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2021 Building Trends

Architecture evolves alongside changes in the modern lifestyle

By Taylor Shillam

Trends in architecture and design naturally evolve alongside the lifestyle shifts that dictate how those unique spaces are used. As times change, the way we build must do the same.

The residential and commercial builds of 2021 have common qualities rooted in sustainability, open spaces and versatility. This year’s major building influences include a renewed closeness to nature, care for the environment and lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic.

Whether you’re looking to build, buy or rent property this year, noting the newest building trends can help refine your search. As you define the needs for your own living and working spaces, keep an eye out for the following building trends in 2021:

Multi-purposed spaces

After an emergence of open floor plans replacing the formal dining and living rooms of the past, multi-purpose rooms are shifting the focus into bigger, more diverse uses of a single space. Today’s homes are being designed to accommodate lifestyles that are steadily becoming more fluid, adaptable and open to change.

Multi-purpose spaces are here to stay, with large dens, great rooms and combined rooms becoming increasingly popular. Unique, customized combinations will be seen, with trends toward high vaulted ceilings providing the possibility to enhance the all-encompassing nature of a great room.

Layered kitchens

Even with the popularity of open and versatile rooms, there remains value in leaving something to the imagination. New homes are testing layered kitchens, with an open living and dining zone separated from a hidden working zone, to encourage a cleaner culinary display.

Layered kitchens can provide a larger, private storage space, while leaving major food prep and cleanup to be completed out of sight. A clean display for guests brings the focus to enjoying the dining experience.

Comfortable outdoor spaces

Outdoor gatherings are on the rise, with elaborate outdoor rooms and patios becoming the new at-home hot spots. Functional outdoor spaces used for intimate gatherings or solitary moments of serenity are being created with specialized flooring material, creative enclosures and carefully chosen lighting to create an oasis experience just outside the home.

To get more use from them throughout the changing seasons, patio heaters have taken many forms, including increasingly stylish and versatile fire pits, heat lamps and more. Using infrared light, gas, wood-burning fires, propane, electricity and more, outdoor spaces are more comfortable and common than before.

Natural influences

With technology being an essential component of working and staying connected for many, more homes will reflect the desire to unplug throughout the day. Touches that promote a reconnection to nature while staying close to home are becoming more common, such as small balconies and terraces that make a breath of fresh air easily accessible. Trending “glass curtains” allow a full opening of a space at any time.

Architectural technology is developing to invite more natural light from the sun, using carefully chosen layouts, materials and a building’s available space in an effort to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

A focus on sustainability

To respond to changes in the environment, including climate change, environmental regulations, and how and where people spend their time and resources, architecture is adapting to increase sustainability.

Climate change continues to be a hot topic with many industries jumping on board to support more sustainable practices. Architecture is no exception, with the demand for carbon neutral buildings in both residential and commercial settings on the rise.

Carbon neutrality related to architecture refers to the intention to reduce the carbon energy used by a building, starting with its construction and continuing through its use.

Using more environmentally friendly materials encourages a variety of materials to be used within the home. Architects are incorporating sustainable innovation by adopting new building technologies and new methods of designing environmentally friendly structures. New strategies include green buildings created of a sustainable material palette, designed to use local materials and reduce costs related to energy consumption and transportation.


2021 is seeing designers and architects go back to basics, leaving behind large framing and heavy detailing to focus back on the simpler, core elements of design. Supporting the trend toward sustainability, minimalist design takes the essentials and leaves the rest, with simplicity that uses modern, high-quality materials to promote efficient heating and insulation.

Inside newer buildings and homes, expect to see more white interiors highlighted with neutral black and gray tones.

Advanced stay-home amenities

Newer building designs are prioritizing the ability to do more while staying home, with designated spaces to work and exercise. With restricted access to gyms and studios, the implementation of home gyms is especially on the rise.

The gyms of 2021 aren’t just a tucked away corner of a spare room or garage. Many will focus on complete wellness—a space to truly prioritize health. This can look like a complete exercise studio, a home sauna, or a meditation room with carefully chosen lighting, foliage and décor to match.

Architecture continues to evolve alongside changes in the modern lifestyle. This year, look for the top building trends that focus on values rooted in health, the environment, and making the most of the space you call home.

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