Everything changes all the time, and fast. Trying to keep up with it is always interesting, not to mention trying to predict even the immediate future. It’s clear that the pandemic made most people focus and care about their homes A LOT. All of a sudden making every room more comfortable, organized, and livable for our immediate quarantine needs became a priority and that is GREAT. But due to the lockdown, we were collectively making more online purchases for utility and convenience – the kid’s books are piling up so we need a bookcase. Jump online and buy one. You work remotely now and now need a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Jump online and buy one, etc. And because of the endless amount of online stores you can buy from having really great stuff that can be delivered quickly, those companies that specialized in affordable and convenient furniture really thrived (and likely will continue to). And that’s great in a lot of ways, but after 2 years we are seeing some new shifts – not in place of utility shopping, but in addition to it.
I thought I was in the minority – my desire/responsibility to buy local, heirloom-quality decor has been pulling at me hard. I thought it was just my mindset, refocused priorities, and ability to do so due to my higher budget. I want to buy once and for the long term, to splurge on pieces from furniture makers when I can, but there is actually a larger movement towards this which is so exciting. Now before we go into these things, I want it to be clear that whatever you do in your home, whatever choices you make whether it’s budget furniture from a big box store or saving up to buy an heirloom-quality piece or simply embracing your hand me downs – if you love it and use it long term, then all those things are great in our book. It’s whatever is best for your budget and your home. So here is where I see that going:
Searching For “The Unique” + “The Rare”
We’ve seen this coming for a long time, but there is a lot of homogeneity out there in design and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE so much of it and often it’s designed for livability and comfort – which is GREAT and important. But what that has done has made many of us crave pieces that we haven’t seen before, or at least aren’t as ubiquitous (again, nothing is wrong if we all have the same pouf or side table – I myself have a ton of pieces that you can see in a million peoples homes and I still love them). But I’m finding myself also scouring vintage sites in other countries and Craigslist/FB in other states even to find a version of x,y,z that feels fresh and unique for the farm… And frankly, I’m eyeing pieces that might be hard to knock off so I don’t risk featuring it and then it being everywhere the next year. I thought that this was just where I am in life – which admittedly is a very privileged situation – to be able to take time and to have the budget to search for and splurge on unique or custom pieces – but after talking to so many other friends and designers it’s clear that we are all looking for new blood, fresh aesthetic, uniqueness. It’s why I was so inspired by Beata Heuman’s work – every single thing in her spaces are so unique and it’s just such fresh eye candy. I would stare at some of her rooms for a solid 10 minutes, soaking up the details. Now her work is a little too exciting for my chaotic brain to live in year-round, but I think she is helping define this bold uniqueness that is a new 2022 eclecticism. Let’s call it high-quality weirdness that makes our space just feel fresh and unique to us, perhaps even layered over the more livable pieces that are much simpler and more identifiable as new on the market.
Heirloom Quality Furniture With Interesting Joinery
Now, this is ALWAYS in, but the movement towards furniture with interesting joinery, something that absolutely could not be mass-manufactured is very clear right now. And it’s so exciting. I feel like the maker community finally has a larger audience (and buyers) and that we are seeing some modern-day Paul McCobbs coming of age – pieces that we save for, splurge on and they increase in value because they are so high quality, specialized, and superbly made. And then we hand them down to our kids, and them to theirs. 🙂 You know, like the world always did before mass manufacturing. These pieces are splurgy, as they should be because they take years of honing skills, practice, apprenticing, and talent not to mention high-quality materials and likely a big warehouse and machinery. I spoke with Justin Nelson of Fernweh a lot about this – his business is thriving and I think it’s because there is just an appetite for high quality, soul-injected furniture, locally-made heirloom quality furniture. I know that I have a whole pinboard of beautiful joinery for any custom pieces that I want to make.
Longer Lasting Affordable Everything
We are in such a golden era of our larger retailers truly caring more about making better quality materials and making big steps towards responsibility, while also seeing more and more collaborations with makers rather than just knocking them off. What I love about this is how it democratizes design more, helping more people love their homes no matter the budget. Listen, it takes a lot to make these changes for big companies, so we are happy to see big steps being taken. Just because it’s budget-friendly doesn’t mean that it can’t be long-lasting, this is a story we’ll be telling a lot this year and helping point out even more what pieces we think are affordable, without being ‘cheap’.
