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. Leslie says:

    One trend I’ve noticed in all of the 2011 magazines are starburst mirrors. Most are gold and have an elegant and formal look, but I have seen them made out of everything from driftwood to DIY with wooden shish kabob skewers.

  2. mimi says:

    This talk of greige and stainless steel had me chuckling, because my mid century home has the original stainless appliances and beige tiles from 1965!!!

    Who else is puzzled by the popularity of vessel sinks, especially hard-to-clean glass ones?

    1. Olivia says:

      I have never had one, but agree the vessel sinks look hard to keep clean. You not only have to clean the bowl, but also outside of it as well. And the glass ones must need to be wiped down everyday.

  3. mimi says:

    I think my comment was “eaten” by the web gods so here goes again. The talk of greige and stainless made me chuckle, because I have original 1965 greige backsplash tiles and original 1965 stainless appliances in my kitchen, which was originally 1960’s colonial,. At some point in the 60’s or 70’s it got an unintentionally hilarious Mediteranean floor and light fixture thing going on so now I have a colonial Mediterranean look going on.

    But back to 2011. VESSEL SINKS, yes, in glass even! How do people keep those clean?

    1. pam kueber says:

      mimi, your original comment is here — i need to approve first-time comments — welcome! And yes, there WERE stainless steel appliances in the 50s and 60s. Not common, but there.

  4. Nancy says:

    Wall decals seem to be the in thing–not just the motto ones, but the picture ones as well.

    My guess is that their popularity is partly due to all the greige–one needs some color, and a ginormous gerbera will do that.

  5. Jordanna says:

    I LIKE steampunk. I said it. I like it. I’ve liked it for years and years though, and what Restoration Hardware is doing to it (i.e. making it much less DIY and much more expensive) is kind of sad.

    Also, steampunk is supposed to be fun and magical and have whimsical elements. I see that really missing. I love edison bulbs, you guys, even in Mid-C lamps because I am a sap like that, but where is the crazy jetpack FUN of steampunk?

    I call one trend Faux Austerity. This is when you have a rebar or casters and pallets turned into a coffee table your granddad would call a failed garage project – except it cost two thousand dollars. Looking at YOU, Anthropologie! I see you there in the corner, thinking everyone will pick on Restoration Hardware.

    I don’t even mind DIY.

    Two others I am more unsure about: 1) Silhouettes of nature-y things (Which I like, in small doses, but are so ubiquitous I feel dopey) 2) Taxidermy, either ironic and plastic/ceramic/glass/paper or real.

    I kind of want both, but I’m not sure how to do it so it doesn’t feel/look by-the-numbers.

    1. Just another Pam says:

      Jordanna, I like a lot of steam punk too….some of it can be amazing art! And I scored some of the original bulbs, new in package, earlier this year. They’re in my back hall closet as I’ve no talent equal to real steam punk but I have faith I’ll find a place for them.

    2. STL Mom says:

      White ceramic animals. Especially deer heads with antlers on the wall. I actually think they are cute, but in 50 years real deer heads will still be around (at least in hunting states) and I doubt the ceramic ones will be.

    3. pam kueber says:

      yes: Faux Austerity!!!

      yes: Nothing is inherently “bad” about any of these trends! I like fun, magical steampunk — neo victorian industrial, too! and, have my eye on doing a layered birdcage chandelier – with all vintage elements.

  6. Tikimama says:

    I’m going to agree with vessel sinks – they look like huge salad bowls on a cabinet to me. I cleaned house for a couple with two bowl sinks made of admittedly gorgeous marbley stone, but man, they were hard to clean! You have to reach around under and behind!

    I absolutely can’t stand brown stone in bathrooms! I don’t think I’d feel like it was ever clean (I mean, how could you tell?) and, well, I just don’t want to look at brown when I’m in a bathroom.

    My vote for the biggest trend, and the one that depresses me to no end, is the “updated” kitchens and baths in all the repos, short sales, and very few standard sales. I see them all the time here in SoCal in our real estate listings. Granite, granite, travertine, more granite, some laminate faux-wood floors, huge tiles in bathrooms all the way up the walls. Ugh. It just sickens me to think of all the waste of tearing out the old kitchens and baths and dumping them.

    Oh, and front doors with ginormous lead-glass/cut-crystal-look windows and lots of moulding – they are usually stuck on modest little houses and just look ridiculous. Like a modestly-dressed woman walking down the street in a honking big tiara.

