Now that the world has changed out of all recognition over the last few months I thought it would be worth looking into this. After all, when there are no trade shows showing us what will be in fashion next year, and fewer shops are open from which to buy anything, you start to understand all the things you can live without, as well as taking stock of what you already have and either moving it around or repurposing it for a different room.
In addition, the lockdown has made us all much more aware not only of what our houses look like, but how they are working for us. For many it was the first real time they spent interacting with their decor choices and I think it’s fair to say that the cracks in some of those relationships are starting to appear.
Not only have we had to find new spaces to work, but we have had to create other places where the work isn’t so we can relax. And that can be tricky when your desk is the coffee or the dressing table. Many of us also had to find more than one work station at a time as partners and children all demanded a flat surface on which to concentrate.
Now some of those restrictions will lift along with lockdown – I am fully confident of reclaiming my office when the 16yo goes back to school in September and the tip opens again so I can get rid of the bags of clutter that have been removed from other rooms and come to roost in there.
But it will, I am sure, leave us with a heightened sense of awareness of the impact your home can have on your state of mind and I’m not just talking about size and tidiness. For some, that will mean a move to a more muted, softer colour palette to encourage a sense of relaxation. For others it will be the realisation that those colours make them feel drained and sad and they prefer an explosion of colour and pattern to help them start the day.
For most, however, it will be a mix of the two, coupled with a new understanding of how crucial it is to get the right colour for the right mood for the right room. For example, you might love a strong teal but if it gives you an instant lift then it’s not the right colour for the bedroom where you need to relax and sleep; use it instead in a kitchen or hallway.
So where does that leave us on the perennial trend question? Does it still matter? What if I follow a trend and then go off it afterwards? The short answer is no you shouldn’t follow trends because you should buy only things you love and that you will love forever. Which is very sensible and not always possible. Sometimes a mad fling with a pineapple cushion is just the mood-lifting thing you want.
The longer answer is that most of us do buy into trends (pun intended) to a certain degree, not least because they dictate what is available at any given time. Who hasn’t tried to buy a navy sweater when all around is a sea of grey and black? Who hasn’t noticed that the high-street windows all seem to have the same colours in them? (And woe betide you if you want something different.)
And after all, you can always put the pineapple cushion away for a while when that first flush of passion fades and bring it out again next summer. Absence makes the heart and all that….
But what if we no longer know what the trends are?
Well I think it leaves us with a better knowledge of ourselves and our taste. I think lockdown means we now know if we will enjoy an annual summer romance with a pineapple cushion – that its reappearance at the first sign of the sun is a mood-lifting signal that the winter is over. For others, it will be easier to walk away knowing it was only ever going to be a one night stand.
Interior trends move much more slowly than fashion. It starts on the pages of the magazines, then a few early adopters (usually interior designers and the Instagram influencers) will bring it into their homes and show it off on social media. Bear in mind that this is partly because they will have seen it way before anyone else. Gradually it makes its way off the printed and digital page and into the home of someone you know. And so it begins.
Don’t forget that if stores see something selling well they are going to stock more of it, not less. That’s why you may hear someone proclaim Millennial Pink is ‘out’ when in fact it has simply hit its peak and is now moving down the other side of the curve. You’ll still find it in stores and you’ll still see people buying up blush pink items. It’s not really ‘out’ at all. It’s just those early adopters – the magazines and the Instagrammers – have found something else to get excited about. And so it begins again with something different.
This also explains why copper, the trend that wouldn’t die, was around for about six years. The early adopters and even the early majority had moved on about three times before the last ones to take it on caught up. And then, of course, it had a second life when it was renamed ‘rose gold’ and everyone went mad for it all over again.
But woven through all this is the question of sustainability and the perils of throwaway culture. These days it just doesn’t feel right to keep buying more and more stuff. Surely, it’s about making the right choices and living with them because we love them, rather than chucking things out after a year because someone tells us they’re no longer on trend?
It’s very hard to be sustainable in all our choices but we can start by being more aware and making small changes. I have three sofas – one I bought new, one which belonged to my great grandmother and which has been reupholstered three times, and one I bought for my husband for his 40th birthday from a junk shop, which we have also reupholstered. That’s two items which have been saved from landfill and which bring their own individuality and character to our home. The furniture is old, the pale pink velvet on the chaise may well have been influenced by a trend although pink is also my red thread so I’m in no danger of going off it.
We can’t all get it all right all of the time, but we can all be more aware. It’s still possible to have fun but think about where your purchases are coming from. So, it’s not about ignoring trends; it’s about feeling confident enough in your style and choices that you can buy into them when it’s right for you and not panic if you are ignoring them. And for that awareness many of us can thank the lockdown.