5 Emerging Design Trends to Watch in 2022

5 Emerging Design Trends to Watch in 2022

By Strategic Passive Investments

Did you know that there are entire departments at major interior design firms dedicated to the analysis of incoming and outgoing design trends? In fact, they have a metric called “decline in interest” that tells them just exactly how out-of-style last year’s favorites are at the start of the New Year.

While real estate investors generally are not as trend-driven when it comes to design and décor as other real estate professionals, it is vitally important to keep an eye on the trends that could make a fix-and-flip deal hotter than hot or render your “updated” rental extremely dated. Fortunately, Google Trends and California-based design firm and furniture retailer Living Spaces team up each year to provide a list full of commentary, predictions, and analysis about both incoming and outgoing trends.

Here are some of the investor favorites for 2022:

5 Outgoing Trends in 2022

Wondering whether those open shelves will be played out or must-have by June of this year? Unsure whether you really have to paint the entire kitchen and bathroom white in order to snag a highly competitive luxury-home buyer? Well, wonder no more. According to the “2022 Décor Trends Report,” there are five trends that have consistently demonstrated that dreaded decline in interest and, furthermore, that most real estate investors probably will not be sorry to see go.

Here they are:

  • The Modern Farmhouse Trend

Modern farmhouse had its biggest impact for most investors in two areas: exposed beams and staging. However, there were plenty of fix-and-flip investors who spent more time and money than they probably should have repurposing old barn doors as cabinets and attempting to “rustic up” shiny new renovations in order to achieve what was once an extremely magnetic look for buyers. These days, however, the modern farmhouse trend is heading out the barn door, as it were. In fact, there has been a 21 percent decline in interest in the modern farmhouse look just since the beginning of 2021. 2022 buyers and tenants are going to find other things more attractive, so you can probably stop trying to figure out how to install exposed beams where no beams exist to begin with and drop your dedication to black-and-white-checkerboard tile floors.

The Alternative

Modern farmhouse may be heading toward its last gasp, but the neutral color palette that came in with this trend and that investors have already been loving for decades has not yet left the scene. While you might want to stop staging with “font art” (some real estate professionals are going to have to see this to believe it) and whitewashing, well, everything, you can still create focal points in a room with what designers are calling “rustic touches” that rely more on the resident and less on architecture to get the effect.

  • The All-White, All-the-Time Trend

While most real estate investors with rental properties in their portfolios probably took a hard pass on this trend, more than a few fix-and-flip investors spent a lot of time and money painting the walls of kitchens and bathrooms a nice, bright, easy-to-mess-up white that often required a lot of primer and extra coats of paint. Thankfully, investor distaste for this process has now extended to buyers, with 41 percent less interest in the all-white kitchen (and possibly bath) in 2022 than there was at the start of 2021. Thankfully, investors can now rely on neutrals to “brighten up” the kitchen rather than sterile, bright white.

The Alternative

Thank goodness, it is back to the neutral color palette! Some designers are suggesting making lower cabinets “pop” with a “muted green,” so every investor who is a fan of neutrals can hope this trend sticks around for a while.

  • The Sliding Barn Door Trend

The sliding barn door trend was a great way to easily make a space look trendy whether you were renovating a rental or rehabbing a property for retail sale. A lot of real estate investors are going to miss this one. Unfortunately, 35 percent of the population is not interested in these oh-so-trendy and space-saving doors because, to quote interior designer Henry Nader, “The heavy look of announcing your door as an architectural feature is … going out.” Nader also noted that this feature, while saving space in some homes, also blocks parts of the room to which a homeowner might need access, ultimately creating “limited functionality.” These doors were an easy “win” for rehabbers, and a lot of investors will miss them if buyer interest continues to decline.

The Alternative

According to Living Spaces, even though barn doors are “out,” the “feel” of barn doors is still “in.” Essentially, you can get a barn-door look with an open-shut door feel by installing a traditional door but putting in a wood cross beam. This look could be a good thing if you are not sure if you really want to forego the barn door entirely or if you are in a market where giving up this aesthetic could hurt your marketability. However, in most first-time homebuyer homes, you are probably safe to stick with the basics.

  • The Exposed Brick Trend

Thankfully, exposed brick walls were largely opportunistic in most fix-and-flip investors’ experiences, but there are certainly some high-end rehabbers who need to know that installing fake panels of exposed brick is no longer necessary! At least, based on the 39 percent decline in interest reported 2021. Residents liked the look of the brick before moving in with all their furniture; after moving in, most people felt that it actually made rooms feel darker and smaller. Farmhouse fans would, of course, just whitewash the brick, but, sadly, there’s a decline in interest in that trend as well. So, if you do not just happen to have exposed brick already, your life just got a lot easier.

The Alternative

Apparently, homeowners abandoned the idea of exposed brick in large part because they realized during their lockdown DIY home design sessions that it is a lot easier to paint a wall than it is to install accent brick. So, good news for investors: You can now go back to painting an accent wall in a slightly lighter or darker shade or just opting to let your buyers make the decision for themselves.

  • The Glass Bricks Trend

This is something that many fix-and-flippers did consider using in entryways or as part of their lighting schemes because glass bricks are relatively easy to install and can, when they are trendy, anyway, modernize an area in a way that both retail buyers and renters can appreciate. Sadly for those who loved these strange little translucent statements, they are likely to make far fewer appearances in 2022. The report indicates a decline in interest of 38 percent just in the past 12 months, although if you are working with a modern or contemporary design theme, you probably can still squeak by.

The Alternative

The alternative to frosted glass bricks is, in all likelihood, something like “a normal wall” or “nothing,” but if you really want to keep that glass element in a home you are remodeling then the 2022 report recommends a “sleek, glass panel” that is not frosted, thick, or “superfluously done.” As with many of these trends, real estate investors should consider them mainly if the investor hopes to sell for top dollar in the near future; otherwise, renters (unless they are short-term vacation tenants) are unlikely to demand a high level of “trendiness” to the point that they are dramatically affected by your superfluously done glass and lighting.

As Always, Timeliness & Timelessness Must Balance

Real estate trends, like all fashion trends, must go in and out in order for there to be any point in homeowners and home designers following them. Your decision to factor these trends into your design decisions as you rehab or renovate should be motivated by how long you need the appeal to last (i.e. for days because you are selling or for years because this is a long-term rental) and what it will ultimately be worth to you.