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Essay

In Defense of Trends (Keep Calm and Let Them Be)

by Grace Bonney

The world of design and design media loves to talk about trends. Some publications focus on touting them and staying one step ahead of the latest thing, while others love to decry them the moment they appear for being too ephemeral and not serious enough. I’ve seen this battle back and forth since the first day I started blogging here almost 14 years ago. I used to document trends until I found myself feeling tired of trying to follow their rapid rise and fall. But then a strange thing happened: I grew to love them again for the most unexpected reason. I fell back in love with trends because of negative comments on our blog.

Over the past few years we’ve seen negative comments about seemingly innocuous things (paint colors, chairs, textiles) grow at a steady pace. And while that development seems to be tied to the overall climate here in the United States related to politics and divisions overall, I’ve found myself defending trends (and the people that embrace them at home) in a big way.

Antlers (a trend we saw rise to fame in the early 2000s) in the Oslo home of Pia and Jeppe

It was in those moments of defense that I found myself having a major change of heart about embracing trends of all sorts. And the reason was simple: trends are so often a gateway for people to find their way into the world of design and, in turn, a tool for helping them express themselves and create a space that makes them happy. I’ve found that so much of the negative press trends have gotten seems to be rooted in what other people think of someone’s home or shopping trends, rather than what makes that homeowner/renter happy. I used to think the same way until I started really listening to the homeowners/renters who were talking about WHY they hung, for example, a “For Like Ever” or “Keep Calm” poster. Or a faux deer antler. Or a macrame wall hanging. Their reasons always boiled down to joy or excitement or inspiration that sprang from seeing that object on a daily basis.

Not that long ago, people’s homes and people’s opinions about those homes weren’t as commonly offered as they are now. And while a small percentage of people ended up having their homes photographed for print magazines, most people didn’t make their design decisions based on what people on social media or blogs would think. But now it seems like everyone and every space is up for judgement in some way (and yes, as a site that posts home tours, that’s something we’re aware we’re a part of — more on that next week) and just about anyone feels it’s okay to make pretty big assumptions about someone’s life, choices, beliefs or personality based on what they see in someone’s home — especially if what they see is part of a popular trend.

For Like Ever: Tracy Jenkins’ wildly popular print in the Queens home of Nora and David. 

I understand lobbing that criticism at someone like me, or a blog like mine. It’s our chosen job to do our best to provide a broad range of home tours that represent different styles and different homeowners/renters. But it’s not up to every homeowner/renter in the world to create a space that everyone else will find thoroughly unique and unexpected (which, to be honest, is hard to find in today’s world of infinite internet sharing and circular inspiration).

One of the central assumptions I’ve seen a lot of (and used to believe myself) was that trends were problematic because they equated low-quality, high-turnover consumption. But what I’ve learned from listening to the people we’ve had the honor or sharing home tours with here is that just because something might feel “of the moment” to someone else, doesn’t mean the owner/renter at hand plans on abandoning that piece any time soon. I fell into the trap of assuming that the trendiness or lower cost of something meant it would be tossed and replaced any day now. But for most people that’s not true. Something doesn’t have to be a) expensive b) utterly unique or c) classic for someone to hold onto it and love it for years to come.

Barn Doors: Bright red sliding doors in the Seattle home of Sarah and Daniel

Another issue that patient and kind homeowners/renters have mentioned to me is regional accessibility. So often we see anti-trend commentary combined with anti “box-store” complaints. And while I understand people’s concerns with supporting businesses that don’t support fair labor or wages, it’s important to remember that not everyone has the same access to art and design. Yes, a lot of people can order things online and afford to have pieces shipped anywhere, but that’s not everyone. Not every area has a huge community of local makers and shops to access and, even if they do, the best way for everyone to feel happy and comfortable in their homes is to choose whatever they feel makes them most happy and represented at home. So if that’s from a big box store? Great. If that’s from a small maker? Awesome. If that’s from a thrift store or built with their own two hands? Cool.

“Dated” is the other term I see a lot when trends are discussed. But why are we okay with certain items feeling dated in a recognizable way (i.e. mid-century modern furniture, 40s/50s era Scandinavian enamelware, Dorothy-Draper style baroque furniture) but not others?

Rainbow Shelves: Color-coordinated books stored in the Brooklyn home of Brin and Nathan

My thoughts and feelings about design, decoration and the general world of creatives has greatly evolved over the years and as I recognize and work to rectify mistakes of my own, it’s making me realize how steeped in judgement so much design writing can be. This includes my own writing (I used to think it was my job to declare something “good” or “bad” and I could not have been more wrong) and it’s something that we are working, as a team, to improve upon and hopefully foster here in discussions on the blog and on social media.

Home feels like a place where the only opinion that should matter is yours and your family’s. I know that when we share our lives and homes online, we open ourselves up to commentary and opinions from outside of that inner circle, but I’d like to work harder (and this starts with me here and how we word and present our posts, which is something we worked on BIG TIME at our team retreat last week) on making this online home here a place where people can share their homes as-is, without too much assumption made based on an item’s trendiness. If the color of the year makes you happy — start painting! If the hottest print from 5 years ago sets the mood for your dream room — hang it proudly! No matter what makes YOU feel at home, we want to celebrate that here and we’re working to ensure that our writing and choices (and the way we discuss home tours with homeowners/renters) reflects that.

Chevron: A bold print in this DIY by Kate Pruitt

I’d love to hear what YOUR thoughts are on trends. Do you feel worried about sharing them online if they’re in your own home? Do you love them and do they inspire you to get into design and decoration in your home? Do you feel they’re connected to “throwaway” culture or that they’re something you’ll hold onto for a long time? This readership has seen a lot of trends come and go (and come back again) over the past 14 years, so I’d love to hear what YOU have to say about trends and how you feel about embracing them at home and seeing them online. Is there an angle about this discussion that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your viewpoints as we work on expanding our minds and listening more to the thoughts and feelings of our creative community as a whole. xo, Grace

Keep Calm: The iconic poster that started it all, in the Australian home of Kelly Doust

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Comments

  • This is a such a thoughtful reflection. A lot of the “ugh! trends!” negativity seems to me to be about class anxiety. As always, I am so grateful for your words and your work, especially when you reflect on how your views have changed over the years.

    • That reminds me of how I heard that intricate etiquette rules were really meant to separate the classes. Only the truly upper class had the up to date knowledge of changing etiquette trends :/

      • You both are really tapping into that class issue that I really wanted to get more into (but am saving for a different post). Thanks for commenting on that- I’m so thankful to hear our community getting deeper into these issues behind all the “pretty” stuff we post here ;)

        • I’ve been following Design*Sponge since I was a teenager, my parents are retired and now own and operate a vintage and antique furniture store, and “making home” is one of the most valuable and important things in my life. I’m working class (not poor) and I’m in a constant place of reckoning with the class privilege I come from and the ways consumer culture–and the cycle of exploitation that necessitates this–dominates our everyday lives. I’m not sure how you can address design trends without centering (not merely including) a thorough analysis of class, consumerism, and the exploitation of global capitalism. Are the homes of poor and working class people featured on this site? Consider starting there.

          • Willow

            I think we are considering those issues, and touched on them here. We will continue to talk about them further as well.

            And yes, the homes of working class and lower-income community members are featured here. We focus on featuring the homes of people in the creative community and most working/full-time artists we know and support are living on very low (and unreliable) income, so I think they may not look or feel the way people expect lower-income households to look.

            We have a piece coming up on the ways in which classism effects the terminology and view of small spaces (and the inherent privilege in choosing to live in a “tiny home” style) so we are definitely thinking about all of these issues more deeply.

            Grace

  • Thank you! As we feel ever more pressure to have perfectly gorgeous and new and exciting homes, birthday parties, christmas cards, gifts and clothes, I think the importance of What Makes You Happy is often forgotten/ignored in favor of what is insta/blog/pinterest worthy depending on the year. Reading this this morning was a breath of fresh air.

  • Interesting, I can see your point of view. Perhaps the trends on design websites become boring to look at for the reader, and that’s why they are put down? I certainly have things in my home that would be deemed trendy, but I love them!

    Anyway, one disagreement: “Home feels like a place where the only opinion that should matter is yours and your family’s.” I do disagree to an extent. On another design website very recently, an MCM home reno was posted. Reno’d, to paint over all the beautiful colored brick, gorgeous wood ceiling and beams- all in bright, stark, trendy white; Reno’d to remove the intact MCM kitchen, hutch and bathroom vanities (I HOPE THEY WERE RE-HOMED), and replaced with trendy, if not already dated cabinets and useless, trendy, open vanities.

    It was a horror show. Over 100 posts from people who could not believe their eyes. In this case, perhaps all of the negative comments will give that trendy house flipper pause, the next time they consider destroying a beautiful old house.

    • Where was this? would love to see it. I live in a 1930’s house with a ton of beautiful dark wood trim and built-ins, but the kitchen/bathrooms were all destroyed by the previous homeowner. How I wish I had a great tiled bathroom to restore!

      • Not sure if I’m allowed to post this, but it was on Apartment Therapy. Under the DIY tab, go to Before and Afters. It’s the 7 room Mid-Century Makeover.

        Granted, the floors had to go, as did the popcorn ceilings. Tile in bathrooms was questionable, but perhaps could have been worked with. Bathroom vanities, with a new counter could have been cool. Kitchen was small, so I could see expanding it- but the style of cabinet chosen just did not go (at least with the original house). Real tragedy was in the painted ceilings and beams, and all the painted brick…and this wasn’t typical old red brick. This was awesome 50’s colored brick- in dark brown (fireplace), yellow/orange (on exterior).

        In this case, the house was a flip, so the idea of trend to the flippers was to attract the largest audience to buy the home. However, perhaps if they kept the reno smaller, and the home intact, they could have attracted the 1 or 2 buyers who would appreciate it, instead of trying to appeal to the masses.

        Most of the “trends” mentioned in this article are decorative- a poster, antlers, etc…in which case, go for what you love (but I’ll still call you crazy if you turn your books backwards on the bookshelf)! But when you apply “trends” to a home- especially one with original character that you destroy, that needs to be called out.

        But too, I wonder: do you really like those antlers on the wall? Really? Or do you like them because you see them everywhere online, and feel included now? You can now post a pic of your antlers on the wall and say “see, I am one of you too!”

        • MP

          You’re allowed to post anything that’s constructive, so yes, this is ok.

