Which Decorating Trends Are “So Over” – And Do You Care?

I read a tiny article – and I do mean tiny, it was less than a quarter of a page – in Elle Decor last week that reveals what top designers believe are “over-and-done-with” decorating trends.  Let’s see if you agree or no:


Books as Decor


 Annie Brahler


I’ve got so many books in my home that I’m using as decor, I’ll just have to move out and start over . . .



Midcentury Modern




Can they just dismiss a whole decade of decor innovation?  Why should they want to?



High-Gloss Colors on Yard-Sale Items

 Jill Sorensen


Oh come on, paint can turn a dud into a stud!  Isn’t it politically incorrect to be against upcycling?   


Overly-Styled Rooms

 Kelley Jones design, Reid Rolls photography


Hmm.  What do we expect in magazines, real rooms?  You can just go to friends’ and family’s homes to see that.  Magazine rooms are about casting a design vision – who expects them to be real? 


DIY Decor



Right.  Creativity is so totally out.   We should just go back to decorating rooms like everyone else’s. 

So am I way off-base here?  What are you “so over” in design trends?


P.S.  Sorry I don’t have a direct link to this article – I couldn’t find one.  Check out the January 2012 issue of Elle Decor for more information.



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60 thoughts on “Which Decorating Trends Are “So Over” – And Do You Care?

  1. denise sobinski says:

    This is funny. I have a design business too and I really liked your commentary on the Elle article. How can things be “out” like books? Books are a collecting item not just decor. Good perspective…..

  2. Ann says:

    And what exactly are you supposed to *do* with your books nowadays, if they are not “art”? Tee hee. Midcentury modern has already stood the test of time, I doubt this article is going to relegate all of that good stuff to Craigslist … but if so, I know a lot of folks will be snatching it up 😉

    And finally, you are SO right … in this day and age aren’t we all about repurposing/reusing/recycling? What better way than sprucing up something old with a little paint? Or using creativity to turn something ordinary into something beautiful? Hmmm. It will be interesting to see what these trends will supposedly be replaced with.

    Marie above is also right — it’s supposed to be about surrounding yourself with what you love, in a beautiful way.

  3. dana tucker says:

    Kristie, love your commentary on each design trend. I couldn’t agree more. The explosion of design blogs across the web have opened up a sharing of ideas that has changed the game of decorating forever. Add in all the ways we can easily share ideas, projects and opinions through social media and sites like Pinterest and we are on the verge of new levels of creativity and individuality in design. Love your style, your creativity and your voice. 🙂

  4. Marie says:

    Hi Kristie,
    Trends come and go but like in fashion, you should do what pleases you at the moment. I love books, always have and always will and I do use them to decorate, although, more importantly, I read them. Decor is an expression of yourself, your character and your loves. There should be no “right” or “wrong”, “in” or “out”. That being said, I change my decor about every 5 years because I love so many different styles and I get tired of a look after a while.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Love your comment, Marie! I’m a big fan of functional beauty – books are that to me. I read a lot, so why not use books to make my home more beautiful and more “myself?” It would be wasteful, frankly, to relegate all my books to a closed cabinet for storage!

  5. Heather says:

    Now we know why it was a tiny article. Any bigger and they wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the hate mail! I’d think there would be a whole people groups knocking their doors down.
    Besides if overly styled rooms and DIY decor are out, then what’s left?? lol

  6. Syndi @ Beachnut Lane says:

    Love this post, Kristie. You are right. The things Elle Decor picked as “over” are the ones that actually have staying power for all the reasons you gave. There are some trends that I do think will pass by quickly though. These include painting everything “chocolate” (you can’t fool me by calling it a yummy name…its still brown), owls, animal heads, wall decals, zebra prints. What trends do you see as “over and done with”?

  7. Linda says:

    The only one I agree with is “Overly Styled Rooms”. Based on the dozens and dozens of magazine articles, blogs and TV shows I have seen over the past few weeks, 2012 is all about decluttering, living with less and simplifying life. You can’t live a more simple and uncluttered life in an over styled room. I for one cheer if that trend is over .Every time I see a magazine photo of an over styled room I have one thought…”photo stylist”. Every time I go to a clients house and see an over styled room, I think …”Homegoods”.

