As technology evolves, items that were once commonplace and practical often move into the category of trendy, vintage, and decorative. See: record players, rotary phones, and typewriters, to name a few. According to Pinterest’s 2022 trend report, now we can add clocks to the list, too.
With the rise of smartphones, clocks and analog wristwatches seem like a natural thing of the past. But as Pinterest notes, horology (the study of time) is making a major impact on style and home décor in 2022. While this trend isn’t quite new—big wall clocks were popular in the early and mid-2000s, too—contemporary applications are moving beyond the farmhouse chic clock look of years past.
“The great thing about using clocks as décor pieces is that they are functional and can work in most rooms,” note Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch of Hidden Gem, a home design and gift shop. “Some of our ideal places for clock décor are in the living room, kitchen, and entryways.”
Today, the goal is to incorporate timepieces into our home decor in a way that seems intentional and well-curated, rather than outdated or old-fashioned. Read on for expert tips for bringing clocks and other time-telling motifs into your home in fresh, striking ways.
Scale Is Key
“Like anything with interiors, scale is the key to success,” says Decorist designer Katy Byrne. “Make sure your wall clock is the right proportion for the location. Mine fits in a four-foot spot, so it has a nice six-inch border on top and bottom.”
“Scale plays an essential part when choosing where you want to add a clock to decorate,” agree Willock and Willock-Morsch. “Look at the size of the wall and the rest of the décor in the room to help determine what scale you need. If you have a large open wall, a large clock will look great. If you’re looking to decorate a smaller space like an office or a bedroom, think about using a tabletop clock to place on a shelf or a desk.”
“Smaller clocks can also be used as functional décor in a room, positioned on a bookcase like a piece of artwork,” adds Louise Wicksteed, design director for Sims Hilditch Interior Design.
No matter what, regardless of your scale, Sahar Saffari, interior designer at Hi-Spec Design, has one rule of thumb. “You can have multiple clocks within your house, but you should only have one main, large clock,” she says.
As you play with the scale of your clocks, consider their purpose and location. “Large clocks work well in big spaces, where they can really fill the space,” explains Saffari. “They are particularly helpful if you have an empty wall or too much space and are not sure how to fill it.”
“However, if you don’t have much space, don’t get a clock that isn’t in proportion to the room or you could end up with a closed feel to the space,” she adds. “As your bedroom should be a space for relaxation, a small clock is best suited there. An alarm clock is absolutely fine, but a huge wall clock in the bedroom can be the opposite of relaxing.”
“Smaller clocks are great accessory pieces for nightstands and side tables,” agrees Byrne. “I pair them with a personal picture frame, a small succulent, and a stack of books. It flows with all the décor while again providing some function.”
Think Beyond Wall Clocks
When you imagine adding a clock to your room, your mind probably goes straight to a wall clock or something for your desk or shelves. But there’s another option!
“Don’t forget standing clocks too!” say Willock and Willock-Morsch. “If you have some open floor space, there are a lot of cool standing floor clocks out there that can fit into any decor style. They are also a great feature to add to entryways.”
Wicksteed agrees. “Hallways lend themselves very well to the addition of a grandfather clock,” she says. “They bring a certain gravitas to the space and look wonderful when positioned close to an ornate staircase in an entrance hall.”
Incorporate Clocks Into Gallery Walls
That doesn’t mean wall clocks are done, though. There’s a time and place for large-scale wall clocks that serve as a room’s focal point—though smaller wall clocks can also be incorporated into larger displays.
“Because of their commonly circular shape, wall clocks are great to add to a gallery wall to help break up the square and rectangle shapes from picture frames,” note the Hidden Gem sisters. “You can also find clocks in more abstract and organic shapes that are great to add some dimension.”
“Consider also the style of your gallery wall and [either] keep within [that] style for a cohesive look or mix styles for an eclectic feel,” adds Decorist designer Ashley Mecham.
Skip These Spots
If you’re considering incorporating more clocks into your décor, our experts had a few rooms they advise skipping while playing with the horology trend.
“We would skip the bathroom for a wall clock, or any clock for that matter,” say Willock and Willock-Morsch. “Although clocks work great for design, they have a purpose, and having a clock in the bathroom does not make sense for its function.”
“Skip adding a clock to your bedroom or dining room, as the ticking can be an annoyance while sleeping or constantly checking the time while entertaining can come off rude,” adds Mecham.
Saffari notes, “If you struggle sleeping, a clock in the bedroom might not be best, as counting the hours of sleep you're losing is counteractive.”
Mix and Match With Moderation
If you’re considering incorporating multiple clocks into one room, Willock and Willock-Morsch have a few words of advice. “If you’re going to use multiple clocks in one room, be mindful of the placement and the scales of all the clocks together,” they say. “You don’t want to have two or more of the same scale clocks in the same room unless they are displayed as a sort of art piece next to each other on a larger wall. For example, offices are great places for multiple clocks—like one tabletop clock and one wall clock—because of their function.”
Mecham agrees that creating a gallery wall of clocks can create an impactful display, but it requires some major planning. “When doing this, consider the looks and scale of each clock to determine what look you will be incorporating: eclectic, modern, traditional, etc.,” says Mecham. “Also, keep in mind the sound the clocks make—whether it’s the simple ticking of a wall clock, a chime of a grandfather clock, or even the whimsy of a cuckoo clock—as this can determine best placement in your home without causing annoyance while watching TV or sleeping.”
But Byrne disagrees. “I am not a fan of placing multiple clocks together,” she says. “That seems to be a dated trend that can also, honestly, be anxiety-inducing!”
So while horology-inspired decor is certainly a trend to try, taking it too far may be counterproductive to your decor goals—though you’ll only figure out what works for your space by experimenting.