The elements of timeless design and the difference between trends and fads
I’ve started seeing more and more discussions on timeless design and am so happy about it I thought I would share a little on the subject. As the subject of timeless design goes hand in hand with the discussion on trends and fads, I thought I would also talk about the differences in these two as so many people lump them into the same category when in fact, they are not quite the same.
Let’s tackle the difference between a trend and a fad. A trend is simply a prevailing movement, direction, or current style preference. A fad is a widely shared enthusiasm for something that is short lived and often without basis. The past handful of years these two words have been used as if they were interchangeable which has given the term trend a bad rep. What do I mean by this? Well let’s look at the grey and white trend. Grey and white is a classic combination and yet it now has a stigma attached to it as a “trend” or correctly stated “fad”. As stated, grey and white is a timeless palette however what made it a fad in recent years is the oversaturation of grey within the design. Not only were countertops, tiles, cabinets and walls adorned with various shades of grey but even grey toned wood floors. This oversaturation is what caused it to be viewed as a fad.
Now that we understand the difference between a trend and a fad let’s talk about the elements of timeless design. Timeless design is a design that is primarily comprised of qualities or elements that have been consistently repeated throughout history. These qualities may come in and out of trend, but they are always there quietly waiting in the wings to make their resurgence into the spotlight. Timeless design means not decorating according to a specific trend or decade but incorporating quality pieces that will age well and will stand the test of time. The key to creating timeless design is to not overdo too much of a good thing. You always need a little balance like infusing classic vintage pieces, warmer woods, pops of gold and black.
First up on our list of timeless elements we’re talking about Millwork, which is one of those elements that never seems to go out of fashion. There are homes across Europe and the world that are filled with paneling & crown molding which have stood the test of time. Think of those images you have seen of beautiful apartments in Paris filled with millwork! Even when furnished with contemporary furniture and art they still grace the covers of AD, Elle and other prestigious publications.
Natural stone is yet another timeless design element. In my opinion natural stone is one of the most beautiful and timeless materials you can use in your home. I know in recent years quartz, man-made, has been extremely popular but I have also seen a return to natural stone as no matter how hard they have tried to replicate the beauty of natural stone they just have not captured the depth and character of stone. Once again, I ask you to look across the pond where there are homes that have had the same natural stone in them for hundreds of years and they are still considered beautiful and timeless today.
Wood flooring is another element that stands the test of time (those grey wood floors being the exception). So many people are concerned about the maintenance of wood flooring, yet wood floors have been in the Versailles palace since the 1670’s! Incorporating natural elements like wood and stone is yet another mark of timeless design.
Limewash and venetian plaster have made a resurgence over the past few years, and some may call it trendy however these techniques have been around since about the 4th century. When used properly this wall treatment is the epitome of timeless design.
Fabrics while we’ve all seen certain patterns come and go, suddenly thinking about bad 80’s sweaters, there are some patterns that seem to stand the test of time like stripes, plaids and understated florals. These two patterns are consistent throughout history in one way or another. Pair a stripe and a simple floral with a complimentary solid and you have a classic pairing.
Remember it's all about the way you infuse any design aesthetic into your space. Think about balance and ensuring that those long-term finishes such as flooring, cabinets, countertops and even wall treatments will stand the test of time. Don't veer too far into a trend and really assess if the elements you are using in your space have a timeless quality. You can always use accessories that easily transition out to infuse the latest trend that may in fact be a fad.