Unless you are one of those people who revel in changing the look of your home, you likely enjoy moving in and savoring your surroundings for a long period of time. Timeless decor reflects who you are and how you live in the best, most comfortable terms.
And yet, when many people think of tradition, they tend to look forward, trying to anticipate what’s coming so they won’t appear out-of-step. What they ought to be doing instead is looking backward. The true test of timeless pleasure and averting the headache of dating your home is to see what elements of a home have stood the test of time. Here are a few facets that have proved both popular and personal.
1. Choose Wood
All kinds of building materials have rotated through the trend cycles, but the one that has stood the test of time is wood. It ties all other elements together because it can be utilized in so many different forms and styles. You chose logs as the focus of the exterior of your home, and many homeowners choose wood planks, panels, floor and ceiling to go with their interior logs. Wood’s extraordinary versatility comes from its many species, colors, hues, textures and finishes. Couple that with durability, and it’s a no-brainer. Paint eventually shows dirt and use. Upholstery and drapery fade. Many flooring materials wear. But long after your home has been handed down to future generations, the wood not only endures, but also gets even lovelier looking with the patina of age.
2. Pick Neutral Colors
You want splashes of color to enliven your home’s living space and state something about yourself. But if you want soothing surroundings that make you forget about the calendar or how the years are flying by, stick primarily with neutral.
Remember when Orange Blaze defined the shagadelic 1970s? And Country Blue was so popular in the 1980s that it seemed to be in every home? Recall Lovely Mauve in the 1990s? Just about any period can be effortlessly regurgitated by mentioning a color that defined a time frame. But the homes that really endured with long-term appeal stayed within a simple palette that avoided demanding much of its owners. And that brings us to the next tactic.
3. Avoid the Gasp
Yes, we all intend to make a statement with our homes. To that end, breathtaking equals good. But breath stealing — oh, my. Those eye-catching, unique touches are likely to provoke those what-was-I-thinking photos a decade later. Whether it’s color, texture, design or decor elements that leave your guests fumbling for the right words, it’s almost always one of those fad approaches that ultimately fails us. For a long-lasting look, you want the Wow Factor, not the Ow Factor.
4. Define the Space
If you are addicted to the home shows on television, you have heard the parade of prospective homeowners and interior designers professing great love of wide-open spaces. But open space for the simple sake of open space is as worthless as excessive walls cutting into an otherwise solid plan. Defined space doesn’t mean putting up walls or dropping ceilings, but rather making your space work for you. Even in large, open rooms, you need every square foot to have meaning. In a great room, you’ll want conversational areas and possibly a dining area, a reading nook or a media space. Even if you look forward to sharing rooms with friends and family, the last thing you want is square footage that isn’t doing something for you. No one gravitates to the blank canvas.
5. Elegance and Quality Rule
We’re focusing on long-term commitment to our design, right? Elegance requires a graceful style that reflects sophistication and taste. That is just as achievable in a western mountain retreat as it is in a Biltmore-influenced mansion. It comes down to choosing well-built pieces that will become heirlooms and look just as comfortable and refined in 100 years as they do today in a livable space. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with trendy accents. But for a look to wear well into the future, you need clean lines, a lack of fussiness, and sturdy fabrics and textures. Those tend to come at a price, but if you don’t have to replace furnishings and interior details every five to 10 years because they’ve lost their luster and appeal, you are making a genuine investment.
If constantly rotating furnishings in and out of the house, and tearing out or building up walls, and re-designing your living space sounds like fun, then have at it. But if your true calling is to kick back in front of the fireplace with dear people for leisurely conversation, put your trust in the past and all those things that have endured — and will go on enduring.
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