Design Trends of 2011

November 10, 2011

Greetings all!  Today I have the best conversation for you to savor. Settle in with your beverage of choice cause it’s just like a group of your favorite gal pals are here with you and we’re all sharing our opinions on trends in design for 2011!  Michelle of Ten June is back for her monthly contribution and she has asked six experienced DIY and design bloggers (including me!) our thoughts on design trends, including what we’ve observed over the past year, and our predictions for the future.

So glad to have you back this month Michelle, take it away!

“Believe it or not, 2011 is coming to a close. Before we get too wrapped up in all things holiday, I thought it would be fun to chat about design trends in 2011- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I’ve got a little surprise, as I’ve lined up six of our favorite shelter bloggers to discuss the highlights of design in 2011.

Everybody give up a big welcome to Sherry from Young House Love, Mrs. Limestone from A Brooklyn Limestone, Cristin from Simplified Bee, Janell from Isabella and Max Rooms, Jennifer from Rambling Renovators, and our very own Kate from Centsational Girl.

blogger panel

I know, right? This is a superstar team of DIY and design bloggers! So without further introduction, let’s get started and dive into the world of design in 2011!

What was your favorite interior design trend in 2011?

Sherry: Hmm, it’s a tie between Ikat and chevron I think. I love everything from tone-on-tone chevron curtains to brightly painted furniture with those playful zig-zig patterns worked in there. And anything Ikat = love for me. I like to say that I’m happy to hang out behind the trends. Ha ha. I’m rarely ahead of that sort of stuff and I usually love it far longer than most trend forecasters do. But it works out because if I work something "trendy" into my house I’m not over it a season or two later – I tend to enjoy things for a nice long time. Like my Ikat curtains in the dining room. Here’s hoping I still love those babies in ten years. So far, so good.

Mrs. Limestone: I tend to think the best trends last way longer than 12 months, so while this isn’t particular to 2011, my favorite just might be using maps in decor.  Everything from turning a globe into a light to map patterns showing up in all kinds of small accessories to repurposing old pull down school maps as art – the world is hot!

framed map bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

Cristin: Wallpaper and wall coverings have been trending. I found that more and more of my clients were willing to take the plunge to commit to wallpaper in 2011. All different types of wall coverings are popular, but I am finding that coverings made of natural fibers such as sea grass, hemp, or arrowroot are leading the pack.

schumaker grasscloth

Natalie Clay Design

Janell: Even though the term is becoming overused, I love the trend of embracing eclectic design. I think it helps dispel the idea there is a right and wrong way to decorate and gives people the freedom to explore and embrace their own unique mix of favorite items, both new and old.

Jennifer: The use of paneling/molding/trim. It’s a great way to add architectural detail and is a classic look that will never go out of style.

Kate: My most favorite trend is the growing use of reclaimed wood, especially when the designer makes efforts to truly showcase the beauty of the wood itself.  Whether polished, whitewashed, stained, or rustic, exposed wood is back and it’s looking fabulous!

house and home rustic wood

House and Home


In your opinion, what was the worst interior design trend in 2011?

Sherry: See, here’s where I’m lame. I don’t really hate much. I like to think that there are about a million "right" answers in design (as opposed to just one) so I’ve seen tons of things that might be considered to be trends that are over and have still loved them as much as the day they were "in." Cop out answer, I know. But really, I can’t think of anything.

Mrs. Limestone: This is just a personal preference, but I really don’t like the use of rough materials for furniture, rugs, pillows or anything that comes in contact with skin.  Wicker furniture and sisal rugs come to mind.  They don’t look bad – they just don’t invite me to want to stay in a space.  And really, isn’t that goal of any room?

Cristin: With some exceptions, industrial-inspired décor was a miss for me.

Janell: I saw a lot of mirrored pieces of furniture, as well as mirrored accessories and accents. To my eye, unless these items are very well made they can begin to look cheap and bring down the overall look of a room.

mirrored furniture


Jennifer: Building furniture out of wooden pallets. It only works in certain décor and really seems like a lot of effort for a piece that looks unfinished and temporary.

