How to keep your renovations from quickly feeling dated: Tips for a timeless interior
Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Hello, friends, and happy New Year! Here we are, poised to enter not only a new year but a new decade. In the interior decorating world, this is traditionally the time of year to talk about what's in, what's out, and where our homes will be heading (and yes, I'll be doing that in upcoming posts!). As a follower of all things interior, I have to admit I have a secret love for all those articles expounding the top ten up and coming trends for the year ahead, but it's a guilty pleasure, and here's why: I really don't think we should buy wholeheartedly into what is 'in' or 'out' when decorating our homes. THAT can result in quickly tiring of your new look as another trend moves in to captivate your attention. And pursuing an endlessly changing 'latest thing' will never lead to long-lasting happiness with your home.
Of course, there's a balance: it's fun to dabble in trends, as long as they're not the entire foundation of our aesthetic. We want to have a home that reflects who we are now, and that acknowledges the changes in ourselves as we grow and have new experiences, new priorities, and new expectations of what our homes need to do for us.
The goal: a TIMELESS interior that you will feel proud of and at ease in for years and years, one that can, with small tweaks, grow and change with you over time. Below are some key guidelines to achieve that timeless but current feel for yourself.
How to decorate for a timeless look
1. Start with classic lines
When we invest in proven and classic forms in soft furniture like sofas and armchairs, they will stand the test of time. Please know that classic does not mean only 'traditional' styles, it means styles that have stood the test of time. Depending on your taste, that could look like classic mid-century modern, classic low-slung Italian, classic coastal, classic British colonial, you name it, just classic, which means it has been a solid performer that has watched many trends come and go. If it's been around for the last hundred years or so, I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that it will still be 'in' for the next decade or two to anchor your living room ;)
2. Include pieces from different time periods
Buying all new furniture, even when it is all beautiful, creates a sort of 'time capsule' that will end up being totally recognizable as coming from the period of time it was decorated in, which is what will look super dated when viewed from the following decade. That's why your parents' basement looks stuck in the 80's, and why a 90's era Tuscan home can look in need of a refresh. The trick is to layer in older pieces from a variety of decades, antique, vintage or thrifted, depending on your income and preference. That is what will give your space an organic, developed-over-time kind of feel that can't look dated because it does not feel like it's stuck in one particular time. And when we have pieces from many different periods, it's possible to simply switch out just one piece to revitalize a room as needed over the years.
The living rooms below are pretty aspirational, unless you happen to come from old European money and have a stunning high-ceilinged pied-à-terre in Paris or Milan, but they're great examples of how a room that has actually evolved over time is a combination of many time periods.
3. Mix your styles
Like including pieces from a variety of time periods, throwing in even just a couple elements from different styles of decor will keep your space from feeling 'theme park-y'. And when a home is decorated rigidly and exclusively in one style, it will most certainly look dated when that particular style is no longer all the rage. That doesn't mean you shouldn't decorate in the style you love, just make sure that you throw some unexpected pieces into the mix. And again, this mix of styles will mean there's no need to completely overhaul your space every few years-- one new piece as needed will merge nicely into the space and your home will feel fresh for so much longer.
Take a look at these rooms below and notice how different styles have been incorporated. You can do the same with your home--the trick is to decorate mainly in the style that appeals most to you, while mixing in occasional bits from different styles, to keep things interesting and not too one-note.
The rooms below are a great mix of contemporary classic foundations mixed with retro and vintage touches:
4. Buy what you love
I saved this one for last because what you love should be the the most powerful guide when creating your home. Trends come and trends go, but a truly stylish and comfortable home should always be true to the people who live there. These days it is hard to tease out what we actually love from what we are currently taken with just by virtue of exposure, via Pinterest, Instagram, HGTV etc. But pay attention when you are browsing images, and really notice the common elements in the interiors that really speak to you, a good rule of thumb is if you have always loved a certain look/style/colour/pattern, and still love it now, chances are you'll continue to love it for years to come. Stay true to your own aesthetics, and your home will easily adapt to the current times with slight tweaks to accessories and styling over the years.
My living room above and below includes a moss green velvet sofa that makes me happy every time I'm in there. Is green a very on-trend colour right now? Sure, but that's just the icing on the cake for me. I would have gone with the green velvet anyway, because I love green, have always been drawn to green and know for sure I'll still be adoring my sofa even after green velvet sofas are just a memory in the design trend world.
Our homes are meant to be a reflection of ourselves, our families, our history and our passions. They should feel as if they have developed over time, evolving just as you have. They shouldn't feel as if they were created as a stage set to showcase whatever trends Pinterest was obsessed with at the time. Create your interiors to have a strong foundation based on what you truly love from a variety of periods and styles, THAT is how to make sure you will continue to love your spaces for many years to come.
If you've been dreaming of renovating or redecorating your home, but are unsure how to create rooms with staying power (no-one wants to feel discontented with their new space just a few short years after renovating), follow these guiding philosophies. They will for sure help you navigate your way to a beautiful and timeless home that truly feels like 'you'.
If you'd like some help, reach out to me-- there are lots of ways that I can help you, from 'Designer for the Day' consultations to full service design that takes you from start to installation, stress-free.