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.
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