When you love to decorate and design your home, it's tempting to be pulled into the direction of the latest design trend. Like fashion, home decor trends, colors and patterns are constantly changing to reflect the style of the time. But just like fashion, there are plenty of "little black dresses" that seem to never go out of style. Here are some great pieces to invest in that have stood the test of time, and may be worthwhile investments for your home.
Designer Furniture and Furnishings
This would include pieces by well-known designers like Ray and Charles Eames, Le Corbusier, or Isamu Noguchi and also furniture by well-known design manufacturers like Knoll, Herman Miller, Heath Ceramics, or Vitra. The furniture and decor created by examples such as these were not only incredibly well-designed, there is a design integrity that withstands criticism. Year after year manufactuers continue to produce these original designs to fulfill the needs of design afficianados as they know that although expensive, these are classics that can be handed down to the next generation. Buyer beware: these are also the designs most often knocked off. Knock offs are generally less expensive due to the fact that they are poorly made, mass produced and created using inferior materials. To the trained eye, knock-offs look nothing like the original creations. If you want to buy an original be sure to do your homework. A quick search will indicate which manufacturer owns the license to produce the original design and most often these will be signed, marked or numbered.
Lighting is one of the easiest interior design tricks to employ to make your home look and feel professionally designed. Sadly, many homes aren't built with great lighting and homeowners are forced to bring in lamps, sconces or add-ons. When choosing lighting, always look for well-made pieces that aren't flimsy. For example, you don't want the swinging arm lamp to break after a year or two. Look for lighting that helps illuminate the room evenly with a good shade. Choose styles that have withstood the test of time yet fit within your design aesthetic. And don't be afraid to mix your eras: the Bubble lamps (designed by George Nelson) were originally designed in the late 1940's but still look incredibly modern.
Art is one of those interior design strategies that does not have to cost a lot of money. In fact, it can often been a great DIY project to work on. They key to making your artwork become a classic is to make sure you are choosing pieces that really reflect your personality, or the personality of your family. Jumping on a trend or simply buying posters that suit your temporary passions may not last past the next year. Pieces that tell a story, artwork from your childhood, or blown up photographs from your collection will always be cherished. The best part about artwork is that in general it's easy to move around so make sure you experiment with rooms or walls, or even take a few pieces down for awhile and let them "rest." And updating an older piece of art may simply require a new frame.
Real wood, ceramic tile or terrazzo was made to last for decades (or longer). If properly maintained they could last well over 100 years. Good quality flooring will be a worth-while investment as you'll be using materials meant to last. The same can be said for linen, marble, copper, leather, or slate. When it comes time to choose materials for your home, and you're looking for something that will last, start with the materials that historically have lasted a long time. Think too about how the material ages over time. Leather, for example, tends to look worn in - think how great an aged leather jacket looks and feels. But cheap upholstery tends to look worn out and tired over time. In another example, marble can actually look better over time with a few marks on the surface. It's this very patina that manufacturers try to mimic (think of pre-faded and torn denim jeans). Some materials just look better over time so keep this in mind when making big home improvement decisions.
Any Design That Has Hit the 50-Year Mark
Tufted leather sofas, Persian rugs, toile wallpaper...there are many furniture pieces and decor that have been part of home decorating for centuries and don't seem to be going away anytime soon. A good rule of thumb is that if a particular piece has been popular for at least 50 years, chances are it will be considered a classic and are good pieces to hang on to. Not all of these pieces may be en vogue all the time. For example, mid-century modern design wasn't terribly popular in the 1980's, but those who held on to those original pieces are probably happy they did. The key to any worth-while home decor is to buy pieces that you love and keep pieces that truly speak to you.