SOMETIMES BORING DECOR IS BEST
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long long time because it can help you create beauty in your home and avoid costly decorating mistakes. But there are some hard truths we need to talk about! And sometimes hard truths are uncomfortable! Finally, I think we are all ready to hear why I think boring decor is best!
In the last several years I’ve seen some very pretty design trends. Like Mid-Century Modern! This trend went wild for a couple years! If you are under 50 you probably got sucked into this very distinct style!
But this is a style that has not had a very long stint in the on-trend spotlight! It’s already on the fast train out called “oh I remember that style”!
About a year ago I had a young client who bought a new home and wanted me to help her configure some “interesting” living spaces in her home.
She was very into Mid Century Modern. And was planning on decorating her home with lots of furniture in that style.
MY TREND STYLE HISTORY
This encounter reminded me of me when I was a young homeowner. Tuscan style was all the rage. Do you remember Tuscan? If you do your age is showing! LOL!
I painted my walls golden yellow and added lots of red and earthtone decor to our home. And I loved the decor with my whole heart… for about five years!
Then Farmhouse style became popular and my earthy home furnishings began to look old and tired!
I wanted so badly to love the Tuscan style that oozed from every room and buck the huge wave of Farmhouse style that was literally a tsunami of new and fresh design.
But our home was a farmhouse and it was surrounded by farmland! And oh, I loved this new style! I loved it so much better than Tuscan! So so much better!
So we painstakingly went about changing our home into the Farmhouse that was its true identity!
It took almost 8 years to make this change. Lots of time and sweat and $$$!
It was about this time I started this blog. And many of you saw the process!
THE DECORATING EUREKA MOMENT
Somewhere in the middle of my new Farmhouse love, it dawned on me that Farmhouse style just might have its day just like Tuscan style and become tired and out of date too one day!
This was a terrifying thought! But I thought I would never, ever, ever fall totally out of love with Farmhouse, and no matter what, I would be true to my school…. er, style!
I knew I would buck the next new style and cling to my beloved Farmhouse style but…
I know me! And I love decorating. And even though Farmhouse is one style that is part classic and part trend… I knew in my heart I could be swept away with a new look. UGH! I felt fickle and unfaithful to Farmhouse! But truth is truth!
Someday even Farmhouse style would look dated and tired and I would probably need a change!
So the big question is how to have a home that is timeless and can go thought decor changes with ease!
The answer is…
BORING IS A GOOD THING
There is a big secret for a home that stays in style! It’s not hard or magic or anything earth shattering. It’s just smart!
Ready for this decor gold nugget? Here it is…
Don’t be afraid to be a bit boring!
Boring is neutral. Boring is not the latest style. Boring is clean lines. Boring goes with everything! Boring is classic.
And classic is amazing!
BORING IS YOUR BEST BET
The best home insurance from the dreadful dated look is choosing certain furniture pieces that are classic and neutral and sort of nondescript! Those decorating adjectives are music-to-my-ears words!
Classics are called classics for a reason, they stand the test of time! Personally, I strive to be a classic!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN CLASSIC FURNISHINGS
Here is what to look for in classic furnishings…
- neutral colors
- updated classic lines
- not any one particular trendy style
Here’s what classic furniture is not…
- a distinguishable style
- a trendy color
- anything big or overstuffed
- any wood that can be associated with a certain decade or era
Here are a few rules of thumb that will help you keep your home in style for a long, long time!
TRENDY COLOR IS JUST THAT
One of the biggest timestamps of home furnishings is color! Remember my Tuscan story! It screams “you bought me around 1995”!
Same with trending colors today!
Right now we are in a blue trend. The nice thing about this trend is that blue is a pretty classic color but too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all!
Adding a blue chair is different than painting your kitchen cabinets blue! A blue kitchen although gorgeous will someday scream, “you painted me in 2020 or 21”! A blue chair can pass as a classic!
And which would you rather replace? A kitchen or a chair?
I know this is a hard truth to swallow!
But believe me… listen to me… and do as I say! I know about this!!!!
HERE’S A GOOD DECORATING TREND RULE TO REMEMBER
Here is a good rule to remember…
The bigger the piece of furniture the more neutral it should be! Maybe a little boring and safe, but neutral colors will stand the test of time!
