In my last blog I addressed Elle Décor’s December 2019 list of “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”, so in this blog I’m going to defend 6 of the items that they tossed away forever - but which I’m not ready to give up on. In fact, I contend they are all “Classic” trends if they are done right, and I’m happy to incorporate any of these design elements if my clients’ vision and preferences lean in their direction.
Here’s the photo from Elle Décor which dissed wicker.
I’m not exactly sure why they disliked this room. It looks okay to me, except I would have probably included a geometric rug for comfort at the sectional and certainly another accent color other than just green. But the wicker lounger is certainly okay in my book. If any of you really dislike this room, then please contact me and let’s discuss!
As a matter of fact, I just received the Spring 2020 catalog from Arhaus, and they have several furniture pieces that I love, including the Bayshore Wicker Chair, shown below:
The main reasons why I love this chair is that it feels lighter than a traditional upholstered chair, has a pretty rounded shape that will not overpower a room, and is interesting to look at from the back. You’ll have to trust me on that since you can’t see the back in this photo. The wicker also imparts some texture that is needed in this mostly monochromatic room.
Serena and Lily, another retailer I highly recommend, is wildly fond of wicker, too. It’s a west-coast company, but they just opened a showroom in Chestnut Hill, MA. Here’s a photo of a beautiful living room with the Serena and Lily Georgica Lounge Chair with a wicker back. Very current and interesting, wouldn’t you say? The stone wall, light floors, and wicker-topped table all serve to marry this blue, white, and honey color scheme together. And for my taste, it doesn’t’ look too “coastal.”
Below is the “bad example” of wood paneling from the Elle Décor article:
Yes, it is bad. It looks like thin luan, probably originally installed in the 1960’s, and the eclectic (in other words, mismatched in time period) furniture pieces in the room aren’t helping any either. This is bad wood paneling, indeed.
But, here;s an example of “good wood paneling” shown by Cindy Renfret, a superbly talented designer from Connecticut who has published many Rizzoli books and has a great website:
I resonate with Cindy’s style and love the stately look of “real wood paneling” that is most likely original to this historic home. Notice that the furniture she chose is interesting and formal, and does not have a wood tone that competes with the wood paneled wall. I do lots of older historic homes in Massachusetts, and I always have a conversation with my clients about whether they wish to preserve the good bones and architectural elements of the home during our decorating refresh. Some do, some don’t.
Here is the 1960’s “All Plaid” room from the Elle Décor article, and it certainly embodies the “One note” term very well. It’s not very attractive and kind of reads “Mayberry RFD” on the first blush. Gee…I loved that show……
But what if the comforter was a neutral textured ivory, the pillows brought in a different color for accent, and there was some interesting artwork over the bed? Would that grid of plaid on the walls be so horrible? I think not. Plaid, or tartan, isn’t itself a problem. It just has to be supported (or relieved) by more non-linear elements. And a little plaid goes a long way.
When you think of plaid in an interior, you might think automatically of Ralph Lauren, indisputably the King of Plaid. Here’s a photo of one of his interiors. In this example, putting a Ralph Lauren plaid on just one chair is perfect. Any more, in my opinion, might be too much. If you like plaid and you are hesitant to commit to it for a very long time in upholstered furniture, you can introduce it in a rug (excellent option nowadays) pillows, a tartan throw, or some other smaller decorative element. Plaid isn’t out, just don’t go overboard.
Well, you are either a zebra fan or not when it comes to interior design. No two ways about it. Here is the Elle Décor site with the “bad” element of a zebra rug:
In fact, there is the problem in this photo -- there are two zebra rugs, and this highly specific decorative element should only come in the singular form. It looks like the two zebras are having a conversation or playing Twister.
Anyway, if you like the Zebra rug look, it can be interesting in an interior that has lots of contrast—black and white - in other elements of the room. Think the new black muntined windows (where a strip of wood separates the panes of glass in a window) in a white room. The Zebra rug would bring that contrast together as a deliberate accent on the floor.
Like plaid, though, a little Zebra goes a long way. If you use a Zebra rug, please don’t overdo in many other areas of the room, unless you really have gone on an African Safari and can show photographs of the real thing. Just sayin’……. Here’s a photograph from Architectural Digest which shows designer Holly Hunt’s Chicago apartment with a discreet Zebra rug that coordinates with the other lively décor:
In fact, the whole article from Architectural Digest “Decorating with Animal Prints” is a good read:
Yes, I agree with Elle Décor that a “head-to-toe chintz explosion” reminiscent of the 1970’s is too much, as shown in their photo below. But carefully read what they said next: “Maximalism is currently on-trend so a well-placed chair or couch can work - but don’t overdo it.” Well said, right on point.
In this room, I would ditch the swagged window treatments, clear out some of the furniture a bit, and discard the pink basketball pillows. The yellow and green are enough. Maybe add woven wood roman shades at the window. The plaid carpet is perfect. Overall the room needs more “dark” in my opinion, and about 2/3 of the furniture. But I’m okay with the floral chintz fabric on some of the chairs.
What? How can Elle Décor totally dismiss all window valances in one fell swoop by showing the photo below of a dated kitchen where there are a multitude of things gone awry? Now, I wouldn’t have recommended a stripe for the window valances (since it competes with the vertical detailing on the upper cabinets), but let’s not bury all valances forever.
There are many current, fresh, and updated window valance styles that look great in today’s home. One such popular valance I recommend to my clients is the Faux Roman Shade, shown below in the photo of my client’s newly updated dressing room:
This valance style works because it isn’t too fussy, it effectively hides the shade headrail (which is not so pretty) underneath, and it only takes up a small fraction of visual space. It seems at home here, don’t you think?
Well that’s my rebuttal argument for Elle Décor’s List of “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”. What a lot of work on their part to put the list together with the excellent supporting photographs!
My main message is this: when you evaluate a trend, think about the cost involved to implement, and the replacement cost of that item when you tire of the trend. If it’s an inexpensive item, like a pillow or throw rug, then by all means freshen it up with that new look. But if you are considering implementing a trend in a more permanent and costly application (like wallpaper, flooring, or high-end upholstery) and you have that nagging feeling it may be “out” very soon, look for other smaller and changeable opportunities to implement the trend…and remember that I always recommend going for “classic” and “timeless” on your foundation pieces.
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.