Recently, after moving into my new house, I bought a new chair for the living room. It’s green velvet and I am in love with it. A well-meaning social media friend messaged me on Instagram and said, “What a fun chair, that’s so on-trend right now.”
I made a face at my phone. The word trend can sometimes be a bit of a curse word in the world of design. It’s like saying, “Oh that’s cute, but you’ll hate it next year.”
I have adored green velvet since I first saw Scarlet swish around in a dress made from her mother’s drapes. My love affair with the color green and velvet fabric shall never die, trend or no trend. My love affair with blue and white porcelain shall also never die, but that isn’t considered a “trendy” collection. These blue and white objects are a beautiful color combination dating back to the 14th century in China, perhaps the most “timeless” of all decor options. So, what makes something trendy? What makes it traditional? I firmly believe that answer depends on the individual and what they want to live within their homes for the long run, and for the short term.
Here are 5 categories of home décor that compare trendy “of the moment” choices vs. “tried and true” traditional choices.
Trendy: Non-traditional Tudor paint colors are on the rise. The traditional shades of pale and dark browns are giving way to lighter shades of ecru and beige, and higher contrast combinations like dark teal trim with white wall colors.
Timeless: White homes with black trim have staying power. This is a curbside appeal choice that never ages or looks out of date. It’s the color of the most important house in the United States, so if it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for our neighborhoods.
Trendy: 80’s revival furniture is back. If it looks like it could be part of The Golden Girls set, it is currently experiencing a revival. Oversized pillows, rolled arms, pale peach linen, modern abstract coffee tables, and anything wicker. Dorothy and Blanche would approve.
Timeless: Chesterfield sofas are always the epitome of traditional. A design allegedly commissioned by the Earl of Chesterfield in the 18th century, it’s said the Earl wanted a sofa that wouldn’t put creases in a gentleman’s suit. While modern décor standards don’t place high importance on creaseless-suit-seats, the Chesterfield still inspires us to have drinks in the library after dinner.
Trendy: Industrial lighting creates a polished rustic ambiance in any room. These no-frill light fixtures are inspired by shipyards and factories, and they have a simplified vintage look that contrasts well with more feminine decor choices. They also look downright amazing on a dim rainy afternoon.
Timeless: Blue and white chinoiserie lamps are the epitomai of classic decor. The word Chinoiserie is French and means “in the Chinese taste” This style first appeared in Europe in the 17th century and has been going strong ever since
Trendy: Bold maximalist patterns are having a heyday. Zebras, palm fronds, bright and colorful florals: these are the must-haves across social media. Wallpaper originated in China, depicting genealogy, gods, or nature, so these bold papers have deep roots in history. Not for the faint of heart, today’s larger-than-life, brighter-than-the-sun wallpaper patterns have the power to change a room completely.
Timeless: Grasscloth wallpaper stands the test of time. Another wall covering originating in China, these natural wall coverings were far cheaper than more expensive papers, and they provided heat insulation in homes. They made their way to Europe through trade, and they’ve been a staple in traditional decor ever since.
Trendy: Pink is powerful. In September 2016 Pantone named Pale Dogwood the “it” color for the upcoming year. This spawned the “Millennial Pink” color that has defied most short-term trend patterns and launched a several-year-long love affair with pink. Besides the beige-pink of the aforementioned color, soft salmon shades and brighter bubblegum hues have taken center stage recently.
Timeless: White is always right. White immediately adds light and creates perceived extra square footage in a room. It works with all colors, so there’s no need to worry that a new sofa or piece of art won’t go with your wall color. Beiges might eventually feel dower and grays cold, but white is the one neutral that never looks dated.
What’s old is new and what’s new is old. Murals, minimalism, sleek midcentury consoles, upholstered sumptuous chairs, dark paint, airy curtains: they all circle back around again at some point. I salute the grandmothers who are proud owners of their 1970’s avocado appliances because they love them and refuse to let them go. And for those of us deeply committed to, say, green velvet, trends will always be a little subjective.