Neutrals can run the color spectrum from white to black and any neutral in between.
Here are some classic (and maybe boring) neutrals…
- any color that is derived from white, brown, and black
If a white or creamy sofa is not your thing how about a linen sofa in a gorgeous graphite color? Or taupe-colored kitchen cabinets if the thought of a white kitchen is just too much white?
The beauty of neutrals is they go with everything! And paired with the right colors and other furnishings is a look that is chic and fresh!
ANOTHER GOOD DECORATING TREND RULE TO REMEMBER
If you want your decor to stay in style longer here’s another great rule of thumb to follow…
The bigger the piece of furniture is the more classic it should be.
Sofas, tables, kitchens, bathrooms, foundational furnishing. Anything you don’t want to replace in the next 7-10 years or more!
Big furnishing often equates to decor that is also the most expensive so it is common sense to choose updated classic styles for those pieces!
Are they the most sexy? Probably not! But remember boring is classic!
SOME CAUTIONARY EXAMPLES
I just love all the gorgeous black and white Moroccan tile backsplashes and floors I’ve been seeing on Instagram and Pinterest for the last couple of years but I secretly cringe inside! They are stunning but in 7 years they will looks “so 2019-20”! It’s like the homeowner has put a big timestamp on their backsplash.
Most of us can’t replace expensive backsplashes or floors. And many of us will get tired of something so trendy even if we don’t think we will in the moment.
Choosing something boring like white subway tile (although that has a shelf life too) or a classic marble is a much wiser choice. Not as trendy. Not as sexy! But that is the point! Classic choices will look nicer longer!
Trendy might look gorgeous and trilling for a while but will get very old quickly when it dates your home!
In 10 years when you are so tired of your Moroccan tile or blue cabinets in your bathroom you might wish you have gone with a safer, more classic, and more neutral choice!
And don’t get me started on resale value!
CAN I USE TRENDY DECOR
Yes, yes, yes! Trendy decor keeps a home looking fun or fabulous and certainly up to date!
Pick out a couple trendy wishbone chairs if you just love Mid Century Modern and keep the sofa classic!
Or cover those neutral dining room chairs with a great blue and white fabric and keep the table pretty plain.
Add a tray with gorgeous Moroccan tile on it or choose floral patterned bedding if you are in love with Grand Millennial style like I am!
The foundational furnishings in your home should be classic and neutral. The rest can be whatever you love at the moment! That is if you are going for decor with longevity and a look that stays in style.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS YOU DO CARE
I hear from readers all the time that they love their decor and don’t care what style is popular.
I say this with love… because you are reading this tells me you probably do care!
If you love your decor and never ever ever want to change it I am thrilled for you! YOU GO GIRL!
But most women who love to decorate love change too. Keeping the foundation furnishings classic and neutral gives you the freedom to change the rest of your decor to work with your style, taste, and preferences.
And when you are ready for a change you won’t be changing everything in your home!
THE MORAL OF THIS DECORATING STORY
My home is neutral and classic because I not only love to live with neutrals but I know that the more classic it is the longer I can keep the furniture I’ve paid out our hard-earned money for. It will look nice and fresh. It might not be the newest style, but it is in style!
When I get the urge to off-road and change our home to a Grand Millennial masterpiece I think about my Tuscan phase!
I don’t want to live the nightmare of realizing I really no longer liked that style of furnishing I have a house full of!
I’m not sure my young Mid Century Modern friend I was helping listened to me as I suggested she keep big-ticket items in her home neutral and classic but, alas, she is young. Sometimes we need to learn our own lessons before we wake up and think a bit of boring is not only a good thing but the best thing when it comes to decorating our homes!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
HOW TO DECORATE YOUR HOME INEXPENSIVELY
DECOR YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT SPLURGE ON
AN EASY GUIDE TO DECORATING ON A BUDGET
Funny that this article came up today. I just emailed a friend that I wanted to empty my house and start over! Unfortunately, that won’t be happening right away, but I think I will put away my red accents and get out more neutral greenery and accents for spring. I also took down a few antique things that I realized were just making my new house look too old. As much as I value sentiment and family treasures, I have to limit them. Thanks for the encouragement.