    1. Just another Pam says:

      Tikimama, That’s just perfect! You have perfectly described my front door that most people can’t understand why I hate. The former owner is always reminding me how expensive it was for her to put in but it’s quasi Victorian brothel and drives me mad. Hope to replace the light next year so it will be plain and simple reeded glass just like the tall original window 6 feet from it.

  7. Katie says:

    I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that the dark wood furniture is going to be popular in 50 years, because its something that can be used as a back drop for a variety of colors and textures. Or maybe I just hope that, since I have a very dark brown glass fronted china cabinet in my dining room.

    I think that VOC paint will continue to be popular, I used it on my dining room (we picked it for the color, rather than being VOC, but now I don’t want to use anything else.

    1. AmyEbbertHill says:

      Furniture colors change, like everything else, and it’s typically a 20 year turn-around. We’re about due for things to swing back to honey maple, I would think. But hang on to your dark wood things. I thinks it’s best to stick with the classics for your big case goods. I just bought a mahogany secretary desk from the 40’s or 50’s. It’s a nice piece and will always be in style. I am displaying a few pieces of my great-grandmother’s ironstone in the top part.

  8. EngineerChic says:

    I am also tired of the PerGranTeel kitchens (pergo + granite + stainless steel). Sadly, when we went to buy a replacement stove the only options that didn’t have an electronic dashboard were the Big Chill stoves (available in white, my preferred color) or stainless. Our choice was a Bertazzoni in stainless b/c it was half the price of the Big Chill (and it’s made in Italy). Sort of bummed me out that I couldn’t get a decent quality WHITE stove without those darn touch pads (they never last for me & the boards are expensive or discontinued IME).

    Meanwhile, you can get lots of color in your laundry room. Why is that? Seems so unfair …

    I think that pot lights will fall out of favor, but I’m not sure what will replace them. It just seems that every room now has a virtual runway of lights embedded in the ceiling – even living rooms and bedrooms!

    1. Kathryn S says:

      I think pot lights must be going out of style already, given the number of catalogs I get that have pendant lights that you just screw into the old fixtures. Although, I frankly can’t imagine pendants where my pot lights are!

  9. Jenny says:

    I don’t know when this trend started, exactly, but I really hate “boob” lights. We bought a 1956 modern looking ranch last year that was an estate sale. The daughter had all the original lighting ripped-out and replaced with these brushed nickel fixtures that don’t go with the house at all. I lay in bed at night staring up at the giant “boob” on the ceiling and I hate it. I’d love to replace all these lights, but they’re brand new and in great shape. If I wait for them to naturally die before I replace them, I’ll be stuck with them for years. However, I feel wasteful and bad for wanting to get rid of perfectly good light fixtures. We’ve considered pulling them down and selling them on Craigslist to help fund their replacements. Still in the talking stages though. But that’s a trend that can go away for ever as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Jon Hunt says:

      BAHHH HA HA HA HA!! Our house was FULL of “boob lights” when we moved in, and WE CALL THEM THAT TOO! I hate them. They still exist in our bedroom and office because I’ve been too lazy to put up our vintage fixtures. But I despise those things!

      1. pam kueber says:

        yes — I call them that, too! Because THAT IS what they look like. Wanna guess what I call many of the bathroom faucets being thrust on us today?

        1. 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.

    2. Annie B. says:

      Ah, the ubiquitous “boob” light. There’s got to be something Freudian in the proliferation of those things. I recall a RR reader’s comment a while back in which she called them the “nipple light”. I so agree.

      I hope the vessel sinks vanish; lovely to look at, but not so practical.

      One trend I’m noticing – even here in the hinterlands – is concrete flooring painted to resemble whatever you choose. I hope this one makes it.

    3. Leslie says:

      Oh this drove me nuts when I was house-hunting two years ago–it was so offensive to me to see places where the owner had clearly done a quick, relatively cheap renovation with the expectation that it was going to get them another $10-20K, when what they had put in was stuff I would have to pay to rip out and redo to get it to my own taste. The worst was a place that had just been covered with wall-to-wall brilliant white carpet, just what you want with two indoor cats, one given to regular puking. And then, after I made a full-price offer, they countered with a higher price! Argh! I was fortunate finally to find a place that had basically not been touched since it was built in 1961, and although I did have to do some ripping out (mirrors on every single wall of the bathroom–really? You really spent 50 years watching yourself on the can?), at least it wasn’t spanking new stuff.

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