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Design + Decorate

How to Choose Timeless Design Finishes vs. Trendy

Published on:

2/10/21

written by:

Carrie Barker

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Are you building or renovating a house and you find yourself thinking … ‘there are so many decisions and I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong one!’ OR ‘what if I make a trendy decision and end up hating it in two years?’ ??!! Girl, you are NOT alone! If YOU are nervous that you’ll make the *wrong* choices, then this post will give you some insight into where to add timeless design finishes vs. trendy in your home! (side note … there truly aren’t ‘wrong’ choices! However, some finishes have more style longevity than others). 

By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of YOUR own personal design style (not just what is trending on Instagram), AND you’ll feel more confident in where you should focus on choosing classic, timeless design finishes that you’ll love for the long haul … as well as where to sprinkle in trendy finishes! 

Affiliate links MAY be used in this post. Read my full disclosure policy HERE.

WHAT DOES TIMELESS INTERIOR DESIGN MEAN?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, TIMELESS design is ‘not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion.’

According to Caroline on Design (aka, me!), timeless refers to classic design choices that are simple, subtle, sophisticated, understated and can easily adapt to evolving styles. In other words, timeless design makes for a great backdrop that can stand the test of time and will look great no matter what trendy pieces are thrown in the mix!

how to choose timeless design finishes vs trendy tasson interiors

White cabinets, white tile, and stripes are always in style! via TASSON INTERIORS

DEFINE YOUR DESIGN STYLE

To understand what timeless means for YOU, it’s important to understand what design elements are important to YOU and what will make YOU happy for years to come … because THAT, my friend, is how you make design decisions you won’t regret! 

Some timeless design examples for me include simple white shaker style cabinets, neutral paint on the walls, white trim work details, white baseboards, and crown molding. Others may gravitate toward exposed wood baseboards and cherry cabinets. Both are classic and timeless; just varying styles!

If you are a little confused about what YOUR design style is and you find yourself gravitating toward whatever is the current design trend on Pinterest and Instagram, I have a great exercise for you! The exercise within my post How to Determine your Decorating Style will help you uncover your own decorating style! Pinterest and Instagram are excellent places to gather design inspiration, but you want to take these ideas and tweak them to make your own style!

Related Post: How to Use Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz to Find Design Inspiration

how to choose timeless design finishes vs trendy rita chan interiors

A classic white cabinet and tile backdrop with gold (trendy) light fixtures = a STUNNING kitchen! via RITA CHAN INTERIORS

TRENDY VS. TIMELESS DESIGN

It is absolutely OK (and encouraged) to add some trendy finishes to your new home or reno!!! There is certainly a place for trendy pieces in a timeless home … and adding just a little bit can go a long way!

Just so we’re clear on what trendy means … trendy = design fads that come and go; you can spot a ‘trend’ when you see the same design over and over (and over!) on Instagram or Pinterest … to the point that you don’t even know whose Instagram feed you’re looking at because they all look the exact same!

The goal is to keep your design foundation classic and timeless (as determined by what makes YOU happy) so that it can grow and evolve as your style grows and evolves. Mix in trendy finishes that are easy and inexpensive to change in the future when they are no longer trendy … or you tire of them!

how to choose timeless design finishes vs trendy cottonwood and co

A checkerboard floor in a laundry room = perfection! It can easily be changed if desired in the future. via COTTONWOOD AND CO

HOW TO KNOW IF A FINISH IS TIMELESS

Ask yourself the following questions to determine the longevity (timeless-ness) of a finish:

IS IT ADAPTABLE? 

Can this design element serve as a backdrop regardless of my changing style and whatever is on-trend at the moment? Is it neutral and simple enough that I can easily add in different trendy accents as my style evolves and trends change?

IS IT SIMPLE? 

The more simple a finish, the more likely it will remain timeless.

And the most important question …

WOULD I STILL LOVE (AND CHOOSE) THIS FINISH IF IT WASN’T A CURRENT TREND? 

If you answered YES to these three questions, then you’ve found yourself a timeless finish! Whoo-hoo!

how to choose timeless design finishes vs trendy su casa

Cape Cod Shingle Style homes are ALWAYS in style! via SU CASA DESIGN

WHERE TO ADD TIMELESS FINISHES

Make timeless selections in areas that are expensive and difficult to change! This includes your home exterior finishes, flooring, countertops, cabinets, interior doors, and trim work. Essentially, the backdrop of your design should stick to timeless details!

