3 Steps for a Timeless Interior
When we ask our clients what they want for their room remodel inevitably the answer is “make my room timeless”. The prevailing question when designing a timeless look is “How do I create a room that can change as my taste and style changes?” It’s not about creating a museum that never changes – it’s about a look that can change and grow with you.
Last week we conducted a small experiment. I posted a photo of my family room on Facebook advertising our Free 5 Day Improve Your Room Challenge (for more info click below). We boosted the post to get in front of a wider audience (welcome to our new blog followers 😉 and in a few short days we had close to 350 likes of the photo.
Full disclosure...this is a room renovation from 2008.
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It’s important to acknowledge that your taste will change over time. And it should – no one wants to look at the exact same colors and patterns for the next 20 years. But unless budget is no option, most homeowners can’t change their space from start to finish every few years, but you can keep it fresh and updated if you follow the three rules listed below.
So, how does a 12-year-old room design garner that kind of attention? Simple answer is...it still looks current. Choices made 12 years ago would be similar to selections made today so as time passes the room doesn’t age.
I can confirm that the room is still the same in January 2020- the furniture and coffee table are the same and the brown mirror still hangs above the fireplace. The star of the show - the artwork grouping of interesting colorized photography of cities in the world is exactly as it was in 2008 and will probably be there for another 12 years. There are a few updates including new accessories and lamps over the years but overall the photo you see is accurate today.
Below are the 3 rules to keep in mind when creating your own timeless interior.
1. Draw your neutrals from the permanent finishes in the room.
Instead of following the current trend cycle, we chose a neutral sofa that was not only comfortable and well-made, but it had undertones that related to the brick in the fireplace. The color of the neutral was critical. By pulling the neutral color for the sofas from the brick in the fireplace as long as the brick was in the room - the sofa color will make sense. Repetition is a key element of design and choosing a complimentary tone to the brick gave balance and created a backdrop for the pop of color accents which are easily and inexpensively updated over time to keep the room looking fresh. An ivory and taupe stylized houndstooth pattern for the chairs is another timeless choice as a menswear motif in a neutral color range will always be relevant and easy to work with.
2. Buy good quality pieces in neutral color
Good quality furniture pieces will not only be more comfortable daily but will hold up better in the long run. Construction is key and an 8-way hand tied/mortise and tenon hardwood sofa frame is worth the investment. You will pay more initially but the lifespan of a well-made furniture piece is significantly longer than today’s “disposable furniture”. This time-tested construction method will prevent sagging and cushion breakdown. It was much less expensive to replace 2 cushions in this sofa in 2017 to get it back to looking new than it would’ve been to start over after 8 years.
Keep your largest furniture pieces neutral. The quickest way to date-stamp a piece of furniture is to put a loud colorful pattern on it – save that for the pillows which you can easily change. Now if you’re favorite color has always been red, and you want a statement red sofa…I’m the first one to say, “go for it!” – but that’s a topic for a future blog post. Follow these guidelines for a timeless look.
3. Be aware of the trends but not tied to them.
If you know what was popular in design in 2008 right before the economic crash, you’ll recall that the Tuscan look with a very warm palette of golds greens, and reds was all the rage. The selection of the cooler green undertone in the taupe of the sofa allowed the neutral to avoid looking too trendy. The taupe also was able to hold its own through the gray trend that started in about 2011. Keep your lines and form classic and complimentary to the architecture of your home.
When trying to determine what is trending and where we are in the trend cycle, we look to the more progressive areas of the country to see what is being well-received. In the Midwest where I am, we are about 2 calendar years behind the major trend cycles – helpful when trying to identify trends. You don’t always see the most current looks in retail stores also – hence the large markdown sales so look to design publications or consider enlisting the help of a professional designer – it will save you money in the long run.
Mix warm and cool tones in your room especially with your neutrals. This way you can pivot when the neutral trends shift as they inevitably will. We tend to follow a warm trend with a cool one and vice versa.
That’s not to say that your timeless look needs to be boring. Bring in your trendy accents in accessories, pillows, and lighting – pieces that are quick and easy to change and less expensive when you’re ready to update your look.
Below are some photos of our projects that are at least 10 years old – see how many you think feel relevant today.
Don’t forget to sign up for our 5-day “Improve your Room” challenge for more free strategies on your next design project.