Interior Trends: How To Do It Without Overdoing It
I’ve always liked a trend. My favourite trends were always, of course, fashion trends and I’ve seen a few of those in my time. By mid primary school, I was already a slave to fashion. My aunt was Head of the Research Library at the BBC for many years and as a result, we were lucky enough to be able to get on the guest lists for shows at Television Centre in Shepherds Bush. When we were small, the most popular guest list was Jim’ll Fix It. My brother James and I were ‘lucky’ enough to be added to this list as children, giving us massive kudos in our peer group, an outing that received much envy from our friends. In fact, James was asked to sit on a bean bag alongside Jims famous chair. Obviously, we had no idea what he was ‘fixing’. What I do know is that I was an 11 year old Adam & The Ants fan and wore, in honour of the trip, black suede pixie boots, a mini red kilt and a white high necked (and quite uncomfortable) blouse complete with flouncing, ideal for jumping off walls and shouting ‘stand and deliver’. Adam & The Ants were particularly cool around Pinner, mostly because they were local boys and a girl in my year was the sister of Gary Tibbs, the ultimate in kudos giving.
As I got older, the guest list aim became Top Of The Pops, only admissible if you were 16 and over. However, these were the 80’s, a time in which it was totally acceptable to order a Liebfraumilch at the local pub whilst still wearing your school uniform, so the fact that we were only 14 didn't concern us. I donned my outfit of the time: white v backed sweatshirt, matching white sweatshirt mini skirt, wide bright blue buckled belt (worn around hips with an exact amount of sweatshirt casually bunched above it), bright blue stiletto heels (purchased from Dolcis) and white fishnet tights. Yes, these were a thing. I finished off the look with enough Elnett to destroy a small country, electric blue eyeliner and Twilight Teaser lipstick. Not only was I not stopped at the door, but I was asked to dance on a podium to Five Star. True story. Podium dancing was also a thing. Oh, the old days. Jimmy Saville and podium dancing. Kill me now.
Anyway, as I’ve got older, the heady days of Chelsea Girl have been replaced with the hallowed halls of Homesense and although my love of fashion (in particularly the Net A Porter sale) remains, my passion for new interior trends is strong. Despite the unstoppable increase of online publications, I still manage to subscribe to five (yes, five) home and design magazines and will never tire of ripping off the (not very environmentally friendly) plastic wrapping and seeing what is going down (and up) in the world of interiors. When I started posting on Instagram three and a half years ago, these magazines were really our only ‘in’ into this world. Unless it was on the High Street or Pinterest, there was no other source to peruse as to what was hot and what was not. But the interior niche explosion on social media has brought us more ideas and styled home content than we would ever have imagined - it’s overwhelming. How can we curate what we see and like into a style that fits our own aesthetic and homes?
It is, to be frank, a minefield. The best, best thing that Instagram has brought is the unparalleled confidence to be creative in your own environment, to think for yourself when it comes to styling your home, but also has allowed us to gain huge amounts of inspiration from the content that we are bombarded with. What that also means is that it’s easy to be influenced by what we see. The problem is, due to the transient nature of Instagram, anything that is shiny new will be all over your feed before you can shout ‘flamingo’ and once it’s all over your feed, it’s kind of over. No longer quite so exciting, no longer individual, no longer original. So how can we avoid falling into the trend trap and regretting it afterwards? How can we figure out what REALLY suits our style, or are we yearning for it just because it’s in every post that we see? Here’s my top tips for how to give a nod to a trend without overdoing it.
Know Your Subject
So what is a trend? Wikipedia describes the word as follows: 'Any form of collective behaviour that develops within a culture, generation or social group in which people enthusiastically follow an impulse for a finite period. Additionally, trends often result from an activity or behavior being perceived as emotionally popular or exciting within a peer group or being deemed "cool" as often promoted by social networks. A trend is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase to the point of being noteworthy. Trends often fade quickly when the perception of novelty is gone.' Sound familiar? We’ve all been guilty of jumping on a trend just because everyone else has it.