  8. Rachel says:

    That is a weird list they came up with. When you cast such a large net, you are bound to be wrong, and that’s what happened here.

    For instance, DIY decor out? Makes no sense. DIY is hardly a trend. I have design books dating back to the 20s with DIY ideas. If they had selected a particular DIY trend – say, using old wood pallets for a coffee table (not that I think that trend has peaked yet) – it would be one thing, but their whole list is just too generic.

    And I’m with you on the books. I’ve surrounded myself with books my whole life. What trend?

  9. joy says:

    I guess the intention of that article is that author felt that those deco subject was overly done, because they are everywhere…so it’s hard to come up with something new….so she/he is kind of whining 🙂 On the contrary, with internet blog booming, I think people will do more and more upcycle through the techniques they learned from experienced people taught by their blog.

  10. Sheila Zeller says:

    Well, I guess that’s the end of my blog! No DIY, no glossy paint, no books… um, no Mid-Century Modern? Are you kidding me??? The only one I don’t have is over-styled rooms… I guess that’s because I have the other 4!

    I think the idea of ‘trend’ is overrated, and that’s what’s on its way out… just say’n ELLE DECOR.

    Great article, Kristie!

  11. Arlene says:

    I am not a designer, though I have worked in the design and construction industry for many years. However, I own many books, which I read. They live in book cases, or in my bedside table. They used to be stored alphabetically, but it just wasn’t working and are now colour coded. Eek! I can’t find anything, but when I look for what I want, I find something new that I forgot I had or hadn’t read! I can’t just use a book or books as decor. Some people buy books just for decor. A stack of books on a chair in complementary spine colours doesn’t do it for me so I am glad that this trend is over. As for the rest, well, they must be mad. It won’t stop me from upcycling furniture or liking the retro look. I just buy what I like. 🙂

  12. Holly says:

    I could probably come up with a list of items that may really be “trends” that we might not see in 5 years. But I have a feeling books, creative minds, and MCM will still be holding strong. I go about decorating our home with items that I truly love and items that have special meaning to our family. I won’t be displaying the 50 Best Bars in Philadelphia book my husband got as a gift, but I would (and do) display our travel book on New York (because I love NY) and any other special books that we truly enjoyed. I know one item that I’ve never been a fan of and would love to say good-bye to are animal antlers. UGH!!! Great post Kristie!

  13. Lee says:

    if we can’t decorate with books should we instead decorate with Kindles, Nooks, laptops and I-Pads? That’s what modern people read from right?
    If we can’t repaint yard sale items should we just leave them as they are? What if they are mid-century modern? Can we repaint them then?
    If we can’t be DIY-ers I suppose we have no business painting anything in the first place. Or reading decorating magazines as we might be tempted to try it ourselves.
    Keep up the good work Kristie! Keep calling it like you see it!

    • katkins says:

      “if we can’t decorate with books should we instead decorate with Kindles, Nooks, laptops and I-Pads?”

      Now there’s a novel idea. (Pauses to think about whether to embrace or delete unintentional pun.) What if we spray painted them and hung them in like-colored groupings?

  14. Monique says:

    I’m not a stylist or a designer but I am so over books being used as decor. Doesn’t sound like the article was saying get rid of books; just stop using books as decor. Overly styled rooms – well isn’t that what magazines are suppose to publish? Certainly people don’t use these rooms but would I buy a magazine that showcased rooms that were junky, nah?

    I part company with the writer on DIY and high gloss furniture. I enjoy looking at unique DIY projects. But the trend I don’t want to see anymore of are words on walls such as “Eat”, “Cafe”, “Diner” in kitchens and the ever present “live, love, laugh”. IMO if you have to be told to “eat,” etc. in your own kitchen, there’s something wrong there. 🙂

  15. Alycia Wicker says:

    Yeah, they are soooo right. These are probably some of the same people who brought us the “poof” and hay on the walls. I guess all the bloggers are out of business now too. Pfffttt.

  16. Carole says:

    This list is lame. I was expecting things like, oh, “sunburst mirrors,” and instead it’s more like “mirrors.” Oh well.

