What I Really Think About Timeless Design
For as long as I have been an interior designer (17+ years), “timeless design” has been a major topic of discussion. Industry experts try to define it, clients ask for it, and many designers swear by it. In my experience — and as I make design choices for my own home renovation — I am reminded that there is very little in the design world that actually is timeless.
Design trends are cyclical. That subway tile you see everywhere was getting ripped out of homes 20 years ago. Beiges versus grays flip in popularity every decade or so. More importantly, what’s “in” is entirely a matter of perspective. You can keep your home looking “timeless” in the eyes of experts but YOU might not like it in 10 years. In fact, most people renovate their homes every 5 to 10 years anyway.
“But what about preserving home value, Melanie?”
I thought you’d ask that. While you can certainly try to keep the aesthetic generic — to not offend potential future buyers — your home’s value will be in far better hands if you invest in updates that improve functionality, increase usable space, or include high-quality materials. That’s where increased value comes from, not all-white cabinetry.
All of that said, I believe that your home should be about you. Always. And if that means you want to aim for “timeless” design, I certainly won’t stop you. But just in case you’re still on the fence, here are 3 reasons to design for yourself instead… yes, even if you plan to sell in 5+ years. Come take a look.
1. How do you want your home to feel?
Let’s be real, your home is more than just walls and furniture. It’s a place filled with emotion and memories, a canvas for self-expression. Instead of chasing the elusive idea of timelessness, channel your energy into forging a connection with your space, one that makes you FEEL the way you want to.
My advice? Fill your home with personal elements that hold sentimental value and choose colors that radiate positive vibes – whether you’re looking for soothing, energizing, creative, social, you name it. You get to choose; that’s what makes home so special.
In fact, this approach is how we create a meaningful environment that resonates with your entire family. When you approach your home’s design this way, it’ll transform your daily experience and result in a home you genuinely love — and that IS more timeless than any trend, don’t you think?
2. How do you want your home to function?
Life changes, and so do our needs. To achieve a home that is as functional as it is beautiful, it’s essential to embrace design choices that are adaptable and flexible. Think of your home as a creative dialogue with the present, not an attempt to freeze time.
Instead, designing for the present gives you the freedom to experiment, take risks, and infuse your space with personality and function. For example, smart home technology is ever-changing and far from timeless, but it provides a practical solution for a functional and inspiring home that keeps up with the demands of modern living. Custom cabinetry is also a great way to add functionality that is customized to you.
Last tip? Have some fun with it. Get creative with solutions that make your life easier, and I guarantee that you won’t regret it.
3. How do you want your home to be remembered?
Remember your childhood home? Or your grandmother’s house? Those quirky colors and patterns may have defined that era, but now they hold treasured memories. From a cozy reading nook to an eye-catching gallery wall or a colorful kitchen, every space creates an experience that will be lived now and remembered later.
Think about the legacy of your own home. How do you want to remember your years here? Will you remember that they were “timeless” or will they leave a lasting impression filled with your personality, warmth, and love?
While timeless design has its merits (especially if you love it), we always guide our clients towards embracing individuality. After all, the beauty of design lies in its ability to adapt, inspire, and tell your story.
Update: My Mid-Century Home Renovation
What inspired these deep thoughts on timelessness? My own home renovation project, which has proceeded to the implementation phase. Right now, I’m in the process of hiring a contractor for the kitchen remodel. I received one bid that nearly made my eyes pop out — it was outrageous. (And believe me, I’ve seen some high numbers in the Bay Area, so it’s difficult to shock me.)
Now, I’m awaiting a bid from another contractor who successfully remodeled our home office in 2021. Safe to say, quality is always a must, but my wife and I are also keeping an eye on the investment. As we would expect our clients to do as well.
While we wait, I’ve wasted no time getting things in order. First up, appliances and fixtures, including quartzite countertops, elegant lighting, freshly painted cabinets, and carefully selected hardwood floors to match our existing flooring (no easy task).
To keep our sanity intact, we’re preparing to temporarily move out during this 4-month project. You can follow Coddington Design on Instagram to see our journey unfold. Until next time, if you need support with your own renovation, we’re here for you.