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Top-10 interior design trends for 2011? Let’s make a list

greigeI thought it would be fun to capture the top-10 design trends of 2011 — while the year is still fresh in our minds. We can also ask, “In 50 years, which will be keepers — and which… maybe not so much?”

vampire diaries
Much of the stuff they’re trying to sell us in 2011 looks like props and set designs from The Vampire Diaries. I adore vampires. But I don’t want to live in crypt.

The thing is, I spend so much time in retro-world that I don’t have the greatest sense of what has been “in” all year. My main connection to the “real world” is the New York Times Home & Garden every Thursday, and I go over to Apartment Therapy to see what they are up to, now and again. I also still get some catalogs, although they have mostly given up on me. So I need your help building a list, which we can then refine to the top-10:

I have a few suggestions to help get started — please add your own!:

greige laminate

  • Greige Nation. Dark grey and greige everywhere, including laminates named after clammy death. Restoration Hardware gets the prize for interiors that look like they were designed by and for vampires. Although I think their prices and products are aimed at the 1%, not the 99%, dark grey and washed-out coordinates do seem to be everywhere at all price points. Accent colors: Plum and yellow.
  • Edison bulbs
  • Pendant lights made out of any possible piece of junk, errr, I mean, vintage treasure. “Put a Bulb In It!
  • Huge chandeliers made out of any possible piece of junk, errr, I mean, vintage treasure. Even more so: Layered chandeliers. That is: A big something (usually with vintage reference) on the outside, a chandelier on the inside. E.g.: Birdcage outside, three-arm chandelier inside… and big drum shades over capiz shells.
  • Dark kitchen cabinets. Espresso. Kona.
  • zig zag pillows were popular - like these missoni for targetBig zig zag prints, on pillows in particular. There was that whole Missoni-mania at Target thing.
  • Perhaps, though, silhouetted leaf prints on pillows were even more common?
  • Mid century modern mania. Blogs go Craigslist crazy. Ebay prices officially go too high. Many Unhappy Hipsters are hatched. Saarinen tulip tables and chairs peaked. Like out of nowhere, 28 places to buy a mid century modern sofa. Note: Five years ago, there was NO PLACE to buy a mcm sofa.
  • edison bulbRelatedly: The wisdom of restoring mid century homes, even the modest ones — came solidly into the mainstream… Not only was there significant coverage about this blog in places like the New York Times… there were lots of other stories in mainstream media about such renovations… and, hey, even pink bathrooms got *some* respect on tv home decorating shows.
  • Relatedly: Vintage and DIY. 2011 was an economically disturbing and depressing year — we pinched pennies and instead, bought used, raided grandma’s attic, fixed things up ourselves, and made due. Gosh, that part of the Great Recession (GR) has been fun.
  • Glass tile backsplashes. I think we’d see more glass tile showers but for the GR.
  • Ridiculously expensive “green” houses are still being put out there as if there were such a thing.

What else? Also, were there any interior design ideas, including those driven by technology breakthroughs, that were really *new*? And, any other big trends in kitchens or bathrooms?  I’m thinking that most of 2011’s trends are “cosmetic” — surface treatments. Everyone is broke or sitting on their dough…

What do you think, readers?
What were the big design trends in 2011?

Let’s build a list, then we narrow it down to 10 with a vote. Fun!

  1. Just another Pam says:

    Thanks to an article Pam posted here years ago I resisted replacing what is for all intents and purposes a wall of glass and had those windows repaired instead. Blessings be upon her and the people who did the research.

  2. cara says:

    definitely echo commenters that mentioned the birds/ botanical themes and the feed sacks and burlap for upholstery. i dont know if it’s been mentioned, but i keep wondering with “distressed” furniture will be out of style. i also see a lot of upholstered headboards – easy for the diy-er, mismatched dining room chairs, fabric/rugs with writing, chairs with numbers on them (?) mercury glass, ombre, ikat and suzani fabrics. trends that i am personally ok with sticking around are the peacock inspired designs especially the colors and the bright juicy colors like coral and turquoise.
    i also love reupholstering an old piece of furniture in a modern fabric. that is the intended purpose of reupholstery. i think we forget that with the disposable furniture we have today. as an upholsterer, that is a trend that can stay!

  3. Kerry says:

    And what is with the owls? Every design blog seems to be featuring fabrics with owls on them, wrapping paper with owls, owl-shaped vases and bookends… This trend has me totally confused.

  4. annabel says:

    Every hipster interior has the quintessential antlers/taxidermy collection, and the globe/vintage map collection.

  5. Peggy Miniard says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the “snout” houses…I have felt that way for a long time! I always think big, pretentious, cookie cutter when I see them, now, I will be thinking “snout” house. how appropriate!

    I have noticed:
    Granite counter tops
    stainless steel appliances
    stone floors in neutral colors
    neutral walls with a “feature” wall in red or some other color
    two toned walls seperated by chair railing for those trying to add “character”
    french doors replacing sliders. 🙁

    Here in Aiken SC its all of the above in 1940’s-50’s homes plus they are painting the brick and adding seamed metal roofs. (I love metal roofs on cute little ranchers but painting brick just seems so wrong) oh….and lastly, they take away the iron work posts and add big colonial columns.
    I intend to refinish mine and someone told me they “dated” my house…and I needed to put a pitch on my “flat” car port roof. lol I will be replacing some bad wood,,,but its staying flat…and…I’m keeping the iron!!! Lets celebrate the iron work!!!

  6. Ally Cat says:

    Good point ! It takes creativity to deal with the probs. that the modern housing world throws at you, and there are plenty of good people living in badly designed houses. Give ’em hope! I saw on this site room dividers with different shaped openings, yet I can’t recall the company name, help anyone?

  7. JKM says:

    Interior trends I’m sick of seeing:

    Granite countertops
    Tumbled marble backsplashes (or anything, for that matter)
    Vessel sinks
    Showers with more electronic components than my car’s dashboard
    Master bedrooms/baths referred to as “retreats/spas”
    Home theaters
    Overblown “Impress the delivery man” two-story entrance foyers
    Anything “Old World” – from antiqued wall finishes to hand scraped wood floors to rusty iron fixtures

    Exterior trend I’m sick of: Tall houses with lots of pointy gables, arched windows and a front porch topped with a two-story high arch. Blech.

    Good design never goes out of style. Pretense and showiness wear thin. My two cents worth!

  8. sue says:

    love the words you chose…hah.

    I picked the dreaded tan tiles for my bathroom remodel (after a water leak) and glad I did. It’s a soft earthy color and goes well with the honey maple cabs. Used Lvoc eggshell onthe alls and ceilng.

    One “trend” I went with is open (exposed) area under sink to facilitate wheelchair or vanity bench. I like the clean lines (you can’t see the pipes unless you bend over) and the area is easy to clean. I also went with a walk in shower (no curb) as I was tired of banging my bare toes on the old one. So far so good. I installed one stationary shower head and on the opp. wall, one of the sliding bar hand-held ones. Great for rinsing the shower when cleaning, or for using when sitting on a teak stool–great for when you hurt your back. I also love the taller toilets that are out now. Using an older style toilet now is like doing the ‘camping squat’! Can you tell I’m past 60? The reality is we all start to wear out, and comfort becomes King.

  9. Catherine says:

    I’m about 2 years late to this conversation, but I just nodded my way through this entire page- both the article and the comments. Well said! My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a 1940s home to restore, and I am SO happy to have stumbled upon this. We are looking forward to restoring the home (our first and hopefully only restoration), and I appreciate all of this input!

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