Yvonne, This is a great subject and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. One think this pandemic has taught me is that I need a peaceful ,calming environment it my home. That does not mean I don’t change accessories for the season but I keep my home neutral. After so many homes and decorating fads that I have fallen for, I am finally happy with what I have. Sure I would love doing over my kitchen but I would rather spend my money on traveling with my husband and spoiling my grandchildren. Thanks for giving your blessing on a little boring but classic home.
Sometimes you just need permission to be boring
Over the years I have inherited furniture from my mother. The pieces that still get rave reviews are the classic off white chairs and the solid wood pieces that could be painted but won’t. I know myself well enough to know that while I would love to have the farmhouse loo,k or even a bit of Tuscany, I would grow tired of it. Instead, I will plan a trip to the farm or even to Tuscany to get my fill. Thank you, Yvonne for your words of wisdom.
When you plan your trip, let me know! I’ll go too! LOL!
❤️❤️❤️ this advice so much ! Perfect timing too!
We are in the process of moving to a “new to us” home that needs remodeling . Built in 2007 it has touches of Tuscan that were beautiful then but not really “in” now.
Our kitchen cabinetry is beautiful but damaged from rough love. When choosing a paint scheme, I really wanted to go with sage green . Our cabinet guy was very friendly and accommodating but told us that 90% of kitchen cabinets in our new small city were white, off white , sometimes grey or tan . For resale value, he suggested a more “ neutral” color.
Glad I listened to him and decided to go with a light tan and Dover white walls in the house.
Our cabinet makeover and whole house painting is EXPENSIVE and I don’t want to mess it up.
If I still love that sage green and can’t get it out of my head, I might paint my laundry room cabinets. Otherwise , neutral for me ?
Hi Terie, good advice and I’m so happy to hear you are loving your new home! Congrats!!!! Yes, we had our kitchen cabinets painted and it was VERY expensive!
This wise counsel is what I have chosen for myself. Our home is just the right size for us, not too big but not too small. The vibe I strive for is the welcome feeling you get when you walk into a well appointed B and B. When our guests mention it, then I have done enough. My guide is to have a beautiful but minimalist look. Why? When we add grandkids and guests, they require room for their stuff. Your blog is my favorite for encouragement and motivation. Some may call our home boring but to me it brings me peace. And welcome for all who enter. Thank you!
What a beautiful way to decorate, right?
I love the whole neutral thing and I keep a wide variety of pillow covers and change regularly. You can change a whole room with pillow covers. Love your weekly recipe post and have tried many of them this winter!
Hi Susan! I’m thrilled you are enjoying StoneGable! Thanks for reading.
I love your style and recipes. Thank you, Yvonne, for being a kind and sharing person.
I was hoping you could let me know where you purchased the geometric carpet you have under your sofa? I really would like to buy for my bedroom. Thank you, Deborah Motylinski
Hi Deborah! You can see the rug here:https://rstyle.me/+HsiXMInJqK-c2O1OPmRoUw
Hello! Yes, yes, yes! I agree with everything you said. My furniture is neutral and classic. I use color in my accessories, rugs and art. I’m 60, so I learned this through trial and error, too. I do agree also that young people have to learn by doing. That’s part of life, figuring it all out in time. But, maybe this blog will save them a few dollars! ❤️
Hi Regina! Good for you!
Ah, the Tuscan stage. I had a yellow living room & my entry way was painted terra cotta! I remember wanting to collect roosters for the kitchen & colorful plates lol. After years of more changes, I am very happy now with my neutral decor that I change in small ways for the seasons.
Did we live in the same house? LOL! You learned the lesson too!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter. I find myself in the same situation. I love all the new trends, but I always go back to my neutral colors and classic designs.
Yes, it may be a bit boring but it is classic and timeless!
We bought our house about a year ago, and we have been slowly changing things to a more neutral palette. We couldn’t paint the house before we moved in, so we are doing it the hard way, and slowly, but we will love it in the end. I do confess though, to a none-neutral color in my bedroom. As our sanctuary, and as two old retired folks who will hopefully never move again, a little soft dusky periwinkle was the perfect color! It is a room I can sleep in!