    Kristie, I’ve been meaning to ask you, where did you get that suit of armor? I’m trying to figure out which antique malls the cool kids go to! 🙂

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      I got that silly suit of armor 17 years ago from the Nashville Flea Market (still going on the third weekend of every month) as a birthday present for Mr. Man before he was my Mr.! It was in his bachelor pad until we married 🙂

  17. Kelley says:

    I agree that these “trends” are awfully general. “DIY” isn’t a trend. People have been making their own stuff instead of buying stuff for a long time.

    I would be more specific. Here are some trends I think are so over:

    1. Stay Calm and Carry On
    2. “Live Laugh Love” (as Monique said)
    3. Wall decals with cheesy sayings

    That’s all I’ve got at the moment. Any more suggestions? I would be interested in seeing your own list, Kristie.

  18. Lisa says:

    What a wacky article. No wonder it was tiny. I’m not a fan of ALL the trends out there, but I appreciate that people are trying new things and are surrounding themselves with what they love. And no over-styled rooms? I seriously doubt that Elle Decor would sell their magazines if they took pics of your average person’s house. How boring would that be? And what’s wrong with striving for a well styled room? I’ve seen bloggers pull off magazine worthy rooms that also look real and inviting (yours for instance). Now that takes talent.

  19. Carole says:

    ETA: Lest it get taken the wrong way, what I mean is that I agree, their “trends” make no sense. Books have been used as decoration since there were books. People have always proudly displayed their books, at least since the scroll trend was over and binding became the cool thing to do. And two of those – DIY art and painting furniture – are things people do because of affordability, and even if people hadn’t been doing that for at least *centuries* (aren’t some of the most prized antiques these days the painted early American stuff?), it’s something that people do because of its affordability. In this climate, I expect to see more of that, not less (though the glossy bright paint colors part could be true, I don’t know).

    I also don’t think bird/owl/horse/deer/animal print/etc. imagery can ever be truly “out.” Decorating with these elements has been around for a long time. My parents have both owl bookends and a horse sculpture that are older than I am. Paintings of birds are almost as historically ubiquitous as paintings of flowers.

    Things I’m worried about because I keep seeing them everywhere and really, really like them: x-benches and those Moroccan leather poufs.

  20. Kathy Ellis says:

    Wow! I will tell you what I am tired of….waaaaaay overpriced items being featured in Elle Decor that are so out of 99% of the peoples’ budget it is ridiculous. They showed door hardware reproduced from Versailles, $5000 for a door handle, yes you read that right, $5000. I love design mags for the inspiration, but sometimes I am just plain offended. I will always be creative, have books around, appreciate mid century furniture and recycle all the fantastic stuff I find at yard sales and resale shops. No designer is going to change that. In truth, many of them are just snobby!

  21. [email protected] says:

    Wow, that pretty much makes my entire house a dated replica!! Gee, you’d think all those years studying design would have taught me something:) I’m going to carry on using books, buying fabulous mid century furniture and painting the heck out of great yard sale finds and maybe someday I”ll be one of the cool kids again:)

  22. Susan Kuz says:

    Love your article comments. I can’t imagine ‘upcycling’ as being out. Its creative and a great way to reuse and recycle. Same with DIY decor. Its fun and personalized and makes me smile. After all your home is supposed to make you happy.

  23. Coley says:

    I guess my whole house is out then. What is a girl to do if I can’t upcycle and make my own art?! Sniff sniff. I think I will be throwing out all my stuff tonight… 🙂

  24. Carol Standil says:

    Great topic, Kristie. I have to agree with the folks who are done with the “stay calm and carry on” posters — those can go any time. However, I am not quite ready to let go of upcycling or DIY (or books, for that matter). I can think of at least two projects sitting around my house that are waiting for a coat of paint and a bit of ingenuity. In fact, I think one of the dressers I want to paint might actually need some anaglypta paper on the drawer fronts….

  25. Ellen says:

    Vessel sinks in a main bath and pot-filler faucets by a range, two trends that I am sick of. Vessel sinks splash all over the place, and pot-fillers are just a ridiculous waste of money. Unless you also have a pasta sink right by your stove, you still have to carry the even-heavier pot back to the sink to drain it. And Kristie, what is the deal with Elle Decor these days? I am hard-pressed to find a single room in their pages with a table lamp. No wonder they pooh-pooh books in the decor. It’s too dark in all those rooms to read them.

