While chasing home decor trends can be fun, there’s something to be said for designing a classic, timeless space. If nothing else, it creates the perfect base for layering in more fun, temporary trends.
It can be tricky to pin down exactly what is timeless, though—especially when we’re in a constant rotation of TikTok-inspired aesthetics. In an effort to determine the rules, we turned to the experts to find out their top tips for decor that never goes out of style.
Work With Your Home and Location
If you’re looking around your home and wondering how you can possibly make it feel timeless, the answer is already there, says Peter Spalding, Interior Designer, Co-founder, and Chief Creative Officer of Daniel House Club.
"I constantly stalk houses on Zillow, and the worst ones are those that have remodeled from every era crammed under one roof,” he says. “Being thorough and contextual is timeless. Unless you are overtly trying to introduce chaos (which can be interesting), letting your house tell you what style it needs to be will ensure that you aren't redoing things every five years. Don't do ‘the kitchen of 2023,’ do the kitchen your house requires.”
Finding the timelessness of your home goes beyond the structure itself. Spalding says it’s important to consider your location, too. “You should think about where your home is and what sort of style people associate with that place,” he tells us. “A true colonial house will never be out of fashion in Vermont because that's the picture we see in our mind's eye when we think of New England. Every place has its own design language and accent and if you're looking for timelessness, you need to be speaking that regional language or at least making reference to it.”
The past few years have shown us a huge increase in bright colors and bold patterns, and we’ve been loving every second of it. But if you’re aiming for timelessness, then Brooke Lang, Principal Designer and Owner of Brooke Lang Design, tells us you might want to tone it down a bit.
“Prioritize a neutral palette and natural textures,” she says. “Strategically using neutral shades saves you the trouble of repainting or redecorating with the trends. It also offers you the flexibility to make seasonal or trendy updates more affordably by layering in accents like pillows, accessories, artwork, etc.”
Amanda Both, Art Director at Tempaper & Co. agrees. “The key to designing a timeless space is leaning on a neutral color palette and steering away from design elements that are too bold or loud,” she says. “Look for balance and choose colors and patterns that complement each other.”
“You can never go wrong with neutrals,” adds Paulo Kos, VP of Design & Development for The Citizenry. "Layering tones of tan or gray with warm ecrus will never go out of style. Layer on additional warmth and texture as needed with rugs, wovens, and accent pillows.”
Pull Inspiration From Nature
If you’re wondering which materials and textures are best, Lang tells us, “Natural textures, like jute, boucle, and linen, are also a great way to add visual interest while keeping things neutral."
Laura Sotelo, Co-Founder of Olive Ateliers, agrees, noting that if all else fails, nature will always be on-trend. “Anything that’s a little rough around the edges will never go out of style for us,” she says. “Decor made from natural materials, like wood, stone, and linen, will withstand the test of time.”
"Pull inspiration from nature ‘to bring the outdoors in,’” adds Both. “Florals and geometric shapes will always be relevant in design and are a great way to add visual interest.”
Look to History for Inspiration
Timelessness is something that transcends eras and Kirsten Fiore of Kristen Elizabeth Design says that’s exactly why you should look to the true classics when defining your home’s style.
"We look at classic Italian, French, and American design movements for inspiration,” she explains. “So much of what was created then is relevant today. For kitchens, working with a classic Shaker-style cabinet face will ensure the kitchen is fresh but nods to the birthplace of modern style.”
Use Color With Intention
While there’s no argument that neutrals will always be timeless, Fiore tells us that it’s also about how you use color in your space that makes it appear either classic or trendy.
“Repetition in color allows the eye to move fluidly about a room,” she says. “Pick one color to repeat and place it in three areas to create a feeling of fluidity and movement.”
Make High-Quality Investments
While investing in expensive furniture might not always be feasible, Lang tells us that this is one way to keep things classic. Luckily, you can still do it sensibly.
“Investing in high-quality pieces doesn’t mean you have to splurge on every item in the home,” Lang explains. “Instead, be thoughtful when purchasing furniture or items that are central to a room and/or get a lot of use. Lower-cost options made from cheaper materials often look worn and tattered quickly.”
Lang encourages prioritizing the big-budget items. “Bed frames, sofas, coffee tables, dining tables and chairs, and accent chairs are items that are used frequently in your home,” she says. “I consider these items worth investing in so they can endure the test of time.”
Jennifer Walter, Owner and Principal Designer of Folding Chair Design Co, agrees. “You want items to last in terms of style and quality. Investing in upholstery and case goods is our best recommendation for longevity. Accessories and paint can be swapped in and out, while more expensive items such as sofas or tables and consoles should last longer."
Focus on Scale
From a design perspective, one of the quickest ways you can throw off the balance of a room is by ignoring the scale and proportions of your furniture in relation to the rest of the room.
“Symmetry, scale, and proportions are critical to achieving a timeless design,” says Lang. “Furniture that is too big can overwhelm a space, while pieces that are too small will make a room look sparse or lopsided. The layout of a room, furniture placement, and traffic flow matter, too. Spaces that achieve the perfect balance of symmetry are warm, inviting, and pleasing to the eye.”
On a similar note, Kos points out that it’s a good rule of thumb to keep it simple when you’re looking to achieve a more classic aesthetic. “Keep it simple. Focus the decor on one or two key statement pieces and build the rest of the room with quieter supporting pieces.”
Make Use of Shelving
There’s a reason homes with a lot of character are considered timeless. Often, these elements add depth and texture to a room that will transcend any era, and Lang says this is definitely something she prioritizes in her own designs.
“We often strategically place built-in shelving, bookcases, and entertainment centers in our design projects to give spaces a timeless look,” she says. “Built-ins help to elevate a space by providing additional display and storage solutions, but they also add depth and visual interest to a room. They’re also great for displaying seasonal or more trendy décor accents.”
Mix Old With New
Timeless doesn’t have to mean vintage or antique, and it also doesn’t mean you have to forsake current trends entirely. In fact, Lang says that mixing old with new is the ideal balance.
“My favorite way to achieve a timeless look in a home is by mixing old with new,” she says. “I love adding vintage touches into a space via artwork, molding, hardware, or antiques to add a sense of balance and history into a home. The trick is to keep things in balance."
Sotelo agrees, pointing out that vintage items will help your home from feeling pigeonholed into one time and place. “Decorate your current space with vintage objects,” she says. “Owning decor that spans decades will prevent a home from feeling ‘stuck’ in one era.”
Incorporate Trends Sparingly
Depending on the aesthetic you’re chasing, the best way to follow the trends is to do it tastefully—and this often means in small doses.
Walter notes that the fastest way to date a room is to commit entirely to one trend. “Our general rule is not to overuse or overdecorate with one trend,” she says. “Be smart and try everything in moderation. If you're fearful, buy a less expensive piece or a knock-off. When it falls from grace, you can upcycle it or wait for it to come back in style.”
“The easiest and most affordable way to follow the trends is to do so sparingly,” agrees Lang. “By this, I mean incorporating trendy touches via smaller decor accents like pillows, linens, artwork, and vases instead of bigger changes that require more effort and cost. Limiting trends to thoughtful touches in your space keeps things looking fresh and relevant, without creating an overly trendy home.”
It’s All in the Details
While adding small accessories is a great way to nod to the current trends, Emily Ruff of Cohesively Curated Interiors says that smaller details are important for enhancing the timelessness of a room, too.
“I love to use vintage rugs, artwork, and accessories to make rooms feel warm and classic,” she tells us. “I always encourage clients to invest in good quality lighting—nothing transforms a space like paint and lighting.”