying this in a nursery or a kids room, but even as I typed that I got nervous… but would I even like it tomorrow?

The Trend: Cottagecore Romance

cottagecore decor

1. Village Art //  2. Dough Bowl //  3. Chunky Throw  //  4. Beaded Chandelier  //  5. Cutting Boards  //  6. Rug  //  7. Teal Pillow Cover  //  8. Floral Pillow Cover  //  9. Lumbar Pillow

Part traditional, part shabby chic with a touch of rustic, the cottagecore trend is all about warmth and comfort. Think vintage furniture, romantic floral prints, and artisanal vases filled with dried flowers all encased in soft, ambient lighting. True to form, it pairs well with basket bags, lace prairie dresses, and freshly baked scones. Of course, this country-inspired aesthetic peaked during quarantine and remains popular in the design world — but for how long? Thoughts?

  • HEATHER: SWOON. Give me all the dreamy floral prints, warm woods, vintage accessories, and rose-covered cottage vibes with the scent of fresh baked sourdough in the air. I stand by my former declaration that I was into this aesthetic before it was a trend! I love how this look hints at nostalgia, slowness, and romance. It’s like poetry in home decor form.
  • MELISSA: This is a definite no for me. There are some beautiful, successful nods to this style from designers like Matilda Goad, but overall, it leans a bit too colorful and visually busy for me. Plaids on florals on pinstripes on buffalo check on ruffles — it truly makes my palms sweat. But, I can appreciate the style from afar when it’s done well.   
  • HEATHER: Excuse me! MORE plaid. MORE florals. MORE ruffles. Even some fringe! 
  • BRADY: Sadly, It’s not for me. While I do appreciate how cozy and comfortable it all looks, I just struggle with how dated it feels. I think I would appreciate it for a moment, like a cozy weekend away or on a rainy day, but there is a level of brightness, balance, and cohesion that is missing for me. And for this reason, I’m out. *Cue Shark Tank exit music.*
  • KELSEY: This one is tough for me. I love the aesthetic and I’m such a sucker for the storybook feel of it all. I really like the sense of escape from normalcy that it brings. Like, let me just gather some lavender I found on my woodland walk, while taking a break from my organic gardening. But I just don’t know how us regular people can accomplish this without a secluded cottage in the countryside. It’s hard to feel cottagecore in my 2019 duplex. 
  • VIVIAN: I’ve never wanted to run away to a rural area or wear a peasant dress, so I just don’t get the appeal. That said, I love that the style is synonymous with a simpler, more romantic aesthetic, and as long as it involves freshly baked goods, I can tolerate it.
  • HEATHER: I’ll invite you all to my urban farmstead for tea and scones, and you’ll love it. 


The Trend: All Things Angular

Angular furniture

1: Black Sofa // 2: White Pendant // 3: Coffee Table // 4: Pillow // 5: Leather Chair // 6: Leather Ottoman // 7: Side Table

The diametric opposite to the curved furniture trend, angular furniture and modern-day brutalism is resurfacing in a big way this year. Pioneered by brands like CB2, which just launched a line of bowtie-esque furniture in partnership with Paul McCobb, this sharp look does balance out the soft silhouettes and cozy fabrics that have dominated the industry for the last few years. Love it or leave it? 

  • BRADY: I. Am. Here. For. It! I want it sharp and angular, inviting yet intimidating. I love the clean lines and how commanding these silhouettes feel. I am in a phase in my life where I am turning toward statement pieces that really make you take a second look. Is it comfortable? Who knows. Can I actually sit in it? Probably not. Amazing, I’ll take two. 
  • HEATHER: Hard pass for me. While I love a good sculptural furniture piece, this trend falls into the camp of “trying too hard.” I can’t help but think of Pac-Man whenever I see those harsh angles. Disclaimer: I’ll eat humble pie if my tune changes after I see an amazing designer like Shelby Girard weave her magic with these pieces. 
  • KELSEY: I feel like this has its place. Using feature pieces is always a good idea, and can really add an unexpected pop to a room. Do I think angular furniture should be the prime silhouette in a room? Definitely not. But I do like some spice. 

The Trend: MCM with a (Much Needed) Twist

mid century modern decor

1. Sofa // 2. Floor Lamp // 3. Lounge Chair // 4. Rug // 5. Hurricanes // 6. Side Table // 7. Rum Rasin Pillow // 8. Geometric Pillow // 9. Striped Pillow // 10. Vase // 11. Side Chair 

The mid-century modern revival (cough, obsession) has been the dominating design trend of the past decade. But lately, it appears that the design world has moved past the on-the-nose Man Men aesthetic and embraced more innovative takes on the trend — like this mid-century-inspired sofa and burlwood instead of walnut everything. Thoughts?  

  • HEATHER: There are a lot of eras that speak to me, but mid-mod just isn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all into the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fashion (those hats! that tweed!), but not so much the walnut wood tones, spindle leg chairs, and primary color palettes. If we’re going to go back in time, I’ll take art deco over retro any day.
  • MELISSA: Okay, let’s be clear here — mid-century may be “back” again, but it’s different this time. It’s clean, it’s bright, it’s elegant, and it’s sexy. It’s not the dark wood paneling, mustard tones, and saturated terra cottas that you’re expecting. Take CB2’s current collaboration with Paul McCobb, for example. They’re taking the angles and silhouettes that nod to MCM, but updating the finishes with lacquers, burlwoods, black marble, and shearlings, which is a trend in and of itself. I love this fresh approach to classic MCM, which can feel a little stale… I’ll admit it. 
  • KELSEY: I just rewatched the entire Mad Men series, and I feel like my love of mid-century design has been rekindled. If nothing else, can we all appreciate how innovative it was at the time? I do like that we’re taking elements of the style and adding new twists, since it sort of got watered down for a while. You can’t just add tapered legs and call it mid-century (I’m lookin at you Wayfair).  

The Trend: Cane for Days

cane furniture

1. Bed // 2. Buffet // 3. Dining Chair // 4. Mirror // 5. Side Table // 6. Bench 7. // Ottoman // 8. Armchair 

Cane came back on the scene in early 2018 primarily in the form of dining and accent chairs (we’re looking at you, Pierre Jeanneret), and hasn’t stopped since. You can now find a caned version of everything: nightstands, credenzas, desks, media units, lamp shades — the list goes on. Are we over this textured moment, or loving it for life? 

  • KELSEY: Yes to all the caning! And by that I mean: yes to a select few pieces. The trend can easily be taken over the top. But I totally agree — this is a timeless design feature that has endured decades (or centuries) and can come and go as it pleases, in my opinion.
  • HEATHER: Sign me up for anything and everything in this trend. I love how the natural weave adds organic dimension and textural flair to a design. And while yes, it’s very in vogue these days, cane furniture is not a new kid on the block. It reminds me of lazy Victorian days in the South of France — a vibe I can get behind.
  • MELISSA: Caning is to me as shearling is to Brady. It’s done. It’s a style that has become so saturated in mainstream decor offerings, and I’m ready for everyone to move on to something more refined. That said, my daughter has a caned side table in her room, so nobody is immune to its presence — I’ll just slowly tip-toe backward out of this conversation then. 
  • HEATHER:Nobody is immune…” design trend words to live by.

Clearly, design is personal, and so should be your home. Our designers live for helping you put a unique touch on your space, bouncing fresh ideas, and nailing that sweet spot between trend and timeless. Take our style quiz to discover the perfect designer who just GETS you. 

Words by Kelsey Clark