During my tenancy on Instagram, I’ve seen more than a few and been guilty of most. Macrame, disco balls, La Redoute berber stylie rugs, anything with a cactus on. For an addictive home stylist such as myself, trends are a brilliant way of switching up your decor. It’s fun to incorporate new things, fun to try out new ideas. Thinking about how to add to our homes sustainably is a different matter. Will we still love that neon LOVE sign a year on? Probably not. Like I said, a minefield.
Before you buy into a trend, consider carefully. Look around your rooms and narrow down what your core style is. Think about the rooms in your home that make you the most happy and think about WHY they do. Is it the colour? The light? The style of furniture? Focus in on what you really love before you jump in. Don’t buy the jewell coloured velvet sofa that looks great on everyone elses feed if your home is an ode to earthy tones. The focal painted lofty high ceiling of someone else’s Victorian villa looks fabulous, but will it look the same in your new build? Possibly not.
I’ve been the person who has painted an entire room in dark grey because she saw it all over Instagram and thought it looked cool. Great in photographs, perfect against plants, bang on trend. I’ve also been the person who had to admit after six months that the room wasn’t working as it was too dark for my style (and, in fact, my family who refused to sit in it). I was sucked in, good and proper, by a trend that suited many people but didn’t suit me. There’s no shame in admitting this, I hold up my hands. I went all out too fast, jumped on the bandwagon and didn't consider the consequences. It was a bloody nightmare to paint over too. Lesson learned.
So you’re smitten with the latest colour, the latest pattern, the one that’s in all the magazines. Don’t go all out immediately. This has been my downfall on more than one occasion. I’ve seen a wallpaper, a paint shade, a fabric and immediately wanted to whack it on my walls, upholster everything in sight. That’s not to say that you can’t do this, of course. It’s your home and your prerogative. But try it out first. Try it on a cushion, a throw, a vase, something small that won’t break the bank. By doing this, by living with it for a bit, you’ll know if it’s truly for you, whether it suits your style.
If you’re undecided about a wallpaper pattern, go to the smallest room in the house and give it a whirl. I started my wallpapering career by doing the tiny downstairs loo in a palm print a few years ago. It’s still there and I love it - it was a popular, most definitely trend based choice at the time, but because it’s only a small room, I’ve never got bored of it. If I had decorated a larger space, gone full on, I probably wouldn’t have felt the same. Do the same with paint. Try it on a door, a cupboard, an upcycled piece of furniture. See if you REALLY love it. It’s a lot easier to paint over than a full room. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Finally and most importantly, what goes into our homes has to be sustainable. We’ve got a planet to save and it’s all about sustainable fashion, sustainable living and, naturally, sustainable interiors. I’ve been bleating on about this for years so believe me when I say that I consider the purchase of integral interior items EXTREMELY carefully. Take kitchens or bathrooms, for example. Or flooring, whether it be carpet, tiles, wood or LVF. These are proper, hardcore, expensive purchases that you will most probably make only once a decade, if not more. They need to last. However, that’s not to say that I’m not hugely influenced by what I see on my feed and in my (hundreds of) magazines when it comes to making these decisions.
When I was planning my family bathroom, I was wholly and utterly convinced by large patterned tiles. Absolutely, one hundred percent on it. I’d seen them all over my social media feed, all looking beautiful, a super popular trend. However, I couldn’t make them work on my mood board. I tried. I did my best. But I couldn’t make the mood board gel, the tiles weren’t my core style and I knew I’d go off them, much as that infuriated me. Godammit. These items are the bones of your home, they need to be right and they need to last. Try not to jump on a trend unless you are one hundred percent sure you’ll still love it in six months. It’s a long game so consider carefully before investing in the big guns.
Trends make the interior world go round; they’re exciting, invigorating, inspiring and encourage us to up our decorating game a notch. As a transient decorator who is constantly restyling, I'm always looking for new things to update my rooms and adding a hint of a trend can be a good way of changing things up. The trick is to avoid doing so much trend buying that your own personality becomes lost in translation and your feed starts to have an air of deja vous as you realise that your feed (and home) looks exactly the same as everyone elses. Ha. Right, now excuse me whilst I rush to open my five interior magazines. I’ve got trends to peruse.