Design Tips | Learn How To

How to Achieve a Timeless Decorating Style

Design Tips | Learn How To

It’s easy to get swept up by the latest in decorating trends, isn’t it?  After all, when we go to stores or shop online, we are surrounded by what is currently “in”.  The problem, of course, is that in time, homes decorated solely with trendy decor will eventually look outdated.  {I’m dating myself here, but I grew up in a home with avocado green shag carpet with orange walls!}

To get the biggest bang for your buck, create a timeless, classic look that is as relevant 10 years from now as it is today.  This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid trends, but rather that you create a timeless backdrop and buy investment pieces that are sure to last.  Here are 5 ways to ensure your home has a timeless decorating style.



1.  Great Millwork

You can never go wrong with architectural details.  Today’s design still draws upon the historic Greek and Roman architecture because these styles are considered to have a “classic” look that withstands the test of time.  In a similar fashion, details like quality baseboards, crown moulding and other millwork have a classic look that will still look good years from now.

Idea:  You can always update or modernize the look of classic trim by painting it a trendy color or “hiding” it by painting it the same color of the wall, but the millwork itself will remain timeless.

{via A. Tate Hilliard on Houzz}
{via A. Tate Hilliard on Houzz}


2. Natural Elements

The use of man-made elements, like Corian or laminate, come and go as technology and manufacturing processes change.  Natural elements, however, remain classic.  Using natural elements in your design choices will lead to a longer staying power, so think wood, stone, natural fibers, etc.  Elements that pull from nature tend to have a more timeless look.

Idea: You can modernize based on the style you choose.  For example, you can select marble subway tiles instead of a slab, or hand-scraped wide plank wood floors.  These style choices give a more contemporary look but utilize timeless materials which will help give them more staying power.

{via Pickell Architecture on Houzz}
{via Pickell Architecture on Houzz}


3. Neutrals

The beauty of neutrals is that they blend into the background and let the space itself take center stage.  If you keep the bones of your space in a neutral color, then your backdrop will be timeless and will coordinate with the rest of your space regardless of the style or color you choose for furnishings.  So think beiges, whites, browns, when it comes to walls, fireplaces, trim, flooring, etc.

Idea: Since neutrals coordinate with a wide array of colors, you can update the look of your space by simply changing the accent color to whatever is trendy at the time, or whatever color you love the most!  Add colored pillows, window coverings, area rugs, etc. to change up the look without having to redecorate the entire space.

{via Lauri Rossi Interiors on Houzz}
{via Laurie Rossi Interiors on Houzz}



4. Simple Yet Functional

Function is one of the most important elements of a timeless design…after all, if it doesn’t work for you, you won’t keep it around long!  In addition to function, though, look for items that are simple in the design and style.  Opt for patterned fabrics that aren’t overly fussy or furniture that is neither oversized or under-scaled {the Goldilocks rule!}.  Items that are too big, too busy, or too complicated become tiresome, but the same is true to rooms that are too simple, stark, or sterile.  Instead, look for pieces that are functional with great bones that are interesting without being overly complicated.

Idea: If you love a particular pattern, introduce it on a smaller scale.  Not only will you not tire of it as quickly when used in a small dose, but it will be easier to update in time if your taste changes.  So instead of upholstering your bed in your favorite floral print, upholster your bed in a neutral and use your favorite floral as the bedding!

{via Shaddock Homes on Houzz}
{via Shaddock Homes on Houzz}


5. Variety

Variety in decorating helps to keep a room from looking repetitive and boring, and thus extends its staying power.  Using a mix of textures, metallic finishes, wood tones, materials, colors, etc. means that even if one piece goes out of style, the room itself won’t.  Also consider adding in some antique or vintage pieces with your new furnishing to give the space a more collected look.  Using a variety helps to create a warm, inviting space with classic elements and lots of visual interest!

{via Shor Home on Houzz}
{via Shor Home on Houzz}



So does creating a space with a timeless design mean that you’ll never have to update it?  Unfortunately the answer is no!  A timeless design might need to be updated, but will rarely need to be replaced.  For example, hardwood is a timeless flooring choice, but trends fluctuate between light and dark stains so to keep your home looking current, you might need to refinish them.  A side chair with great bones might need to have the upholstery updated someday, but you won’t have to replace the entire chair because the chair itself will be timeless, even in the upholstery isn’t.


Do you consider your decorating style to be timeless?


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  1. I would also like to add that aquariums are ever green decor for your house. The fishes, plants add life to the space it is kept. Though, I also thank the writer for sharing the ideas about decor above. They really timeless.

  2. Great ideas and so necessary. You don’t have to rip your home apart to update it, is something we all need to know, cause professionals may come and want to do all kinds of unnecessary things that aren’t needed just to jack the price up, i found out the hard way. Thanks bunches.

  3. Kim,
    It took me a few years to figure this out. I now rarely have to replace anything but the upholstery on furniture pieces as they age, but the decorative items I own are classic to my style. I change things out seasonally and that satisfies my love of change.
    Great post with great ideas, as usual. Happy November.

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