Decorative Details, Unnecessary Ornamentation
Think over the top old world and dare I say even a little gaudy. I realized this when I was super attracted to a mirror that had the most meticulously carved wooden FRUIT AND VEGETABLE frame at an antique store. I Insta-storied it and MANY of you freaked out in love. The wooden grapes on this were STUNNING. We are seeing this extra adornment, a 180 from Scandinavian style right now, and possibly even a rejection of California Casual (or maybe layered on top?). I’m talking baroque framed mirrors, Victorian stick and ball side tables, and intricately carved console tables like a real grandma. Caitlin wrote about this last year (she is always ahead) and I think it’s a really exciting addition to all the other styles out there. And again I think the reason this is moving fast is because A. Big box stores can’t do handmade detailing easily, and B. Decorative adornment is the anecdote to the minimalism that has been so popular for so long (and will likely remain so for those of us still loving it). It’s like the ‘Eccentric English Grandma’ won the lottery and bought a bunch of 19th-century french and Italian pieces from castles.
A Return To Vintage EVERYTHING
I remember a year and a half ago fearing that this was the end of thrift shopping. The thought of going into a store full of people’s used stuff in 2020 felt so unsafe. Luckily they are back open and we are back shopping in person. YAY. So again, because of lack of access to thrift/vintage, I think most of us shopped for what we needed from non-vintage online shops out of sheer ease of not leaving our homes in 2020 and most of 2021. Chairish and 1stDibs thrived during the pandemic, but they typically are pretty expensive so I’m excited that the in-person hunt is back. I know I’m not alone in craving the thrifting, vintage, and flea market experience so I think we’ll see more of that in our homes this year. Again, it’s a return to eclecticism.
Sustainability Through And Through
It’s been so green-washed I know, which is why I prefer ‘intentional’ or ‘responsible’ because the debate around what is sustainable is crazy. This is going to be a huge conversation this year, as I continue to learn all the different variety of ways of being responsible in how we renovate our homes and what we put in them. No lectures here (or in the comments) – just good old-fashioned information and education, done in a really friend-to-friend way. I’ve dove deep and am learning so much (which is really empowering) and I have some experts guiding me/us in the process. And while I won’t be perfect, certainly, I think the entire design and home world is shifting to be more intentional and responsible (see literally all of the above trends) and hopefully the appetite for mass-manufactured, very poorly made furniture that falls apart and ends up in a landfill has waned. Again this year we’ll help sift through the garbage and we’ll find well-made and yet still affordable pieces in addition to the heirloom quality pieces – doing our best to satisfy all budgets (OOF). Listen, both worlds can exist at the same time and no one should shame anybody for their budget choices – whether they are high and splurgy or more budget-oriented. Because…
The “ONE THING” That Is OUT
“Cheap” anything is out. What we can all agree on is rejecting poorly made garbage, packaged in non-recyclable garbage, shipped from far away that ends up in a landfill in 2 months. Now THAT is out. I’m sure that in the past I’ve recommended pieces that look good, but were cheaply made and fell apart. I honestly just was less concerned with longevity than I should have been and I’ve become far more educated. And while I can’t guarantee that I won’t be wrong in the future or link something that we later realize is cheap, we are excited to do more research, write more reviews and give the best advice we know with the present facts. It’s a big world out there, and we are super excited to be able to spend our time researching, testing out, and recommending longer-lasting design everything. Design and renovation are inherently wasteful, so it’s actually an incredible honor and challenge to have a platform to do better and educate you all in real-time as we learn.
Opening Image Credits: Design by Jane Hallworth | Styled by Colin King | Photo by Laure Joliet | via Architectural Digest
Love it! I am excited about the shift to more well researched recommendations (as opposed to many links to items with unknown quality).
yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss to not linking to cheap crap!
yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss to so much vintage (which is inherently environmentally friendly since you’re keeping it out of a landfill and you’re using something that already exists instead of the making of new stuff)
and yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss to all of these awesome eclectic and unique spaces. such eye candy!
