On Washington‚Äôs trendy H Street corridor, the just-built Lucille Condominium boasts a classic-meets-contemporary facade of old-school red bricks and sleek, squared-off balconies. Inside, the mixture of influences continues in the Art Deco-ish penny tile bathroom floors, the bungalow-style five-panel wood doors, and the kitchens with Shaker-inspired shiny black cabinets and gleaming brass hardware.
‚ÄúWe were aiming for something classic and didn‚Äôt want the place to date too quickly,‚ÄĚ says Philip Simon of S2 Development, who tapped GoodWood co-owner and designer Anna Kahoe to create kitchens and baths that weren‚Äôt too trendy. ‚ÄúBut it‚Äôs a challenge,‚ÄĚ Kahoe says. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs so much interior information coming at us now, it‚Äôs hard to define what timeless or classic means anymore.‚ÄĚ
Thanks to websites, blogs, Pinterest boards, Instagram feeds and television shows, everyday home-dwellers have access to countless decor ideas. A decade ago, only design-world savants and Moroccans were plopping Morocco‚Äôs graphic black-on-white Beni Ourain wool rugs on their floors. Now, with even big-box stores getting into design, you can buy knockoffs at Target, and the hashtag #beniourain has been used 31,000 times (and counting) on Instagram. But it‚Äôs anyone‚Äôs guess how long the fad will last.
‚ÄúRemember how popular sponge painting was in the 1990s, and how chevron was on ¬≠everything in the early 2000s?‚ÄĚ says Needham, Mass., interior ¬≠designer Dina Holland, whose popular Instagram account @pleasehatethesethings showcases regrettable interior trends and choices.
So, how do keep your pad from looking dated just a few years after you put in a new powder room, replace the great room sofa or hang up groovy-again wallpaper in your foyer? Here are seven tips from designers.
‚ÄúI try to avoid anything that is too ornamental, too loud or that‚Äôs been all over social media,‚ÄĚ says Bethesda interior designer Marika Meyer. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a point at which, if everyone is doing one thing ‚ÄĒ strong geometric tile, ikat fabric ‚ÄĒ you might consider going with something completely different that‚Äôll look unique and individual.‚ÄĚ Meyer, for example, recently helped a client install a new kitchen with lacquered, turquoise blue cabinets. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre bold and fun, and it‚Äôs not something you see everywhere,‚ÄĚ Meyer says. And, she says, it will last longer since it doesn‚Äôt hew to a particular trend.
Clean lines and neutral colors, while not the stuff of Instagram likes, will probably outlast current obsessions such as patterned cement tiles and benches upholstered with ratty sheepskins. Design pros preach that the backbones of your home ‚ÄĒ floors, walls and major furniture ‚ÄĒ should skew toward simplicity. In a decade, that swoop-armed Pottery Barn sofa might feel more tired than a low-slung, squared-off midcentury modern couch.
Holland says she sometimes gets pushback from clients when she presents a design proposal with neutral base elements. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôll sometimes say, ‚ÄėThat‚Äôs boring,‚Äô but I emphasize that the way to do these trends ‚ÄĒ macram√©, a bold pattern ‚ÄĒ is in a pillow or a small area rug,‚ÄĚ she says. It‚Äôs akin to shelling out for the little black designer dress you‚Äôll wear forever, then dolling it up with this season‚Äôs necklace and shoes.
Genuine materials ‚ÄĒ real wood, solid brass, soapstone kitchen countertops ‚ÄĒ also have a lengthier shelf life (and mostly look better as they age) than ceramic tiles that mimic marble or an imitation Turkish rug. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs about living with things that are real,‚ÄĚ says San Francisco-area ¬≠interior designer Chelsea Sachs. ‚ÄúThere are few trends I hated more than that fake wood tile.‚ÄĚ
Some pared-down ideas ‚ÄĒ popular white subway tiles, white kitchen cabinets and Eames chairs ‚ÄĒ might seem trendy, especially to folks who don‚Äôt have deep design knowledge. ‚ÄúBut if something keeps coming around again and again, like black-and-white bathrooms, I‚Äôd say it‚Äôs classic,‚ÄĚ says S2‚Äôs Simon.
Interiors and exteriors can also feel more timeless when they stay somewhat true to the original era of the property, especially if it‚Äôs a historic one. ‚ÄúIn an old house, I like to keep some of the details and honor them,‚ÄĚ Sachs says. That could mean retaining and re-staining the oak moldings and paneling in a Craftsman bungalow, or remodeling the bathrooms of a 1920s rowhouse with simple, black-and-white subway tile ‚ÄĒ nodding to what might have been there during the Jazz Age. ‚ÄúAnd I wouldn‚Äôt put a bunch of dark wood, Queen Anne furniture in a 1950s ranch house,‚ÄĚ Kahoe says. An ideal blend? A look that considers the house‚Äôs architecture and roots along with whatever HGTV‚Äôs ‚ÄúProperty Brothers‚ÄĚ are installing this ¬≠season.
In a nesting world increasingly marked by eclectic, style-mixing interiors, going full-on ‚ÄúThis Old House‚ÄĚ with claw-foot tubs and velvet sofas in a Victorian cottage could feel dated in a different way. ‚ÄúTastes change, times change and there are shifts in how we live,‚ÄĚ says Arlington interior designer Nicole Lanteri. ‚ÄúSome change is progress, like replacing a cramped old tub with a walk-in shower, or a dining room you‚Äôre not using with a great room.‚ÄĚ
In the 1938 Colonial house Lanteri and her husband just purchased, she‚Äôs leaving some things in place: glass doorknobs on the five-panel doors, plasterwork and interior arches. But she ripped out the kitchen‚Äôs old dark-wood cabinets and laminate flooring, replacing them with citrus yellow cabinets and a ¬≠black-and-white terrazzo floor. ‚ÄúI wasn‚Äôt going to just change ¬≠everything, but you do have to remodel sometimes. Cabinets get worn and sinks get gross,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúBut I think we‚Äôre respecting the life cycle of the house.‚ÄĚ