Kate: It’s a personal preference but I confess, I’m starting to feel just a bit of chevron overdose.  Maybe it’s just me.  Personally, I prefer a more classic subdued and traditional herringbone pattern – that never gets old.  Neither does Missoni’s iconic zig zag pattern, especially in muddy tone on tone hues.


What house-related design trends from this year will stick around in 2012 (whether you like it or not!)?

Sherry: Gray and yellow seems to be a pairing that’s still going strong, so I think it might stay around for a while. I think pops of color in general might be here to stay for a nice long time. The whole monochromatic/neutral/tonal thing seemed to be "in" a few years back, but now it seems like even high end designers are playing around with everything from plum and pink to cobalt and orange a lot more. I love it!

yellow barn door

Southern Living

Mrs. Limestone: Chevron is everywhere right now and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I’ve seen a few people say it’s a new fad but trust me – this pattern is anything but new.  Chevron is a trend that is never going to go away – you’ll find it in 1970s clothing, 18th century Paris apartments’ herringbone floors and the inlaid marble at the Taj Mahal.  If it’s made it this long, I think it’s safe to say it is here to stay.

Cristin: Brass accents, hide rugs and chevron patterns will be back in 2012.

Janell: I am a fan of the Belgian style and I do think it will continue to grow in popularity. The worn wood pieces popular in this trend, that often are limed, evoke a lived in feeling that can create very welcoming spaces. However, when taken to the extreme, as seen in some catalog layouts, it is a trend that can become trite looking rather than inviting, and can begin to seem out of place.

Jennifer: Painted furniture. I think people want to incorporate more colour into their homes and this is an easy and bold way to do it. Plus, the trend of recycling/upcycling will continue and painting vintage pieces really breathes new life into things that otherwise go into a landfill.

Kate: Gold is timeless and we’re seeing it everywhere again. I adore the use of antique gold finishes and patinas but I just wonder if we’ll also see the resurgence of shiny brass that we saw so much of (too much of) in the late 80s and early 90s.

gold table lonny



Did you find that any design trends from the past made a comeback in 2011?

Sherry: Grellow!  Aka: greeny-yellow or chartreuse. It’s such a fun throwback to the 70’s, yet it still feels totally modern and clean in the right pairings (CB2 has been using it for a while along with clean white furnishings and dark wood for texture). This is definitely an inspiration for green-loving folks like us. It’s such a great color because it’s modern and crisp without being cold (thanks to the warm golden yellow undertones).

Mrs. Limestone: One of the biggest design trends of this century is absolutely bringing back anything vintage – even mundane, functional items like cameras and telephones are hot décor items now.  I don’t know if I can call it a comeback or a breakthrough but I am all over it. One thing I wish would definitely go away is the color mauve.  I could totally do without that coming back.

Cristin: The chevron pattern has made a huge comeback this year. From pillows to rugs, that bold zig zag can be found in various sizes and endless color schemes.

chevron pattern sofa

My Old Country House

Janell: Wallpaper continues to make a comeback and I adore seeing this trend! Not only new styles, but many well-loved styles from the past are being reintroduced with success.

Jennifer: The use of gold-toned metals in interiors made a huge comeback. Like the gilded days of the 1980’s, gold adds warmth and luxury, but today it’s more subdued in hues of brass or with an antiqued patina.

Kate:  Hello, mid-century modern!  It’s been back for a few years but it’s still going strong and we can all thank the hit series ‘Mad Men’.  One thing I do love about mid century modern is the deliberate use of clean lines – it gives permission to use more eclectic accessories.


What design trend from this year do you think will pop up again in twenty years?

Sherry: Hmm, maybe the whole handmade/DIY trend? Right now making things yourself to save money and be creative is really popular thanks to the economy and the growing interest in local/eco/working-with-what-you-have initiatives. I hope that’s something that doesn’t go out ever again – so it’ll hopefully still be cool in 2031. Certain eras felt more like people bragged about how much things cost instead of bragging about how much they saved by making stuff themselves – so here’s hoping that handmade/DIY enthusiasm is here to stay! Or at least that it pops up more often than not.

