How Long Do Interior Design Trends Last?

interior design trends
Some trends are destined to fail from the outset because they were never a good idea. Others are responses to a deeper consumer ‘need’. Should you follow trends in interior design?

12 minute read


There’s no denying that trends in the world of interior design are fun. I know that I always look forward to discovering what Pantone’s color of the year will be (whether I would actually ever use it or not).

Personally speaking, I find the psychology behind ‘color of the year’ even more fascinating than the color itself.

Pantone color of the year 2022
In case you were wondering about this year’s color. Find the original at Pantone.

Trend Talk

If you’ve ever wondered about how interior design trends come about and how long you can expect them to last, I’m so glad you’ve joined us!

Today we will look at a) what trends are in interior design, b) how they get started and c) how long they tend to stick around.

Let’s begin by defining what a “trend” is.

What is a Trend?

trend market stocks

Trend = Fashion

A trend is essentially a ‘fashion’; something that is popular for a certain period of time.

A trend is also a general movement in a certain direction (think of the term ‘an upward trend’), which might take place over the course of months or years.

These days, thanks to social media, the term ‘trend’ often means a sudden emergence of interest in a particular thing and can be shorter term.

interior design trends japandi google analytics

Trends have never been easier to measure than they are in the 2010s-20s. This is largely due to digital measuring tools and advanced analytics.

Today we can measure trends in a range from a) hours on Twitter to b) days on Tik-Tok and c) weeks on Instagram.

Google Trends allows you to look at trends on the internet over the years since Google has been tracking them.

You can even set the time period yourself to suit your search needs.

fashion vs interior design trend cycle

Quick Cycles and The Media

Yearly trends in interior design are happening more quickly than before.

Quicker trend turnaround times have a lot to do with “instant” media streams like Instagram and Pinterest.

If you want to understand trends, Pinterest is a great place to start looking!

Interior vs. Fashion Design

Of course, interior design and home decor are not the only spheres where fashions dictate consumer behavior.

In the fashion world trends have much shorter cycles (seasons), and styles are ‘out’ almost as soon as they are ‘in’.

Graphic design is another fast-moving industry with strong trends.

The Trickle Down Effect

fashion design trends

Believe it or not, the fashion and graphic design industries are highly influential to many other related industries, including interior design! Why is this?

Think of it this way: Fashion has been doing what it does as breakneck speed for a long time. As such it is responsible for the “big ideas” when it comes to concepts.

A lot of other creative industries take their cues from fashion!

When fashion filters down to the home products market it starts to show up in residential interior design and decorating.

Industry Forecasts

interior design architecture industry forecast

Reports for 2021 / Forecasts for 2022

There’s nothing new about industry trends being forecast for the year ahead. They are a part of every industry’s yearly evaluation process.

If we are smart, we learn from industry trends so that we can be better informed about where we’ve been and way more importantly, where we are going.

Here are some interior design industry-related reports I’d recommend:

Architecture

Building

Furniture

Fashion

Graphic Design

Interior Design

Fashion and Production

product design trends economics

Cheap Styles

There’s an interesting correlation between a) the time it takes to design and produce something and get it into the consumer’s hands and b) how quickly it goes out of style.

The less time a product takes to produce, the easier it is for that item to “age”, because a new version will be out in less than six months, replacing the old version and and ‘dating’ it.


Fast Fashion and Fast Tech

Electronics and software are an easily understood example of fast turnaround times.

The difference, however, between tech products and purely decorative products, is huge.

We value the smart phone we spent a thousand bucks on, even though a smart phone is only ever expected to be functional.

Home decorations, on the other hand, are sold cheaply to a market base that is much harder to predict. Product designers create items intended only to please our arbitrary tastes for a season.

The big problem with fast fashion is that it is never intended to last.


Architecture is Way Less Trendy

In the world of interior design it’s easy for small furniture items and home decor to go out of style than for architectural styles for homes.

Architecture is way more costly and so way more carefully considered and as such it tends to evolve more responsibly.