  26. Dacia @ Lemon Drop Life says:

    I completely disagree with all of them! Everything in moderation, I say. And in the end, it’s YOUR home..so if you love Mid Century Modern furniture, then I say you should snap up every piece you can!! Personally, I don’t like when designers feel the need to declare something ‘out’ or ‘over.’ It may be ‘out’ for you, but it might be ‘in’ for someone else!

  27. Aimeslee Winans says:

    Totally agree with your opinion concerning Midcentury Modern. I mean, don’t they know we have 3…..THREE more seasons of Mad Men coming? It ain’t over til the womanizing hunk says it is! hehehe

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  29. lynne whiteside says:

    my 2 cents is that white/white kitchens will gradually move over to subtle colors (grey, green). I’m not a fan of industrial walls (cement) and I don’t think this will be a huge trend, however, I have been seeing more wood and cement in all rooms.

    and books, good grief will they be obsolete in 20 years? and our precious libraries, will they turn into computer/digital spaces with no books at all? I’m not sure of anything anymore.

  30. Sindy says:

    I am “so over” the “experts” declaring that (whatever the trend is) it’s now “over.” I haven’t even gotten around to buying antlers yet (hee, hee). It’s almost like a little power play to maintain “I’m the leader” status and keep the herd following. Oh man, I sound so cynical–sorry!
    Sindy =)

  31. Kelly says:

    The comments are so great Kristie! I can sum it all up- whoever wrote that article is out of touch with ‘real people’ and I hope they find and read this blog post! Not using books in your home! duh.

  32. LisaD says:

    IMO, the only trend that is over, is decorating according to trends. Home and clothing fashion trends always mirror each other, and what we are all seeing more and more is that there really arent any rules in fashion anymore. At least not the old rules. Now its pretty much anything goes! Its wild, freespirited, individual, its fun and I love it.

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  34. Christine says:

    What an offensively snobby attitude from Elle Decor! In other words, if you’re not rich, you don’t make their grade.

  35. [email protected] says:

    Wow reading these comments was better than any article I have ever read in that magazine! Such insight and great advice your readers have. I think they asked the wrong designers to write that article, evidently those designers are out of touch with the mainstream of what’s affordable, classic (books) and personal preference in your own home.

  36. Dixie Redmond says:

    Hmmmmmm…..sounds like a case of sour grapes to me. Notice how most of the things that are OUT have to do with people doing decor themselves and deciding what they like versus waiting for Elle Decor to tell us what we should want in our homes.

    I’m an artist who is trying to make her home better. I recently wrote a post saying “Life is too short for good taste.” And what I mean by that is that worrying about what’s in good taste means you are looking to others to decide how you should live. I have a child with autism, and so many of my decorating decisions are made with my kids in mind. The wall of VHS tapes? Not in good taste, but they serve my family very well (although I could try for a better solution).


  37. vikki says:

    Just read this, sorry I am behind the times. Anywhoo, I so agree with you that watching trends and listening to “experts” is so out. DIY is here to stay as well as books. My goodness I didn’t know how in I was until I started looking at blogs. I have used books as decor for years since I am a bonafide Bibliophile. I started reading before I started school and am going strong all these years later. No Kindle for me, I love books so surrounding myself with them is natural. In fact when I would try to pare down my children’s books, I would try to toss the torn and coverless ones. But I would just reshelve them, too many memories there. Love your blog, thanks for sharing.

  38. Cheryl says:


    Refreshing responses!  High end trends or goods, splashed across the page, magazines and blogs, are truly tiresome.  You manage to highlight design that works and you show how it works, without promotiing a certain look that is supposed to make us salivate and want, want, want.  I think many of us are not buying into the Elle look or the worshipping of the beauty=splurge mentality.

  39. Sibel says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while searching for "midcentury decor". I must be super out-dated since the Elle article was exactly a year ago! lol!

    I think one should decorate their home to match a certain feel or rather feelings. Midcentury modern reminds me of my grandparents home and comforth and warmth. This feeling is what I am trying to recreate and adjust to my families lifestyle today. 

    I also have to admit that I get a bit suspicious of a home without books. While I do not agree with buying a bunch of books so it matches the color of your lampshade, there is nothing more classic and chic than having a wall full of books.

    Go with your gut when decorating and if you have the time and talent to throw some high gloss paint on the $15 chair you "rescued" form the thrift store or made your own umbrella stand more power to you!

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