          That said, do I personally like decorative antlers? No. But do I want someone who does to feel bad for liking them? No. And do I want to assume that they own them just to fit in? Definitely not.

          I understand that taking out or altering historic details is controversial, to so the least, when we’re talking about home reno. And I’m of two minds about it. First, having just watched my parents really struggle to sell their home because of all those historic details (they had to drop the price 4 times well below market value) that people claim to love. Every buyer came in and told them that if they ripped out all the walls, built-in shelves and woodwork they’d consider it. So while I love those historic details and generally want to keep them, too, when it comes to today’s housing market, sometimes people have to make design decisions based on their urgent financial needs.

          Also, the “original” character a lot of people take issue with being removed in makeovers on DS actually refers to things that were, themselves, updates to a home at the time. For example, I looooove a pink tiled bathroom from the 50s. But a lot of times those pink bathrooms replaced earlier versions of things in the home, so those too were “trendy” at the time and only now do we appreciate them as cool or special or “original” and worth saving.

          I agree it’s definitely worth thinking about these issues with renovations and removing historic/”original” details, but as part of a more nuanced discussion about the very real financial circumstances those decisions are often connected to.

          Grace

          • I definitely agree on what you mentioned regarding resale, cost, historic details, etc. Having been through it twice myself, we’ve had to weigh all of that in or decision process. As an architect, I hope I’ve made the right decisions in both places!

            In the case I mentioned, I think that a beautiful end product could have been achieved without painting white the ceiling and brick. Most everything else they did could have been forgiven if they had kept those two elements intact…and this was a flip, so they could have actually saved money by not doing all that painting.

            Anyway, on this: “That said, do I personally like decorative antlers? No. But do I want someone who does to feel bad for liking them? No. And do I want to assume that they own them just to fit in? Definitely not.”…I do sometimes wonder how much thought people put in to the things they bring home- do really love something? Or perhaps that love is temporary (probably)? And wonder if it’s the influence of the trend and desire to fit in that might push someone to choose something? Are we attracted to it because we see it everywhere, or because we do truly love it? I don’t know, just something to think about. Especially in this world we live in- with social media and instagram and “influencers”…pushing things that perhaps they don’t even care for, but know that they will have influence over someone else to buy those things?

            • MP

              Good points again. I think most “influencers”, at least those that self-identify that way, know they have influence over people. I hope they think about recommending things they feel are quality products, but I also don’t want to second guess people’s decisions and wonder, “do you really love that?”. I don’t want to put those expectations on people in terms of having to hold on to something forever to not be judged. That said, do I want people to toss things? No way. We’ve discussed ways to avoid that here before and will keep talking about ways to recycle, reuse, donate, and gift objects that are pieces we don’t want in our homes anymore.

              Grace

        • Thanks for that link. I’ve sent it to two people who are doing renovations as a cautionary tale of steamrolling a renovation and ending up with a tract house interior. Who paints over cedar ceilings and beams? The built-in wood sideboard and bathroom vanity were beautiful and, at least from the pictures, looked to be in pretty good shape. This illustrates the wisdom of living in a house before making irrevocable decisions. Depressingly, that house probably sold in the blink of an eye.

          • Renee

            I think it’s always good to think about things that can’t be undone, but I actually was hoping to convey with this that trends aren’t inherently a bad thing. If someone paints beams and loves them and lives with them and that brings them joy, is there anything really wrong with that? I think a lot of anti-trend commentary I see online (including my own) comes from a place of judgement and I just wanted us all to pick that apart a bit to think about how phrasing things that way could make someone who DOES say, like painted beams, feel about themselves. I personally also like keeping historical details mainly in tact, but I also know that isn’t practical or enjoyable for everyone. And if someone is able to save up and actually buy a home, I think it would be awesome if they felt like they were making decisions that made them feel happy and at home.

            Grace

            • Unfortunately in this instance though, the decision to paint the beams and ceiling wasn’t made by the homeowner who would live there and love them. It was made by the flipper who took that choice away from the eventual owner. Of course, someone will like that bright white ceiling, but unfortunately, it would be a very difficult endeavor to ever correct.

              And too, if that was a T&G ceiling, it will probably look like crap the minute the weather changes. Wood expands and contracts with changes in temp and humidity, and the joints will open up and expose the unpainted tongues. Yuck. Perhaps all of the bad comments that flipper received will influence them in the future to find a way to work better with the existing goodness in the homes they renovate, and in the process- save themselves money.

              Anyway, I would never put someone down because they like or liked a trend. We all fall for some trends! I just think it can get boring seeing the same thing over and over on design sites. I like design sites because they can be inspirational. And seeing trend after trendy trend on a design site is dull. Especially if it’s trend on trend on trend in one home. If that’s the case, then I seriously question whether they actually likes said trends, or were just going with the flow, and picking what was popular.

            • MP

              I agree about design sites. I think it’s our job as people who run sites like this to source and provide diverse homes for inspiration. From our perspective, it can be tough when the zeitgeist is sooo firmly planted in one direction (like right now with all-white homes and open floor plans), but we will always try to find and share a range here.

              Grace

  • I am so appreciative of your continuing effort to bring a refreshed approach to authenticity, respectfulness, and encouragement in your “design” blog, which is so much more. Thank you for your commitment to empowering this blog community in our design choices, and in our self expression.

  • The only time I get eye-rolling-ly annoyed about trends is when every single coffee shop switches to subway tile/industrial chic, that kind of stuff. But it is really just because I think, why not do something different? Trends are trends because people like them. I might not want antlers in my home, or all my books arranged by color, but I love my bright red Keep Calm poster and I was just defending barn doors to someone the other day.
    Thanks for the thoughtful essay!

    • Rachel

      I get that. I feel that way about public spaces sometimes. I’m of two minds sometimes because I know how expensive it is to get a restaurant off the ground (soooo expensive!) and I understand why anyone would want to “play it safe” so to speak, in focusing on currently popular trends, to make sure they’re investing wisely. But I also understand that sometimes it feels like deja vu when you walk into spaces that all look exactly alike.

      Grace

      • One thing I love about Industrial Chic/Subway tiled coffee houses and bars is that each and everyone is done differently. I enjoy seeing how they take similar design elements and style yet make it their own for their own brand. And I love the feel of an airy, cozy, yet industrial public space so I’m not bothered by it.

        But on the other hand, I’m glad I stopped seeing public spaces desgined with mason jar lamps etc. Country chic is sooo not for me.

    • I totally agree. I also love my Keep Calm poster that I found for pennies at a thrift store after they went out of style. It is very special to me.

  • I really enjoyed your take on this. I am almost adverse to trends on principle after social media, but the most important thing is that someone is happy and loves their home.

    • Thanks Amanda! Overexposure to trends because of technology can lead to fatigue for those looking into peoples’ homes so it’s often not easy to remember that the “pretty pictures” are, indeed, someone’s home and, hopefully, their happy place.

      Caitlin

  • love this post! such a great reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. and Rebecca, i agree—i think so much of this is based on class anxiety.

    thanks for writing this. a great reminder to be who you are and like whatever you want to like, and not worry about who else does/does not agree/approve. thank you!

  • This article reminded me of a point I took away from Tan France during an episode of Queer Eye. He spoke about the difference between fashion and style. He said, “Style is not fashion. Fashion is not trendy after a season. Quite honestly I couldn’t give a shit about fashion. Style is dressing the way that you feel confident and what is appropriate for you, your age, your body type.”

    I think respecting what other people value is something we all can do more of ❤️ Thanks for the great article!

  • Reading this I’m reminded of this recent article by Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell: https://www.curbed.com/2018/3/7/17087588/home-renovation-unnecessary-mcmansion-hell-wagner which resonated a lot with me, especially as someone who lives in an area where home ownership is extremely inaccessible. Even if I ever do manage to purchase a home (ha!), I’ll almost certainly never have the money to remodel or seriously renovate.

    Your discussion about judgement ties into the discussion about houses turning, in the popular consciousness, into tradeable commodities and monetary investments rather than places and locations. Not that many people actually see the inside of my home. The only person it needs to work for is me.

  • I really loved this essay. I’m absolutely guilty of worrying too much about what others think, and frequently have to second guess and question design decisions in my home to ensure I’m doing something I and my family will love, rather than something that will look good to someone else. When it comes to trends, I’m generally not bothered because a.) I completely understand the urge to buy into something popular in order to feel as though one’s home is “of the moment” and has a wide appeal, and b.) I also understand that something that just happens to be a trend may also bring true joy to the person who has claimed it. Although I don’t own one myself, I still smile every time I see the “For Like Ever” poster–who cares if it appeared everywhere for a while? It’s adorable, bright, and appealing. This essay was a wonderful reminder to remain authentic to ourselves in design, regardless whether what you love is unique, trendy, or somewhere in between.

    • Sarah

      You’re in good company. We’ve all felt that way. It’s tough to tune out “outside” voices when we’ve all gotten so use to valuing those voices via social media. But I feel a trend change happening and I see people wanting to find their own voices and views again (myself included).

      Grace

  • I consider trends a win/win. If it’s good idea, hopefully people stick with it. If I like a trend, but don’t feel compelled to jump on board at the “beginning”, I can enjoy finding it again at the thrift store when other folks have gotten over it.

  • I love Rebecca’s point about the class element of “trend”! It’s almost a hipsterism, a desire to prove that you were “in” before it was big and cheap and mass produced.

    I think the thing I struggle with the most is that there are a lot of trends that are 100% cultural appropriation. A few years ago, I remember D*S covering the “dream catcher” trend, featuring exclusively white artists who made things that weren’t really dream catchers. And people using Moroccan wedding blankets as rugs has always driven me nuts. There are so many “trends” that are essentially a lot of white people temporarily claiming the aesthetic of a very important cultural item because it’s popular, and that’s something I do wish would stop.

    • Rebecca

      I completely agree. We are working carefully to better identify moments of appropriation and try not to post trends or objects that are not connected to or respectful of the culture from which they originate. We have a longer discussion post on that topic coming soon, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Grace

    • You make an interesting point, but aren’t most things in our homes, then, culturally appropriated? This site (and my own home, too) is absolutely full of things that aren’t specific to my culture: Shaker kitchens, Persian rugs, English-style sofas, etc. Help me understand the difference between appreciating the function/beauty of something, wherever it comes from, vs cultural appropriation.

