6 Ways To Steer Clear of Trend Dead Ends

By Paul Miller

Interior Designer, IDS Professional Member

Clients often comment, "I want my house to be hip, but I don't want anything too trendy that I'll regret." This is a common conundrum because even experts have difficulty knowing exactly when a trend will dead end. 

Over two decades of working in the design industry, I've learned a few lessons to better navigate the rise and fall of trends. 

Go Eclectic

See more Handley House  . Photo: Matthew Lofton

See more Handley House. Photo: Matthew Lofton

A mix and match approach lets you dabble in things that interest you without committing to a singular design style. While no longer the norm, people used to furnish rooms in one specific style, such as French Country or Early American, which can leave a home looking like a postcard from a bygone era. 

See more Stewart Street  . Photo: Matthew Lofton

See more Stewart Street. Photo: Matthew Lofton

Mix pieces with influences from different regions and eras for a design that is visually interesting.  If you prefer more uniformity, choose a monochromatic color scheme with fabrics and paint to calm the space.

Love It Or Leave It

If a piece speaks to you enough, it will likely please you personally even when the home fashion train has left the station and not taken your treasure along for the ride. 

Before you buy, take a moment to examine why you like it.  If it is instinctively attractive to you, it likely does have something to offer, because there are established rules of form and proportion proven to please most people.  If you've seen the piece in a lot of places - particularly in the home of a friend or neighbor - keep searching to avoid getting stuck with an oversaturated design style.

Make It An Investment

See more Fairmont Avenue. Photo: Matthew Lofton

Designers of fine furniture study trends closely and have their ideas peer reviewed during the prototype phase to develop collections that will last.  Part of the reason for this is that better makers use expensive technology and skilled craftspeople to build their furnishings.  If they are going to commit to a new direction, they need to feel confident that the collections will be relevant and appealing for many years.  

Buy the best furniture you can afford when it comes to the big pieces, like family room upholstery, dining sets, and bedroom furniture.  The bigger the expense, the more valuable the slow-to-jump pace of the fine furniture maker in the long run. (And quality construction matters most in highly used spaces.)

Look To The Past

Hand in hand with my belief that eclectic designs are the most interesting, there is something to be said for the endurance of vintage and antique pieces that have not only survived years of use, but which are still appealing after their original design context has been long obscured by the decades.  

See more Stewart Cottage   .  Photo: Matthew Lofton

See more Stewart Cottage. Photo: Matthew Lofton

See more Snowden Bridge  . Photo: MakeNest

See more Snowden Bridge. Photo: MakeNest

Design tends to be cyclical, so a well-placed vintage find will look fresh in an updated space. At auctions, flea markets, and thrift stores, these pieces are often no-brainer purchases that can add points of interest throughout the house.  

Break Many Eggs

At the end of the day, I advise clients and friends not to become paralyzed by the fear of trend dead ends.  If you follow my methods, you will likely have minimal regrets. All the same, it takes experimentation to discover your preferences. 

If walls could talk, my dining room alone would have lots to say about the paint colors I've lived with over the years.  I liked most of them for quite a while, but some had less staying power than others. Be willing to make mistakes in the journey, if you have the time and passion to go it on your own.

See more residential projects  . Photo: Matthew Lofton

See more residential projects. Photo: Matthew Lofton

Call For Back Up

If all else fails, seek professional help. Designers are immersed in home fashions and, particularly for those who have already cut their teeth and who do their research, it is easier for them to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to trends. 

Study their portfolios carefully to decide whether or not their work seems dated to you; if it does than it might mean that they tend to gravitate towards fads themselves. If their work generally seems timeless, then they will be more than able to help you pull together a design that speaks to you now and will continue to satisfy you for many years.

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