Periwinkle sounds sublime! Congratulations on your new home!
Love this post and I couldn’t agree with you more! Yes, I had some Tuscan things in my home so I understand what you’re saying. Overall though, most of my home is casual-traditional so I haven’t gone too crazy with trends. I did paint my dining room navy about 3 years ago though. I still love it and figure it’s easy to repaint once I’m tired of it. Over the years, I’ve learned to stay more neutral and sprinkle in the trends on the smaller things like accessories. For instance, even though I love patterned tiles, I didn’t want to commit to them so I bought a runner for my hallway instead. My frugal husband was happy with that decision! Have a great week!
You have a lovely decorating philosophy! And painting a bedroom blue will be easy to repaint if you get tired of it! I love your style, casual-traditional!
Thank you Yvonne for posting this advice. I like watching fixer upper type shows on TV but lately,
and especially one in particular, the designer goes crazy with color and pattern. So, I watch the beginning and then come back to TV to see the final product. I just sit there and am so disappointed.
The basic new design is well done but they have a room that is chaotic, full of what I call “too much”. I like a room which gives the occupant a comfortable feeling. I may be the only viewer who thinks this but maybe others are also. I, like you, want to spend my money wisely.
As the years go by, if you have the basic furniture in classic design and color, then you can add personality with pillows, art work, and accents.
That’s why I have followed you for years because I like your basic style. I may comment that I would like to see a little more color in your window seat in the kitchen, but I have the ability to envision what I might do if that were my room.
On the other extreme, I have to say, I am getting tired of the all white rooms which a lot of bloggers show. Thanks for being you and giving us sound, lasting advice.
I just want to mention that I loved the additional color in your master bedroom. The designer in you kept the classic design and you can always change the bedspread and accessories in there when you want.
HI Patricia, style and decorating trends will always be changing. And it is certainly okay to embrace them. Right now design is leaning towards pattern and color and layering. It is beautiful! Here’s the thing, you an achieve this look with neutrals foundations so when the style changes you don’t have to start over from scratch.
The past few years I’ve been transitioning to a neutral home with a little farmhouse thrown in.I think neutrals are always classic, never go out of style and create a tranquil home.As we get older, we are always looking for peace and tranquility especially in our homes.
You are right, Doreen!
Yes trends do come and go just like Farmhouse will. Remember the Country look back in the 80’s? Anyway, to me the moral of the story is don’t be swept by trends but try to figure out who YOU are. I personally am not a neutral person…I love color. I painted my walls back in 2004 a lovely bold yellow/gold and still am in love with it. Yellow cheers me up. I added 2 red leather recliners last year. Red and yellow are primary colors that go together and I love it. My Master bedroom is a bit more understated with cream, blues and light painted case goods. I would say I am definitely traditional. I subscribe to English Country Homes magazine, as I’m an anglophile, however, the way designers decorate homes over there is so different. Not so trendy; but often very relaxed. I could not live with all neutrals….but then I do love a project and don’t mind changes either.
Fortunately, I love neutrals and classic both in decor and my clothes. It’s the little pieces that I change out often. I find it makes a calming environment which we all need in our home.
My daughter loves color! In her first home she painted every room an intense color. But when it came time to sell and buy a bigger home it sat on the market. Her realtor finally advised her to paint all her walls white and she staged it. It sold in days. She bought a lovely four bedroom home with neutral walls. I loved it! Much more relaxing. She just couldn’t live with it. She has painted all bedrooms a deep color and I’m sure she will continue. The moral of the story is we are all different and need our home to reflect our personalities.
Hello, I was wondering if you were considering a post on the “grand millennial” style, I would like to learn more about it. It seams what I have read is really open to interpretation…I haven’t found a really good explanation. Just a thought, thanks for your blog!!!!
I have one already written. Look for it next week.
Sound advise. Thanks for sharing.
You are so welcome!
I have learned these lessons also! I cringe at every space with pallet or barn wood walls, because it won’t be long until people are thinking “what was I thinking???” And yes the busy tile floors…I love navy blue, so walls are navy not cabinets. But others will disagree. That’s ok too.
Yes, Connie. That’s okay.
You just put in writing what I have been thinking for a long time. I buy a lot of real estate so I look at many listings. I can always date a house by the way it is decorated. I could not agree more with everything you said in this article.
