Now this dropped into my inbox a couple of days ago and I thought it might be fun to share; a round up of the top 20 interior design styles as evidenced by google searches so far this year. These things are often to be taken with a pinch of salt, not so much for what they include as for what is left out.. BUT it gives us the opportunity to look at the definiations of different styles which can be helpful when you are doing your own searches. And I thought it might be fun to have a look at the countdown. There are a couple of surprises.
I have discussed this very point in the introduction to the new book. If you don’t know the name of the style you are looking for it can be very hard to find it. No good looking for a thingummajig when you need a thingummabob. So I post this survey for fun but also to help clarify a few points on the different styles. Think of it as a condensed version of my 10 Things You Need to Know About… series.
First up VINTAGE with 48,560 searches. As I said that could cover a multitude of sins but might be worth knowing that technically vintage is anything over 20 years old, while antiques are supposed to be over 100. So my new rug – which I recently bought for the library (from @sundayandstory) – is apparently a vintage Beni Ourain with pink stripes instead of brown or black. When I was told it was vintage as it dates from around 1976 my first impulse was to laugh as that’s not vintage. Surely that’s not more than 20 years ago I chortled. I remember that long hot summer like it was yesterday. And yet, and yet, it was actually 44 years ago. Does that make it a vintage vintage?
Second on the list was INDUSTRIAL with 38,710. I’m amazed by this as I would have thought that perhaps industrial style had had its day. After all, once every local pizzaria starts to look like your own kitchen that’s perhaps a sign that something is due a change. That said vintage industrial (yes let’s make them joint searches) is still a thing. The idea of giving new life to something that is no longer needed in a factory and or an old shop is still a good idea and those pieces have tales to tell. If you want to use this look then you need a neutral colour palette, lots of natural textures and textiles and a mix of wood and metal. The odd expose brick wall wouldn’t go amiss either but at that point you also need to start looking at the period and style of your house. It doesn’t work everywhere. We will unpack this is a future 10 Things if you like.
In at number 3 it’s CONTEMPORARY with 37,650 searches. The key point to note here is the difference between contemporary and modern. Technically modern refers to the period between 1900 to 1950 whereas contemporary means anything that is now. Whereas modern is often used to refer to contemporary styles, true modern can never, now, be contemporary.
Onto number 4 and it’s our friend SCANDINAVIAN with 33,660 searches. Now this is a longer one to look at. Scandinavian has become shorthand for a look consisting of white wall, plain floorboards and minimal, often, mid-century, furniture with clean lines and no embellishments. It should refer to Sweden, Denmark and Norway only. If you expand to Finland and Iceland then it should be called Nordic style. While all countries place value on form and function there are, as you might expect subtle differences between them all.
The monochrome architectural style described above is mostly Danish in origin. Floorboards might be limewashed, there are no curtains, candles are lit every day and colour tends to be in muted accents. Swedish is more rustic in style – soft colours such as red (from the iron ore in the earth making Sweden once one of the wealthiest countries on earth), navy blue and ochre (look at Farrow and Ball Hague Blue and Citron for examples). It was more country in style until the Gustavian period, when King Gustav III decided he wanted his palace to be the northern Versailles. Furniture was then painted and gilded and later became bastardised into shabby chic, which also borrows from French style.
Halfway through (you can save the rest till tomorrow if you like as there will be no post as usual on a Wednesday) and we come to RUSTIC with 31,900. This one speaks for itself I think. Lots of wood, some vintage, pieces that look handmade. It’s a cousin of industrial but with more colour and a more country feel rather than factory.
At numbers 6 and 7 we had coastal and traditional. I’m always baffled by the popularity of coastal; unless you actually live by the sea but it’s hugely popular. Perhaps it’s being used as a way of looking for blue and white decor ideas. I’m going to jump to number 8 which is MINIMAL which received 18,280 searches. True minimalism is harder to pull off than it looks. It’s not just about putting everything away but also means that the stuff that is out on show needs to be perfect and beautifully made which often means expensive. It’s telling, perhaps that Kim and Kanye have opted for minimalism in their LA home. I’ve linked to it here with the quote that Kanye sold one of his cars – a vintage Maybach – to pay for a sofa.
It is supposed to be soothing and calming while being comfortable and well-built. The light – both natural and electric – is crucial and there must be great architectural features. Everything should be functional and have a purpose but all come together to create a focus that may be the beauty of the whole space rather than an individual item.
At 9 and 10 we have Victorian and Japanese. Neither of which you need me to explain. That was followed at 11 , 12 and 13 by Farmhouse, Retro and Art Deco. I wrote about Art Deco here. and it had 11, 560 searches. I fully expect that to increase as the year goes on as that’s a reviving trend that’s only just getting started.
But what about RETRO? It’s a word that gets bandied about a lot when it comes to fashion – both for interiors and clothes. I would say that Retro is, by its very nature, vintage but it is also consciously inspired by a particular era. So you might have a vintage 60s chair or you might have a chair that looks as if it could be from the 60s – it’s not a copy or a knock off but a throwback or something that was inspired by a particular look or era. It also tends to have to a notion of not being currently fashionable. So, at the moment, you wouldn’t refer to an art deco chair as being retro as it is, currently, screamingly fashionable but there was a period when anything from the 70s was definitely a bit retro. You might use it of the 80s although they are screeching back to the catwalk so probably not for long. Purists would refer to retro as anything post 1950s in the way that anything pre-1950s is modern – see above.
Moving down the list we have Bohemian (9,390) Shabby Chic (9,360) and Bauhaus with 9,280. And this is where, as Alice might say, it’s gets curiouser and curiouser. At no 17 we have Tropical (8,800), Moroccan (8,200) then Mexican (8,140) and at number 20 Gothic (7,420).
Can you spot the missing style? I mean this is no trickery – this is UK google searches: “average monthly searches in the table refers to the number of times a keyword has been searched for on average every month. The tool (SEMrush) calculates these volumes by taking the number of times something was searched for over the past 12 months then dividing it by 12.”
But there’s no mid-century modern in the top 20. With 4,260 dedicated searches a month it comes in at no 28. Funnily enough I wrote about defining mid-century style last week – before this press release dropped and I did it because it’s such an enduring classic. So go figure.
These stats came from sellhousefast and while they have reported on what the stats showed there’s no explanation. Perhaps people are searching for pieces via the designer’s name, or the date it was made. Who knows – it’s just for fun but I hope the explanation of some of the styles has proved helpful. And can we have a discussion on Mexican style please. Who are the 8,000 people looking for that every month in the UK?