      • Janey

        There are many many articles on this topic if you want to start there. We are working on our own piece, but it’s a topic I don’t take lightly, so I don’t want to give a quick answer here without being able to discuss all the nuances. The point I will mention here is that typically the issue is when someone appropriates something from a culture that is oppressed (a culture that would be punished, ridiculed, or hurt for having that same item) and is able to uses it in some way that is separated from the original source and purpose of that item. For example, Indigenous headdresses and Turbans. These are great pieces to read (re: Turbans) before ours is live, too. I think the discussion lies in a) accepting that there will probably never be one definitive viewpoint on appropriation (because not all groups of people feel the same) and b) getting into the nuance that exists between appreciation and appropriation.

        Grace

  • I’ve definitely adopted trends in my home. But the interesting thing I notice is that … not a lot of people seem to know they’re trends. Take my bookshelves, for example. I’ve had my books color coded for over a year, and even now people comment on how surprised and interesting they find it. As in, they hadn’t seen it done before, didn’t know it was a trend, and liked it (or thought it was bizarre). While some people immerse themselves daily in home design trends and spend lots of time thinking about them, a lot of other people don’t.

    • That’s a great point, Lisa. I want to paint my kitchen, and I am drawn to Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue, an extremely popular and trendy paint color right now. I keep telling myself I can’t choose that color, because it’s everywhere — but then I remind myself that it’s everywhere to ME. The majority of people who visit my home don’t know much about the design world, and if it’s a color that makes me happy and works for my home, why shouldn’t I use it?

    • This is so interesting, Lisa. I never thought about that- but honestly I think that’s so accurate. I’ve never had anyone point out trends in our home, ever!

      Grace

      • I actually did have someone point out something in my home that was trendy at the time (a stack of old suitcases used for storing things) by saying “wow, that is so trendy” and had to laugh, because I had had said stack of suitcases as storage for about 10 years before it was trendy. And still have them now, even though they are no longer so, because I like their history, look, and function. I have complicated feelings about following/not following trends in my own home, even though I follow interior design trends as a hobby. Thank you for continuing the ongoing discussion with posts like this!

    • Lisa, I came down here to say exactly what you did! Sometimes I worry about decorating with something that could be seen as “trendy” and that is suddenly popping up on all the blogs/pinterest/etc. But I forget that not everyone lives on home design blogs the way I do (especially amongst my friends) and so most people just comment positively about how cool something is and how they hadn’t seen it before.

  • My mom is my main inspiration and reference when I think of home decor. She is an architect, has amazing taste, and is always super insistant that we should not follow trends but either go with what we like or at least be ahead of them. This mind frame has helped me a lot when opening my business – I sell French made objects and souvenirs in a cute little shop in Paris – but can also be very restrictive. Sometimes, I feel like I cant’ buy something or decorate a certain way because she’ll think (rightly) that it’s expected – and I will feel bad for it. It’s both a great stimulator and a minor annoyance (nothing too serious here!)

    I very much agree on what you said, not everybody has access to local makers and artisans, and not everybody is educated to see the beauty in old things. It’s a priviledge to have both. Nonetheless, I’d love to see more diversity in people’s homes (which I think will come with the abundance of contents and trends available on the Internet, the more there is, the more options to chose from!) and I wish people would stop buying their whole set of furniture at Ikea… It’s not the best for the environment and greatly contributes to the unformization of homes. Here in France, we have amazing access to vintage and antique furniture, very often a fraction of the price of new stuff from major retailers, but people keep thinking they need the grey couch from Ikea with the maroccan rug…

    I love love love when you show homes that are different, less polished, less minimalist… because you can see more of the owner’s personality. I truly hope it will inspire others to make their home their own.

    Love,
    Marie, from Paris

  • Grace, you are such a kind and loving person. The world needs more of you. I don’t think I have ever met anyone more appropriately named. ;)

  • This is a great article. Whenever I am in the forefront of a trend, such as color coded books 10 years ago, I find it difficult to stick to my decisions and not to dismiss my decision. I have to fight to not turn away from what originally brings me joy, and truly own it. When I do come around to the truth and possicive, I am much happier and live in my choices.

    • Thanks Jan! I’ve had the same issues over my digital lifetime and it has led to severe decision paralysis and guilt about even liking something I’ve seen elsewhere that I would like to place or replicate in my own home. I’ve realized that when negative emotions, guilt or shame replace genuine smiles that come to me, it’s time to some serious recalibration. For Like Ever (and ever!)

      Caitlin

  • I think I balk at trends because I associate them with bad gifting. If I say I like something I will get submerged in trendy undesired objects. For example: a myriad of keep calm mugs, wall art, tins, and I think at one point a pillow I have had to slowly get rid of. I also have a friend who did a nautical baby room and now can’t stop the onslaught of anchor related home decor gifts (mugs, wall art, placemats). Upon reflection, I think this is especially a problem for young people, when they first move out, get married, or have a baby, and are given a lot of decor or homeware gifts.

    • I get that! It’s why I don’t tell family members what I am currently collecting because they will buy everything they see, and I prefer to manage my collections. They mean well but they don’t understand that the thrill of the hunt is what drives me, and I prefer to keep my collections small in number.

      • Heather

        Ha! Yes! I joke about that a lot- how once people know you like something even a little bit, they start buying things for you in that theme or style and never stop ;)

        Grace

  • I really enjoyed this essay. It is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately as we work to decorate a new home and try to use things that we enjoy. It is so very easy to fall into wanting to emulate the beautiful pictures that you see everywhere. When I was younger I strove for that in our home. It is only with my most recent home that I am trying to place our likes front and center instead of what is in fashion. I do think websites like yours help a lot in this. The vast variety of home that I have looked through really give you the sense that nothing is “wrong,” all people have their own vibe and the more personality that shows through the better.

  • I really like this discussion! When we moved into our home a few years ago, I loved the kitchen which had been renovated in the early 2000’s with what had been on trend then – high quality maple cabinets and brown quartz counters. I thought it was beautiful, but I also thought that we should paint it white, because I had spent so much time looking at design sites, all of which called maple dated. I didn’t want a white kitchen, I thought I should want a white kitchen. Luckily, the feeling passed (honestly because I was too lazy to paint!) and I’m so glad it did. I love my once trendy and now dated kitchen, it makes me feel warm and happy. And I love visiting friends’ kitchens with white or painted cabinets or any of the more current trends – as long as they are well-used and filled with warmth.

    • I love the sound of your kitchen, and I’m so glad to hear you’ve come to love it! We also have warm wood cabinets and I love the coziness of wood and warm colours.

  • First off, agreed with Amanda above! We can all be judgmental about decor, this is such an empathic approach, Grace. Second, I nodded my head yes as soon as I saw this heading and thought about my “yes, we have this print up in our home” feeling when we were lucky enough to having our old apartment in D*S – of course to see that very image of our apartment in the post! (For Like Ever) Although we have since moved and it’s no longer the center of our bedroom, we still have it and still love it. My husband bought it for me after seeing how much I loved it after seeing it in Domino (like so many) and it carries that sentimental value. I also just really love pink. Beyond that, we also have faux taxidermy (also sentimental, we hit a deer a few years back and I haven’t looked at them the same way since). We also scored a full set of Heller dinnerware a few months ago and that’s trendy now too?? (not sentimental, but functional, we live with a toddler and those things are sturdy!). Anyway, it’s our home and it makes us happy! That said, I’m very guilty of also judging. Every time I see an edison bulb in a new bar, that same black and white Moroccan rug in another home tour, etc. Trying to go more with Amy Poehler’s “Good for her! Not for me” motto (in this and many other life aspects).

  • This is a very thoughtful and refreshing essay. Thanks, Grace! The only issue I have with “trendy” items is when I go to a big box store and see items that are supposed to look handmade, like the pottery or macrame wall hangings that are so popular right now, that are mass produced. I feel like this lowers the value of the work of artists who spend hours creating work that is then just copied by a huge corporation. And I’m not just talking about monetary value, but the value that the general public has of the importance of handmade items in general. Artists can’t make a living when this happens. I understand that everyone can’t afford a one-of-a-kind piece of art, but so many great handmade things can be found in thrift stores!

  • So utterly true and beautifully worded. Thankyou! My style is such an amalgom of thriftstore, dept. store, and family pieces. I would never feel afraid to share my style…its mine and representative of my choices. As far as embracing trends…if it truly sparked interest and joy, for sure I would get it!! However, I’m not compelled to follow every new trend (I’m a girl on a budget)! You rock Grace!!

  • This is such a wonderful post, thank you, Grace!
    I love seeing what the trends are, whether I personally like them or not. I’m just a big fan of design and enjoy knowing what’s going on out there and seeing different styles. I really appreciate that Design*Sponge has started to be more inclusive in the home tours – showing a bigger variety of styles, ages, everything! I may not personally like some of the interiors, but that’s not the point. The point is what is meaningful to the people living there and I love hearing people explain their own style and what their possessions and decisions mean to them. I have made it a personal point to never post a negative comment (anymore) when I realized – who cares? Why criticize something? I feel like there is so much judgement out there in American now – we need more kindness.
    I will admit that I bought Anthony Burrill’s “Work Hard & Be Nice To People” ages ago, when I could only find it from his shop in England and paid exorbitant shipping to have it mailed to America. I’ve never hung it up and now it’s everywhere and I have been afraid that I’d seem to be following the trend if I finally frame and hang it. But this is convincing me to say who cares? It’s still my personal mantra, which is what drew me to it in the first place.
    Also – I find because I am such a design nut and read waaayyyy too many design blogs and magazines, that when a “trend” finalize reaches the masses it can be nice to finally be able to find and afford a version of the thing that I have long admired but was out of reach. As much as I believe in buying originals that’s just not an option for a lot of people.
    Last thing – I totally understand about cultural appropriation, but I think we need a blog post about that. What is it? When is it appropriation and when is it appreciation? What is the difference? Can a white American never buy something from another culture? How much homework is it reasonable for people to do before purchasing something they like? If you are buying something in another country from a crafts person and supporting them but they are selling something that would be cultural appropriation – is it better not to buy it? Should you tell them to stop selling it? I mean – I think this whole thing is pretty confusing. I have purchased a ton of religious art in Mexico because it’s beautiful, but I’m no longer Catholic. Should I not have bought it? I hope there’s an article about this soon.
    Thanks!