Yes!! Cannot wait for these themes to guide content this year! Sustainable and vintage all the way. I really appreciate your prioritization of these!
ooh, a round up of vintage sites from other countries would be incredible. So many unique and beautiful things in the world!
This feels so refreshing! Any chance the Craigslist (maybe FB marketplace or other sites) city searches might make a comeback?? Thanks for sharing these lovely trends and beautiful pics.
I always enjoyed these posts, too! And was always jealous of the things available in other cities. and not mine. LOL.
My wish for 2022 on the blogosphere, design and otherwise: fewer links to Amazon. Just killed my own Prime membership to help me stay off it, too.
Yes! I still buy way too much from the evil empire but I really want to quit. Good for you for giving up Prime!
This! My New Years resolution is to stop buying from amazon. My membership expires this month so I feel like it was meant to be.
Yes!!! I’ve been feeling this so much lately so I’m here for all of it!
“Design and renovation are inherently wasteful, so it’s actually an incredible honor and challenge to have a platform to do better and educate you all in real-time as we learn.” 💞 I LOVE THIS!!!
All of what you said.
None of us can do ALL the things all the time. We can plan a path and do our very best, learn when we misstep and improve the next step.
Crikey! I recently bought a fake plant! 😳 I nevvvver thought I’d do that!
Good humans set high standards and strive hard to reach them.🤗
Once YKYK and can’t go back.
In case you aren’t aware of this, IKEA now buy back used goods. They re-sell the good pieces sndeven almost new ones are never more than 50% of the brand new ones. The rotten, old, beyond repair pieces are recycled.
I didn’t know that about IKEA! Thanks for sharing.
Your point about interesting joinery immediately made me think, as a native Oregonian, about the furniture at Timberline Lodge. Emily, have you gone up since you’ve moved back?? I always fall in love with scale of and heft of the pieces, plus the WPA original art. And so much beautiful wrought iron. If haven’t gone in awhile, treat yo’self and go this winter!
My partner and I recently bought a house, and one think I’m thinking a lot about with regards to sustainability is that sometimes not renovating (as opposed renovating using sustainable/high quality materials) is actually the best option for the planet. We did a fair amount of renovation before we moved in, so that the house was able to meet our needs now and for hopefully a long time in the future, but it wasn’t a complete gut job. One room we didn’t touch was the kitchen, which has high quality countertops, cabinets, and appliances and is completely functional for us but is DEFINITELY not my taste. I’m really struggling with knowing that a kitchen reno just for aesthetic purposes would be incredibly wasteful, but still wanting to live in a house that suits our style.
I’m in kind of the same boat and there are lots of things you can do to change the look of a kitchen without tearing anything out. Such as: did you know you can have anything metal (the panels on an appliance, faucets, etc..) powder coated in any color?! I’m also looking into having my still-good but dated cabinet doors covered, maybe with another wood veneer on top, or with sheet metal bent around it, like a skin. I’m leaning into the parts I can’t change, like the colors in the granite; wallpaper is having a moment and sourcing the colors for the wallpaper from that will really make it look new and intentional. You can also paint tile backsplashes with specific paints- there are a bunch of YouTube tutorials about it. And as always, vintage knobs and lighting go a long way. Or you can paint the fixture parts of lighting, or use a different shade. Good luck!
We moved in and the kitchen was brand new but i hated it. UK has a tile paint i think called owl paint. I used it on the tile and it held up with out a scratch for a year. I literally make 3 meals a day at home. The plan was to the put new counters in which would have made me liek the kitchen almost perfectly. Universe had other plans. The previous owner did the kitchen himself. And we had a slow leak for at keast a year and the kitchen had to be gutted. It killed me bc i knew how wasteful it all was bc he deemed himself tim the tool man Taylor but didnt do piping correctly and bought no name brand faucet from amazon which was slowly leaking as well. A lot can be done to an existing kitchen to make it more your speed.
Is there an equivalent to owl paint available in the US?
Great post ❤️❤️
Does this mean no more partnership with Target?
uhm did they say that…..
