Timeless vs Trendy – it’s a real dilemma! As a designer, I love keeping up on what’s trendy and current in home design and decorating. The problem is that those trends change – and often! So unless you’re able to completely redo your home and furniture every five years (nope), it’s just about impossible to keep up on the trends.
Today I want to talk about how to create a home that is timeless vs trendy.
And as you might know, I’m currently working for my toughest client of all – me! My husband and I are in the process of designing our new home, and I’m very conscious of the fact that I want it to be stylish and beautiful. But I also want it to be a home that will still feel stylish and beautiful 20 years from now when the current trends have made their way to the thrift stores of the world.
So I am very aware of the dilemma posed by this question: “How do I create a home that is timeless rather than trendy?” And perhaps even more importantly: “How do I create a home that can easily grow and change as my tastes and styles change?” After all – it’s not about creating a museum that never changes – it’s about creating a home that grows and changes as you do.
And, it’s important to realize that it’s perfectly reasonable that your tastes will change over time. Nobody wants to be boxed into the same colors and styles and patterns for the next 20 years! I know I certainly don’t. No, I expect that five or 10 years from now my house will look drastically different than it does right now. Heck, my home will look different five months from now, never mind five years out! If it doesn’t, it will mean that it has gotten stale and boring. I’m not looking to build a musuem of 2017 design styles.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is to create a home that serves a timeless classic backdrop and allows for trends to come and go and for styles to change. A home that adapts gracefully to changing styles and trends.
So here are some of my thoughts on how to create such a home – one that can change as your style and tastes do. One that is timeless vs trendy.
1. Use timeless classics for your big ticket items
The really expensive furniture pieces in your home should be somewhat neutral and very classic to ensure staying power. Think twice before choosing that expensive splashy pink velvet tufted sofa as the centerpiece in your living room (unless you have the money to replace it in a year or two.) Instead, opt for a classic neutral linen tufted sofa, and spice it up with pink velvet pillows and trendy throws. The pillows and throw will be much less painful to replace in a year or two than the sofa will.
The same applies to the finishes in your home. Those items that are expensive to switch out should remain neutral for the most staying power. I know I really, really love the beautiful encaustic cement tiles so popular right now, and I’m considering using at least a little bit of them in my new home. But replacing an entire kitchen floor once those tiles are no longer in style is going to be expensive. You might want to think about opting for a timeless mosaic floor that will still look good 10 years from now for your kitchen, and using that expensive encaustic tile in the powder bathroom. Ten years from now, it’ll be much less costly to replace the floor in a 5 x 8 powder room than it will be in a 20 x 15 kitchen.
2. Use trendy pieces and finishes as accents
It’s easy to incorporate trendy lamps or small furniture pieces as accents, and it’s even easier to swap them out when they’re no longer trendy. Think trendy side chair or up-to-the-minute lamp. Those pieces are relatively inexpensive. They’ll make a difference in your design, but they won’t cost a fortune.
So yes – incorporate trends into your home design. But just make sure they’re things that you won’t feel bad adding to your yard sale pile in a few years.
3. Clean lines are always in style
Things that are clean-lined tend to stay in style. Or maybe they’re just less obtrusive, so your eye isn’t immediately drawn to them – thus they can fit into almost any style. Think of kitchen cabinets with lots of ornate details – they will be out of style once that period has passed. By opting for straighter lined profiles, you’re ensuring a look that will fit into other styles more easily.
You can always paint a cabinet, but it’s harder and more expensive to change the inherent style of the cabinet.
4. Use texture to add interest
It’s much more likely that a textural jute rug will still look fresh in five years than a palm-leaf print side chair will. Upholstery and rug patterns tend to be subject to the winds of trends, so choosing textural pieces to spice things up will have more staying power.
A great grasscloth wallpaper will always be in style – but that Aztec print wallpaper will almost certainly be out in a few years. Using texture to add interest to your rooms will be more cost effective in the long run.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t add a really fun wallpaper to a small space – maybe that powder bath again, or one wall in a bedroom. Just keep in mind the cost of changing out those spaces once that trend has passed.
5. Save your trendy splurges for pieces that can be switched out easily
Lighting is one trend that I think is worth incorporating into a home’s design – especially the smaller fixtures over an island or in a bathroom. And installing trendy lighting will do wonders for keeping your home looking up-to-date and stylish. Big chandeliers are, of course, are more expensive to switch out, but they’re still a very do-able project. And table lamps are a great and relatively inexpensive way to keep things looking stylish in your rooms.
Rugs are another fairly easy way to keep a room looking up to date. They are easy to switch out, and they make a huge impact. The actual flooring, on the other hand, is much more expensive and difficult to change. So keeping the flooring fairly neutral and layering on a trendy rug is a great option.
The lesson here – go for the trends in finishes and pieces that are easy and less expensive to switch out.
6. Some things are just plain classics – incorporate some of these items into your home design for staying power.
There are some elements of design that have withstood the test of time to become classics. Incorporating some of these things into your home design will bring a classic style that will still look gorgeous 20 years from now. Some of my favorites: beautifully tailored draperies, oriental rugs, campaign chests, animal prints (tasteful ones, at least), black shutters on a white house, and beautiful marble countertops.
Choose a few of these or other classics to add to your design, and then feel free to accessorize with trendier pieces. Your home will look fresh and stylish, but still be grounded in the classics.
7. Incorporate some vintage pieces into a room to add personality and a sense of being grounded.
I love adding a few beautiful vintage or antique pieces to every room. I think they help give a room a sense of timeless style and the feeling that the room has been assembled over time with things you love, rather than being purchased straight off the furniture store showroom.
And mixing antique or vintage pieces with contemporary pieces really adds to the visual interest of a room.
8. Incorporate high-quality natural materials into your interiors.
Nature never goes out of style, so use high-quality natural materials in your home whenever you can. Stone, linen, glass, leather, and wood all have a timeless appeal that will never look dated. Try to use them in every room of your home for a comfortable, classic look. Most of these materials will develop a beautiful, natural patina over time – which just adds to the timeless feel of your home.
9. In the end, choose things that appeal to you – regardless of trends
And after all of the above tips, please remember – the goal in designing and decorating your home should always be to create a space that makes you feel happy and is a reflection of you and your lifestyle. And that means that your home should be filled with things you love – regardless of whether they are trendy or in style. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what your neighbors think of your home – it matters how your home makes you feel.
And of course, at the end of the day, if you can afford to completely renovate your home every decade and that’s what makes you happy, then go for every trend that you love! Just make sure your spouse and your bank account are on board first.