  • This is so interesting and thoughtful. Generally speaking, my favorite homes on Design*Sponge have a mix of old and new, and owners who have been creative and resourceful. (Or I should say renters — I LOVE seeing fellow renters.) When I get an “itch” to try a trend I am seeing online, I usually find a way to do it on the cheap with thrifted items — I know the quality is going to hold up and I can usually put them back out in the world in a responsible way if I get tired of them. Perhaps this is privilege, but I do think it’s my responsibility to exercise my privilege in a way that’s environmentally responsible. I really like most of the homes you’ve pictured here — I think it’s how you put it together that matters, and I’m not here to see the “perfect” home, I’m here to get ideas. And I may never tire of For Like Ever! Domino mag in monthly form was so good. :)

  • This article made me feel so warm and positive – thank you for writing it! Home trends are interesting barometers of changing tastes and styles. We’re all bound to love some of trends and dislike others, but that doesn’t need to be accompanied by any judgement on folks who feel differently.

  • I enjoyed this article. Elitism (class is mentioned above) is definitely at play in the judgements that are brought down on particular trends (in any field). In the past I’ve also been huffy about ‘trends’ such as the ways people choose to arrange their books. That was, until I read enough mean comments and saw enough examples to get get over myself. I should have remembered that my mother used to talk about ‘good taste’ and I secretly knew that the ‘good’, the value judgement part, in ‘taste’, really just meant ‘the same taste as me’ (my friends, my coterie). Very little in style is really original and the great thing is, it’s always evolving, and we get to choose what goes with what in our own little domain.

  • I love this thoughtful post, and agree that so much of the judgement comes from a class perspective. Our cars and clothing used to be the main way we signaled our class identity–now that’s expanded to our homes. This is why I love DS. I don’t need to judge someone else’s house to feel good about my own, trends and all!

    • Kim

      Agreed. I wanted to go more into class issues here, but I think that’s best left for a different post. But you are spot on. So much of that is engrained class politics/judgement (which was/is inside me, too) and really identifying that was important and helpful in my and our evolving views as a team.

      Grace

  • This article is so refreshing! Thank you, Grace, for (hopefully) grounding us and distributing perspective.

  • I loved this article. I thought you made some excellent points and I learned a few things. However, the biggest impact was the loving tone with which you wrote this article. I think when standing up against judgment, love is the only posture to take. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Honja. I’ve had the flu for the past few days and was worried this would make ZERO sense when I woke up today to read it. I’m so glad the energy I was hoping for made its way through my flu cloud ;)

      Grace

    • Honja, I couldn’t agree more! You totally captured what I loved most – the loving tone of acceptance & welcoming that permeates Grace’s piece. Such a wonderful way to bring more kindness and acceptance into our society. When people are willing to share a glimpse into their private dwelling, we *should* be greeting them with love and kindness!

  • Thank you for offering your thoughts about trends, why so many people have jumped on purchasing trendy items for their home, and why they care so much about what the world thinks of their design decisions. I grew up with fifties and sixties decor and purchased furniture in the 1970’s for my first apartment. As family members passed, I acquired pieces that withstood the test of time. I learned that my own preference is for streamlined clean lines like mid-century before it was trendy. As my awareness of how the market drives us to more and more consumerism and the impact this has had on our environment, I’ve tried to resist trends. Doesn’t hurt that I hang my own art, sew my own drapes, pillows, shower curtains, etc. The downside is that I have sometimes been paralyzed when forced to make decisions about larger purchases. My home is a sanctuary where the only opinion that counts is mine. If you see something that resonates, make it yours without regard to trends.

    • “My home is a sanctuary where the only opinion that counts is mine.”

      I loved hearing that. I hope we can all find that sense of confidence and contentment at home :)

      Grace

  • As a design professional, I too often feel it is my job to declare what is “good” or “bad”. Yes, there needs to be more heart in design than that.

    Grace- you areadmirably braving new design media territory. It is clear the turmoil and culture surrounding us has changed you as a person. Each of us can only hope for such introspect. Responding to what said about your assumed role delclaring “good or bad”: what would you then state your role to be?

    On a personal level, I try to use exhaustion as a barometer for how I feel about decor- it might be color, a shape, a style. “Does *insert new thing* give me peace or energy, or does it simply make me feel exhausted by looking at it?

    Thank you for your writing, Lizzy

    • Lizzy

      This is a big and important question, and one I honestly don’t have an answer to yet. As a human, I think my job is to constantly strive to find joy and happiness and compassion. And to forgive myself and learn from moments when I fail at that, big and small. As a writer/blogger/whatever, I think my job is to provide a platform, and to oversee that platform, and guide something that will provide inspiration and also a place to find/discuss deeper insight and conversation about the seemingly “light” things we usually discuss (ie: interior design).

      I think what that actually looks like will change as time goes on, but my goal right now is just to listen more and talk less and only move/act when I think I have something productive to add to the conversation. (And I don’t think me declaring something “good” OR “bad” is necessarily productive. So I’m trying to stay away from either end of that spectrum these days, although not always successfully.)

      Grace

    • Caroline

      Oh don’t get me started….that “necessary” one is always something people say. “I have to say….” but I always think to myself, “Do you?” Usually the answer is no, you didn’t NEED to tell someone you found their choices boring. But I always appreciate when someone nails those qualities and really adds something to the conversation and keeps it going :)

      Grace

  • Hi Grace and D*S Crew, I just want to say thank you for this incredibly thoughtful essay. You’ve hit on a lot of very good points here.

    I think the biggest take-away for me is just that everyone should be allowed to express his/her style (in the home and in general really) in whatever way makes them feel good — as long as it’s not anything hateful, of course. My own style is kind of old-school, but I really enjoy seeing all the different styles represented on home decor blogs, because they’re interesting. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I like!

  • I really appreciate this article and love, Grace, your willingness to so publicly evolve as a person.

    My major beef with trends is that I don’t even know sometimes when I am participating in them! I will think a paint color or design idea is unique and then to my surprise and chagrin, will start seeing it everywhere! And it does seem to cheapen it for me somehow, the ubiquitousness, when I genuinely do strive to have a home that feels original and that feels like “me.” But obviously I should not take it all so seriously. I was incredibly irritated for a while that Target is mass manufacturing so many vintage styles that I love, but recently I have come to embrace how sometimes this actually allows more people to become empowered in the designs of their own homes. I think you speak to this in your article.

    As always you give me lots to think about. It makes me sad that we as a culture are so quick to judge others for our most personal choices – home design, breast feeding, etc etc. I think this must be the result of a lot of unhappy people? I find when I am most apt to judge that it is best I look inward – always there is work to be done there.

    • Rachael

      Oh I hear you. I feel that way sometimes and then realize I got my influence from someone else online or another publication or just some other pop culture source. But that’s the way things work online now- everything spreads out SO fast and finding or remembering the original source is tough. But I think unless you’re totally offline we’re all in the same boat ;)

      Grace

  • I don’t want to feel like I’m “copying” someone else’s style by just buying something that is trendy so my rule is that I have to be able to make it. Macrame planters? Bought a macrame how-to book, and made them myself. Ikat upholstered furniture? Upholstered myself. Making home items also weeds out the bad or half-baked ideas to truly create a home I adore.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am trying to be less judgemental of others… and myself. This article helped💗

  • Beautifully written and couldn’t agree more. As an interior decorator I leave my ego/judgement at the door before I see my clients. I always say to them that I don’t live at their home, so they should buy what they love. I’ll guide in terms of balance, items, size, etc., but if they like the gold curtains and not the cream or they want that trendy Morrocan wedding blanket, then I’m game. Same goes for interiors I see online/elsewhere. I know what I am attracted to and what I find aesthetically pleasing or what I am tired of, but to each their own. Buy what makes you happy. It is your home and if we can’t feel happy/protected/safe there, then what is the point. Life is crazy enough. xx Danielle

  • I’m so happy you brought up this topic. I must admit, when your team asked to do an inside look at my home, I was worried about being judged. Grace and Erin were wonderful in making me feel comfortable so I was thrilled to do it regardless of those fears. Plus the comments I received were extremely supportive and that made me feel good about sharing my home to the world. However, I am someone who designs efforts (trends) are limited based on my ability to afford them and their accessibility. I never thought I would be asked to show my home. The only people I assumed would ever see inside my place are my friends and family. We own a lot of items from Target and Ikea. Not because I wouldn’t love to seek out more vintage finds but because my hubby and I work a lot and take care of our mother who has cancer. We don’t all the time to walk the streets and find those handmade treasures or search endlessly online for the perfect throw. I think people forget that the home being featured is not a prop. Actual people live there every day.

    • “I think people forget that the home being featured is not a prop. Actual people live there every day.”

      You are so spot on, Ronni. I think the easy and overwhelming access we all have to real people’s homes makes us forget that these real people have feelings and needs and desires that are similar AND different from our own. I’m so thankful that you shared your beautiful space with us, I loved it so much. That little rounded nook in your living room has stayed in the back of my mind ever since as such a special moment that I’m so thankful we got to share.

      xo
      Grace

  • Grace, One of the things I’ve loved most about following this blog for the past few years is how honest you are about change. I remember reading some of your very early posts once and thinking that your voice sounded so different, and your tone wasn’t always friendly. I really admire the direction you’re heading with the blog and how honest you are about where you’ve come from and where you’re going. It’s so refreshing to see that you made choices in the past that don’t reflect who you are now and you can explain that. Thank you. I still follow your blog for the amazing interiors, but I have absolutely loved all of your essays lately. They’re a treat.

    • Chiara

      Thanks for sticking with us. In my earliest days at DS I was young, naive, and thought I needed to be catty and snarky to stand out- it’s how so many of my favorite blog writers of the time spoke (I basically wanted to be the Wonkette -a DC politics blog- of design). I could not have been more wrong about that method and tone. It wasn’t how I normally spoke and hence, it didn’t feel authentic or come naturally. So I’m glad those “calling people out” days are behind me. They weren’t my best self and they honestly weren’t good reading either.

      Either way, thanks for hanging in there. I’ve been through so much personally over the past 14 years and it’s been tough to stay as connected and present here as I both find and lose my voice in tough times, but I appreciate people understanding that growing up here on this blog means ebbs and flows. I’m so thankful for people who have stood by us (or who have checked back in over the years) and for the team here that has been as committed to evolving and working toward a better site and better content and writing as I could ever hope for.

      Grace

  • I think trends bother us because they expose our vulnerabilities to advertising. When you see an item in a store and think “wow, I love that, that’s so ME” only to realize a few days, weeks, or months later that half the people you know had the same reaction and bought the same item, it forces you to face the realization that your emotions and preferences aren’t really your own and are largely dictated by wider trends, primarily advertising. So I have a knee-jerk aversion to trendy things because they’re a reminder of the invasive role advertising plays in my life and the role it’s had in shaping me as an individual.

