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Home design trends come and go, but some turn into classics that shape the way we think about style and decor for years to come. When you’re decorating your home, a good rule of thumb is to go a little more traditional with major furnishings and to incorporate the new trends you respond to with textiles and other small items that you can easily swap out later. That way, you always feel like your space is evolving, but the more expensive anchor pieces and semi-permanent fixtures remain constant.
So how do you make sure that the design choices you make today are ones you won’t regret in five or 10 years? Well, a good place to start is with some designer recommendations. These decor experts don’t exactly have crystal balls, but they have studied and worked in design for years, so they have some insight on what has staying power. If your goal at home over time is to make as few big and pricy changes as possible, here are some timeless trends to keep in mind as you go about refreshing your space.
Open shelves allow you to display artwork, family heirlooms, and treasures from your travels, and these kind of ephemera are always relevant in a home. That’s why designers Johanna Vente Anderson and Fiona Burr, the founders of Saffron + Poe, say open shelving is here to stay. “We love incorporating antique and found pieces because they bring so much warmth to a space and easily add layers of texture and history,” the designers say.
Moreover, opening shelving gives you so much styling flexibility. Since only the shelves themselves are fixed to the walls, you can easily switch up your decor without much heavy lifting. All you have to do is move your pieces around and swap items in and out for a fresh look. If you’re worried about your shelves looking too cluttered, know that you can bring in decorative boxes or baskets to hide odds and ends. For the most longevity, look for wooden or metal shelves with a simple, streamlined silhouette. They’ll work with any kind of decor.
Interior designer Crystal Sinclair loves a jute rug and believes these natural fiber pieces have staying power in your home. “Not only are these rugs affordable, they can serve as a stand alone rug or are a great base for layering decorative rugs on top,” Sinclair says.
Using a jute or sisal rug in a living room or otherwise is great because the material is extremely durable and adds texture to your space without overpowering it. When layered with another carpet, jute also adds an extra element of cushioning. For a subtle look, layer a neutral or monochromatic rug on top of your jute base. Or if you’re trying to make your rugs a focal point in your room, find something colorful or patterned to go on top. You can also find patterned jutes, which are a great way of going a little trendy but still staying somewhat classic with your floor coverings.
If you’re picking out a tile for your kitchen that you wont be sick of in a decade, go for white subway tiles. Designer Maggie Griffin remembers visiting the 125-year-old Biltmore Estate in North Carolina as a child and falling in love with this kind of tile. “They were classic and chic and remain equally as stylish today,” she says.
Part of this timelessness certainly has something to do with the colorway—white is always a bright, clean backdrop for styling objects and art against. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a decorative finish, kind of hardware, or fun cabinet color that won’t work with white. If you want something a little more bold, you could always choose a herringbone or basketweave configuration for laying your subways. Or spring for a special crackle or zellige glaze in off-white, so your room is still classic but with a twist.
Designer Max Humphrey loves wood wall paneling because it instantly makes a room feel special, cozy, and complete. Just think about it: If you look at two rooms side by side, one with basic drywall and the other with paneled wood wall(s), you’ll notice that you have an urgent need to put some type of decor or color on the drywall, whereas the wood panelling often speaks for itself. “Knotty pine tongue and groove, beadboard, board and batten, shiplap, reclaimed wood—just gimme all the wall treatments,” says Humphrey.
Wood has never really gone out of style as a building material, and you can always restain or refresh wooden features with paint. So if you’re thinking about some kind of wood wall treatment, go for it. You can always breathe new life into it later, if you tire of its color or finish. The simpler the profile for wooden wall treatments, often the better.
There’s something to be said for sticking to neutral tones and not getting too wrapped up in the latest “it” color. “Neutral tones are timeless and work in any context,” explains designer Becky Shea. “When you go too bold and loud, in the long term it’s not sustainable.”
Try not to invest a lot of money on big pieces in non-neutral colors if your taste usually changes over time. “Keep your core items neutral—like your sofa, rug, and accent chairs—then layer in color and trends through blankets, accessories, and art,” says Shea. If you know you’re going to love that pink upholstered bed forever, that’s totally fine. You know your style better than anyone else!
Some people like to go for the jungle look in their house with plants hanging from the ceilings and covering every surface area possible, while others like just a few plant babies for small pops of color and life. The bottom line is, you can’t go wrong with bringing greenery into your home.
Plants instantly add life and color to a room, and that will never change. Plus, it’s not like plants are really anything new—people have been bringing the outdoors in with them forever. “Not only can plants promote clean indoor air, they also facilitate a connection with nature,” explains Nathelie Macchioni, a designer with Hyphen & Co. If you’re not sure about your level of expertise or if your room’s conditions can handle a certain variety, know there are tons of options out there. “Given the diverse selection of plants, it is easy to find an option that best fits your conditions, especially if a room doesn’t receive the best natural light.”
