With Holly Thompson Design
People who come into our design studio are almost always asking for a timeless design for their home, custom-tailored to their lifestyle and uniquely created for them. Then I ask them to show me pictures of what they consider timeless and unique, and without fail, almost the exact same inspiration photos pop up for just about everyone.
I get it. I tire of the old quickly and want to move on to something new. But when you’re creating a kitchen, a new set of rules apply because you don’t want to change your kitchen like you did with all your wall decor that said things like “eat” and “gather.”
I think all designs should be timeless, unless it’s an extremely short-lived type of project like a party or a conference. Focusing on timelessness helps prevent that “what were they thinking” look we often see when looking at photos from previous decades. On the flip side, people like trends because they feel new and fresh. And new and fresh is a good thing. It would be boring if things never changed (except at the grocery store…no one likes changes to the grocery store layout). The goal with any major project is to marry the idea of timelessness and up-to-date and to create an enjoyable space that will meet the needs of the homeowner for as long as they need.
Timelessness is tricky, though, because the more popular any given style is the less likely it is to be considered timeless. While no one can see the future of design trends with certainty, there are four areas I try to address to ensure a timeless design.
1. Does it Really Work for You?Function is a key part of a space standing the test of time. If the design and decor of your space don’t work well for your lifestyle, it’s going to have a short shelf-life. An example of this would be things like barn doors that just get in the way or overly large showers that just make you cold. It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure that anything expensive you do to your house is actually going to work for you. If you don’t know if it’ll work, find an experienced designer who can explain the pros and cons regarding livability. If you want to try something daring that won’t cause you to have to re-remodel, try leather pants or some cool sunglasses.
2. Thoughtful DesignThe skill in which something is pulled together makes all the difference in how timeless it is. Some rooms done in the past can still look surprisingly fresh and current, while others are well past their expiration date. When doing an expensive room like a kitchen or bath, you don’t want anyone to be able to tell exactly what year it was done, or it’ll inevitably be “dated.”
Having thought behind the design concept (figuring out what the room is trying to “do” or “be” with the design) is vital to timelessness because then even when styles change, your space still works. Being knowledgeable about how finishes look over time and avoiding overtly trendy items is important. If you love specific finishes that are currently popular, use them to create an overall look or feel that you love, so that even when the next thing is popular, you still love to be in your space. Also, always make sure your interior design style complements the architecture of your home. Eclectic is fine, but a total shock from exterior to interior isn’t usually a happy surprise.
3. Quality Matters
This is how builders ruin it for everyone, I’m sorry to say (if you’re a builder and you’re reading this, I’m not talking about you; just the other guys). Once a beautiful finish trickles down to builders, it’s all over for that finish as far as timelessness goes. Generally, builder finishes are a race to the bottom, resulting in things that look pretty at first but don’t age well. This is why people thought they hated brass and wallpaper. It’s because all the brass and wallpaper people saw was cheap and awful. Just pick quality finishes and they will look beautiful for a very long time, which equals “timeless.”
4. Is Everyone Doing It?
The kitchens people are drawn to tend to be trendy because everyone likes them at the same time. This type of trendiness is difficult to avoid because really all kitchens can be divided into time periods based on the popularity of finishes. This is why making sure you have a thoughtful design and quality finishes is so important; these things help your space to outlast the trends.
Avoiding overused color combos helps too because these combos inevitably become associated with a certain decade. Remember mauve and seafoam green from the early ‘90s? What about the earthy tans mixed with red and black in the early 2000s? Black and white is currently on the chopping block. Anytime a color or color combo starts to be seen everywhere, its days are limited and so is its timelessness. Using colors and styles thoughtfully and in line with the style of the house will help your upgrades to stand the test of time.