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Interior Designers On The Design Trends They Hate Most

 

Bathrooms don't look like this anymore for a reason.

Bathrooms don’t look like this anymore for a reason.

GETTY

Have you seen a new bathroom built with glass bricks in the past decade? Probably not. That’s because although glass brick bathrooms were trendy thirty years ago, at some point, interior design professionals made an unofficial collective decision that they looked hideous.

The same will eventually be said for many of the current design trends that have become almost painfully ubiquitous. Just because a look is heavily featured on social media or HGTV, doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for everyone from an aesthetic or even a practicality standpoint. From tropical print overload to Live, Laugh, Love art, some of the biggest names in interior design gladly confessed their least favorite trends as well as the alternatives that make better replacements.

Midcentury Modern Design

We're closer to the middle of the century.

We’re closer to the middle of the next century.

PIXABAY

It feels as if mid-century modern furniture and design has been a trend for the better part of the current century, even if it has probably been closer to a decade. While Shabby Chic founder Rachel Ashwell loves the minimal and simple clean lines of this style, overall, she isn’t a fan. “Even on clean lines, I always like things to be comfortable,” she says.

But if you’re stuck in a house full of wood furniture with angled feet, Ashwell doesn’t think the situation is hopeless. “Comfy cushions and accents of romantic flowers I feel would have made this trend more liveable.”

Skinny Flat Cushions On Oversized Sofas

Ashwell thinks bigger is better when it comes to cushions.

Ashwell thinks bigger is better when it comes to cushions.

PHOTO BY IVA PRIME FROM PEXELS

Ashwell is a proponent of comfort in design, which makes sense because who wants to sit on something that’s uncomfortable? After all, the designer is known for creating oversized sofas with large, cloud-like cushions. “The streamlined aesthetics of oversized sofas with very thin cushions always seemed odd and uncomfortable to me, giving the feeling of an enormous dog bed,” she says. “I feel the diversity of tastes and styles of sofas from traditional to modern, should still be comfortable and inviting. Skinny flat seat cushions are never a substitute for a comfy seat.”

Icy Gray Interior Colors

Grey as a cloudy sky.

Gray as a cloudy sky.

IMAGE BY GERBEN DE JONG FROM PIXABAY

Cool-toned gray paint and furniture might be having a moment, but Andrea DeRosa and Ashley Manhan of Avenue Interior Design are watching the clock. They can’t wait for this trend to freeze over.

But that doesn’t mean the interior design duo is anti-gray all together. If you’re looking for a true gray, they suggest making sure there is a small amount of red or an undertone to the color. “Looking to embrace an up-and-coming trend? Go with finishes that are more of a taupe based ‘French Gray.’ French grays are very versatile and have more warmth to them than cool or warm grays,” they explain.

Kitchy Phrases And Letter Blocking As Artwork

Get inspired to find new artwork.

Get inspired to find something else.

PHOTO BY TY WILLIAMS ON UNSPLASH

Art should always have a message, but DeRosa and Manhan believe it’s okay to search for that meaning. They would be happy never seeing another inspirational message again. “Whether you’re telling a guest to ‘relax’ or trying to communicate a sense of ‘home-sweet-home,’ there are countless ways you can do so in a more subtle way,” they say.

The designers suggest creating context and a sense of place through the use of photography, color or pattern. “This allows each guest to craft their own experience and make the overall vibe for the interior more timeless.”

Kitchens With No Upper Wall Cabinets

A design choice that will leave you with less storage and more to clean.

A design choice that will leave you with less storage and more to clean.

GETTY

Kitchens that lack upper wall cabinetry are highly impractical according to Alexis Rodgers of Home With Alexis. Shorter cabinets mean the only thing you can store in the space is dust.“Keeping a kitchen tidy can be challenging enough, and I don’t need or want the additional challenge of where-to-store-my-dishes-and-stash-this-ugly-mug added to my daily routine,” the interior designer confesses.

Rodgers likes the warmth, balance, and function that upper wall cabinets provide. They’re also a necessity if the kitchen has a range hood. “The range hood with no wall companions can look both imposing and incomplete, floating by itself on the otherwise barren wall. Of course, there are exceptions that make this trend look fabulous, but the ones I have seen in real life leave me wanting more-namely, more cabinetry,” she explains.

Exposed Kitchen Shelving

A perfect shelfie. An imperfect trend.

A perfect shelfie. An imperfect trend.

GETTY

Rodgers truly dikes replacing traditional cabinetry with open shelving. This design choice might be ideal for social media posts, but not real life. “This wall-to-wall, open-shelf concept feels too much like a retail store showcasing its sale items, and it can create anxiety in having to curate or maintain the perfect shelfie at all times,” she says.

