Learn how to implement this popular—but classic—aesthetic in your space.
Trends can be a fun way to change up your space every so often, but when you invest in a quality (and costly) piece of furniture, you definitely want it to stand the test of time—throughout the seasons and fluctuating fads. When searching for this type of decor, what you want to try to find is known as universal or timeless design.
According to Opendoor, 2023 is the year of universal decor, with homeowners choosing furnishing and pieces meant to last. Furniture is expensive, and with continuously climbing prices, it makes sense to prioritize purchasing items that won’t need to be replaced in a few years when styles change and a once-trendy couch now looks dated or couldn’t stand up to the wear and tear of daily use.
But how do you know if a piece you’re buying will last—both from a structural and a style standpoint? And can you have a home that looks modern, stylish, and personalized without being swayed by every passing trend?
With these challenges in mind, a professional designer shared their advice on how you can create elegant, timeless rooms you’ll love for years to come. Here are the top tips for implementing universal decor—not to be confused with universal design!—into your home.
Why Universal Decor Is Gaining Popularity Now
Universal decor is a pretty simple concept: Invest in more neutral, higher-value pieces with the intention of keeping them around for the long haul.
“You can update smaller elements in your home sparingly to affordably keep up with trends, but the base layer of a home’s design, such as its walls, countertops, furniture, and rugs, are the elements to focus on when designing a timeless space,” says Brooke Lang, Principal Designer at Brooke Lang Design.
Social media, especially TikTok, has accelerated the turnover of trends by making everything a “core” or an aesthetic. After years of trying to keep up with all of the trending styles taking over timelines, many people are feeling fatigued. This has led to a desire to choose decor that doesn’t fit into just one design scheme but can be used in many different styles, which is where universal design comes in.
Consumers (led by younger generations) are becoming more aware of the ethical, environmental concerns behind overconsumption. Replacing entire rooms of furnishings every few years is not sustainable. Plus, not everyone has the time and inclination to continuously redecorate, and universal decor takes away that pressure.
“People are tired of being wasteful and updating their interiors every few years,” Lang says. “I’ve noticed that many of my clients want to be more intentional about what they spend their money on, and rather than purchasing the latest trendy piece, they’re opting for design elements and decor that will last.”
How to Choose Investment Pieces While Still Expressing Your Personal Style
The first thing to consider when looking for universal decor is the physical longevity of the items. Lang explains that you may have to invest a little more in timeless design, but it’s worth it because your purchase will withstand years of use.
“High-quality pieces also go far for those wanting a timeless look in their homes,” she says. “I recommend investing in furniture that will get a lot of use, such as bed frames, sofas, coffee tables, dining room tables and chairs, and accent chairs. A high-quality piece that’s frequently used will endure the test of time, while lower cost options made from cheaper materials will quickly look worn.”
For a universal, timeless look, Lang recommends sticking to items that are neutral, black, or white. This gives you the flexibility to integrate small seasonal and trending accents, like artwork, pillows, throw blankets, or vases. You can also use items from various eras for a curated, eclectic look.
“Another great way of doing this is to evenly mix vintage elements with modern pieces,” Lang says. “The trick for achieving this in a way that is timeless is for the old and the new to be balanced—stay away from designing your space around an entire decade.”
While there will always be new products popping up the market, the soothing effects of natural elements can never be replaced. Lang recommends using organic textures like wood and marble for a universally-appealing appearance. For even more personalization, pieces like souvenirs from travels and family photos create an environment that feels warm and unique—and you know these meaningful mementos will never go out of style.
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