If you love classic, timeless interior design, you will love Eric Ross. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Eric believes that all good design is informed by the past…. rooted in tradition. So when I read his recent blog post on how to remain timeless in the midst of the current trend of “schizophrenic decorating,” I just had to share. Eric is graciously guest posting today, and I could not agree more with his wonderful tips… Welcome, Eric!
Going Against the Flow of Design Trends
By Eric Ross
Mrs. Roper Called and She Wants her Macramé Wall Hanging Back
For a while now I have felt that decoration and design in the macro sense is a little lost. Some say it’s a great time in decorating because anything goes. But, I feel completely different about it. To borrow a phrase from the legendary decorator Mario Buatta, “There is a lot of schizophrenic decorating going on.” And it seems that the more crazy the decorating is, the more people applaud and reproduce it.
Perhaps you can tell by now that I do not like design trends. Actually, it’s a personality trait of mine that I am contrarian. So, if the herd goes left, I will go right…or up or down…depending on where the design herd is headed.
Many of the home décor magazines are featuring homes that look like they were “curated” (a buzzword used a lot right now in decorating) with fabrics, furnishings and object d’art that are not cohesive or promoting one point of view. My point is not to discuss what qualifies a room as schizophrenic, but to help you see why you should not religiously follow this, or really, any other trend.
Getting Trendy With It
Following trends is a full time job for many in the media and that’s what sells magazines. Talking about what’s new and next gives lots of content magazines and websites to promote brands and tout their advertisers. You and your home are not vying for new advertisers. So, if you look to all the new trends that are happening in design and adapt your room to those trends, then you will have a conflicted room, and one that will be out of style in 5-4-3-2…..
What is a trend anyway? A trend is defined as “a general development in which something is developing or changing.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for new products and color forecasts, but if you follow all this new over a short period of time, you will never have an authentic looking room. It is like trying to hold sand with your hands. You cannot fully capture something that is fluid. You will have someone else’s idea of what your home should look like, and, if you are following several different sources for trends, you will have several peoples’ ideas of what your home should look like. This is when your room will show symptoms of CVS or Conflicted Vibe Syndrome.
Here is a checklist to help you know what trends are for you in order to keep your rooms timeless.
Do I want to look at this item every day?
When I am selecting furniture, fabrics and finishes for my projects the first thing I think of is, how long is this going to last the client. Will she want to look at this large scale print on the drapes for 10 years, or would a solid fabric for panels and a printed valance be easier to live with? The answer is different for each client, but I do ask that question. I have a time frame of 7-10 years that a rooms should look great. If it doesn’t pass that test, then I move on.
Does this item make me happy to look at it?
Nothing makes me happier than looking at beautiful rooms. Truly, after 20+ years of decorating professionally I still jump up and down when I install a window treatment. Seeing how all the fabrics and colors come together in a room among the upholstered chairs, sofas, pillows, ottomans and drapes is such a wow moment for me. This should be the same experience you have every day when you enter your rooms. When looking for new items, look for colors and patterns that make you smile. This may sound silly, but you should get a charge out of the items you are purchasing because they make you happy, not because you’ve seen them in the latest issue of Elle Décor.
Does this item, or collection of items, express who I want to be to the world?
One of my beliefs is that your rooms should represent who you are on your best day. It’s like dressing to go to the Oscars. You wouldn’t put on your pajamas, you would select the perfect outfit that shows your best version of yourself. That is what you rooms should do too! So, only collect items and display them in a way that makes your room look amazing. If you have a collection, display them together for maximum effect. If you love French things, put a bombe chest in the room, even if French decor is out of vogue to the masses. But remember, have other French things in the room so that the items all support each other visually.
Is there a visual precedent in which to introduce this item in the room?
Perhaps a better way to put this is: Is there a context in the room to support this item?
If your rooms are modern, then by all means inject modern furniture, or even an antique with clean lines. This means looking for a cohesive and rhythmic arrangement of furniture and objects. This creates a balanced design scheme that is easier to live with over time, making it less likely that you’ll tire of it and want to redecorate.
Do most of the items support each other in their overall arrangement in the room?
Tribal art and Monets do not go together in any universe, unless the Met is having a sidewalk sale. If you want a tribal room in your house, then go all out in that room, but please do not have an African war mask on your French mantelpiece. This just feels inauthentic and confusing. When crafting your room, be sure to look for similarity among items. That is a true tell of a masterful decorator.
In conclusion, you don’t have to embrace macrame wall hangings just because the magazines tells you to.
This is not an exhaustive list and I’m sure some of you will find offense. My intent is to give you a basic framework from which you should add something to your decorating mix, or to let it pass the way of macramé wind chimes. (Think about how ridiculous–and ineffective– a macramé wind chime is.) By keeping in mind these questions you can create beautiful, thoughtful rooms that will stand the test of time.
Thank you, Eric, for sharing your invaluable advice! After almost seven years of blogging about interior design, I have become positively allergic to trends, and I dedicated the entire month of January to “anti-trends” for 2018 (recap here). The comments and outpouring of support surrounding this series made it clear that there is a growing number of us who desire a return to classic, traditional, and timeless interiors. It is refreshing to see such an illustrious designer empowering his clients to remain true to themselves and resist peer pressure to succumb to modern trends.
To read more about Eric Ross, please click here. You can also visit him online at Eric Ross Interiors and through his blog. For ongoing inspiration, please follow @ericrossinteriors on Instagram. Below are a few of my favorite examples of his work!