One of the great benefits of my profession is that I get to visit all of my clients homes. Each client is as different as their home decor, so I get to see, first hand, what works and what doesn’t. Trendy, transitional or just tired and tattered, my clients share their flooring needs with me and we choose the type, style and color that will best suit their decor needs. As I traverse from one home to another, I have noted a phenomenon of science fiction proportions. Upon entry into each home, I seem to be time-warped to another decade. Another plane in the time-space continuum. I enter one home to find that I should have worn my platform shoes, because I am suddenly stuck in the seventies and it’s time to boogie. Upon entry to another home and I feel I need a pair of six-shooters strapped to my hips. Visit another home and I feel as though I should have grown a mullet to fit in with this eighties household. Another, and it’s back to the future. Of course, this is normal because most people who have called for me want to update their home decor. My experience tells me that most homeowners update their decor to current trends, and then get stuck there for ten to twenty years or more. Then there are those homes that always seem to look stylish and exquisite no matter what the current trend is. These are homes that have people who follow basic and timeless home decor techniques that never go out of style. Trendy is fun for a few years, but timeless decor can last a lifetime. Let us see if we can pin down some of those techniques that will make a lasting impression in interior design and decor.
The first element I will discuss is paint color choices. As an example; I have noticed that many people are painting all the walls in a room or rooms a red color. There’s nothing wrong with red, but the colors most people are choosing are trendy colors of red. These colors will most likely be unfashionable in a few short years. I understand the look they are trying to achieve, but the color choice is simply not one that will stand the test of time. Bright or pastel colors are almost always a trend. Do you remember the salmon pink from the sixties and seventies Or how about the peach and mint green colors of the eighties southwestern rage. If you want to be trendy with red, I suggest using the same color group, but let’s tone that down to a color that is somewhere around a muted hue of cinnamon or burgundy color. Now we have a color that doesn’t jump out at you as you enter the room because it is a more subtle shade that gives warmth and presence to the walls without overwhelming the entire room. Color choice is a very personal element, but if you want to use bright yellow in your home decor, save it for accent items that you can change out easily when you tire of them or when they are no longer in style (nobody wants to enter a room where they feel like they have just penetrated the center of the sun). Use tones or hues of color that accomplish your goal without going “over the top”. If you love the color purple, you can use it. Just use a very subtle hue that blends into the background.
The next element would be window coverings. We have already discussed color so I won’t go into it here. What we do need to consider is how popular your window treatment is now, and how it will look in three to five years. The generation preceding the present thought that mini-blinds were the best window treatment. Now we see that they have mostly fallen out of favor, with the exception of using them as if they were shades set behind another type of window covering such as draperies, or with valances and trimmed with other fabric coverings. Most roman style shades will stand the test of time. I see a lot of plantation shutters being used, and they are much better for long-term use (depending on the look you are shooting for in your decor). Fabrics (or draperies) are another home decor element that can be trendy or timeless, depending on the textures and patterns in fabric coverings. If you stick with what has always worked throughout the decades, you can be trendy and still expect long term usage. Stick with subtle fabric patterns. The use of a trendy patterns like brightly colored circles (polka-dots) may look good this year, but what about next year. You can use any pattern your heart desires as long as it is subdued and does not scream out “look at me”! Also, watch out for trendy fabrics such as those with a metallic sheen because texture is also a very important factor in home decor. For Example: Velvet is timeless, as is lace.
I suppose we should say a word or two on Texture. I am happy to see many people using stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops in their kitchens. These are textures that have a lasting effect on home decor. Although I’m afraid that most people don’t realize the extra upkeep on granite or any real stone. These materials must be sealed well and periodically re-sealed to protect them. Real stone and some through body porcelain tiles are porous and require a sealer to protect them from spills that could leach into these textures. Glass is also a timeless texture for home decor. Brass and chrome seem to fade in and out of favor, but overall is generally safe. Watch out for exotic textures that are more on the trendy side.
As for flooring, the biggest mistakes people make are in the area of color and pattern. If people walk into your home and notice your flooring before they pay attention to your decor, you have probably made a bad color choice. You don’t have to choose safe earth tones for flooring, but you do need to make certain that your color selection blends into the background and not the forefront of your interior design. There are also different textures in flooring. Choose a texture that will last. During the time period when southwestern decor was all the rage, many people chose patterned Berber carpet for their floors. When trends changed, many people were having a hard time decorating around a floor that they no longer cared for because it was not stylish. Plush carpets are always safer for home decor and do not tend to go in and out of style. Hard-surface floorings should always have a natural look. Because hard-surface lasts a long time and is a greater investment, be careful about color and composition. You may have to live with a bad floor choice for many years. One terrific tool for flooring is the Area Rug. They are extremely versatile and if you stay to classic patterns, they will serve you for a long time. I always suggest the use of wool area rugs for their durability, stain resistance, and most oriental or middle eastern patterns always make a good appearance, without dependence on current styles and trends. Area rugs can be used to define space and for color accent or background color utilizing larger rugs. They are a good, timeless tool for home decor.
I am not saying that you can’t be trendy or up to date with your interior design. I am not saying you have to get stuck with traditional design. Simply use more subtle colors, textures and patterns to establish the background for your decor, and use accent pieces and furnishings that can be easily and economically swapped out when they are no longer “the rage”. If you stick with techniques that have always worked in the past, you preserve your home decor for the future. It can be fun For Me to zip around in time and space, but it’s no fun for you as a homeowner or tenant, if your decor is stuck in the past. Don’t let your home decor get trapped in a time warp.