I had the same thought. The revenue from this site comes from a lot of links to cheaply made stuff and I understand why. But I wondered, how will this affect the revenue/links? Will they be able to do this like they really want to?
Every room in our house has probably 5-10 decor items from Target that we have had for years and that are fabulous and that we (OK, I) still love. Trays, candlesticks, pillows, throws, dishes, planters, art, side tables, etc…. They are sitting next to much more expensive items holding their own. And if anything you buy turns out to be a “lemon”, Target accepts returns on their own brands for one year.
I agree. I loved her line of (something like) “just because it’s inexpensive does not mean it’s ‘cheap'”. I have some very long lasting items from Target, IKEA etc with splurgey items too and they’re holding strong for decades with lots of use. 🙂 I’m also interested in seeing more vetted goods. Thanks Em and team!
Agreed—I have a dresser from IKEA that I’ve had for almost 20 years, bookshelves from Target that I’ve had forever, etc.
I can beat you on that one…had two dressers from Ikea for forty-five years (maybe more) bought at the first Ikea in North America – Mississauga, Ontario for $100 each. Needed a little reinforcement and a new paint job but still fine. Back then furniture was still made in Europe. No luck with their bookshelves though. Current Ikea bathroom vanity (white oak look) made in Italy and love it. I’ve moved on to Room and Board for new items – mostly made in USA.
Not only does she say inexpensive does not mean cheap, she also gives kudos to big box stores who are really trying to improve quality of materials. If they keep linking to Target but focus on the higher quality items, that will just incentivise Target to lean further in that direction and help those with less to spend find the things that will really last for their money – win for EHD, win for Target, win for us, win for the environment!
Antidote, not anecdote.
OMG, you’ve done it again. Put into words what I’ve been feeling on the horizon. We just bought a 100yr old Tudor and the remodel on the horizon is overwhelming. I keep being drawn to this style, and was worried it was just because I was old and out of touch. hahaha! Confirmation from y’all that it really is happening on a bigger scale is SO validating!
“making more online purchases for utility and convenience – the kid’s books are piling up so we need a bookcase. Jump online and buy one. You work remotely now and now need a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Jump online and buy one, etc.” I feel this statement so hard. I’m struggling to balance the need for a “thing” asap with wanting it to be 1. vintage 2. something I love 3. not cheap crap 4. arriving tomorrow. I think that’s why I read this blog, so that I’m always up on what I love and ideas about where to find it. That said, I often find the comments frustrating because no matter what is written, there will be a complaint in one direction or the other. So to people commenting about the Target partnership pushing the cheap, temporary, not sustainable angle – many people can’t afford (in time or money) to search out unique items on CL or Chairish and need a cheaper, quicker option. And to people complaining about the prices of Ulla Johnson clothing or custom items Emily has built – yeah, it is expensive and if she can afford it then she can afford… Read more »
I really love this post. My husband and I bought a home we have renovated ourselves over the past few years. Built in the 90’s so no character at all…I have used a variety of antique pieces into our home to make it more interesting. One thing I love doing is buying and supporting local artists and businesses. You’re guaranteed to have one of a kind items you love and will keep forever if you small businesses, local artists etc.
Seeing this in fashion too—see the rise of the brand Bode! A fully-scaled brand made from deadstock fabrics. I love this new wave, so much less pressure to get the “right” thing and more opportunities for self-expression. Yay!
I’m feeling all of these! (Especially and always vintage everything.) And I can’t remember when a post last had SO MANY photos that drew me in so deeply. Pure eye candy to illustrate your very thoughtful points. Thank you!
That’s so exciting. Love the intentions you are setting for a more intentional design. I’d love more researched recommendations too, and less Amazon.
Yes! Please…….LESS AMAZON!!!!!
When you live on a remote island in southern Alaska accessible only by air or sea- shipping the big stuff means big expense (And many companies will not ship at all). Many folks have DIY skills. I needed a bookcase- so I drew up the measurements and my husband made it. Its in his typical reused material rustic style- but it fits! Good used furniture is snapped up quickly. When we travel “down south” in the “lower 48” we LOVE thrifting and looking for deals. Everything goes to the barge and they ship it up on a pallet. So many choices out there for buying used- especially if you live road connected!
