From the mauve colors of the 1980s to the grays that started around 2010, from the fussy furnishings of 1985 to the clean lines of 2022, there are always new “rules” to follow.
The majority of my interior design career has been spent in the research and restoration of historic buildings. As the popularity of historic interiors waned, I kept my eyes on the direction of trends of the moment, and how they were being translated into interior design. From the mauve paint colors of the 1980s to the shades of gray that started around 2010, from the fussy furnishings of 1985 to the clean lines and reduced embellishments of 2022, there are always new “rules” to follow if you are considering a new interior.
With all that in mind, I read with interest two recent articles in the New York Times that seem to be similar in their design directions yet slightly different in the methods on how to achieve them. The first one was entitled “They Wrote the Book on an Inviting Home.” The authors, not designers by education, stress the attractiveness of simple design methods: the use of low lighting, as opposed to the glare of recessed or overhead lights, and using simple design tricks to save money. They like to decorate with food, mixed with a simple floral bouquet right from the grocery store. They also encourage the everyday use of things you may put away just for special occasions.
The second article was a review of a book entitled “How to Live with Objects.” The writers of this book are also editors of an interior design website called Sight Unseen that champions contemporary design with a special emphasis on individual objects and collections that are incorporated into an interior and speak specifically to the interests and lives of the owner.
Eclecticism is the order of the day. “Many of their suggestions defy conventional notions of beauty or comfort in favor of an artistic statement,” writes Aileen Kwun, the article’s author. In one section of the book is a description of a Mexico City home and gallery, which is decorated with items given by an acquaintance, or was found with, or reminiscent of a good friend.
Both these books describe a design direction that takes no heed of current trends, color forecasting, or what the shape of your sofa should be in 2023. It is a direction that becomes a guide to how to make a house into your home. I am happy to say that I have never been a trendsetter, but have always been a person who wants to surround myself, as well as my clients, with things that are special to them. Those things may be an old set of china that once was displayed in grandmother’s dining room, or a collection of shells or photographs or even a pair of Chippendale tables that had been proudly a part of your parent’s living room.
The point that these author’s make is that meaningful design does not depend on what is popular, but reflects what is meaningful. So, if your real intent is to make your house a home, it may be wise to not place too much emphasis on the trends of the day, but instead concentrate on items and surroundings that speak to you in a personal way. Enjoy the process!
Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill, and can be reached through her website: patriciacove.com.