They say that the only constant is change and many industries know this fact all too well! Among these are the interior design and fashion industry, where trends literally change with the seasons. Needless to say, unless you have a bank balance that can compete with the Gates, changing your interior design and decor with every new trend that comes along is impractical, wasteful and time-and-energy consuming. Come to think of it, even if you have said bank balance, it still leans towards being impractical, wasteful and time-and-energy consuming!
So how do you ensure your interior design always stays in style? How do you achieve that perfect balance between classy versus fun, timeless design versus on-trend design? Well, you’re reading the absolutely right article because we’re going to divulge some of the secrets to timeless decorating to get your house always looking like it should be on the cover of Vogue Living.
What Is Timeless Design and How Can It Be Achieved?
It may be hard to believe but achieving a timeless design in your space is not as Herculean as you think it may be. There are a few timeless aspects of design that can help you easily achieve a look that will never be outdated.
Before we talk about how to achieve the look, here are a few defining factors of timeless design:
- “Neutral” may have made a huge comeback in makeup and fashion, but its importance was always recognized in the interior design industry! Neutral backgrounds are one of the key features.
- Highlighting clean, straight lines and shapes in the house or space’s architectural detailing with similarly-built objects.
- Some colors, such as navy blue, black and dark green, will forever stay in style. These dark colors never fail to compliment neutral shades. Combining these with neutral shades is a feature of timeless design.
- Antique furniture, fittingly, contributes majorly to timelessness. Whether you can shell out the required price for a genuine article or can only accommodate reproductions within your budget, antiques, along with other timeless furniture, make for classic home decor in timeless interiors.
- If not solid, the patterns you’ll see are tried-and-tested patterns such as checks, stripes and plaids.
- Plastic and synthetics are a huge “no” in a timeless design—decoration, as much as possible, is with natural materials like stone, natural fibers and wood.
- The furniture should be sized appropriately for the room it’s being placed in. If we’re talking clothes, it should be a perfect fit every time—not too loose and not too tight!
Ultimately, the room should exude simplicity, subtlety and elegance.
Achieving Timelessness In Your Home
If you’ve been wondering how you can achieve the design look that has lasting power for your home interior, all you need to do is follow the rules of a timeless design style—and here they are!
Do you know how scientists concluded that the most beautiful faces in the world are those that adhere to a certain symmetry? Well, this wasn’t just decided on a whim—symmetry is indeed very pleasing to the human brain. This could be because everything in nature is symmetrical, from flowers to insects to the human body itself (externally, at least). Symmetry is familiar and familiarity is comforting; our brains are programmed to recognize symmetry more easily as there is some order and rules that are being followed in symmetry.
Long story short, symmetry and balance in your interior design will always be pleasing to the human eye for the reasons mentioned above. The simplest way to achieve symmetry is to get two of the same objects, divide your room into two halves and create matching halves with the objects and furniture. It isn’t necessary that you need to use exactly matching objects or pairs to do up the halves. You can choose to have certain focal points instead and create symmetry around that.
For example, if you have a beautiful antique table (like a 17th-century refectory table, perhaps!), you could place that against a wall and place two large vases to either side and still achieve a look of symmetry, with the table being the focal point. You can do this with sofas and mantles—get creative, as long as you manage to create somewhat of a mirror image on either side of the room, are at least two balanced, complementary halves.
With a symmetrical room, there’s a sense of balance that is extremely familiar and pleasing to the human eye.
The Usage of Classic Patterns
As mentioned earlier, classic patterns are one of the hallmarks of timeless designs. If you prefer patterns over solids, use patterns such as plaids, stripes, damasks and florals. This means staying away from that leopard print, as catchy as it may seem, as well as other animal prints, chevron and busy, cluttered geometric prints—unless, of course, you know what you’re doing and can tastefully mix up these patterns with the other classic decor in the space. However, be warned that these patterns won’t always stand the test of time.
Another rule of thumb is the number of patterns to use in the space. At most, use 3 patterns in 3 different scales. This means, for example, having a large striped sofa, a floral rug and checked curtains. You can play with scale as you wish—the sky’s the limit, as long as you have 3 scales! You can go with 2 medium-sized patterns and one large, or one large, one medium and one small, as we have.
Additionally, ensure that you balance the patterns; putting them all on one side, or having a majority on one side, will lead to an unbalanced look that’ll result in an asymmetrical look.
Quality over Quantity
This is an extremely important point to keep in mind and means that you use a few eye-catching pieces instead of multiple pieces that clutter the room and confuse the eyes. This also means that you use good-quality furniture, accessories and upholstery.
No, this does not mean that you blow your entire bank balance to achieve this—buy the highest quality that you can afford. It will also help to remember that some things may be of the highest quality and still look cheap and tacky, and vice versa—however, this is a cheat code that should always be plan Z! Low-quality objects won’t just give up on you in a few years; they’ll also add a shabby look to the entire room, as will cheap upholstery and fabric. With high-quality objects, it’s a win-win; you get amazing quality, durability and a beautiful look to the room.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to forego any vintage or upcycled pieces that you really like (we love American Recycled Plastic, Inc.’s Van Buren seating and Classic Collection); it also works if high quality is present in majority of the room and a few exceptions are made.
Creating Focal Points
We already spoke a little bit about this when talking about symmetry but the aesthetic dimension that focal points can add to your space bears reinforcing!
Strong focal points elevate the look of any room. Think of it as you would singing. Plain singing, without any inflections and dynamics, may still sound pretty, but music with accents, slurs, soft and loud parts, and variation is much better! Focal points act like accents in the room, drawing the eye and pleasing it.
Some rooms and structures have naturally-occurring focal points, such as large French windows, a fireplace or a well-built mantle. If the space doesn’t have a natural accent, you can easily create one, such as by painting one wall in a different color of the “timeless palette”, or adding other artwork, objects and furniture. While doing up your room initially, give it a once over and see where your eyes tend to rest—this is a good focal point that your brain has subconsciously realized and is a good spot to emphasize.
Once you zero in on your focal points, arrange objects, accessories and furniture accordingly. Remember not to have more than two focal points—anything more will create confusion!
Tone Down on the Technology
This may be hard to do, especially in today’s day and age, but if you can’t give up on the technology, at least tone it down or hide it! This way, you’re not forced to invest in integrated pieces that cost a bomb—all you have to do is ensure that you don’t make your speakers and other technology the center of attention.
Thankfully, TVs, speakers, consoles and other technology are no longer the bulky, hindering objects that they used to be; technology’s gotten way smaller (in size only!). Keep your tech hidden as much as possible. This may not be possible if you’re a frequent TV viewer but try to work your decor in a way that doesn’t make your TV the center of attention.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve frequently asked yourself “how can I decorate in a way that won’t date?”, be careful with color, customize your decor and be practical—that’s how! Whatever your preferences are, you can work them into a timeless design as long as you keep the basic tenets in mind.
Needless to say, one of the first things about achieving a timeless design is to not fall for trends! All trends come with expiry dates that, more often than not, end up being surprises. If at all you do want to follow a certain trend, opt to follow it in an object that you can easily change or replace, such as rugs and cushions, instead of larger objects like furniture.
That apart, even if you don’t follow our rules or bend them, remember to keep it simple, subtle and elegant and you’ll have a timelessly beautiful space on your hands!