I know, Linda! I’m so glad you left this comment!
Your advice provides a perfect resting place from the anxiety and tail chasing that come with striving to keep our homes in style. I’m forty five years old. These thoughts have been forming in my head lately but your words have helped them to crystallize. Thank you so much!
I love this post, Yvonne! I have always believed in this theory and gave my daughters the same advice as they began furnishing their own homes. But now, I nevertheless find myself in a conundrum! I have a beautiful bedroom set and formal dining room set. My bed is a cherry wood four poster with a matching dresser. My dining room table set is Queen Anne style cherry with a matching china cabinet. At the time we bought them, I said I didn’t want to buy the latest trend, I wanted to get something that was timeless and classic. This style was and is my favorite. It still speaks to my heart whenever I see it in a room. At the time we bought these sets, the style was over 200 years old at and still being shown in magazines and display rooms, so I thought they were classic. They are still in new great condition, and I love them, even though they ARE apparently out of style, as well as “matchy, matchy!”
So Yvonne, what can people in this situation do? Have you ever done a post on this subject? I don’t want to replace them! However, I love and take pride in decorating our home. Could you do a post about some how keeping rooms updated while still using ones own beloved furniture? (Is Queen Anne cherry furniture a classic?)
I say this all the time if you love what you have enjoy it and don’t worry about what is in style. Why would you want to change? From your comment, I can tell you really don’t want a change. Just enjoy what you have! And if you ever get tired of it, THEN it might be time for a change. Hope this gives you permission to love and enjoy your cherry furniture.
Deborah, I too, have a ton of cherry wood furniture and I’m happy with it and will NOT paint it. I also have brown leather in my living room. ALL of it is matchy matchy. We paid a lot of money for it and we went through the same process of picking classic pieces. What I do to satisfy the more neutral itch is to change out bed linens, curtains, pillows etc. I usually have a “neutral” season that falls between Christmas and when I decorate for Spring summer. I have cream, bone, linen colored accessories, wood/metal decor. This goes well after all the bling of Christmas and before I start adding teal/turquoise elements. By the time Spring/Summer roll around I WANT the bits of color! I don’t feel my home looks dated because I’ve mixed things in (including some painted pieces) with all the dark wood and leather. I try to keep my home clean and neat, this is key for me. We can’t always follow all the whims of the decor world, but sprinkling some in small doses will work! I hope this helps!
Spot on advice! Life, styles and we change!
Your comments, opinion is very valid and helpful- yet over the years, many, I have followed you and truly enjoyed your posts. My addition to your post is that color can be WONDERFUL> if used in seasonal decorating as in pillows, throws or smaller decorative pieces it can add so much joy to a room.
Your posts are always lovely. and it is hard for me to add, yet since you brought it up, your posts have become more and more the same, rather dull and lifeless, even with some greenery.
I am NOT a famous blogger, just someone who has followed you for many years, admiring your work.
I also believe that we all have to follow our heart as we make our home our own, so your home obvious is just as you want.
Please know this is not meant to be a mean or callous comment, just a lowly opinion from one of your devoted followers.
My entry was barn door red! Golden rod in all the living areas and every bedroom a different color…the kids still tease me about it. We had smoke damage about 6-7 years ago and had to repaint the entire house. We went with a light cream with white trim everywhere…I love it!
It is so expensive to change things out in big ways as trends come and go. I could not have afforded to decorate that way, so I have always gone a little more classic. I find it more restful and calming. I do use color, but not in a busy way. I found too I never quite liked farmhouse on a personal level, because growing up in the country it seemed a little inauthentic to how farmers and country folks actually lived. A house nearby had bright red as the main color and white as a color, too, and I think modern farmhouse is at least not drawn on how the rural setting I was in the people actually decorated. There was quite a bit of color in the farm homes of the old timers in my area in the south, but they were more poor so the items were not as expensive as what people styling modern farmhouse more recently actually purchased. Modern farmhouse seemed more contrived, in a way, like romanticism of something that didn’t happen but was idealized, but then again maybe other parts of the country really had big elements of that look as far as the nod to farmhouse, drawn on true farmhouse history.