It will be an amazing world where we only ever manufacture and produce what we are committed to responsibly using.


style trends consumer

The Grass is Always Greener

As people we seem to always be looking for the next greatest thing. This can have negative effects on the planet when taken too far.

Then again, our desire for change is also how progress works.

New Year Resolutions

One nice thing about a new year is that it gives us a reason to reflect on the last twelve months and think about our direction for the next.

Making changes in the new year might include making adjustments or doing away with things that have not been working for us.

It should also include finding inspiration for and making solid plans for positive changes in our lives.

Should these changes include the spaces we inhabit every day?

Absolutely.

Let’s just not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater‘.

micro mainstream macro and mega trends interior design

What’s the Difference?

It’s important to understand the difference between micro and macro interior design trends. While industry professionals tend to focus on the macro trends, consumers get caught up in the micro trends.

It’s an interior designer or architects job to always be looking ahead, and not get caught up in every little tremor on the fad scale. This it is the macro and mega trends that we pay most attention to.

The less permanent your home and the more you enjoy buying inexpensive fashionable items, the more likely you are to follow micro trends.


Interior design also has its own form of ‘fast fashion’, and it, like the fashion world, is driven by retail.

interior design trend chart

In this market there is high turnover of products, which in the long term results in a lot of waste.

Fast turnover also contributes to the production of inexpensive, ‘tacky’ products. When products have no ‘staying power’, ideas are cheap.

Fast fashion in interior design usually affects small home decor items.

Micro trends in interior design account for up to a year of influence. Tiny micro trends are more accurately described as ‘fads’

An example of a micro trend would be the use of a specific plant in interior decorating or a popular color. Yes, color of the year is a micro trend.


Macro trends are the trends that happen and build a little slower.

interior design fashion life cycle chart visual graphic

Whether due to a slow, steady rise in public interest or simply due to availability, nonetheless these are ‘best sellers’.

Macro trends may last up to three years of influence.

An example of a macro trend is the popularity of a certain furniture item, like a particular style of recliner or swivel stool which has been in hot demand with the ‘work from home’ crowd during the pandemic.

Really popular furniture can have macro staying power!

mega trends interior design decade furniture chairs

Mega trends are more important to watch.

More often than not, these trends are the result of new technologies. These trends are informed by designers and builders using the best materials, products and methods to build new designs.

These are the trends that stick around the longest, as they are often the hardest to replace arbitrarily. They have become classics that are now a permanent part of the design landscape.

Mega trends in interior design are those that last beyond the decade mark.


interior design trends judging

You might be wondering, how do all these trends affect us? And, more importantly, how do we know whether a trend is worth following or not?


If you tend to follow trends a lot or you read a lot of popular home design media, it’s easy to get caught up in “the look of the moment”.

Try to think of these ideas as inspiration, not mandates.


General Questions to Ask Yourself

Ask yourself what you really love about the style of the interior.

Be just as honest about what you don’t like about the interior.

Next, ask yourself whether the style you love works with what you already have.


Practical Questions

What, of the things that you love in your inspirational interior could easily replace or add to items in your present interior?

Could you make a stylistic change by replacing something inexpensive, like your throw cushions, your art work, or mirrors?

Consider moving items that don’t work to other rooms in the house, or give them away to charity.

Consider Being Thrifty

history interior design vintage furniture antiques saving

Truth be told, if your so-called ‘disposable‘ stuff isn’t actually junk, you should really think about keeping it!

Why?

Because, chances are that that style will come around again are pretty good.

Only, the next time it comes around, your original piece will be worth way more than the new replicas.

That is, it will be worth way more if you bought ‘right‘ the first time around!

More about that later.

Sustainability and Building materials

house renovation building material sustainability

Longevity

Did you know that interior ceramic tile that is properly installed can have an expected lifespan of easily one hundred years?

Materials such as natural stone, brick, wood, ceramics, glass and composites can all last longer than most of us.


Warranty and Guarantee

Similarly, many manufactured products, such as wood flooring, sofas and even carpets come with impressive warranties these days (as well as price tags!).