    The trend thing is especially interesting to me when it comes to intensely personal things such as weddings or naming one’s children. I am planning a wedding, using Pinterest and reading some wedding blogs, and the trend situation there is especially intense because the people selling wedding paraphernalia have a fresh new crop of young, naive, and excited people to engage with each year. There is talk in those circles of keeping ahead of and/or avoiding trends, and it goes hand in hand with discussions about having a wedding that is “eclectic” and “truly you.” Paradoxically, anxieties about having a unique wedding (which I believe are primarily heightened by relentless advertising, which often takes the form of unlabeled sponcon in blogs and on Pinterest) are what drives couples to embrace new trends and thereby wind up with a wedding that is identical to every other wedding hosted that season. The logical choice, therefore, is not to try too hard to avoid trends. Of course, this is giving birth to its own new trend: “traditional,” “timeless,” i.e. safe and desperate not to be trendy.

    Ultimately, we can’t separate ourselves from the cultures that surround us and continuously shape our thoughts and opinions. So I’m trying to just worry about it a little less, and focus on purchasing less stuff overall.

  • There are so many trendy items from the 70’s that stir up nostalgia for me, and I love the fact that these items represent a certain time and place. I think in a decade or so we’ll reflect back on today’s trends with a similar warmth. Even if we don’t, you are so right, it really isn’t anyone’s place to judge. We deal with enough anxiety as it is, we shouldn’t be worrying about our personal tastes. Thanks for such a lovely piece.

  • I loved this post, and it kept the convo going in my head that was started when I read a recent Kate Wagner post about home renovations. What makes something “authentic” and who determines what we should have in our homes?

    I think people lose sight of those questions sometimes because of the norm of sharing everything about your life online visually, and constantly comparing yourself to others’ curated pics.

    To me what makes something authentic is whether you truly like it or not, and the person who determines what should be in your home is ultimately you. If I like a trend I have no problem adding it to my decor, and I also have no problem keeping it “past its prime”. I still have my For Like Ever poster, and I still love it, and it reminds me of my first apartment that I had all to myself. I think most items that you truly love will outlast the trend. To be so completely against trends that you deliberately go against them seems just as silly as following every single trend.

    The only downside I can see to trends is when they become part of the cycle of waste and disposal. That is why I think about whether I’m responding the the exciting newness of a trend before I get on board. I just hate to see people throwing things away constantly.

    • Leslie

      I’m with you. I think the idea of “authenticity” is really tricky, and the word is now laden with SO much judgement. And I think the more we pick apart these things and talk about them, the better we can understand each other, even if we feel differently about a certain topic. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. :)

      Grace

  • Grace, I love these thoughtful essays that you and the D*S team write! Keep them coming! As for my take on trends, I thoroughly enjoy reading about future, current, and past trends. I chuckle to myself when I go back and read trend predictions of 2017 and the years prior to find that they were way off and none of them actually became THE design trends of 20XX. I agree that trends are not necessarily a bad thing. Open shelving, subway tile, and stainless steel have been trendy since I-don’t-when, but they’re classic materials and designs that have stood the test of time. Before falling into a short-lived trend trap, I ask myself if the object of desire or the design I want is something that I will enjoy forever–yes, forever. Having gone to landfills to dispose of random crap from unused materials that no one wants to waste from remodeling projects has made me much more conscious of everything that I purchase and how I design my home. Just imagine how long it takes for an old synthetic rug to decompose at the landfill? Sadly, not everyone pays to recycle their old rugs. It pains me to see all the waste that we’ve created.

    Speaking of waste, though I genuinely appreciate the eclectic home tours on D*S, I really do miss the home tours that leaned more toward the minimalist/semi-minimalist approach. I remember you wrote an essay on too much minimalism and since then, all home tours are super colorful. As a regular reader, I would love to see home tours from people who live more on the simple or monochromatic side as well as the eclectic end of the spectrum. Lastly, thank you for all the amazing writing that you do!

    • Thanks so much, Rosie!

      We have a big post coming on how we do home tours, from start to finish, so that will get more to the second part of your comment. Basically most of our readers spoke up and say, “STOP WITH THE MINIMALISM” so we’ve been trying to show a balance of styles lately. There’s still a lot of (for me at least) minimalism and white wall love happening ;)

      I think any consumerism that drives people to toss and not look back is troubling. But I think with this piece, I wanted to point out that the feedback I get every day from home owners (both the ones featured here and ones we just talk to on social media) is that they DON’T throw these things out. I think those assumptions can often come from a place of judgement (“Oh they buy cheap things and then just move on and toss it later!” type thinking) and classism and they’re not always true. I just wanted to provide a counterpoint to that argument and assumption because so much of what I was seeing and hearing through readers and people on social was that that sort of “buy, toss, and replace” consumerism wasn’t actually happening just because something was trendy. I think that decision to toss and replace without much thought (more on that in the next essay) is tied to something deeper- not necessarily “trends”.

      Grace

  • So many amazing replies, I’m likely only writing what someone else has shared already. So much about ‘trends’ is to extend capitalistic consumption into wider and wider markets. Capitalism depends so much on us readily abandoning all that we previously relished in favor of the ‘new’. And capitalism can’t just rely on those of us already consuming, it must always seek out ways to bring more consumers to the marketplace. What is in one moment fringe quickly becomes mainstream. Think what punk once stood for and what later became Hot Topic. And yet the class anxiety piece about differentiating the classes along lines of consumption then means that many feel the social AND capitalistic pressure to find the ‘new/unique/rarified’. But at the heart, so much is about the ways our society operates to make us always want to consumer as a mechanism of self definition. Those that opt out and become happy with whatever trend they last engaged and wish to not engage further get labeled ‘behind the times’. HGTV, Target, IKEA, etc, all depend on us remaining committed to consumption. That’s why, to some degree, even my most loved social media stars often eventually create their own ‘line’ of home goods. Because the pressure to make more money is hard to escape and the consuming public clamors for it.

    So grateful that you’re promoting these thoughtful conversations. I’m a LONG term reader and really can’t say enough how thrilled I am that we can have these conversations on your forum. Thank you.

  • I particularly agree on the classism part of the conversation. I think trends aren’t bad, but I do worry when people feel obligated to have something in their home because they are trendy/something they are “supposed” to do. Where we live is such a personal space and I hope they can be a place people feel safe and at home.

    • Aurora

      I hear you. I’ve heard from so many people whose homes we’ve run on the site and they seem to feel the opposite- pressure to have something 100% unique that will WOW everyone with its originality. I think that’s a real side effect of internet living. But I agree- a place where you can feel safe and at home is the most important thing.

      Grace

  • Been looking around my own house in light of this post…what I keep thinking about is the relationship between trends and universal desires. We all need mantras to remind us to “keep calm”. We want to have a life as as minimal and clean as Scandinavian design. We want the quiet peace of farmhouse living. The trends speak to yearnings in some ways, I guess.

    • Michelle

      I totally agree. I think the collective world (especially in the States right now) is yearning for positive and uplifting reminders right now and if that comes in the form of a “trendy” posters, what’s the harm?

      Grace

  • My general feelings are ‘you do you’. No reason for petty judgement. My main concerns are environmental re: fast design and loading landfills with crap as well as the issue of ripping off artists work for mass production. If ikea ‘art’ ceased to exist the world would be a better place :)

    • Maria

      I think stores like Ikea and other big box stores are very much needed for members of our community who can’t afford other options. While I agree I don’t want chains like that to bring environmental damage to the world, I also don’t want people shopping there to feel judged because their budgets (or wants/needs) are better fitted to some place like an Ikea. There are a lot of people who buy and love the art at Ikea and as long as that art isn’t copied from another artist (which I agree is a huge problem in our community), I think anything that makes someone else’s day brighter is a great

      Grace

  • I agree, people can design how they want that day, year, or decade. Especially since these are all small and innocent details that can be changed easily…with one exception. I will NEVER accept the barn door. I think it’s the silliest most ridiculous expense imaginable. I can’t be friends with someone who has a barn door. I can kind of live with the discrete ones painted the same as the trim in a really old home maybe, but the ones that show up in a 1970s high rise apartment building in Manhattan are as unforgivable as the worst McMansion. So out of context. And I grew up on a large farm in the south (we never had one of these in our house, they aren’t even in the barns) and now live in Manhattan so I can say that. Worth mentioning I don’t know anyone that has one so no friendships have actually been tested ha ;)

    • Gus

      I know this is all meant in a joking tone, but when I hear, “I can’t be friends with someone who has a barn door”, I hear that same sort of judgement that I was mentioning in the piece that can be deeply hurtful and problematic to the people who have those pieces and love them (and who maybe saved up to buy/install them and feel proud of them).

      I’ve made the same sort of statements for years and I know I never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings, but after listening to years’ worth of home owners online tell me how it feels to have people make jokes or judgements about their design choices, I realized the jokes just didn’t feel worth it. So I totally hear you that design decisions that feel out of context or not in the same style of a building’s original design can feel jarring, I think the way we choose to communicate those feelings can make a big difference. I really appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts here. I just wanted to take a second to talk more openly about the way we communicate those thoughts and work toward finding a way to discuss people’s homes and design choices that doesn’t feel hyperbolic or lead to hurt feelings.

      Grace

  • Grace – Yes yes yes! More thoughtful and thought-provoking pieces of content like this, please. This is what sets Design*Sponge apart from other house websites. I admit, I am a rabid consumer of all things “house design” from a myriad of blogs, Instagram feeds, etc … and it sometimes makes me neurotic because I see something I like, I think “Okay I want to do that!” and then I instantly worry “OMG what if this is a trend and everyone does it and then I hate it in 2 minutes?”

    My husband and I are in a state of paralysis over a kitchen backsplash and cabinet colors because – even though we have seen some gorgeous colorful tiles and colors that we LOVE – we’re worried it’s all a passing fad and we will hate it. (First world problems to be sure!) What the hell ever happened to just doing what you love, trends be damned!

    Keep up the good work!!!

    • I don’t know if you are on a tight schedule or have plenty of time to figure out your kitchen design, but I actually really recommend Pinterest for handling this problem. Pinterest is, of course, the great evil in the trendscape. The way its sponsored pins work in conjunction with your personal algorithms allow it to make us feel like we’re discovering something that uniquely speaks to us, when actually we’re just being fooled by advertising into pinning the same things as half the other people using the app.