7. Vintage Furniture and Decor
“Think about it: If you find a great piece of vintage furniture or a rug from 50 to 100 years ago that made it this far, it’ll probably last longer than anything brand new you’ll buy from a big box store,” says Humphrey. But it’s not only the quality of vintage pieces, it’s also the sentiment and decorative impact they can have in a room that gives them longevity.
“We find that antique and found pieces bring so much warmth to a space, incorporating layers of texture and history,” explains Anderson and Burr. “They are often one-of-a-kind, making your space inherently unique, and we love to ponder what they have seen and who else has treasured them throughout the decades/centuries.”
8. Natural Unlacquered Brass
Brass’ popularity waxes and wanes, but this material never truly ever goes out of style, especially when executed in a living finish that will patina over time. “It’s classic but always feels fresh,” says designer Liz Caan. “And unlike more trendy metals like copper and rose gold, it’s near impossible for natural brass to look anything but elevated. It will always have a place in our design language.”
If you love a certain type of metal like shiny chrome, matte black, or even rose gold, by all means use it. But if you’re considering a brass finish for hardware or decorative pieces and are worried about its staying power, time has shown that brass always comes back. It was popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, surged again in the late 1990s, and is definitely on the rise again now. So going for the gold shouldn’t feel like a big gamble, especially in a natural finish.
According to designer Roxy Te Owens, founder of furniture brand Society Social, woven and cane furniture is “stylistically versatile and full of texture and warmth,” which makes it an easy design go-to today—and for tomorrow. “It may finally be starting to ‘trend’ again in a big way, but rattan, wicker, and grasscloth furniture will always remain classic,” says Te Owens. “We’ve been producing this type of furniture for nearly 40 years and have sent our designs off to homes from the city to the country and coasts—and have seen them placed in spaces that range from traditional to contemporary to mid-century modern. “
So go ahead and buy that rattan mirror, bamboo pendant, or a grasscloth table you’ve had your eye. These kinds of pieces always feel visually light and will add a nice hit of texture to wherever you put them.
Don’t underestimate the staying power of a simple, straight-lined Parsons table, whether its intended use is for dining, cocktails, working, anchoring an entry, or otherwise. The great thing about these staples, which have been around for roughly 80 years, is that they’re design chameleons and can hang with pretty much whatever you put them with, especially in classic a finish like white or black.
“I love a good Parsons Desk in a glossy white lacquer because it never goes out of style,” says designer Julianne Taylor, the founder and creative director of Taylor Burke Home. “You can make this versatile piece work in traditional or modern spaces, depending on what design elements you add to it. It makes a perfect grounding point for a patterned wallpaper in my newly created WFH space. These white tables are anything but basic and will still be stylish for years to come.”
If you’re reluctant to paper your walls, don’t be. Sure, wallpaper is a little more permanent than painting, but temporary wallpaper has come a long way if that’s your hold up. Moreover, wallpaper is a one-and-done way to make a striking statement in a room, and for that reason, it’s always going to be a go-to wall covering option.
“Wallpaper adds depth, warmth, and style to a room in a way that can’t compare to paint,” says designer Amy Kartheiser. “There is such an array of beautiful designs, textures, and prints available to us that can make a unique impact on a room. With the right design, you won’t have to worry about it going out of style.”
“The color white has certainly made a big comeback over the past few years, as we’ve seen with the all-white kitchen trend,” says Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto of Park & Oak Interior Design. “But our favorite timeless use of white is incorporating white sofas into living room designs.”
According to Samatas and DiSanto, if you want to incorporate more white across the furniture of your home to brighten up your space, a white sofa will work wonders. If you’re worried about fingerprints and wine spills, the design duo suggests investing in a performance fabric that is meant for everyday living and can handle spills, smudges, and pulls. Or try a slipcover, which is often machine-washable.
When you’re looking to refresh your living room or bedroom textiles, keep an eye out for natural fabrics like linen, wool, and alpaca, to name a few. These kinds of materials are long-lasting and ideal for things like rugs, throws, pillow covers, and bedding. But they are not just pretty—they’re also practical, and that makes all the difference. “They’re sustainable, healthy choices for home dwellers and easier to clean,” says Caan. “I think as time goes on, and we continue to crave naturally-made materials that are luxurious in their subtlety, they’ll be even more in demand.”
You can’t go wrong with clean lines, especially when it comes to larger pieces of furniture like sofas. While curvy, almost kidney bean-shaped couches may be all the rage now, boxy shapes are just so graphically simple that they work just about anywhere during any time period. “Tuxedo style sofas, made famous by the legendary Billy Baldwin, will always be a design staple,” says Te Owens. “They’re timeless but also modern.”
If you want a more contemporary look, stick to a solid covered fabric. Or if you’re leaning into a more Grandmillennial aesthetic, choose something with a small pattern. The beauty is that you can always reupholster a sofa, and the tuxedo shape is simple enough to take on the style of whatever fabric you choose to cover it in.