Recently Kate Watson-Smyth of Mad About the House revealed that her iconic Farrow and Ball Downpipe living room was being redecorated. Surely this was the confirmation that interiors watchers had been waiting for; the reign of this most celebrated of the Farrow and Ball darks range was coming to an end.
I posted an Instagram story announcing the news with the proclamation “Downpipe is over”. My tongue was firmly in cheek, but my comment prompted quite a response. Most people who contacted me said they’d been ready to move on from Downpipe for a while, but there were some voices of dissent too.
This prompted me to ponder: When design influencers begin moving on from a trend, how should the rest of us respond?
You might be tempted of course to ditch the dated scheme immediately and launch into a full scale revamp. But what if that’s not feasible? You might not have the time to plan or execute a redesign project right now. Or perhaps lack of budget is the blocker.
But there’s no need to panic. There are a number of ways to deal with the situation.
Is it actually over?
The instinctive response to news that people who share a decor choice with you are moving on might be to assume that the trend is on a fast track to style oblivion. But that isn’t necessarily the case.
In some instances, decor styles begin as a trend but go on to become enduring components of timeless design, never going out of fashion. But even if a design doesn’t transition to timelessness, there are lots of examples of opposing trends happily co-existing.
Drawing on an example from fashion: for more than a decade it’s been essential for your jeans to be wholly in contact with your legs if a denim faux pas is to be avoided. However finally we’re seeing wide legs emerge as modish again. Some fashion sources would have it that skinnies are over. To which my considered response is: *fingers in ears* lalalalalala. (With flappy legs I look like a sack of tatties.) But even the most respected fashionistas are with me on the enduring contribution of skinnies. Skinnies and wide legs are sister trends. The balance might tip over time, but meantime these trends are happily running in parallel.
And so it is with interior fashion. For instance, the choice between dark and light colour palettes needn’t be a battle in which only one will emerge triumphant. There’s no reason that the opposites can’t coexist in harmony. It simply comes down to personal preference.
Some people might prefer to move on from Downpipe in 2018. But Downpipe might well hold its position as a stylish colour choice. In fact one very well known blogger responded to my Downpipe post by sharing her plan to include it in a current makeover – her reveal might be all the confirmation you need. Perhaps Downpipe will even evolve to a timeless neutral that will ultimately be as ubiquitous as Magnolia.
Wait it out
If fashion history tells us anything with certainty it is that every design trend that wanes will come back again. When it will return cannot be predicted. But if you’re patient, you can choose simply to stick it out.
My Mum-in-law has a bold terracotta feature wall in her living room. It’s been that colour for a decade and her room scheme is designed around it with lots of lovely rich, warm spice shades of brick and red. Recently she has been pondering redecorating. I have counselled against changing the terracotta now. She’s bang on trend.
When I decorated my shower room last year I chose a soft blush (Farrow and Ball’s Pink Ground.) But I hadn’t accounted for the yellowing effect of the down lights. Only after I’d passed the point of no return did I realise that I had in fact created a bathroom of purest peach. Decor disaster in 2017. But in 2018? #winning.
This doesn’t apply to wall colour but If the trend you’re ready to leave behind is furniture or accessories based, you can create a whole new scheme with a spot of upcycling.
I have a pair of copper lights over the dining table in my family room. While I love the contrast of copper with my Hague blue walls, the copper is looking tired. I’m contemplating whether there’s a way I can upcycle them, at least until I can afford to replace them.
When it comes to metallics there’s almost nothing I wouldn’t consider spraying gold. I swear that a can of Plasticote has more endorphin-releasing power than its weight in Green and Blacks.
With chalk paint being more readily available than ever before and modern formulations making it simple to use, there’s no need to stick with furniture or other pieces you’re less than delighted with. (It’s hard to beat Annie Sloan (the Home of Chalk Paint) for some serious upcycling inspiration.)
Rather than ditching your decor wholesale, give it a new lease of life by refreshing the scheme around it. For instance Downpipe paired with jewel rich colours is a look we’ve been seeing for a while. But with new season lilac it could look fresher than a newly sprung snowdrop.
If you feel that your decor choice is on course for design exile but your love for it is unabated, don’t feel you need to follow the crowd. Celebrate your unique and confident style. We need Mavericks or interior design would be boring indeed. Go (or stay) dark when everyone else is going to town with white. Opt for brights when the world is gaga over pastels. Don’t follow a trend. Follow your heart. Our Instagram feeds will thank you for it.
Keep it in proportion
Finally if you’re sure that your decor is losing in the fashion stakes, don’t despair. Unlike clothing which, unless you have reclusive tendencies, must regularly be displayed to the public at large, your interior design is only on display to friends and family. Surely they won’t judge you if you’re a little behind the fashion curve?
Plus, fashion is not the same thing as style. If your home reflects your unique taste and personality it will always be a stylish and beautiful place for you and your special people to enjoy. Downpipe or no Downpipe.