Sounds like a cool experience to live where you live! Would love to hear more about it.
Great post! I’m excited by the focus on vintage and thrifting (even while I still love Target).
Em, I am also in a position to purchase new, but in the last year I have brought into my home two used sets of bedroom furniture. One is a maple Ethan Allen (you all know this one! It has been around since the 1960’s) it is beautifully made–hardwood and sturdy. I feel so blessed to have this in my home. The other is also a name brand and solid as well. I looked at current furniture and was disappointed in some of the items from the most popular retailers. I think it was Caitlyn’s post on how to buy from Marketplace that got me interested –I want to list my family room Ethan Allen Georgian Court entertainment center.
My thought wasn’t so much up-cycle but quality! In the end, I feel soooo good about what I have in my guest bedrooms.
This all sounds great to me! One heartbreak I just discovered: I have a West Elm sectional, and was planning to just add another piece now that we have a bigger living room. So sad to see on the website that they no longer carry the same fabrics. I would love for retailers to commit to a set line of sectionals and fabrics, that we know will be there in the future (and maybe indicate this in writing so those of us who care can be intentional about our fabric choices). My sofa is only six years old, and for me it still has plenty of life in it. I’m so disappointed that I’m gonna have to get rid of it, but hopefully can resell it to someone who can use it
Yes! And it would be cool if the same flatware and dishes would be carried by a retailer for the same reason.
Quick tip. Many dishes and flatware patterns, no matter the manufacturer can be found at Reolacements.com. The are based in North Carolina and run by delightful gentlemen. You may have some luck there. I found extra pieces to dishes I bought at Williams Sonoma in 1993, still available at Replacements. Worth a try.
Great post and near to my heart. I would love to see these principles carried into the clothing you promote as well.
I have a content suggestion to go with your vintage and sustainable themes: Can we do a #ShowEmYourScore every month where readers share their favorite thrifted item, where they got it, how much they paid and how they are style/using it? I can’t be the only one who would totally eat that up! Yes, I get a little jealous, but I’m also inspired by the finds of other people and how they use vintage and/or secondhand items creatively. For revenue purposes you might be able to find something “similar” to the score and link to it for those who want the look without the hunt.
As a lover of vintage for what seems like decades- it is great that you are finally coming back to what made you quirky and unique. I say fill your house with vintage fun. Stuff that makes you smile. Stuff with a story that you can embellish along the way.
Can I have you come and design my house? Every post I love. There are so many great color schemes in these images. Keep up the blog posts. Excited to see what is next!
I love this article and will share it. Thank you for putting all of this into words- it is just where I am and always have been. I sometimes thought I wanted to just throw everything out & start over, but found a way to update without having it look just like everyone elses, and collected over time. You nailed it!!
“Brang it on”…I’m in the Iris Apfel corner…so, this is going to be “fun” as well…franki
I’m here for furniture that will last until I die:). Have you used James+James? I’m eyeing a double pedestal table for our dining room and I’m curious if anyone has used them before.
also I second fewer Amazon links, they are part of the problem IMO
Online shopping is a major ptoblem in and of itself! Packaging plus!!!! Travel miles!!!! Waste!!!
Yes yes yes!!! My house has always been slowly put together bc i want quality pieces but have a budget. We had no kitchen table for months bc i had a price set but wanted quality. Found a 90 year old solid wood pedestal table for 110. A new even cheaply made one woudl have been at least 150. At least 75 percent of my furniture is 2nd hand and usually antiques or carefully selected hand me downs. My drinking glasses are empty glass jars from honey, pickles, etc but my plates are fiesta or 2nds from east fork pottery. Choosing and waiting where to spend money versus instant gratification makes your domicile a home and is zo much better for the planet. I really hope you all continue this path.
with articles like this, I often brace myself for being shamed for simply buying what I can afford. I read them anyway because I can always stand to be challenged in this area. But what I found was inspiring, Educational, and yes challenging. Thanks so much for a well written empathetic read! I’ve been craving thrifting in a HUGE way and you’ve inspired me to make it happen this weekend! Thank you!
Thanks for sharing…..