Moving beyond trends to create a layered sanctuary you’re proud to call home.
Truthfully, most designers have a love/hate relationship with trends.
On one hand, trends emerge because something resonates with us. Whether it’s a color palette, material choices, new shapes in architecture and furnishings, or an overall aesthetic, it speaks to where we are in culture at large.
In the aerial view, I find the overarching psychology of art and design trends incredibly fascinating. These conceptual trends tell us a lot about who we are as people in any given time.
For example, the opulence of the 20s gave us art deco. The dramatic culture shifts in the 60s were reflected in bold interiors with new shapes, lines, and materials.
Today, as we’re a full two and a half years into a devastating pandemic, plus constant social and political tension, it’s no surprise trends are shifting to prioritize calm, uncluttered spaces. We crave comfort and stability, wellness and peace. We also spend much more time at home now. This means, clients are willing to increase their budgets to invest in luxury finishes and materials. Things like heated floors, in-home saunas and steam rooms, and uber high-end appliances used to be requested by only my wealthiest clients. Now everyone I work with seems to be looking for a little extra luxury in their life.
As a designer, it’s important for me to stay tuned into these types of design trends.
Where trends lose me, though, is in the ever-shifting checklists and roundups. The “one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out” approach to interiors. First of all, this approach is incredibly wasteful, as we continually fill dumpsters with last year’s “must-haves”. Second, with lead times as long as they are, (we’re talking the better part of a year to receive customized furnishings, folks) you might be over that once-trendy sofa before it even arrives at your doorstep.
But the biggest issue for me? Too much focus on trends removes meaningful personalization of our homes.
Instead of styling our shelves with timeworn books, found objects, and mementos that tell our story, we buy soulless knick-knacks to fill spaces. Or, we renovate new rooms that look like our neighbor’s — and every other stranger’s house on Instagram — instead of creating a home unique to us.
So how do we as designers stay aware of trends without becoming a slave to them?
That’s the million dollar question.
I was asked, at the beginning of the year, to provide a quote for an online design publication, for their upcoming article titled, “2022 Home Design Trends to Look Out For This New Year”
Press features like this are a fantastic marketing opportunity. But ultimately? I declined the offer. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to perpetuate the endless cycle of constant “trends”.
While I do stay aware of what’s trending in the industry, ultimately my job is to answer two key questions:
What is my client asking me to do?
What is the architecture asking me to do?
Where those two answers overlap is the ultimate sweet spot.
Finding the solution to those two questions always will yield better results than a design rooted in decor and color trends.
So, should we ignore design trends?
I don’t believe so, no.
Again, design trends exist because we as a culture resonate with the design somehow. So instead of rejecting trends entirely, I ask: why is this particular trend so appealing right now?
As I mentioned above, the pandemic has changed us. And it has changed our values when it comes to our homes. If you only adopt one trend this year, I hope it’s this: Making your home a destination
The interior design industry has experienced such a boom in the past 18 months. We’re spending much more time at home than we ever have. And we’re prioritizing our spaces, investing money we previously spent elsewhere to make our homes our sanctuaries.
I think it’s always been that way for the uber rich. But today? It’s becoming more important to everyone. We all need to feel comfortable at home, and excited to share our spaces with other people.
So can this include design trends? Sure. But ultimately, the foundation of your home’s design should be rooted in tried and true design principles.
My favorite ways to make any home a destination
Looking beyond your walls to create an immersive experience at home
Above, I mentioned how my work hinges on 2 things — the home’s inhabitants and its architecture. I also look to the surrounding environment for guidance.
What views can I maximize?
If there isn’t a great existing view, how can I leverage landscape architecture and patio design to create that resort feel at home?
How can we maximize the utility of your outdoor spaces?
Studies continually show that connection with nature — even through a window pane — can improve our mood, creativity, physical health, and psychological wellness. That’s why I strive to connect the indoor design scheme with the natural world outside, to make home a destination that nurtures your wellbeing.
Whenever possible, I also carry the home’s design outdoors to provide even more space to relax and entertain. Many of us now work remotely (and staying out of LA traffic is a gift in itself!) Still, we need to leave the house. Outdoor spaces provide a welcome change of scenery, and make socialization more comfortable as pandemic waves ebb and flow.
Engaging the senses for a warm welcome
Turning your home into a true destination means developing sensory cues. When you walk in the door, these cues are a subconscious reminder that you’ve arrived somewhere safe and meaningful. To maximize this, we have to extend our designs beyond the visual.
Scent is one of our most powerful experiences and memory makers. That’s why many of my full-service design projects include a signature scent. This custom fragrance is created specifically for the homeowners, to evoke the feeling they want to associate with home.
Fun fact: I’ve even taken a few courses at the Institute of Art and Olfaction here in LA to understand the science of creating perfumes and the story-telling element of harmonious scents.
Creating a unique experience in each space
Over a year ago, I shared predictions for the post-pandemic design world. And many of these have already proven true — especially the desire for flexible spaces and mini retreats at home.
We require much more from our homes today. Suddenly, we need designated, functional spaces for at-home learning, remote work, fitness, and more meal prep than many of us are used to.
Open concept floor plans just aren’t serving families the way they once did. We all need more privacy — whether that’s to maintain some semblance of professionalism on Zoom calls or simply to escape and carve out some quiet.
That’s why I aim to create a unique personality in each zone or room, while maintaining a cohesive overall story throughout the home. Each space serves specific functions, while remaining flexible for life’s changing demands.
The number one way to transform any home into a welcome retreat? Make it a reflection of you.
The bottom line? Our homes aren’t squares on Instagram. They’re where the majority of our most important moments are made, especially today.
So while trends are fun to follow, the top priority is creating a space that’s all your own. This can be inspired by favorite travel destinations, beloved family heirlooms, or an art collection. These influences are infinitely more interesting, timeless, and meaningful than any fickle design trends.
In the end, I think great design is equal parts nostalgia and aspiration.
The nostalgia is represented by comfortable, personal, and vintage pieces. The aspiration is the refined, luxurious elements. Together, they make your home a testament to where you’ve been and where you’re headed.
Until next time,