At one point, Rodgers installed open shelving in her kitchen, but ultimately regretted it. “I know from personal experience, as I eventually removed the floating shelves in my own kitchen and never looked back.”

Want to mix it up? Go for a combination of solid wood and glass-front cabinetry instead. “The glass doors give you the airiness of open shelving without the dust and chaos,” she says.

Clean Minimal Interiors

Pretty but cold.

Pretty but cold.

PHOTO BY RAHULCHAKRABORTY ON UNSPLASH

Founder of Dazey LA, Danielle Nagel, is sick of seeing clean, minimal interiors everywhere, “They are so boring and lack life and interest,” she says. “To me, it just feels like cheating to leave things basically blank and call it a day.”

But that doesn’t mean going the opposite way entirely. As an alternative, Nagel recommends incorporating subtle colors such as warm ochre, dusty gold, or light pink into a design scheme. “An accent wall or a few warm accessories can really make a space feel so much cozier while still remaining simple.”

Tile Countertops

Tiles on the wall. Not on the countertop!

Tiles on the wall. Not on the countertop!

STOCKSNAP

There are so many places to use tile, but according to Cliff Webster, who is the General Manager of Tile for Wayfair, countertops are not one of them. “While countertop tile may have gone out of style, patterns are in! Use patterned tile to create on-trend (and moisture resistant) accent walls, backsplashes and floors. Wayfair has thousands of options available. Some of the brand’s best sellers are the PalomaArtea and Encausto.”

While tile can be an affordable choice for countertops, that doesn’t make it a good choice. This material just looks dated and will certainly turn off potential buyers when it comes time to sell your home.

Flush Mount Ceiling Lights

These fixtures hardly light up a room.

These fixtures hardly light up a room.

PHOTO BY MILLY EATON FROM PEXELS

Kelly Aaron, who is the Chief Luminary of Blueprint Lighting, sees certain flush mount fixtures (known to some as boob lights for their resemblance to the female anatomy) as one of the worst possible design choices to make. “There is so much good design in the world at every conceivable price point that bad design shouldn’t exist anymore,” she says. “I look at these lights and see a missed opportunity to place something sculptural, add a pop of color or tell a little story. They are a cop out.”

Standard flush mounts are also impractical, Aaron explains. “To add insult to injury, it is also obscenely difficult to change a bulb in one of these things—just a poor design all around. Plus, they look like a boob. But not a sexy boob. A boob you wish you could un-see.”

But there are alternatives, she says. “Obviously, it depends on the scale of the space. But if something comparably small-scale is needed, our Strobus flush mount is a fabulous option. It packs a serious design punch and provides a ton of visual interest and texture in a compact little package.”

For a larger scale project, Aaron recommends the Counterbalance light from Blueprint both for its design and the fact that the light bulb is easy to change. “If the room can handle something of a larger scale, our Counterbalance is a knockout! We were inspired by the mobiles of Alexander Calder when designing Counterbalance. It’s a light that doubles as a sculpture.”

White Everything

Too much white.

Too much white.

GETTY

Mike Russell, CEO of Paintzen is bored of monochromatic white rooms. “There’s such an attachment to all white everywhere—from walls to ceilings to furniture,” he says. “While we understand the desire for a fresh, clean look, it lacks originality. With thousands of paint color options, you can certainly find something that feels as clean as pure white, like rich blues or sage greens, but lends a little more personality.”

Popcorn Ceilings

Popcorn is for snacking, not ceilings. 

Popcorn is for snacking, not ceilings.

GETTY

Meghan Stewart, Senior Director of Residential and Certified Color Consultant for Paintzen truly dislikes popcorn ceilings. “Their sticky texture adds a weird dynamic to rooms with an otherwise soft, clean look. If you want to make your ceiling stand out, we recommend adding some color and treating it like your fifth wall. It can still be eye-catching, without the rigid finish,” she says.

Tropical Print Overload

Use sparingly.

Use sparingly.

GETTY

Tropical designs such as banana and palm leaf prints are having a long moment. But many people are going overboard. There is a fine line between the touch of sophistication it can add versus looking like the jungle exploded.

Tropical prints were highly popular in design a few years ago,” says Jennifer Matthews, who is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Tempaper. “While tropical influences still play a role, they have evolved into a more refined scenic aesthetic that tells a story. Utopia, Tempaper’s first panoramic mural, is an excellent example of this.”

There are lots of ways to incorporate tropical print. Perhaps an accent wall, linen napkins or accessorizing with pillows. It’s easy to go overboard, but try to resist temptation.

Stainless Steel Appliances

Color would be better.

Color would be better.

