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.