Whether you’re designing a home you will love to live in or one you hope to sell for a profit, it’s important to understand the difference between trendy design, “on-trend” design, and timeless design. After all, money is involved! If you’re investing in your home, you want that investment to pay off down the road… no matter how far down the road it may be.
To help you make smart designs when it comes to designing and decorating your home, let’s talk about the difference between the three and how to spot them. Can you guess which are which?
A design is considered trendy when what is in front of your face at the big box stores somehow also makes it into your home. This could apply to the fixed elements of your home and the furnishings. Within a season or two, those styles are likely to disappear and be replaced by the next “latest and greatest” thing.
To me, choosing to decorate with trendy designs is kinda like buying trendy clothes. Although they may get worn with love pretty regularly for a few weeks or months, they’ll slowly trickle to the back of your closet where you probably won’t see them again until your next purge. You’ll say, “I forgot about this dress. I used to love it!” and into the donation bin it will go. (Ladies, are you with me on this one?)
What would I consider trendy in home design right now? Great question. Here’s what I have been seeing:
Gray everything, especially as it relates to new builds. Although this style has lasted for a while now, I would call it a trend because it’s no longer here to stay. Although gray has had quite a long run, the design industry as a whole is shifting away from the gray trend and moving into more warm neutrals and color. This shift had already started before COVID, and I suspect that pandemic living has us all craving more warm tones in our lives and a little less of the cold, medical feeling of grays. How about you?
Another trend in home design is a focus on outdoor living. The need for outdoor space in general has risen since millennials entered the housing market, as millennials are more likely to own pets. However, with the onset of COVID more than a year ago, there has been a growing need for livable spaces outside, not just space for four-legged family members to roam. When pandemic becomes a thing of the past (fingers crossed), I suspect our need for outdoor living will decrease again.
Large 12” x 24” tiles. This one is a small mystery to me because it does not look good. I have a feeling that people assume the bigger the tile, the less grout, and the less cleaning necessary. But when you put jumbo-scale tile in a small space, it feels off. The space looks smaller. And let’s be honest, you still have to clean it anyway. This is a trend I hope passes soon! If you must have large tiles, go for a neutral in 12” x 12”. Much safer bet.
Two home offices within a residence. Again, COVID inspired this one (I can tell you from personal experience that two offices is a blessing when you and your partner both work from home!) However, I don’t think this trend will last forever, as it isn’t entirely practical.
On-trend means that it’s largely in demand in the industry and is lasting longer than a season or two. Most on-trend design is likely to stick around for 10-15 years (gray used to be on-trend). You could even think of it as “modern-day” design, because it’s what is supporting our way of life and taste as a society in the current times. In some cases, these on-trend preferences exist because it was forecasted by “design and build” experts, or because they are following the demands of daily life.
If we continue our fashion comparison, on-trend design is like high-waisted vs. low-waisted pants. Depending on when you were born, I bet you remember the transition from high-waisted pants to low-rise jeans and back to cuts with high waists. They each lasted for at least a decade or more, and when they were in, they would have been considered “on-trend.”
Light natural wood finishes in flooring and furnishings. This one walks the line between trendy and on-trend, but it’s definitely a phase. I find it way too taste specific, but it looks good for a time. I like the idea of light wood tone flooring that’s in a flat finish but that is it. This will be around for a long time, as in for the next 10-15 years.
Colorful kitchen design. I know this sounds like it would be a trend, but to me, color is always in style and on trend. Even during this past Parisian Grey trend (everything is gray, aka BLAH), what has prevailed is pretty color done right and in the right doses.
Kitchens as a gathering place. On-trend home design can also be seen in the way we use our spaces. In the last couple decades, the kitchen has shifted away from being just a place to cook and shifted toward a place where the family gathers and spends time together. This means islands with seating and open concept spaces have seen a rise in popularity and will continue to do so.
Timeless design is something with eternal good taste. For example, you could compare those trendy or on-trend clothes to your little black dress, Audrey Hepbern style, that you bought 15 years ago. To this day, every time you wear it you feel like a million dollars, because it looks just as pretty and just as classic as it did back then. One decade. Two. Three. That black dress is never going out of style. THAT’s a timeless piece.
Subway tile. Subway tile has never been, nor will ever be, dated. It is a timeless classic that can be done in so many ways, just like that little black dress getting dressed up or down with the occasion.
Pretty mosaic tile in fun colors and shapes, such as hexagon, herringbone, etc. is timeless. It has existed in design for centuries (from East to West), and I’m confident it will continue to play a role in design for the next several centuries, too.
White kitchens. Like that little black dress, they never go out of style. There is a way to do a classic white kitchen the right way (again, dressed up or down depending on the occasion), and you don’t have to pair it with gray backsplash and or gray countertops. Check out my portfolio to see what I mean!
Okay, you’re now an expert at spotting the trends, the design phases, and the timeless classics. But which ones belong in your home? And where? My philosophy in design is the same as my philosophy in clothing...
Step 1: Classic pieces for the main, foundational items. These are your fixed elements like flooring, cabinets, countertops, backsplashes, fireplaces, and vanities.
Step 2: Then, make it fun and current with on-trend (not “trendy”) accessories, shoes, and jewelry — in other words, the decorative touches on your home. This could include lighting, drapery, and decor.
Step 3: If you really love certain trendy designs (and your home is for you, not for resale), you can mix in a couple as accessories, such as art or decor. Just be wary of adding in anything that requires physical installation, like lighting or drapery, as it is difficult to swap out.
That’s it! This is the perfect mix that never fails. Your home (and you) look great all the time, and your bank account will thank you. If you need more advice on renovating your home, sign up to receive my Guide to a Stress-Free Renovation below!
Oh and by the way, once you are done with a classic and timeless design or renovation, go ahead and book that vacation. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed; it's all about experiences surrounding your loved ones, is it not? 😉