Four Mundane Current Design Trends …and How to Get Them Right, by Holly Holden

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!

Holly Holden at her historic home in Farmington, Connecticut
The Pretty and Proper Living Room

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.

Classic Design Channel

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!



  1. Good lord, I agree 100 %. I have butter yellow walls in our two studies, chandeliers everywhere, elegant pillows, and served Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres on silver trays!

  2. Many things Holly mentioned a Home should have , I had and some how verve’s away from. After my husband died, I moved from the big house to a smaller house. I am starting from furniture “scratch”. I recentaly removed the built in shelves/Office wall in my future dining room.. thinking .butter yellow with some near vintage Mancini pagoda print material for drapery. It’s a work in progress, ma petit
    maison, but it will be for most part thrend less.
    I am enjoying this blog so much

  3. I agree with a Holly about “grange”; I see it way too much of it here in Scottsdale it’s a sea of white gray and barn doors.
    Color is a powerful and uplifting tool when used smartly.
    Chandeliers, I see way too many Sputnik or else Restoration Hardware faux Belgian chandeliers. With the antiques market slumping an antique chandelier can be purchased for less than these atrocities and last for next generations.
    Pillows are like shoes you need them but fabrication can vary with your taste and decor.

  4. Agreed on all counts and already following these precepts. But thanks for the reaffirmation. Holly knows her stuff! I adore the yellow room with the tallboy and the fantastic window treatments.

  5. Dearest Andrea,
    I am so honoured to be featured yet again in your stunning blog! How I adore your ability to translate classic design and elegant living to a relevant level for all to understand and revere. And… my gracious, the comments have been simply glorious. I am blushing ( another pretty color!) Xoox Holly

  6. Boy does this affirm my direction for decorating our new house. I want it to be the best parts of our former residence but just a tad updated and current without succumbing to wasteful spending on trends. I love silver but how cute is it that she added the sweet little creatures, I’d never have thought to do that! I have a lovely little stash of needlepoint pillows that I had stored away as i thought they might be passé’ so thanks for mentioning those as timeless and who doesn’t adore chandeliers, mahogany case goods and a good camelback sofa. There is one yellow painted room in our new house and I have been enjoying that but again doubting myself. Like I said, thanks for affirming my gut choices and i had watched a few of the episodes on her design channel and appreciate the reminder. She is a classy lady.

  7. I love Holly Holden! Just ordered her book and can’t wait to spend time luxuriating over each and every page! She resonates with my design sensibilities in every regard. My more formal rooms are all yellow with classic English and French pieces; chandeliers are definitely in my bathrooms; tons of pillows, including many needlepoint ones (have great fox hunt ones in our den/office and golf themed ones in our 1800’s knickers era” golf room” den, plus many seasonal ones that I just love ). I don’t own a lot of silver but the half dozen or so pieces I do have are all inherited sterling and quite pretty. I’m sure I’ll be adding some silver plate serving pieces to the mix when our remodeling is over and more money becomes available. Decorating a home is a costly venture that we can’t afford to keep changing with every trendy whim so I’m happy that my hubby likes classic traditional as much as I do. I am so glad I came upon your blog–I’m excited opening every post!

  8. Bravo! Well said…..and Holly Holden is wonderful. And speaks the truth! No reason to do over things that you get right the first time! Saves money, makes peace…and your children grow up with lovely things that do not change with”trends”! They give me a headache. Most of the time they are inappropriate! Dreadful seeing “Santa Fe” in Pasadena! (just one example!!)

    Make your house a scrapbook of things you love in your life; your memories…Nothing is better! Treasure those memories. Do not buy furniture at RH that you will have to throw away in 20 years (and, made in China, you will have to!)
    Buy things with history…..antiques are such bargains now….(my mother bought museum pieces in the 50’s with grocery money) Now is the time to buy beautiful antiques….with all their handwork and patina….for 5 cents on the dollar!
    I hope I strike a chord somewhere!
    Take a peek at my website……see if you like it! My own house is a scapbook of my entire life!

    What fun I have had with a career of 49 years with other people’s houses…..take a look!!!

  9. Andrea, thank you so much for doing this month on anti-trends! Thanks to you I now know that I am anti-trendy. When we moved into our house 10 years ago, a decorator friend was consulting on fabrics etc, and when I showed her what I liked, she said “Isn’t that a little grandma?” My response was “Exactly!” Traditional does not have to be boring, and for me collected items from our families and travels have more meaning than a sterile graige house. Thank you for leading the charge for pretty houses!

  10. I love your style so much and would like to know if you would share your favorite yellow paint color? We are building a new home, and I want to have yellow on the walls in the dining room! I like the softer buttery yellow best.

  11. I really don’t want to comment except to say that I love most of these
    Suggestions and ideas. If only I could travel to Europe to look for antiques
    And ideas for home.


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