There are plenty of examples of products for the home that are guaranteed to last 10-25 years. Many, in fact, last way longer.


What does this tell us? We should expect to use materials for at least as long as they are guranteed for, if we are maintaining them properly.


Tiling and Flooring Advice

While I can see that grouting might not last as long as tile, your ceramic tile choices should last you at least ten years, so choose wisely.

If you’re ripping the ceramic tile or your dark wood flooring out simply because the style is ‘so last year’, I’m sure you can see that you’re doing yourself an expensive and wasteful disservice.


Ways to Be More Sustaina-Responsible

We are all responsible for the sustainability of the planet.

building industry green changes sustainablity eco friendly practices

We have all benefited from the building industry, but at the same time, we don’t want to take the blame for their ecological failings.

It’s true: The building industry is one of the worst polluters on the planet.

The good news is that they know it and are taking measures to change things.


Recycle Used Building Materials

What taking measures means to you and I is that the building industry is getting better at recycling.

When discarding of any building materials, please do your best to see that they find a good “home”.


Buy from Sustainability-Friendly Furniture Stores

One way you can be more sustainable is to buy your furniture from ethical suppliers.

ethical furniture company recycling reuse repair

What does an ethical furniture company look like?

A good furniture brand will accept their old products back for recycling, even if that is twenty years later.

An ethical furniture company will also enable repairs, reupholstery and renewal of their products through their lifetime.

The Californian furniture manufacturer Joybird, is an example of a company like this.


Corporate and Consumer Shared Responsibility

It would certainly demonstrate a lot of care for the environment for other brands and players in the industry to help consumers with recycling.

It’s nice to see that some companies in the fashion space are doing it, too.

After all, let’s be honest:

Nobody knows how to recycle post-use products better than the industry which made them in the first place.


How to Create a Space that is “Timeless”

timeless interior design less waste

Think Long Term

For big ticket items, think classics.

Try to find styles that are flexible and timeless. Even if that is only ‘timeless’ to you!

If you love it, by all means, keep it. But know you love it, and keep it awhile.

Let’s think more of ‘forever furniture’, as well as homes.


‘Forever’ Finds

What this means is that we find pieces that are keepers.

Quality and functionality and great style. These are the items we repair or re-upholster. We pass them down as heirlooms.

forever furniture eco friendly design interior home style

This idea is a lot like the idea of having a ‘capsule wardrobe’ (popular with fashionistas), and embellishing from there with the more ‘disposable’ accessories.

Even then, why not get some nice ones on Etsy and support real artists?


Short vs. Long Term Success

Careful observation of the way people really live (one of the roles of good designers) provides feedback for better ways to design and space plan.

We might not be able to make these macro types of changes overnight, but they will influence the industry.

It then remains to be seen whether they are later replaced (short term success) or adopted more long term (long term success).


In case you haven’t already checked out the latest trend forecasts for interior design in 2022, here are the highlights:

1. A Continued Move to Warmer Color Tones

2. A Continued Interest in Organic and Naturalistic Elements

3. Continued Popularity for Warm Modern Styles Like Japandi

4. The Rise of Post Modern Furniture Styles

5. Rising Interest in Art Deco and Grand Millennial Styles

6. The Demise of Open Floor Plans and Move to Closed Spaces

7. Growing Interest in ‘Flexible’ (multi-functional) Spaces


Can a Trend Be Timeless?

trends timeless style living interior design

Time is the best tester.

The longer something has been around and the more ‘staying power’ it has, the more likely there is a good reason for that.


In a way, mega trends are on their way to being ‘timeless’, that is, considered ‘classics’ later down the road.

There are many classic chairs, timeless moldings, floor plans and styles of houses.

Many of the styles that made it onto our Interior Design Style Mega List of 30 styles can be considered classics.

We will definitely be learning more about classics in future blog posts!


Look out for one of our upcoming articles in which we will name the top ten styles based on the industry forecast for 2022.

Happy home styling!

Interested in getting started creating a timeless home?

Here’s our guide to getting started with decorating from scratch.

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vonsassy

Designer, writer & educator living in East Asia since 2001

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