Avoiding the Trend Check List
As designers, it's our job to bring something unique and space-appropriate to client's homes.
When I was in school, my mother never let me buy super trendy branded clothing items. Why wear Levi's when Sears will do – after all, why spend extra money on brand names just to support their marketing budgets? Money was spent on quality, not names. Of course, when all a girl wants to do is fit in, this isn’t exactly what she wants to hear. Funny thing happened on my way to adulthood. I have become fairly anti-trend. When I start seeing the same thing over and over again – no matter how fabulous – the last thing I'd want to do is show it to a client. If everyone is doing it, what am I bringing to the table?
Jay Johnson's recent post about Dorothy Draper’s 10 Essential Design Tips was spot on in the very first point:
1. Work with Clients to Customize Their Interiors. Draper said, "So many people stick timidly to the often uninspired conventional ideas or follow some expert's methods slavishly. Either way they are more or less living in someone else's house." The goal in decorating is to have the client feel that the interior scheme is "honestly your own—an expression of your personality."
The thing is, items or looks that become ubiquitous do so because they are, indeed, fabulous. But, as a designer, I feel it’s my job to bring something unique and space-appropriate to my client’s homes. After all, clients pay designers to do for them what a catalogue or magazine cannot do: marry the product and look to the functional needs of the specific space and those who live there. The following is my personal list of five items or looks that have moved into the "to avoid" category for my designs.
- KWID’s Imperial Trellis pattern on fabric and wallpaper. Shorthand for "I'm fabulous and bold!" And, it is fabulous, near iconic. But it got so overdone there for a while that it’s all we saw on blogs or in shelter magazines. After a while, every space began to look like every other space.
- The console table with two x-benches housed below. Shorthand for "I'm elegant and chic!" Again, this can be a lovely look and a great way to keep extra seating on display but out of the way until needed. The first person who did it was brilliant but by the 500th time?
- Coral, shells and marine antiquities. Shorthand for "I'm natural and complex!" A few years ago, a coral motif was huge and appeared on everything from coasters to chandelier shades, and then it became the enormous shell filled with baubles. A little of this goes a long way.
- Busts. Shorthand for "I’m cerebral!" Okay, I’ll admit it – my logo includes a bust because I love her. But I have yet to find a need for one in an interior project. Family heirloom pieces would be welcomed, however.
- Black & white graphic rugs. Shorthand for "Hey, look over here!" This includes zebra, chevron and stripes. On the face of it, these all can make a strong visual statement. They are bold and graphic, yet also classics. And yet, they can also suck the all the air out of the room and be visually over-stimulating.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I just completed a project where I did use a coral motif fabric on an armchair – so perhaps when trends die down a little, I am more flexible? I’d love to hear if you also have such a list and what’s on it. Or, perhaps better, how you have used one or more of these items to great effect in your work.
Linda Merrill is a residential interior decorator based in Massachusetts. Linda's design style can be described as "comfortable luxury" and she believes in working closely with clients throughout the entire design process. Her clients are mainly located between metro-Boston and Cape Cod and the Islands. Linda writes a nationally regarded design blog called ::Surroundings:: and is the host of the design podcast series The Skirted Roundtable.