When I think of classic design, I immediately think of Holly Holden. In 2013, Holly published The Pretty and Proper Living Room in which she shares “old-school secrets for timeless elegance and… the no-no’s to know.” Her book changed my entire perspective on interior design, re-routing me back to the traditional style I have always loved but had somehow forgotten. I became more and more aware of the fleeting nature of trends, realizing that with traditional design, you only have to decorate once…. it never goes out of style! Her book became my design bible, and Holly has since become a treasured friend.
January is “anti-trend” month at The Glam Pad, and I am thrilled to have Holly kick off the series. In her book, Holly reveals the recipe for creating a graceful, genteel living room (and home) with timeless understatement. Today she is dishing on four mundane current design trends… and how to get them right. Welcome Holly!
Four Mundane Current Design Trends …and How to Get Them Right
by Holly Holden
photos by Dean Greenblatt
Trends by their very definition come and go. So, to make your design dollars stretch further, classic design is the smart choice. And… as an added bonus, it’s prettier too!
Classic design, like good manners, never goes out of style. Classic design is timeless, which means you only have to decorate once, sparing yourself the extra cost and frustration. But what is classic design? To me classic design is like a good hostess: elegant, graceful and above all, excellent at making her guests feel comfortable. Classic does not mean all antiques, nor does it mean everything matches. Classic simply means that you have invested in pieces that will not go out of style, and you have arranged them tastefully. So here are four examples of timeless design advice that my mother taught me and I have taught my children.
1. Walls: Hello Yellow
There was a time in the mid-1970’s when avocado green and harvest yellow were the trendy colors of choice for appliances and cookware. People looking at those colors today describe them as “retro” and “kitsch” but few people want those colors in their homes. Today we are in the midst of monochromatic madness as white, black, gray, and beige are the trendy colors. Designers have even come up with the portmanteau “graige” (from gray and beige) to describe today’s sad state of affairs. Mark my words: a few decades from now the designers of the future will be steering clients away from the cliched color pallets of 2017.
Allow me to introduce you to the anti-graige. The one, the only: Yellow! I like to say, “When in doubt, just use yellow!” Yellow always creates a warm and sunny atmosphere. Yellow makes wood pieces, particularly mahogany, really pop. Use paler lighter hues for larger rooms, and bolder punchier shades for smaller spaces. Buttery yellow is my favorite timeless color for paint.
2. Furniture: The Power of Pillows
The current trend towards sofas and chairs with no throw pillows is definitely a classic design no-no. Throw pillows are not just for decoration. They make furniture more comfortable and invite guests to have a seat. The power of pillows should not be underestimated! A comfortable guest is a happy guest.
If you don’t already have a needlepoint pillow, you should start your search for one today. The right needlepoint pillow is like a dash of sofa spice adding wit and whimsy.
3. Accessories: Serve from Silver
The trend now is towards square, white plates and platters. Try to avoid the siren song of square serving pieces. Steer your ship instead towards silver. My mother always said everything tastes better when served from silver and I agree. My experience has taught me that hors d’oeuvres served from silver platters are twice as likely to be plucked by peckish party-goers.
4. Lighting: Revere The Chandelier
Dome lights are everywhere these days but, when it comes to classic design, chandeliers are the light and the truth. No light fixture is more classic and timeless than a chandelier. It goes without saying that you need a chandelier over a dining room table. But don’t forget: chandeliers come in all sizes and petite ones will fit in any room. It is a myth that you need high ceilings for chandeliers. Halls, living rooms, kitchens and even powder rooms are all excellent locations for a chandelier. I even have one in my closet!
I hope I have given you a small taste of what classic design is and how it can benefit your interiors. Remember to think long term. Trends come and go but there are themes in design that have been prevalent for centuries. Sticking to these themes will keep your rooms relevant for decades to come. For more design advice and also the faux pas to avoid, consider my book, The Pretty and Proper Living Room, and my Classic Design Channel on YouTube.
Thank you dear Holly for sharing your wisdom with us today! I could not agree more with these tips. For more on Holly Holden, you can read my past blog posts here and here. I reviewed her book, The Pretty and Proper Living Room, here. You can follow her on Instagram for daily inspiration, and you won’t want to miss her Classic Design Channel.
Please stay tuned to The Glam Pad this month for more “anti-trend” classic design! On Friday, I am honored to share my interview with design legend Mario Buatta whose consistently elegant interiors have set the gold standard for the industry for more than 50 years. And guess what? Mario also loves the color yellow!