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Trend Watch: What’s Not Hot in 2020





Last week, my husband and I went to a fundraiser with a 1980s theme. We saw lots of big hair, padded shoulders, legwarmers (what a stupid idea) and huge dangly earrings, and that was just my costume.

We laugh now, but we lived through that go-big, Bonfire-of-the-Vanities era. Back then the looks weren’t so funny, because, they were, well, in style.


Having seen many styles come and go over the decades, in both home design and fashion, I’ve learned – I’m afraid this is called getting older – that the rise and fall of what’s hot and not is mostly Madison Avenue marketing getting us to buy new stuff. Classic design with timeless appeal, not the trend du jour, is what you want in your home, and closet for that matter.


Ha! If only I were that disciplined. Truth is in January, when trend spotters put out their annual lists of what’s hot and what’s not, I guiltily gobble up the reports like good gossip, the way I slyly scan the tabloid headlines in the grocery store checkout. (Brad and Jen again, really?)


So after reviewing several 2020 lists, which I’m, ahem, required to do as a professional, I pulled out half a dozen looks ready to go the way of the floppy disk. Here’s my what’s not-hot list, along with what designers suggest you try instead, followed by my humble opinion (MHO).


OUT: Farmhouse, cottage, nautical and rustic-modern looks. These styles are so last decade, according to designers at Living Spaces, a California-based furniture retailer, and Fixr, an online resource for home remodelers.


“People liked these rustic, shabby looks at first because you don’t have to work hard to maintain them,” said Sarabeth Asaff South, chief writer and interior design expert at Fixr, “but the look can be a little too worn. Homeowners are finding there’s a fine line between comfortable and rundown.”


Try instead: The cleaner lines of Mid-Century Modern styles are holding, said South.


MHO: Farmhouse, cottage, nautical and rustic looks are always in style if you have a farmhouse, cottage, beach house or rustic cabin. Anywhere else they look contrived. Designing for where you live is always in style.


OUT 2: Mason jars and pallet art. As the farmhouse and cottage looks wind down, they’re taking mason jars and pallet art (artwork on recycled wood) with them, according to Living Spaces’ 2020 home décor trend report, based on data from Google Trends. Interest in mason jars has fallen 40 percent since its 2015 peak; and pallet art interest has dropped 56 percent from its 2015 high.


Try instead: Move toward minimal with cleaner-lined cylinder vases, and art that shows a lot of canvas and puts the emphasis on negative space.


MHO: I still like a bouquet of daisies in a mason jar on the kitchen table and I always will.


OUT Rose gold. Like most novelties, this one didn’t stick. The metal’s pink undertones limit how and where you can use it, say Living Spaces experts. Plus, if you get a rose-gold faucet and a rose-gold light fixture from different makers, the finishes likely won’t match, South added.


Try instead: “People are swinging back to chrome,” South said. “Chrome used to be the finish you put in the children’s bath, but consumers have learned that chrome (because of its chromium plating) is easy to clean, impervious to most household chemicals, and surprisingly durable. Plus chrome always matches.


MHO: What in your home do you handle more than your faucets? This is no place for precious, persnickety, thin-skinned metallic finishes. Hands down, or on, chrome gets my vote.


OUT Gray. After a long ride, gray is finally fading. In a recent survey, Fixr found that 80 percent of designers said gray was either completely over or waning. According to Elle Décor, restrained, monochromatic gray-on-gray interiors are passé. However, South adds, the lag between what designers say and what homeowners do can be two to three years.


Try instead: To wean away from gray, move toward warm, brownish grays. To cut completely, go for a warm palette. Note: Earth tones are making a comeback.


IMO: Thank goodness. I’ve never liked gray interiors. Homes need warmth. Rooms need life. Both come from color.


OUT Ikats and chevrons. Since interest in Ikat patterns peaked in 2015, it has dropped 66 percent; since interest in chevron patterns peaked in 2014, it has dropped 73 percent, according to the Living Spaces report. Consumers liked the softer edges and welcomed the retro and global feel, but the data say, we’re over them.


Try instead: Bolder geometrics have been trending up for several years, and are staying strong.


MHO: When you see a fabric fad (remember the dragonfly motif?), get it in, oh, a hot pad, not in a chair. For interior looks that last, go with time-tested classics: botanicals, florals, plaids, stripes, herringbones, houndstooth and toile. Looks you have seen before, but won’t mind seeing again.


OUT Edison bulbs. Those lightbulbs that boldly show their filament have dropped in interest 43 percent since 2016. “The exposed lightbulb trend was popular for a hot minute,” said Living Spaces designers, probably because of their “authentic vintage charm.” But like most trends, once done, and overdone, it’s lights out.


Try instead: To keep the simplistic, no-lampshade charm of Edison bulbs, opt for the ‘no-shade’ shade, designers suggest. Lampshades made of see-though materials let you see the bulb inside, but not quite so clearly.


MHO: Just get frosted bulbs. I don’t need to see the inner workings of my lightbulb any more than I need to see the innerworkings of my garbage disposal.


CAPTION: Go-Away Gray – Eight of 10 designers surveyed said the heyday of gray was either over or waning. But that change likely won’t be reflected in homes for a few years. Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.








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