      I use Pinterest all the time, though. I try to be savvy about it and use its sneaky ways to my own advantage. When I see something I really like, I search for it on Pinterest and pin it to a relevant board I’ve created. Then I go back about my business, without buying whatever the thing was that interested me. Once I’ve pinned something, Pinterest will start showing me similar items and images. Sometimes I like a style on the 4th or 5th or 70th time I see it, but sometimes the thing I once liked becomes annoying. Every few months I’ll go back through the Pinterest boards I’ve created and cull them, deleting all the things I thought were so cute when I first saw them but now can’t stand. And I’d say that around 90% of the things I pin end up falling into the “can’t stand anymore” category. Basically, it replicates for me the experience of having purchased something and then tiring of it, but without the waste and regret. I used this method to pick out our kitchen finishes and I’m hoping I don’t hate the kitchen in a year or two!

  • Hello,

    I’m seeing a lot of comments here about trends boiling down to class anxiety, which I think hit the nail on the head. Even though my husband and I both work in the arts, and really appreciate finely crafted, unique objects, art, and furniture, we usually can’t afford it. Or even if we technically can, it doesn’t feel like a judicious use of money. I do wish the design world would be a little more lenient/understanding of the major limitations most people have when it comes to furnishing their homes. There’s a sense that designer/“maker” objects are OK, DIY is OK, but anything in between (except for a small ratio of stuff from Target!) ends up being poor interior decoration, worse, unethical/immoral on the part of the homeowner.

  • Trends are just ideas that get popular. That popularity brings widespread awareness of the idea. If you become aware of something that you think is a great idea, why wouldn’t you adopt it in your own home and hang on to it for a long time? Trends are only a trap if you chase them to look cool and relevant to other people. For example, I think shelving books by spine color is a brilliant idea. A mishmash of objects becomes a composition of color. Beyond aesthetics, I actually find books FASTER this way, since I’m visual and remember a book’s cover design more than the exact title or author name. Beautiful and (personally) practical — I will hold on to this idea forever.

  • I have so many thoughts about this. My first, is that “trends” permeate every subculture—fashion, music, art, food. For music, songs can have their moment, but good music never expires—even if the radio overplayed it. Second, I watch designers work within the parameters of their clients love of trends every day. Requests are to replicate past work, which seems to be the biggest stumbling block for design innovation. But I see the design world and real world as two separate spaces. While designers and publishers don’t want to feel one-note, owners want what they love and that’s okay. Anyway, this is a really fun topic!!

    • Or sometimes when something’s gotten overplayed you’ll push it away for a while, only to hear it again a couple of years later and be totally into it again. The role of the ‘tastemakers’ in each area of our lives can push things to extremes.

      • Erin,

        I agree. I struggle with this in the fashion and skincare world, a lot. I love skincare (it’s what I invest in most that’s non-necessity based) but seeing all my favorite skincare blogs announce there’s a new “better” item to replace the one you just got 3 months ago always bothers me. For me it feels like the difficulty is not that blogs want to talk about new things, but phrasing them as something “better” or “must have” to replace something you already have that works.

        Grace

  • I’ve followed DS for all of your 14 years and appreciate so much the transparency of your journey. For me, design/beauty is as much about our spiritual lives as it is about our physical lives. I’m all too familiar with the disquieted feeling “trends” give me: I want that! How can I get it?! Am I too late?! etc. There will always be the new beautiful thing because we are creative, inventive, adventuring humans (and also humans like to make money). But I think it’s a sign of spiritual maturity, just like your essay, when we can quiet that noise, say “it is what it is,” and let our homes reflect our deepest sense of peace — trendy or not.

  • My relationship with trends is driven very much by the same way I get exposure to them tons and tons of home renovation and decor TV shows. I’m all for people loving their home and like what they like. But I’m kind of appalled by the amount of destructiveness that goes with it. Seeing couples (and yes I know a lot of this is maniputlated) wandering through house, mocking the age of the decor, and the spending huge amounts of money and throwing out huge amounts of materials, so they can replace it with the current stainless appliances/subway tile blacksplash/white kitchen/grey paint/reclaimed barnwood, that someone else will be mocking 5 years from now and ripping out and throwing away at the cost of $$$.
    I’ve been watching these shows enough that I’ve seen the same designers put something in because it was “new, fresh and current” and then rip the same stuff out because it’s “tired and dated”. People on these shows are often gently mocked for liking what they like, and then are shown the error of their ways and taught to like what’s in now. (I really hate when someone says at a reveal “It looks like something out of a magazine!” or “My bedroom feels like a hotel” I dont’ want a hotel, I don’t want a magazine. I do love it when people say “It feels like me”, ‘I can see myself relaxing here.”
    It’s probably intensified for me by the fact that I don’t like a few current trends. I get why lofts were a fabulous way to convert old spaces by people who were willing to turn around distressed under appreciated spaces. I don’t see the same value or excitement in buying a newly constructed one, that uses additional construction materials without adding useable space. I love that people are valuing the reuse of materials, but fake old finishes divorce the look from the reasons for it. I hate hex tiles, it reminds me of grimy bathrooms from my childhood. Barn doors on the other had I love because they are easier to install than pocket doors and give people more flexibility in their spaces.
    Our home should be spaces we love, places we live our lives in. I think the push to treat your house like your clothes has got to be exhausting. I get frustrated when I want to replace something in my home, but can’t find a damn thing that I like, because I’m not into what’s current and I have to wait out replacing my plates because I think white is boring, or I’m not into block printed inspirational pillows.
    So excuse the long rant, it kind of got away from me. I do think the premise is fundamentally sound and lovely. Like what your like, whether it fits the trend or is anti trend. Don’t let people condescend to you about it, and if it helps you create the home that feels the way you want then that’s all to the good. i just hope people aren’t bullied into feeling that if their rooms don’t look like the backgrounds in you tube videos (god bless the folks who occasionally pull back to show you the rest of their space is a mess0 or the current magazines they are missing out on something.

    • Watching HGTV remodeling shows often reminds me if the ads you see on daytime television. First there will be an ad for a new miracle weight loss or erectile dysfunction pill, and next there will be a call-out ad for a class action lawsuit against whatever weight loss or erectile dysfunction pill they were marketing last season. I think it would be great if someone went through old HGTV renovation shows from 10 years ago and found “new and improved” examples similar to the ones being ripped out and replaced on current HGTV shows.

  • This is such a good article! I definitely agree with you that “trends are so often a gateway for people to find their way into the world of design.” For a long time I felt pressured to chase trends, especially when I first started studying design. Now I am embracing my personal style, though I do feel the need to keep up with what’s “in” so I will be aware of it. My main frustration is, as “KK” stated, not being able to easily find pieces that compliment my existing furniture because that color/finish/style isn’t trendy. At least with furniture I know where I can special order pieces that come in the wood finish that goes with my other things. Fashion is even more frustrating because there are times when the colors and silhouettes that flatter me best are “out,” though I’ve realized that getting secondhand stuff on eBay or Poshmark is a good workaround. And I love Nicky’s idea of revisiting HGTV renovation shows to see what’s “out” that once was “in.” That would make a fun documentary to watch.

    • Tiffany

      You’re right- and I didn’t think about that. Wood colors/types seem to go in and out of vogue so quickly, leaving the market over saturated with one finish and hard to find for the other. But you’re right, eBay is a great way around that ;)

      Grace

  • Wow! I thought there might be a tonne of comments on this post but didn’t expect quite this many…. I love your exploration about accessibility/proximity to design. For the most part, design isn’t really accessible to me just by the sheer long distance to larger centres. And the design that is there, often doesn’t speak to me… there seems to be a disconnect between so much of the beautiful design that is out there and the way we live. So for now, we do still have antlers in our home. But they are there because of the stories connected to them. Long springtime walks in the bush where our children have spied them (as sheds from the previous year) and brought them home. They are relics both of the animals that surround us and beautiful, warm April afternoons. The story trumps fear of trends here in this case. And yes, we don’t have barn doors. But our barn does. And I’m okay that that particular trend has stayed there. On the other hand, we still have pine cupboards but they seem in place and honest. Desire how many times I’ve been tempted to rip them out, they speak of a regional taste, culture and accessibility to a certain kind of lumber. They are another layer of time and culture in this older home we inhabit. I don’t hate trends, even if they aren’t to my taste. Rather, I see them as expressions of a culture and time that may or may not speak to me or relate to us. I may or may not include them in our home. But the deciding point has become whether it seems true to us, adds to the quality of our lives and if its initial impression has been a good one. Thank you again, Grace. I love the strength and boldness that underscores these essays. Keep up the good work!

    • Andrea

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. I’m so glad you mentioned things that speak to a regional taste- I think that’s something we’re losing more and more as design becomes something that spreads online across countries SO fast. I think that’s got upsides and downsides, but it warms my heart to hear anyone embrace things that are regional tastes and traditions. Now that we live in a small hamlet with a very specific style and aesthetic, I’m learning to love and appreciate the work that goes into things that I didn’t understand or connect with before- and it’s really helped me open my mind about design and all the different styles that exist and why :)

      Grace

  • Great article! I’d like to comment on the people who critique the home tours. I just don’t get it. Homeowners or home renters generously allow us a glimpse of their inner sanctum. I can understand the trepidation some feel. They’re basically saying “Here is our home, we love it and are proud of it, hope you enjoy the tour and maybe get some inspiration from it”. But some feel they have to criticise something they don’t like or even offer unsolicited design advice! And some don’t pull their punches when offering their criticism. I don’t see it on this site which is moderated but I have seen some quite cruel, unnecessary comments on another site. I don’t LOVE everything I see but if it doesn’t appeal, I just don’t comment. Some things I really DO love but could not myself live in that space. I do however appreciate the opportunity to see how people create their private spaces whether I like the space or not. Even spaces I’m not so drawn to can offer inspirational details.

    • Margot

      I’m with you. After 14 years and during this world climate where there are such heartbreaking world issues boiling left and right**, logging on to leave a mean comment about someone’s style feels so mystifying to me.

      **That said, I wonder if it’s this precise world/political climate that’s behind the change in tone. I often wonder if people are looking for an outlet for anger and fear and frustration and taking it out on someone they don’t know online feels safe.

      I’m always up for constructive feedback on home tours (I know we’re all mainly here for a love of design, after all), but when people frame it as something wrong about the person in the home, that’s too far for me.

