Exposed brick, black and white, French doors. If you asked me what classic aspects of design I’d like in my dream home, I’d probably check every box. It’s that eclectic mix of old and new, home and travel, fun and sophisticated that can make buying a home and decorating it such an exciting challenge. But surely, at one point or another, many classic features were once a trend — the new thing on the market that everyone had to have.
However, unlike the way shoulder pads and babydoll dresses stuck around for what seemed like decades, the advent of the internet and Pinterest seems to speed us more quickly through the things that are new, and then now, and then passé. “Trend” has become a dirty word — almost synonymous with stuff that’s so of-this-minute that we’ll blink and it’ll already be outdated.
But does it really have to be this way? In my opinion, no.
As much as I might like bohemian and French, industrial and mid-century, and even coastal, I have a limited budget. I can’t afford to constantly replace the stuff that goes out of style. After all, I specifically decided to buy instead of rent to avoid wasting money on things that aren’t a return on my investment!
So, I chose to find a house with good bones — the kind of home with the right space, the right light, and a layout I can invest in for a few years. And after DIYing for the better part of a decade, I’ve learned a few good rules for making sure the home decor I choose lives up to those same investment expectations.
#1 Mix Instead of Match
I suppose you could call my style “global eclectic.” But really, that’s just a fancy way of saying, “I often don’t like any one particular style, and matchy-matchy just isn’t my thing.” I have a Moroccan-inspired peacock mirror in the hallway, modern blue dining room walls, industrial bar stools in the kitchen, sheepskin draping over my chairs in the living room, and antique items sprinkled everywhere. Not any one style really reigns!
In my mind, decorating where it looks like a single store threw up all over a single room is a quick way to Outdatedsville. Collecting pieces from different trendy styles keeps things fresh and unique. Take, for example, Beth from “Home Stories A to Z.” Her gorgeous bathroom mixes subway tile, global-inspired cement tile on the floor, modern urban fixtures, and farmhouse features like shiplap walls and vanity. Stunning!
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#2 Give Trendy Features a Limit
Large items like couches, beds, and architectural details (like French doors) can still be fun and interesting, but I tend to play it safe by picking one feature on that item that’s somewhat trendy, such as exposed legs (often seen in mid-century furniture), but with a fabric that’s neutral. Rather than going with a piece of mid-century furniture (trend) in the color of the moment (trend), you choose one or the other. It translates well from one style choice to the next. It also lets all of the other, more permanent features stand out, such as a cool archway (or in my case, the big bow windows!).
#3 Edit, Edit, Edit
Trends that you wind up loathing over time are the ones that you see everywhere. They’re like that boyfriend you fell hard and fast for, and then woke up one day and can’t stand his laugh. Some things are simply never meant to stick around, and that’s OK. Just make sure these aren’t the pieces you invest in. For trendy items, look to bring them in through accents. When you tire of them and want to try out something new, you can then switch them out without making your wallet wince in pain.
Clutter is also what makes a trend look dated. It steals attention away from cool architectural features that should get more of a spotlight (like my big windows, which again, I LOVE). Too much of a good thing is never wise (except breakfast food). So when you like something, go ahead and try it out, but layer it in rather than buying every item of a single collection. Edit out the pieces that don’t fit, and you’re set.
Stacy Risenmay knows this more than most. With her tiny 1938 home filled with four boys, she’s an expert at getting rid of what isn’t needed while still making her house look gorgeous and full of style.
#4 Remember That Styles Are Cyclical (So You Can’t Really Go Wrong)
These days, a lot of trends are about nostalgia (subway tiles, open shelves, old-school kitchen faucets, reclaimed wood, etc.), so it should come as no surprise that plenty of what we call trends are cyclical. They’ll come into fashion, they’ll be overdone to the point we are tired of seeing them, we’ll move on, and then when it comes back in style, we’ll find it refreshing again.
But what is it that keeps these things coming back again and again? It may sound cheesy, but I think it’s all about the way we feel in a space — a happiness and simplicity. That’s why I like the concept of “classic with a twist.” Sure, it could be out of date as far as what’s popular in stores over the next 10 years, but the “classics” I see trending lately are just a recycling of a period that already came and went. That’s really kind of great, because it takes the pressure off. Finding a twist on an older design rather than reinventing the wheel is a simpler goal and something I’m less likely to mess up.
Take, for example, my kitchen’s two-tone cabinets. It’s a vintage look that was made popular again over the last 10 years, and although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I get compliments on how retro and modern it looks at the same time.
#5 Focus on Your Faves
I hate burlap. HATE it. But you know what? Some folks love the look of it so much, they make that scratchy fabric into pillowsthat they lean against in their bedrooms every night. But I’ll admit, as I’ve seen the use of burlap grow in popularity or used in a beautiful room, I question whether or not to buy some for a table runner. The key of knowing when you’re liking something versus being influenced by outside forces? Your gut.
Some homes just have that “it” factor. And you walk away from that house wondering if you too should buy all of the same stuff they did. But it’s not really the couch that’s making the house feel that way; it was that the person who picked it out did so because they freaking love the item.
Take Charlotte’s sofa, for example (below). She knew she was dropping a lot of money on it, she knew it was green, and she new it was velvet. But she dove right in. It makes the space, but if you knew her in person, you’d also realize that no other sofa really quite captures her the way this styling does!
I doubt any reader who has checked out my blog could accuse me of being trendy. In fact, I never really set out to be the kind of DIYer who put a clever spin on everything I touched. And that’s OK, because all I’ve ever really wanted to do is give myself a house that I enjoy living in. So, I pick out pieces that truly speak to me, and forget the rest.
Mixing antiques with modern pieces makes the whole house look like it was collected over time (because it was), but also adds personality unique to me and how I express my style — one that can’t be repeated as easily as shopping through a catalog.
At the end of the day, it’s my home, and the important thing is to make sure that I’m buying it, installing it, etc., because I enjoy seeing it every day — not because someone has once again done something really spectacular with plywood. (I’ll still pin the heck out of it, though!) I truly believe that’s what makes a home both trendy and timeless simultaneously. Loving the home you live in never goes out of style.