How to Know If a Decor Item Will Be Timeless or a Trend

A gilded statement mirror

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How do you know when a decor item is timeless or whether it's just a trend? There are many factors to consider, designers say—and we asked them to share the details! Below, nine designers comment on what they think about when determining whether something is a classic or may be fleeting.

Determine Whether It Can Be "Carried Through the Ages"

"Timeless to me is about quality materials, lighting fixtures, furniture, et. cetera, that work with every style and can be carried on through the ages. Most trendy items have a hard time fitting into all design direction as they are very specific to an age or theme. I try to steer away from what is super hot and zeitgeist-esque, as it tends to get overused and worn out quickly. My take is that personal style is like selecting a wine: If you love it and it works for your taste and feels right, that is all that matters." — Samantha Tannehill of Sam Tannehill Interior Design

Look for Quality Materials and Production

"In order to avoid falling into the trend trap, I like to look for quality materials and production. Investing in natural resources like woods, metals, and stones can also turn into a savvy investment. I once purchased two vintage Finn Juhl rosewood chairs for a project in North London. Not only do they look better with time, but they have increased in value. Natural materials that are taken care of properly can age beautifully and maintain their value and classic appeal." — Susan Knof of Knof Design

Approximate When It Was Designed

"The first way to determine if an item is trendy or timeless is to try to approximate when it was designed. If you cannot pinpoint the approximate time period, then it is considered timeless. For example: Look at a beautiful Persian rug, it looks beautiful in a room, either 100 years ago or today. That is a great indication it is a timeless piece." — Jil McDonald of Jil Sonia Interiors

persian rug

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Decide Whether It's Versatile or Not

"The best way we like to determine if a decor item is timeless or a trend is to think if the piece is very versatile or not. Timeless decor tends to have clean lines, neutral colors, and natural elements which allow them to fit in for a long time. Earth and natural tones such as wood, linens, stone, and leather are key materials we look for when selecting timeless items." — Meagan Whalen of JL Design

timeless versus trend

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Look at Design and Proportions

"Timeless pieces are those that have classic style and proportions and have been around for decades. If you flip through several coffee table design books and see the same type of lamps, tables, or fabrics in all of them, chances are they’ve stood the test of time and will still be a detail of beautiful rooms for years." — Jerad Gardemal of JF Gardemal Designs

Decide Whether It Can Be Built Upon

"I think a great rule of thumb for determining if something is timeless or trendy is to ask yourself, 'Am I able to use this design as a great base to build upon in upcoming years?'' For example, if I’m redoing a kitchen, I will want to select timeless features that will be relevant and stay fresh for years to come. How I determine that is by asking myself if I can keep all the main design elements the same and make small tweaks in the design years down the road to keep it fresh. Is the design resilient enough to withstand new waves of trends along the years and still manage to look current? Timeless design is resilient in that regardless of how many new trends or fads come and go, it will always hold its own." — McCall Dulkys of Interiors by McCall

Determine What It Means to You Personally

"The ultimate answer for knowing if a decor item is timeless or a trend is what it means to you personally. I always advise my clients to collect and surround themselves with things that have meaning to them. I find that is the most natural and organic way to style and decorate a home. Then even if it was an item that was 'on trend' at some point, it will still feel special. My mantel is a collection of a midcentury metal wall hanging (the first piece of art my husband and I bought together for our home 19 years ago!), a painting from my childhood, and driftwood collected from beach walks with my family, while they are all of different decorative 'genres'. they are timeless because of what they mean to me." — Amy Sklar of Amy Sklar Design

"Finding a connection with decor items that relate to your personal story, or with a connection to nature, is a great way to ensure that your decor will stand the test of time. Whether it’s something you pick up during a trip abroad, something you made as a child, or a sentimental piece from your grandparent’s basement, you can use these pieces to make your spaces your own and generate a feeling of timelessness." — Nicole Cole of Vestige Home

timeless versus trend

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Ignore the "Rules" and Choose a Piece Based on Whether It Brings You Joy

“I don't have many rules when it comes to decor items except for one: It should bring you joy. Honestly, it doesn't matter if it's a piece that will stand the test of time or a passing fad, if it makes me (or my client) smile, it passes muster. Books, art, and items collected over time from travels are all pieces that can work well in any space." — Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors