THERE’S A LOT of weird decorating going on right now. After the past two rather disturbing years, when most of us were pent up like prisoners, I understand the urge to act out. But enough is enough.
“I see what people all over the country are buying—and a lot of it is very surprising,” said Noel Fahden Briceño, vice president of merchandising at online furnishings marketplace Chairish. Her company generates trend reports about items that sell within 30 days of being listed. A top seller in June? Bubblegum-colored chests.
“Right now, pink laminate dressers from the 1980s are selling within a few days of being listed,” she said. While that could easily reflect the growing interest in pastels—and particularly the Danish-pastel trend—she thinks it’s because people are excited about Greta Gerwig’s much-anticipated movie “Barbie” coming in 2023, in which the iconic doll will come to life.
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“The color pink is really coveted right now,” Ms. Fahden Briceño said. “It’s Barbiecore for furniture.”
With trends in home décor apparently being dictated by a 63-year-old anatomically incorrect plastic doll, I decided to conduct a highly unscientific survey of a half-dozen interior designers who work around the country to see what other nonsense people are up to. Here are nine dubious design trends.
Low-slung, aggressively minimalist platform bed frames without headboards are ruining bedrooms all across the country. In addition to looking like unmoored life rafts that are floating between a pair of nightstands, these regrettable platform beds make it nearly impossible to read in bed. Are you supposed to lean your head against the wall? “Not comfortable,” said Tricia Rose, founder of textiles design firm Rough Linen in San Rafael, Calif. “Headboards are mandatory!” she said. “And also add a bolster—that’s God’s gift to people who read, as it softens the angle between mattress and headboard.”
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Domineering televisions mounted above fireplaces overwhelm the space. “Not all of the attention in a room needs to be focused on a mindless box which looks like a big black rectangle distracting you from what is often a beautiful or an ornate fireplace,” said Jackie Barnes, an interior designer in Cincinnati. And from a practical standpoint, “the center of a television should be no higher than 45 inches above the floor, otherwise it starts to hurt your neck to look up at it,” she said.
Everyone who has fond memories of high-school gym class please raise your hand. I don’t see any hands. So why embrace gym-centric gear such as wall-hung toilets, whose main advantage is to make it easier for a school janitor to run a wet mop beneath a row of them? Likewise, why install actual gym lockers in a mudroom for storage? “With lockers, the metal looks pretty harsh,” said Jessica Maros, an interior designer in Dallas. And if a client insisted upon having them? “I would say you must at least add rattan panels to the locker doors to make them feel more chic and modern—instead of like a smelly locker room,” she said.
Too many recessed (or can) lights overhead make a ceiling look like an airport landing strip. “Whenever possible, I recommend using a flush-mount or a monopoint fixture instead,” said Bethany Adams, an interior designer in Louisville, Ky. “But if you must have them, place them in a nice symmetrical grid—taking into account locations of speakers, smoke detectors and security cameras.”
Kitschy cafe curtains hanging from brass curtain rings as big as bracelets “are just one step too many in the Grandma-Chic direction for me,” said designer Lauren Sullivan of Well x Design in Nashville, Tenn. “It’s a nostalgic note that has its limits.” The designer adds that the memory it most vividly recalls is of hole-in-the-wall restaurants looking for an economical way to make less-than-desirable items disappear behind a skirted utility sink.
A ceiling painted a different color—especially a dark color—from the rest of a room is a bad idea because it makes the space feel smaller and claustrophobic. “There’s no reason for it,” said Los Angeles designer Kathryn M. Ireland, who this month launched a new online decorating class at Create Academy that includes tips for exercising restraint with paint. “People who use too many paint colors overcomplicate things,” she said. “It just looks like you are trying too hard.”
Book styling that makes it look as if you don’t read is a sad chapter in any home. Among the biggest blunders are wonky bookshelves with cubbies that are extremely weird-angled rhomboids or hexagons, and books arranged by color to create a rainbow effect. But wait, there’s more: Too many houseplants and photos on bookshelves is also a problem, said Ms. Barnes. “When there’s no space for your eye to rest, it makes you feel anxious—and it screams ‘This is just for show’,” she said.
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Thanks to the latest generation of high-performance fabrics that can stand up to inclement weather year round, fully upholstered sofas and chairs are unfortunately becoming commonplace on patios and decks. “But that kind of furniture belongs in a living room,” Ms. Maros said. “It doesn’t make sense: You look at it and your brain thinks, ‘Why would I put that outside?’”
The unusual shape of a curved couch may beckon you like a drolly raised eyebrow, but don’t be fooled. “I think of these things as a novelty, and people are always struck by novelty,” said Ms. Ireland, adding that “it’s much better to stick to the classics.” Curved sofas sit awkwardly in the middle of a living room because they don’t look good pushed up against a straight wall. Nor do they mix well with square-cornered side tables, skinny console tables or pretty much any surface on which to place a drink or a book.