Design trends of 2013: A year in review of the good, the bad, and the had-enough-of-that!

Looking back at 2013, which design directions are worth keeping and which shall we veer away from?

Where does the time go?  Like 2013, the year that up and left in a flash. It may be gone, just like that, but many of the designs it brought us are still on trend. Of course it’s too soon to know, for example, if burlap-everything is here for the long run, or is about to run out of thread. Will the fad of driftwood-grey furniture be all washed up this time next year or is it a new classic? What we need is a crystal ball. Instead, we’ve had a year-long glut of mercury glass.
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For now, it’s too early to predict the design styles of 2014. They’re still just buds, yet to bloom. Perhaps they’ll take seeds from 2013 and combine to form a hybridization of haute design. Or maybe grow in the direction of offering us something entirely new. While we wait for the nascent styles to unfurl, let’s revisit those of the past year–the good, bad, and sometimes just plain ugly—to determine what worked and what should be weeded out for the New Year and new design beginnings!
The writing on the wall: As someone who has just painted the largest wall in our living room with (black) chalkboard paint, I have officially joined the masses. Call me a lemming, but also call me the proud new owner of a wall that is not only scene-stealing in its dark-hued, high drama, but the stage it sets for ever-changing messages and doodles runs the gamut from subtly entertaining to uproariously, gut-clenchingly funny. Plus it was about 2,000 times (give or take a zero) less expensive than the grasscloth wallpaper I originally had my heart set on. This win-win is causing my heart to beat in my chest in that cartoony sort of way with big love for chalkboard walls. But, mark my words, the day it feels too trendy, I’ll change it–with the stroke of paint brush.
Chalkboard Bed Wall
Via MyNottingHill.Blogspot
Lessons learned: The first time I saw what is referred to as schoolhouse lighting (you know the bulging, frosted white globes that look like they were salvaged from schoolhouses circa the 1920s but are now reproduced en masse?) my eyes bulged in appreciation. Second time: same thing. Thirty ninth time, I thought, “Thank goodness we were not ready to do our kitchen renovation when these made their first appearance or I might have fallen prey and would now rue my decision to choose a light I know at least thirty nine other people have.” To be fair, the very first one I saw was sourced from an actual classroom and it was very cool. But now the majority on the market are just made to look old and that faux vintage inauthenticity is leaving me longing for the bell to ring on this trend.
Open Shelving
Via House Beautiful
Heads up: While I’m no proponent of taxidermy or animals being hunted for such purposes, I am overjoyed that no animals were killed in the making of the faux antlers and animal heads that have become the trophies of modern décor. However, these stylish stag (and rhino, ram, etc.) heads straddle the line between, “Nothing was hunted or killed, but mimics something that was” which, in turn, makes me straddle the line of, “Are these great or terrible?” After seeing far too many deck the walls of fashion apparel stores this holiday season, the verdict it in: I’m hunting for something else to decorate my walls.
Okay, I actually love this. That bear does have a beard, right?

Okay, I actually love this. That bear does have a beard, right?

Simply delightful: I still have a soft spot for the simplicity of snowy white Shaker-style kitchen cabinets combined with equally wintry white porcelain subway tile. Yes this look has been done, done, done, but the clean lines and pretty pairing of white on white is one of the brightest, cheeriest material combinations around and offers the perfect blank canvas for clients to make the look their own with accent pieces such as floor mats, dish towels and custom window valance.
White Shaker Cabinets
Via Indulgy
A bright idea dims: Yes, Edison style bulbs with their crystal clear glass bulbs and bright-burning, amber-colored tungsten filaments look awesome, but they were a little more awesome at the beginning of the year when we would see them here and there. Now that they are everywhere (the other day, I spotted them at both of our big box hardware stores out in the Goodland), I’m wondering if too much exposure will mean lights-out for this trendy bulb.
Edison bulbs
Via Lydony
Inside out: Open kitchen shelving was a big thing this year. Personally, I could take it or leave it, but usually recommend leaving it because it limits your upper storage space to items worthy of display—where, let’s face it, your treasured glasses, plates and color-categorized mixing bowls become defenseless targets for air-borne grease and dust that can hardly wait to cling to it. And let’s not forget that by relegating the upper storage space to the pretty pieces, all the less attractive, but still functional and vital-to-serious-cooking items, are forced to fit in close quarters in the closed-storage of your base cabinets. If this trend dies out, I will smile smugly and say, “If everything was meant to be on display we’d be in an aisle in Williams- Sonoma, not your home’s kitchen!” For clients who are adamant about having open kitchen shelving, I’ll add, “Let’s give you base cabinetry aplenty. You’re going to need it!”
Open shelving country living
Via Country Living
50 shades of gloom: People were up to their eyeballs in beige and along came the new neutral: grey. From fabric to paint it has been this year’s color darling. But since greys have undertones of green, brown, blue, pink or yellow–or some combination thereof–getting the right shade can be a challenge. If you don’t want your newly painted room to feel like a cloudy day every day, or so cheerfully blue that your living room is the color of a baby boy’s nursery, proceed with caution. But get it right and pair your gray with enough white molding for contrast and it can be stunningly stylish and glamorously moody. I think we can all agree grey is a lot less blah than beige, and that just might make it — as Sherwin-Williams declared earlier this year — the new black.
Gray walls
Paul Massey
Industic: I use this term to refer to “Industrial Chic” decor. This is very far from your aunt’s “Shabby chic.” Distressed wood, yes. But instead of faded denim and floral fabrics, we’re seeing burlap and metal—lots of metal. 2013 brought us zinc-wrapped desks and even beds, aged iron cart wheels on coffee tables, Tolix metal dining chairs and more exposed duct work and galvanized metal in restaurants and tasting rooms than you could shake a wine glass at. This stuff is solid, masculine, and with all those industrial materials, bound to last and last. But as far as the look’s longevity, my advice is that a piece or two is unexpected; anything more becomes fast becomes gimmicky.
Industrial kitchen
 
Classic color: Black paint is the little black dress of front doors. Everything looks good with it—even old-school brass hardware (now that’s one comeback we can likely count on). Many times I pass a house and think, “If they just painted the front door black, that would be a good place to start.” The good news is that I saw a whole lot of doors painted black in 2013. Now if there was one way to tweak the black painted door for 2014, I’d say add just a dash of white to the black paint for a dark charcoal that will still give the wow factor, but will soften the black and set your door apart.
 
Black door
Via Decor Pad
What trends are you guys still loving or ready to say, “That was so 2013!”?
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Note: This post was adapted from my column, Design Intervention, in the Santa Barbara News-Press
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