Style: Your Taste and Trends


Before I start, a couple of shout-outs:  to the staff at Chicago Now for guiding me on how to do this Blog, to John Coulter @ for my perfect new Banner, and to my many friends, colleagues (and fam.) who have been encouraging me to write and have mentored my design experience.
OK. This is a topic that could fill more than one post, but let's start today. 
I put furnishings into a few categories, but they meld into: Modern, Traditional, "Eclectic" -- or a controlled combination & "Transitional" -- not as modern, but not fussy).  Plus Asian, Primitive, Country and various specialized styles of serious antiques.  There is also very customized (what I call) 'Art Furniture".
All styles are Always seen/sold Somewhere.  Serious antiques aficionados won't change their taste too much and will always find what they need.  MOST young people like cleaner lines, usually more contemporary or modern -- which also can include all kinds of classic modern furniture from mid-20th Century.
Assuming that you are not, at least for now, working with a Design professional--
What to do?  Follow your instincts.  No matter how old you are, this is YOUR place, not your mother's.  It's amazing how often I hear someone say that they are tired of living in the style of their parents or in-laws, and that's not just "20-somethings". And LOOK AROUND. 
When you are looking, unless you know that you are of the temperament to replace what you are buying SOON (and that means in less than 10 years), give your purchases some thought.  In furniture, trends tend to follow and coordinate with structural materials:  houses in the 50's, 80's and the past 10 years all have colors and scale and even style of furniture that is different from the last "fashion" -- or trend. One of my absolutely favorite challenges was to look for purple upholstery fabrics in a year when I only found 3 (THREE) samples after perusing about 5 textile showrooms at the Mart.  Or, when trying to replace my own sofa fabric, I couldn't even find a supplier to custom dye it for me! then 3 years later I started to see the color "everywhere"-- sort of.  If you are shopping retail, which is a where most of us start, pay attention to what is EVERYWHERE NOW and what you find from time to time, plus what you may really love and think it doesn't exist.
Then you can look on line and/or go in person to some wonderful, more specialized dealers like Design Within Reach & Pauline Grace --classic modern/contemporary, Golden Triangle & Primitive --Asian and primitive). They might have something that wonderful, stylish look that is not what everyone else has.
Even more important than "portable furnishings" be sure to give thought to anything permanent you install/build-in: cabinets, tile, lighting, stair railings.  To this group add crown moldings, door hardware, countertops, faucets, plus almost anything that a contractor or any of his/her subs would install.  These are the permanent and semi-permanent (as I call them) decisions that will designate your house as modern, traditional, neither or trendy (which is short-term).  Over my years of working in Design, I have seen the ebb and flow of Harvest Gold, Copper Brown and Avocado (and in my childhood Pink and Aqua) appliances. 

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I've also seen bizarre lighting, shiny chrome, shiny brass and bronze doorknobs (although those ALL somehow still squeak through) and all materials and colors of kitchen/bath/bar cabinets (plain white to highly carved dark brown). 

If you can find your way to your own style, it's fun and wonderful and gives you something to watch for in furnishings, plus (my fave): accessories and art.  Modifying and adding to the "bigger pieces" will be fun and ongoing.  Each paint company has hundreds (probably thousands) of colors, and that's for YOU to choose from and work with.  Off-white is NOT your only choice (unless you have to repaint it for a landlord in a year)!  If you are finding that you are choosing that same sofa that your neighbor has, maybe in almost the same color? it will probably look out-of style and out-of-touch even before it wears out. It will be "out" even faster if you are buying it from different places, because then you KNOW it's trendy 'cause lots of dealers carry it. 
"More on this" later!  If your head is swimming, I'll be sharing a hopefully uncomplicated way to get Design help next.



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  • Hi Claire!
    Your blog seems very knowledgeable and well written. I would just suggest more imagery to illustrate your points. I always appreciate a well written articles with gorgeous interior shots. Thanks and good luck blogging!

  • Thank you!! Working on it! Esp. for the next post!

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