We’ve all been there. It’s Friday night, hours past your bedtime, and you’re pinning the kitchen of your dreams. You wake up the next morning, a little groggy, but still head over heels. But come 11:00 that evening, your eyes are wandering on Instagram again. By the end of the weekend you’ve lost interest. Six months later, you’ve totally forgotten about it or even more likely, thanking your lucky stars the contractor never called you back.
It is no surprise to anyone that interior design trends are revolving faster than ever through social media. What likely took years to cycle through a generation ago is now cycling through in six month’s time or less. What’s more, social media algorithms, and those parties profiting from the frequency of their “likes” or “pins,” to feed us what they think we want—ideas which tend to be less creative, less innovative, more mainstream, and more likely to trend out quickly.
To help us navigate the overwhelming amount of social media design content and make sense of trends, we sat down with designers Susan Taggart and Emily Foxley last week at Hub and Spoke Diner. We talked timeless design, staying current, and the best way to use your money (and time) wisely during the design process.
Don’t Worry About What Your Friends Think
The bad news first. Contrary to Utah’s ability to produce a high number of social media mavens, Utah still lags behind national design trends. Not only are we, even in Salt Lake, some of the last to jump on trends, we also tend to ride the trends out longer and gravitate to certain trends in larger numbers. In the words of Emily Foxley, “People around here are a little afraid to do their own thing.” Susan concurs, “People feel nervous about what their friends think: they feel it’s safer to do the same thing as the person down the street.”
Their antidote to the herd-design mentality: stop looking at the homes on your street, or your friends homes; but look a little outside your comfort zone to explore and hone your personal style. Susan recommends asking, “what feels good to me?” when you are at well-designed restaurants and hotels. Reading quality editorial can also help articulate your style.
Reference Quality Editorial
All online sources are not created equal. In Susan’s words, “Professional design publications, whether online or in print, should be a more trusted source than self-published or promoted social media posts. Much of what people put on social media is borrowed from professional posts, but many are individuals posting what they did in their own homes. It’s better to go straight to the professional design sources.” Emily and Susan both recommend putting your social media app down and opting for quality print editorial (or online publication of print editorial) for ideas and trends. These resources are more likely to present a wider variety of timeless styles that are also current. Emily and Susan’s recommendations are to the right.
Hire a Designer (And Use Their Skills Effectively)
At the end of the day, nothing can help you make better sense of your 1001 bathroom tile pins than an in-the-flesh interior designer. “One of the fallouts of social media,” Susan shares, ”Is everyone thinks they can do a design project themselves. But at the end of the day, a designer is still the person who can best direct your money into quality materials and furniture that will withstand the test of time and save you money in the long run.” Emily and Susan share these steps for optimizing a designer’s time and talent:
Love social media for… connecting with designers all over! I also love engaging with my followers, answering their questions or occasionally throwing out a question to them. It’s also a great medium to show projects that are in progress and some behind the scenes.
But wouldn’t use it…as a baseline of reality! There is a lot of great content on Instagram. It’s important for me to remind myself that what you see in a photo is not always real life. Life, homes, outfits, vacations (you name it), are not always picture perfect!
Trend to avoid in 2018…Accent walls. Use art, textiles, and curated decor to add color, interest, and a statement!
Right now I can’t stop using…Maharam fabrics, with my top pick being Design 9297 designed by Josef Hoffman in 1913. This timeless fabric feels as fresh today as it did in 1913. The colorways are amazing and spice up every space from traditional to ultra modern.
(If I used social media) I’d love it for…broadening my horizons.
But wouldn’t use it…as my only source of information gathering.
Trend to avoid in 2018…Exposed lighting and Edison-style bulbs. It’s a trend that’s been around for a couple years and the bulbs are either too dim or harsh to provide pleasing light. They’ve become overused.
1. Know your budget and timeline—Whether its $1 million or $1000, don’t call a designer until you know what you have to spend. There is a designer for everyone, and every designer needs to know the scope of the project. “Clients seem to want fast, inexpensive and quality,” Emily jokes, “You can have one, hope for two, but never all three!”
2. Find a designer that suits your style—And we’re not just talking design style, we’re talking work style. Love a designer, but heard she’s slow and you’re a no-time-to-waste kind of guy? Don’t hire her. Make sure to talk around and interview 2-3 different designers before making a decision. Choose one that you trust and is a good fit for you; at one point or another you’ll want their honest opinion and you should be ready and willing to take it! In Emily’s wise words, “Working with a designer is not be a validation process, but a creative process.”
3. Hire the designer before you hire the contractor—You will save time and money if you hire your designer first (or at the same time as your architect, if you have one). Finishes should always be selected before your contractor gives a bid for a more accurate estimation. A designer can help you vet or recommend contractors and act as a project manager/client advocate during the often painful construction process. And homeowner beware, both Susan and Emily have noticed an influx of less-than-qualified contractors and sub-contractors as construction demands have risen over the past year.
Ditch Consumerism in Favor of Quality and Longevity
“There’s a fine balance,” Emily Foxley supposes, “Between a finished space and having a space to grow into. One of the drawbacks of social media, and makeover shows on HGTV, is the sense that every space needs to be finished overnight; you’re always seeing the complete version of something, not the progress it has made over time…Like shoes and mattresses, you should invest in spaces and furniture that you use a lot a and let go of what people think. Let the details come together organically.”
Susan adds, “The biggest difference between designing today and designing twenty five years ago is people want everything and they want it now—we all want two-day free shipping! But negative space can be as important as the space we fill; the eye wants someplace to rest, and it is better to wait and spend on quality. People understand the value of a luxury car; sometimes its harder to see in a home, but the principle of quality is the same and it is timeless.”
Many thanks, Emily and Susan, for taking time out of your busy schedules to have breakfast with us and share your thoughtful insights on avoiding social media trend cycles. You can reach Susan Taggart at firstname.lastname@example.org or Emily Foxley at email@example.com.