Of course, there are some exceptions … if you want to do a trendy tile flooring in a bathroom or your laundry room, go for it! This is a small room and won’t be too difficult to change if you want to in the future!

how to choose timeless design finishes vs trendy mcgee and co

Two of my favorite timeless design details … trim work and grasscloth! via MCGEE AND CO

WHERE TO ADD TRENDY FINISHES

Obviously, you’ll want to pull in some trendy pieces, but limit these to inexpensive and easily changeable finishes!  It is much easier and cheaper to change cabinet hardware than actual cabinets, for example … so keep your cabinets timeless; your hardware can be trendy and changed in the future.

Think about the things that are easy to change … a backsplash is a place you can go trendy because it’s a small area and can be ‘easily’ replaced in the future. However, going trendy with an entire tiled shower would be very expensive to change in the future!

It’s great to pull in ‘trendy’ with your home decor and accents (e.g. light fixtures, rugs, linens, art, accent furniture, etc)! Making small adjustments to your home decor can completely change the look and feel of a room!

Related Post: Where to Save and Where to Splurge when Decorating a Room

how to choose timeless design finishes vs trendy karla dreyer

Timeless simple (and stunning) cabinets finished with trendy brass hardware! The perfect equation! via KARLA DREYER DESIGN

CONCLUSION

Unfortunately, styles and trends are constantly evolving. However, if YOU love the finishes you choose, then they will never be out of style in your home/mind!

I hope you now feel like you better understand YOUR style AND you feel more confident in your ability to choose finishes that appeal to YOU … regardless of current trends! Also, remember to incorporate your timeless design finishes only where it will be easy and inexpensive(ish) to change in the future!

If you would like more guidance on how to make design decisions, download my *FREE* Design Decision Worksheet that will walk you through your decisions!

  1. Linda says:

    Carrie this was such a great article! I am gathering ideas for our soon to be built home and I have been struggling. Love your posts!

  2. Jill says:

    Hi! We did all white cabinets in kitchen, with Calcatta Laza countertops. I love the look of white tile herringbone pattern for backsplash. My husband feels like it would be good to have some contrast.

    We do both like MSI Dove Gray 4*12 tiles with white grout. Dove Gray matches they grey veining in countertops perfectly.

    What are your thoughts on an all white kitchen with Grey tile backsplash? Too busy, or could it be timeless?

    Also, we have a large walk in pantry just off kitchen. I opted for no door. So you can see it as an extension on the kitchen. My husband said this is where I could do a really fun tile. My concern is you can see it from the kitchen. Would it look too busy and distract from the kitchen?

    Sorry for too many question in one post. Haha!

    Thank You

    • Hi Jill! I personally love an all-white kitchen with a grey backsplash … that’s exactly what I have! Not busy AT ALL! I have a subtle grey backsplash. You can see it HERE. As far as an open pantry, I love this look! It makes the kitchen feel just a little bigger. I do think it’s best to keep a consistent design flow throughout the kitchen and pantry (same flooring and wall tile). Keeping consistent flooring, backsplash, and hardware will eliminate any ‘busyness’ or ‘distraction’ from the kitchen. I would go with a fun tile in your laundry room … or another completely separate room from your kitchen!

  3. Jill says:

    Oh I forgot to mention my drawer pulls, faucet and pot filler are champagne bronze. Would that look ok with gray tile?

  4. CeCe says:

    Best advice I’ve found so far. I don’t like it when I hear I must NEVER or ALWAYS do something. I just want to live in a home I love. My husband and I are in our 5th home and just want it to be ours. Not dictated by resale for the first time in our 37 years together. My style leans to warm coastal, but I’m told I can’t have that because I live in high desert. I’m so tired of design snobs! Thanks!

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  7. […] Recommended Post: HOW TO CHOOSE TIMELESS DESIGN FINISHES VS TRENDY […]

  8. […] is cozy, functional, and perfect for the way my family lives, and I’m still happy with my timeless design decisions SEVEN years […]

  9. […] I wrote in ‘How to Choose Timeless Design Finishes vs. Trendy’, it is absolutely OK (and encouraged) to add some trendy finishes to your new home build or […]

  10. Janet says:

    Hi,
    I love the pendant lighting in the kitchen design from Rita Chan. Do you have any information to share about these lights?

  11. Patricia Raab says:

    Caroline i absolutely love the dutch colonial pictured on your site. do you know what kind of siding was used on the exterior?

  12. […] (probably) light oak floors and a less busy kitchen countertop (however, the light oak floors won’t be the ‘it thing’ forever … the trend will go back to dark floors … trends come and go) […]

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