Our writer’s picks for the dirty dozen decorating fads to banish
One morning, everything is normal and then the next, you find yourself drinking coffee out of a Keep Calm and Carry On mug, while staring at a faux deer’s head in a room full of chevron.
You have officially been sucked into the vortex of home trends. To paraphrase the Talking Heads’ David Byrne: How did you get here?
Like most of us, you have likely picked up such bad behaviour on automatic pilot when you should have been more discerning, says Michèle Champagne. The Toronto-based designer and editor of the online magazine That New Design Smell goes so far as to recommend abandoning fads altogether.
“Do not become a trend victim who veers from one ridiculous fancy to another,” Champagne says. “Know yourself and be playful with things and shapes and colours that (you) identify (with).” She recommends “following the seasons and collections, but only to keep an eye out for what you are looking for already.”
That means: Don’t buy that eye-catching plaid Thermos because there are 25 of them in a funky display. Besides, it’s a marketing ruse. Grouped goods always look great. Bring a single one home and suddenly it looks lonely and less cool.
Creating a space you truly love happens slowly, over time. Conversely, a home that appears airlifted from a furniture showroom, down to the karate-chopped pillows (those are the ones with perfectly placed indentations down the middle; see below) lacks authenticity and personality.
HiiiiiiiiYAH! Karate chopped pillows
Follow our advice below to ditch a dirty dozen overplayed trends once and for all. Prepare the bags and boxes! Be ruthless! Donate these items to charity or store them for your next garage sale.
1. Stem the trinket overflow
Patrol your shelves. Is every nook stuffed with dust-collecting doodads? Take a good look at each quirky figurine and ask yourself if you’re genuinely feeling that ceramic owl from Urban Outfitters. “Avoid filling shelves with meaningless tin boxes or baby plants that die too soon,” Champagne says. “Be patient – fill them with meaningful things, brought by friends and family, that you can then choose to include.” In the meantime, she says, “embrace empty space.”
2. Our buddy, the Buddha
This may sound harsh, but unless you’re actually a Buddhist or your home doubles as a yoga studio, you should re-evaluate the existence of the cross-legged, benevolently smiling sculptures that have somehow taken up residence throughout your pad.
3. Mood boards put everyone in a bad mood
“Just say no to walls full of little collections of images pinned by cords and bullfrog clips, with postcards and minimal Japanese-esque memorabilia,” Champagne says.
The cluttered area will likely do the opposite by making you more unproductive. And besides, “The best creatives in the world know mood boards are what failed creatives put up in their corporate offices to look creative and impress un-imaginative marketing and publishing staff,” Champagne says.
4. Stop with the text messages
Similar to mood boards is the propensity to plaster preachy slogans everywhere. It’s as if everyone’s home has suddenly turned into a high school guidance counselor’s office. From the kitchen to the bedroom, there’s no escaping mottoes that announce: “Today I choose joy!” and other schmaltzy sayings. How about choosing real art?
5. Say no to macramé mayhem
Mariela Campo, a set designer in Toronto, begs people to step away from the onslaught of woven décor items. “No one gets more excited about a fashion trend crossover into interior design than I do, but I draw the line with macramé. I knew we were in trouble when I saw it first appear on a popular blog covering a home in Brooklyn,” she says. “In less than two years, we’ve hit peak ’70s fug with retailers asking for as much as $560 for a lamp made of knotted cotton cord.”
6. Steer away from cowhide rugs
Flipped open like a Rorschach test blot made of skin, the cowhide rug has been underfoot for what feels like forever. This repellent trend is frankly gross. Dead-animal hide as decoration? No thanks. Put a rug down, instead.
7. Fly away, cutesy birds
Dainty sparrows-as-paperweights, bookends, pillows and framed illustrations are a shtick truly for the birds. Unless you’re an ornithologist, there is really no reason to give birds so much play in your home. (Now, about that glut of bird tattoos…)
8. Midcentury modernism motherlode
On the very excellent apartmenttherapy.com, the antiques dealer and Elle Decor favourite Richard Shapiro bemoans the “monotony of one midcentury room after another, all with predictable, gratuitous, gimmicky accessories.” He urges decorators to embrace an eclectic approach and draw from multiple styles and time periods. Translation: If you own a sunburst clock, a teak buffet and an Eames lounge chair, you should shake things up.
9. Hold on to your guns
Philippe Starck’s politically inspired 2005 Gun Lamp Collection for lighting manufacturer FLOS started a shooting spree that lasted a decade, Campo complains. Now she declares it officially out of ammunition. “Here we are years later and we’ve reached critical levels of weaponry in décor. The gun theme went from subversive to hipster cool, to mainstream stores carrying machine gun wall decals and gun light plate switch covers. Enough is enough, design gangstas.”
10. Put the books down
True readers own books. Lots of them. They’re stuffed into shelves and tucked into magazine racks and stacked on bedside tables. But rarely are they arranged in perfect piles like rare objets. And they’re never colour-coded. Loosen up with your tomes, and while you’re at it pare down that collection of coffee-table books to free up space – the mounds are starting to look weird.
11. The terror of the terrarium
Terrariums are lovely. They invite life and colour into a home and they purify the air. But terrariums (those glass vessels containing miniature scenes of plant life) cannot thrive unattended. Carting several of these cuties home means being vigilant about their care. In most cases, the vessels turn into sad graveyards of dying matter. That’s bad feng shui. And that’s why they’re on this list.
12. Antlers: Just doe not
Do you remember the pre-stag days? No, not the ones leading up to that debauched night in Vegas before you tied the knot, but the time when walls were decorated with artwork or just left plain? Then all of sudden deer reared their heads. They showed up in papier-mâché, felt, cardboard, resin, ceramic, the actual taxidermy animal (shudder!) turning everyone’s home into a hipster lodge. Give it a rest. If it’s dimension you’re after, install a light sconce or a wall-mounted sculpture.