PHOTO BY RUSTIC VEGAN ON UNSPLASH

For more than a decade, stainless steel has been the standard for appliances. But many feel this look is getting old. Orion Creamer, who is the Founder of Big Chill, which manufactures colorful and retro style appliances says, “There’s nothing exciting or individualized about [the stainless steel appliance trend].”

He feels that custom color choices whether they’re matte black, cherry red, or even orange can make a much larger impact than stainless steel. “Colorful appliances create a space that feels unique and mirrors the style of the homeowner most accurately. It’s for this reason that here at Big Chill, we are extending our custom color offerings with premium color offerings to appeal to even more aesthetic preferences,” he says.

Continue reading Interior Designers On The Design Trends They Hate Most

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Why Your Next Vacation Rental May Look Like A Wayfair Catalog

Vacasa has partnered with Wayfair to bring interior decorating services to vacation rental property owners. Will it make homeshares all look the same?

Vacation rental sharing and management platform Vacasa is getting into interior design. The company is launching a new tiered service in partnership with the cheap, trendy furniture giant Wayfair that gives clients access to affordable home refurbishings. The offering is part of a broader trend among real estate companies to use amenities to compete for consumers’ dollars. But it may also have the effect of giving even more vacation rentals and homeshares the same sterile look.

Vacasa, for those who aren’t familiar, is more property management service than home rental platform. While vacationers can book stays through the Vacasa website, the company also lists its properties on other sites like Airbnb and Booking.com. Vacasa handles property maintenance and manages guests during their stay. It also promises clients that it will help make them more money than if they list directly themselves. The company takes professional photos of all the properties it manages, and now it will help broaden their appeal with updated furnishings and suggestions for light cosmetic remodeling.

Vacasa is hardly the only company to serve the home-sharing economy. Since Airbnb has gained in popularity, several other management services have sprung up, including Airconcierge, Bnbsitter, GuestReady, and Guesty. But only one of those, Airconcierge, offers redesign services.

For Vacasa, design guidance is just the latest service it’s offering. Last June, the company began matching investment properties with potential owners. The company has also started exploring concierge services for guests–essentially a point person who can help coordinate activities on a trip, though that is still in a pilot phase (last October, the company acquired luxury rental brand Oasis, which offered concierge).

[Photo: courtesy Vacasa]

The interior design business is meant to cater to property owners who want to increase the value of their properties. The fee starts at $200 for a mood board, redesign strategy, and tips and tricks for staging. A full furnish costs anywhere from $599 to $1,119 plus a staging fee. Roughly 60% of the furniture comes from Wayfair. Imagery on Vacasa’s website shows apartments designed in the composite mid-century style of West Elm.

The company’s early data suggests that such redesigns garner more bookings—up an average of 12%. Revenues increased as much as 20% in revamped apartments, which means renters who sign up for the service may be able to increase the nightly price of their rental. “The point is to enable higher booking pricing,” says Vacasa CEO Eric Breon. “If each of our homes books for 20% more because it has exactly the amenities and furnishings that guests are seeking, we don’t have to do any more work even though it’s now renting for 20% more—so the economics work out very favorable to us.” He says Vacasa breaks even on the service itself.

The move into services is reminiscent of another trend in the world of real estate. Increasingly, commercial building landlords are competing for well-heeled tenants by offering restaurants, fitness centers, stores, hotels, and coworking spaces in their buildings. They even make apps, so tenants can gain access to anything they want at the touch of a button.

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[Photo: courtesy Vacasa]

There is a comparable phenomenon within the hotel industry. When competition is high, hotel companies lean into amenities: wine tastings, dining options for pets, and crushed pearl packets in every room. “These kinds of activities, many of which are food-and-beverage-oriented, are not about creating new food and beverage profits or function profits,” says Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality consultant. “They really are about other things that create positioning and awareness of the hotel or more room occupancy.”

Likewise, Vacasa is seeking more occupancies and at a higher price. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the company purchased a Gulf Coast chain called Sterling Resorts, which will add 450 condos to its roster. Sterling also handles food and beverage services in its buildings, pushing Vacasa more firmly into hotel territory.  The company manages a total of 13,000 properties.

Everyone wants to stay in a stylish home rental, but not every vacation home owner has the vision to make it so. Now, more people can outsource their interior design (rudimentary though it may be). As summer holiday season hits, don’t be surprised when a home you rent has a couch with tapered wooden legs and faux marble topped coffee tables. The more home-sharing platforms structure their businesses like hotels, the more they will look like generic hotel rooms (but like more hygge, you know?).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Reader is a writer for Fast Company. She covers the intersection of real estate, technology, and the future of work.

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