      Grace

      • Yes, I believe that the people who respond negatively or nastily definitely have issues either individually or as part of a wider societal malaise. I do like the way you respond to some of these comments probing them to explain exactly what they mean or specifically why that particular detail they’ve commented on. It’s like calling them out but it the nicest way and making them examine their thoughts and words.

        • Margot

          Responding to non-constructive comments is hard. I try really hard to just get people to talk more about it, unpack their comment (and my own viewpoint, too) a bit and better understand where they’re coming from. So often, really angry comments are rooted in a bigger issue. And that particular post comes at a time when it feels representative of something much more. So I try to (it definitely doesn’t always work, and I’m far from perfect when it comes to phrasing everything well) open up that talk as much as I can to get to the root. If we’re able to get there, usually there’s at least a sense of understanding each other, even if we still disagree about something.

          One thing that helps me, when someone lobs something truly mean at a home owner or us, is to remember that people usually reflect back what they’ve had said to them. I think taking that moment to remember that we’ve all had less than kind things lobbed at us that don’t feel good is helpful. That said, it’s tough when it comes to home owners. I signed up for this job (and public feedback is part of it), but homeowners definitely didn’t sign up to have people yell at them about who people “think” they are based on what they decorate their home with, you know?

          Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and reading this :)

          Grace

  • Thank you for this wonderful post, Grace! It is truly inspiring to get to learn alongside you and your team as you evolve. This post is also *perfectly* timed for me, personally — my husband and I bought our first house, a cute little 1930s bungalow, about 8 months ago. And I’ve been absolutely FROZEN with indecision in terms of how to decorate, to the point that our house feels like we haven’t even moved in yet. We aren’t able to afford any big renovations (and quite frankly, the house doesn’t need them, it’s perfectly functional!), but even something as small as “what color to paint the walls” leaves me a basket-case of indecision. My mind immediately swirls with 1,00,000 instagram photos/pinned photos/design blog of photos and I’m left in an exhausted mental mess… Just yesterday I had the realization that as I’ve been trying to decide what color to paint the walls, my perspective is always from that of an OBSERVER, not myself and my husband. Meaning, I imagine how it would look in an Instagram photo. How it would look on a design blog. How it will appear to people who visit. Rather than how it will FEEL to my husband and I, the people who actually live there. So after having this realization, last night I sat down and made a list of how I wish to FEEL in my home. And the first words which came to me were: Cozy. Safe. Clean. Light. Intentional. I did not write “Impressive.” Or “Luxurious.” Or “On-Trend”… I’m still digging into my list and what that means for my design choices, but I’m feeling a new sense of clarity and so wanted to share in case it’s helpful for anyone else who might be caught up in the trap of seeing things through the lens of “others.”

    • Yulia

      OOOOOOH, stay tuned!!!! We have a VERY good essay coming up that I think you’ll like- all about living with long-term renovations and the reality that most of us can’t move in and flip our homes to “brand new” in a matter of weeks like HGTV would make us think we can. I think that’s a super important topic and we’re excited to discuss it here in the next few weeks :)

      Grace

      • It’s so amazing that you take the time to thoughtfully reply to comments — this is a very special corner of the internet, indeed! Thank you for all you do, Grace — and I’m looking forward to that essay! xx Yulia

  • I used to work at a place that did trend research for products, and sure by the time a trend makes it to a big box store it’s often just flat out copying, but often the origins of a trend are bigger and deeper than folks realize. For example I just bought a blue velvet sectional sofa, which I’m sure someone would probably roll their eyes at as being soooo 2017. But the reasoning behind it was that the format fit how we use our sofa today, combined with the knowledge that velvet is one of the most pet-friendly fabrics. Do the people laughing at velvet sofas making a reappearance know that? Probably not, but Emily Henderson did when she blogged about why she chose hers, and then she posted photos on instagram, and then other outlets picked it up as a trend, until it got to some lower tier manufacturer who made one to sell on Wayfair at a price I can afford. At the end of the day, the trend is really that we’re using our living rooms differently than we used to, and people are trying to make things that satisfy those habits.
    My other favorite example is #neutrallife, which was a direct outgrowth of capsule wardrobes, where everything mixes and matches better on a limited color palette, and those capsule wardrobes were a direct outgrowth of the great recession and a renewed focus on doing a lot with a little. People now may be rolling their eyes at capsule wardrobes, but I defy anyone to argue with the really natural development of that trend based on huge economic factors that were being dealt with by so many of us.
    So I say it’s fine if a trend isn’t for you, but there’s probably something behind it that’s worth a thought.

    • Erin

      Well said. I think Neutra and other MCM designers (like the Eameses) often designed with affordability and accessibility in mind, but now their work is viewed as high end or “classic” or valued in a different way. I think anything that helps someone do something that makes them happy with their given budget is worth respecting.

      Grace

    • I am about to pull the trigger so to speak and order a blue velvet sofa. I have been umming ahing over it for literally YEARS! So much of what is “on trend” right now especially colours, the beautiful tans, rusts, ochre, pinks and warm greys are my colours that I wear and use in decor and when the trend is over I’m keeping them regardless! I also have “Work Hard and Be Nice to People” poster which I had dipped at HUGE expense to Australia. But I also have many items that are distinctly not on trend such as a Victorian dining table. Who has Victorian dining tables these days? Not many, just a brave few! But I digress, I totally agree that there are many underlying factors as to why certain things become trends in the first place. It’s like there is a collective “aha” moment.

      • Margot

        Order that sofa if it makes you happy. Life is short and trends come and go. Whatever makes you feel joy at home (and is in your budget) sounds like a good idea. This essay/podcast really reminded me to appreciate what we have, when we have it.

        Grace :)

  • Wanting to own something that is “trending” or use the right paint colour etc. seems like such herd mentality to me these days. Guess moving and getting rid of my no longer trendy “stuff” at garage sales too many times has made me stop and think. Still I am interested in the concept that it all somehow shapes us, helps us develop and understand our own style. Of course only very lucky people get to learn about themselves in this way. It takes a lot of effort to be “up to date” and a lot of desire and “stuff”. For me, at this stage, recognising my own style and feeling happy is very nice. Less has become more.

    • Gillian

      I’m in the same place. I agree it’s definitely a lucky and privileged position to be able to purchase things for your home that suit your style at any time. I’m so happy that so many people here are rethinking trends away from judgement and understanding that everyone has a different reason for bringing a trend into their home.

      Grace

  • Hi Grace. You’re so thoughtful and I appreciate the intellectual depth you bring to the world of design. I agree with you that trends are the gateway for people to enter in the wonderful world of design.

    I’m constantly surprised by the negativity I read in the comments sections of design and decor websites. These comments are often directed at people’s personal homes and I worry about the impact the comments have on the homeowner and general community. The trend that I wish would disappear is being a contrarian. I worry that people are contrary just for the sake of being contrary when talking about trends.

    Trends also make me think about economics. You have to have a certain degree of economic privilege to keep up with trends. Being trendy definitely favours a small segment of our community. Several commenters here have touched on this by referring to classism. But I think it goes further. Trends can exclude people based on more than class. I don’t see a lot of diversity when it comes to trends. They seem to lean white, middle class, suburban and heteronormative. I often wonder who sets these trends? How can trends be more inclusive? It sounds like you’re planning an upcoming post about these topics. I’m excited to read it.

    • Erin

      Yep, we’re working on this. I’m doing my best to interview people from a number of backgrounds and perspectives, since we’re all approaching this issue from a number of viewpoints. I agree that class, race, age and location play a huge role in any discussion about homes/design/decor.

      Grace

  • Thank you for this.
    I love design and am training in a related field, but lately I’ve been really disillusioned about the industry taking itself so seriously. Trends that stick are what makes up the culture of a time. As for me, feeling thoroughly chastened on this account myself; I’ll think twice before mentally rolling my eyes at yet another interiors pic with a Kinfolk magazine.

  • Thank you, Grace and team, for such a thoughtful essay and conversation. I appreciate it for its macro-level viewpoint but even more for its ability to get me to really reflect on MY life and home and design choices.

    I put a lot of pressure on myself to build a home that projects the image I want, which is likely tied up a ton in class. But I also want to do my piece to contribute to a more inclusive society, and I’m realizing that the best way to start is with myself: easing the pressure I feel to conform or change and instead choosing a home that makes ME happy might be the best way to plant that seed.

    Today: choosing bright pillow that makes me happy in an otherwise monochrome house.
    Tomorrow: welcoming someone with wildly different life experiences into my home that’s been built with fewer judgements, and more joy.

  • I look at “trends” as suggestions. The wonderful thing about design is that there are so many options. Looking at design trends is like perusing a well-done menu. You can decide what is a good fit and sometimes find something you’d like to try out that you might not have thought of on your own. For example, I have dozens maybe several hundred books. Like a proper bibliophile, I always arranged them by author and genre. However, when I began to see what arranging books by color could look like, I decided to try it and loved the result even though it’s a little harder to find specific books when I need/want them. On the other hand, I would never use the page out trend because I do use my library and that would make it impossible to find the books I need. Nevertheless, a niece has used pages out to create a beautiful clean look in her house.

    So I like trends because they provide me with ideas and creative resources. They help me develop a personal style and most importantly an open mind which would be good for everyone today!

    • Claudia

      I love the way you phrased that: “Suggestions…like perusing a well-done menu.”

      I love any design option that feels like a fun suggestion, rather than a pressure to do/buy/have.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

      Grace :)

  • It’s an interesting article and I agree a little with both sides. In defense of the antlers, I live in a part of the US considered the “country” and I would guess friends that buy into that trend are actually doing it as form of hometown/regional pride. I think that is probably common to many trends and is pretty interesting in light of the common negative assessment that trends kill regionality – a criticism I lob often myself! I also agree with an earlier commenter on how often buying trendy things is falling to advertising. I guess as a home designer I am leery of trendiness as it keeps growing in scale from clothes to decor to the houses themselves. Driving through newer developments that cater to house trends feel very “Disney” or like a hollywood film lot. It’s hard to know how to design and build our built environment, the fabric of our communities, in a real and authentic way. And it’s becoming even harder when HGTV, builders, and such are pushing trends on housing as if not even entering the more nuanced discussion I think should go into large scale planning. Not so easy to toss an outdated house (or street or neighborhood!) as a throw pillow or wall art. I’m pretty similar in age to Grace and have been reading here since nearly the beginning, it’s beautiful to grow and ponder alongside this blog!

