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Jan 28, 2021

Home Design Trends & Reaching the Market in 2021

J7 A2178

Project design by Studio Watt O'Keefe

Photo by MJ Lee

Every quarter the American Institute of Architects (AIA) provides results from the AIA Home Design Trends Survey, where hundreds of architecture firms share current project data to reveal new and emerging trends in residential design, providing an incisive look at the key features owners and buyers want—and purchase.

Overall, the home improvement industry continues to strengthen for 2021. As homeowners and potential homebuyers are “learning to better live together,” demand for flexible space increases. From home office space renovations to outdoor entertaining planning, residential design will likely see a boom in work. As people burrow through sources for inspiration, many don’t make the connections with their mood boards and the actual design.

The Homeowner’s Project Handbook (HPH) provides this resource for everything they could need from inspiration, financial worksheets and insightful articles, to the only official directory of licensed AIA architects in Massachusetts—connecting homeowners to you and your services.

Read more about the AIA Survey below and be a part of this valuable resource to connect with these homeowners and buyers on these trends. The deadline to be a part of HPH is January 31, 2021.

Throughout 2020 the survey presented results on Kitchen and bath (Q1), Home and property design (Q2), Home features (Q3), and Neighborhood and community design (Q4). The link to each report provides an interactive visual format to help you quickly identify emerging trends. Below are the overalls findings in each quarter from the AIA Home Design Trends Survey, view full detail in the AIA Home Design Trends Survey report and interactive guide.

Kitchen and bath (Q1)


  • Bathrooms remains a popular focus in homes
  • Larger walk-in showers continue to be reported as a leading feature for bathrooms
  • Showers continue to be reported as leading consideration in bathroom design features


  • The share of firms reporting an increase in the number and size of kitchens grew
  • Outdoor kitchens continue to be top of the list of popular features while pet feeding/grooming areas and coffee bars increase in popularity
  • Upper-end and undercounter appliances reported as popular kitchen products

Home and property design (Q2)


  • Overall size of homes continues to soften
  • Easing in home sizes continues in entry-level homes while upper-end homes seem to stabilize
  • Rental units/accessory dwellings remain popular while finished basement/attic and micro housing options decrease

Home layout/design

  • Accessibility and overall designs for aging in place top the list of popular home layout designs

Home exteriors

  • Emphasis on outdoors and outdoor living spaces continue to remain popular but showed and easing in popularity
  • Properties that pose design and lot preparation challenges continue to be popular

Home features (Q3)

Special function rooms/areas

  • Home offices increase in popularity and additional multi-functional spaces become popular as people continue to live and work from home
  • Outdoor living spaces, home offices, and mud rooms continue to top list of most popular special function rooms

Special features

  • Ramps/elevators, accommodations for multiple generations, and super-insulated homes see declines in popularity

Systems/Technology in homes

  • Electric car docking stations reported as popular technology


  • Low maintenance materials continue to remain popular while products for improving indoor air quality saw a large increase in popularity

Neighborhood and community design (Q4)

Home styles

  • Contemporary home styles top the list of home styles while front/side porches increase in popularity

Home exteriors

  • Durability/low maintenance remains a popular choice for home exteriors and fire resistant materials continue to increase in popularity


  • Multi-generational housing increases in popularity due to the pandemic while higher density development decreases

The quarterly reports also share information on business conditions throughout the year, with the fourth quarter reporting that project billings, inquiries, and design contracts rebounded from the record decline in Q1. All sectors reported growth with home improvement reporting the strongest gains.

One of the top resources the BSA provides to homeowners and residential architects is the Homeowner's Project Handbook. Learn more here about how to list your firm in the directory, purchase an advertisement, or contribute a sponsored article to the issue here. Submission deadline is January 31, 2021.

All information in this report is the property of AIA. AIA HOME DESIGN TRENDS SURVEY is produced by the American Institute of Architects. First published in AIA Architect, June 12, 2020.

Research: Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA, AIA Chief Economist; Michele A. Russo, LEED AP, Managing Director, Research & Practice; Jennifer Riskus, Director, Market & Economic Research; and Jessica Mentz, Manager, Market & Economic Research.

Copyright 2020 by the American Institute of Architects
Illustration: Michael Kirkham | Programming: Astriata