  • This is very lovely, Grace. As someone who loves to think about the way things look and who grew up in a home full of lovely things put together by someone with excellent, original taste, I can be a bit snotty about people’s sheep like tendency to adopt trends wholesale. However, a conversation with a friend about this about clothes made me see that taste and originality are about confidence and not everyone has the confidence to try something a bit different and that’s fine. It was helpful to see that a lot of people just want to feel safe in their aesthetic choices, and whether it’s the cost of a product or mass adoption of it that helps people feel safe, they’re still investing in their environment and that’s a good thing to do.

    Plus, as I like to say to people who don’t watch certain films or listen to certain music or visit certain places because they’re ‘mainstream’, “Sometimes things are popular because they’re good!”

  • My opinion about how people have started to be so hateful of trends is that it’s because we are seeing these same styles of homes featured over and over and various design sites. It appears that “everybody” is doing a certain way because that’s often what is shown repetitively. However, I don’t know a single person who lives in a home that looks like any of the trendy homes featured on these design sites so clearly “everybody” is not doing things this way. Actually most people I know don’t even put much thought into styling and decorating their homes. The exception would be the few friends I have that are creatives (artists, photographers me! etc).

    I am someone who was drawn into design via Apartment Therapy when I got my first place after college and the more I saw how beautiful a home could be (in whatever style) I knew I wanted my home to be beautiful too. And that’s really what matters. I totally agree that our individual opinions are all that matter in terms of design and style in our homes.

    We are currently renovating our home and there will be subway tile back splash in the kitchen and subway tile surround in the bathroom. Marble counter tops in the kitchen. Yes these elements are on trend, but that’s not why I chose them. First sub way tile is beautiful and inexpensive. Marble is timeless and makes me feel sooooo happy. Things not on trend in my design- white ice appliances, keeping the original yellow/orangey stained maple cabinetry. Stained gray original pine floors. I could go on. While I do totally cringe at “live laugh love” signs in some of my friend’s homes and would never put one in mine, I respect that maybe they like it and it’s not for me to judge.

  • The “regional accessibility” part really resonates with me. I live in a small city surrounded by suburban communities, and it’s at least an hour and a half drive in any direction to the nearest big, well-known city. While I’ve seen homeowners able to access vibrant communities of local makers, or to find great vintage/pre-owned pieces in cities or towns that are as small or smaller than mine, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of that around here. It’s very, very rare I find /anything/ authentic mid-century modern or Art Deco pop up on Craigslist or FB marketplace, and what I do find is almost always out of my price range as a young professional living on my own and still saddled with student loan debt. Anything “vintage” I do find is either in bad shape, or not my style. I know this from hunting Craigslist, FB Marketplace, and OfferUp for the entire duration of my independent life so far. And there are few local makers around, either…those I have found make very, very traditional Americana-type stuff while my style is more modern/MCM/boho. I’ve looked on sites like Etsy and Chairish for vintage pieces, but even those that are in my price range are made inaccessible by shipping costs that range in the hundreds of dollars. Heck, we even have to drive an hour and a half to get to an IKEA store – and even their shipping costs take away their affordability factor! So I am left with no option but to rely on the likes of HomeGoods, Target, Wayfair and Overstock for pieces that are reproductions of MCM furniture. I’ve seen criticisms on Apartment Therapy of House Tours where people complain that everything looks like it came straight out of HomeGoods or Target, even when it’s well arranged and tasteful. Right now I have one of those apartments. I would love to do the high/low, new/vintage mix if I could!

    • Shannon

      I hear you. This is something we hear a lot from readers and we’ll be addressing it more in a post this week and in 2 weeks. I think regional accessibility (and shipping costs) are definitely something worth talking about more :)

      Grace

  • Hi! I didn’t have time to read all comments, but I saw a few mentioning class, which made me think of a TV program by artist Grayson Perry called In the Best Possible Taste (something like that). One part discussed mid-class identity as having old unique things that you would NEVER buy at a box store, because that’s tacky. You gotta dig through the outdoor flea markets etc. I was like, OH GOD. You know, when you recognize your obnoxious self. We can get so anxious sometimes, and it plays out everywhere—even through some old thing sitting on a shelf. Anyway, check it out on YouTube if you’re curious.
    Grace and design sponge folks, I love the direction you’re taking these days. Featuring more POC and other diversities is so fabulous. I was always struck by the overwhelming whiteness of home dec / design world (or at least what we see).
    Thanks!😊👍🏽

  • Thank you for this thoughtful post. As a queer woman of color who, while having class privilege, finds very little of online design culture that resonates even though I source my stuff at the same places most design enthusiasts do. It feels to me to stem from the inherently, let’s be real, classist, racist, LGBTQIphobic way that some content is presented on other design blogs/communities. It’s often post after post of unexamined prescriptives steeped in a very narrow cultural framework and delivered with unshakable authority.

    (not here. In fact DS is one of the few mainstream design blogs that feels authentically safe welcoming and inclusive)

    . It’s never been difficult for me to appreciate that what makes others happy in their homes, lives, relationships might be different than what makes me happy. Their happiness is what makes me happy. Their joy in design choices I wouldn’t make is contagious (if one is open to that experience) and oddly enough as I’ve gotten older lots of design choices I initially didn’t think were for me have become joyful additions in my home (like the ridiculously awesome acrylic dining room table from CB2 that makes me feel like I’m sitting in Wonder Woman’s plane)

    I feel awkward because I like everything. I like houses where it looks like the occupants won all their stuff on an episode of The Price is Right in 1989. I love dishy spaces Auntie Mame might own. I love the cluttered intellectual apartments in the films of Henry Jaglom. I love hip hop luxe. I love what makes people feel free to be themselves. And if that means when I come for a visit we’ll be drinking out of whatever we’re drinking out of now make mine a double.

    Most of all I love and appreciate the space you have made for all of us to love grow and arrange our books by color.

  • I really appreciate trying to take the judgment out. In an era when most people are living paycheck-to-paycheck (and can’t come up with $500 in an emergency, according to surveys), I think it’s important to show a variety of budgets. Because maybe sites like this can be part of the whole trying to “keep up with the Joneses” problem, instead of sticking to a budget. Aspirational blogs and Instagram accounts probably play a role.

    At the same time, I’m personally struggling with the incredible amount of cheap goods in this country. It’s really just staggering. And when you think about the oil and petroleum involved in manufacturing and transporting these goods, and wondering where all the unsold AND discarded goods end up, and how this contributes to further environmental problems, it’s hard to justify buying them. It makes me want to buy more handmade, more higher quality, more unique pieces that will last. Is this in my budget, as the mother of a young family? Heck no.

    So, I don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t know how to strike a balance, or where the line falls. But I do agree that less judgment is always better.

  • Forgive me if this is a repeated comment as I haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s. One thing that stands out to me in my career as a decorator and buyer is that it’s hard to know in advance what are actually “trends”, and what will have staying power and not look like a flash in the pan or an eyesore in a couple years.For example, when galvanized metal, chicken wire, industrial/farm came out, I bet no one could have predicted it would last at least 10+ years in the mass market. Some new design ideas will even be destined to become classics.
    While it’s true there are overused styles that the market overproduces and overestimates and end up in the bargain bin looking dated 6 months later, and there are timeless iconic styles appropriate in any era there’s also a huuuuuuuge middle ground that we tend to forget. Some things are kitchy novelties the market is pushing on consumers, but others are just “new” concepts in popular decor that will soon be adopted as commonplace. But either way, if if makes you smile when you look at it and happy to have in your house, go for it!

    • Carla

      You hit the nail on the head. That “huuuuuge” middle ground is so overlooked and so forgotten- and so judged. I think there’s so much to learn from and understand about the things that aren’t the trendiest (or the “worst”) and I’m interested in opening up more discussion about all those middle ground styles and movements that often get forgotten or don’t get as much attention.

      Grace :)

  • YES to all this! It is so important to recognize where we are politically and how social media/ being able to engage has caused us to foist our opinions on others regularly and it has absolutely turned into a judgement quagmire! I do personally have an immediate reaction to chevron, although I LOVED it when I first saw it popping up on surfaces. The “Keep Calm” poster was also delightful upon first viewing, but that wore off like a song I heard too many times. I have even come to despise the use of the word “obsessed”. Like so many people I see these things and think only of myself and my opinion which is OBVIOUSLY right *ahem, not* and forget that my own choices probably want to make other people want to barf. This circles back to honoring other peoples’ experiences and recognizing them as different from our own, what a great reminder!

    I adore the subjects you’re tackling lately, I’ve read Design*Sponge over the years and watched its evolution. The responsibility to the readers is so clear now and it is so admirable.

  • Many times I have looked at a trend and thought how much I liked it. Usually I wait to see if I still like it after I have seen it all over the place for awhile. By then, if I still like it and the price seems to have come down, I will go for it. But my beef is that I live in an area where investors are coming in, completely gutting or destroying small homes and putting in the cheapest new trend paint, cabinets etc. so they can flip it for big bucks. Often without consideration to the integrity of the structure or, as before mentioned, painting over beams and fireplaces that will look like crap unless they are touched up every year. People new to the area have no clue as to what the house looked like before and are swayed by everything looking so clean and new. It really is sad. As for antlers and subway tiles, if you live there and like them, then why not. Our homes should express ourselves and our interests.

  • This piece speaks to a lot of issues that have wrestled with recently. Recently, I moved into a new home with wall-to-wall carpeting, a hopelessly out of vogue flooring. Immediately, I searched for homes like mine on Pinterest to reassure myself that I could still be of-the-moment with this shaggy rug underfoot. When my search yielded no results, I was initially frustrated. But then the reality hit: my home is well-built, clean, and safe. I’m filling it with my most treasured possessions. Why was I letting the carpet stop me from enjoying it? I wrote my BFA thesis on home aesthetics as a psychological reflection of one’s self, and in my research I came across this paradox many times over. Our home, once a veritable “treasure chest of living”, has become a mere stage to display our wealth, a backdrop to our Instagram posts. Not a dish out of place, not a dead plant in sight, not a last-year’s knick knack to be seen. I worry people are no longer true to what brings them joy (be it a trend or otherwise), and are too caught up in what makes them current or promotable. Glossy, aesthetic perfectionism has supplanted reality, and all its trendy, eclectic, lived-in glory. I often find that my favorite posts on blogs such as this are from their early days of publication, when the homes were more approachable and real, and less like elaborate product placements.

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