Mrs. Limestone: Everything repeats itself eventually it seems.  Once you get far enough away from a generation to appreciate it, it all comes back.  (PS: I’m still resisting the 80s – let’s make a stand against neon!)

Cristin: I wouldn’t be surprised to see wallpaper cycle back in 20 years.

Janell: The sunburst mirror. It is one of those items that has becomes so well loved that it is verging on overuse, if it isn’t already there. The fastest thing that happens when something is overused is that it becomes tired and people start to shy away from using it. I suspect this is a trend that will be tucked away in the closet in the near future only to reemerge with great popularity in another twenty years, if not sooner. (We just need a break for a moment so that all the great options can become fresh again!)

Jennifer: Chevron! It’s a great graphic pattern and, like animal prints or stripes, will no doubt come back in style again.

Kate: I think it’s bold color high gloss furniture.  Right now we’re seeing old pieces reinvented in brightly painted colors with glossy sheens and I love it.  We may shy away from that in a few years but I predict it will come back, as we all crave color and a fresh coat of paint on a tired piece is the easiest way to update.     yellow dresser

Honey & Fitz


In your opinion, what was the most overused design trend of 2011?

Sherry: I can’t really think of a single thing that I think was overused to the point of wanting to see less of it. Because even if things pop up repeatedly (chalk board paint, maps, birds, jute), I always seem to appreciate them in all different applications. So I’m glad they keep coming back in different surroundings/colors/uses because each time they’re applied in a new way. I think I’m one of those "the more, the merrier" type of people.

chalkboard wall

via Piccsy

Mrs. Limestone: I really do think that nearly anything can be done well, but if I had to pick one thing – it would be the Moroccan pouf.  They seem to crop up in every décor magazine in the most random ways.  I’ve had enough of the pouf to last a lifetime.

Cristin: Ikat and zebra patterns were a bit overused in 2011. I am predicting we will see them fade away a bit next year.

Janell: This is not specifically a "trend", but the idea that we must rush through the process of putting together a room to cross the finish line in a record pace is becoming tiring for many, myself included. Wanting a room complete yesterday often doesn’t allow for a thoughtful design process to take place, one in which there is the freedom to slowly find and acquire meaningful items that have a true purpose and can be treasured and enjoyed over a long period of time. I see interior design trends beginning to mirror the pace of fashion design trends, and this can’t be a good thing. Interiors are far too expensive and time consuming to put together to have our efforts become dated before we can even being to enjoy the outcome.

Jennifer: Definitely starburst mirrors. I love the look of vintage starburst mirrors but all the DIY versions out there have turned this stylish accessory into something kitschy and not so glamorous.

sunburst mirror wisteria


Kate: I brought this up a few months ago in a timeless or trendy’ article, but my best answer is sunburst (or starburst) mirrors. They’ve been around for centuries, but sunburst mirrors have definitely have their periods of popularity, then they fade from view. I’m loving them now in my own home, even making a DIY version and recently buying a retail version for our master bedroom.  They’re just such a pretty focal point, and it doesn’t matter to me if they’re trendy. I think that’s what’s most important, finding what you like and then decorating with your personal preferences, regardless of what other’s deem ‘timeless’ or ‘trendy’.

Wow, isn’t it incredible how much beautiful design passes through our lives in just one year?! It’s clear that 2011 was certainly a year for interior design hits (and a few misses!). Thank you to our blogger panel for taking the time to chat about this year in design. I think I will speak for all of us when I saw that we’re looking forward to what the world of design holds for 2012!”

Thank you so much Michelle for rounding up all these opinions from these amazing bloggers!  Be sure to pay a visit to Michelle over at her blog Ten June.

michelle bio

And a huge thank you to Sherry, Mrs. Limestone, Cristin, Janell, and Jennifer for participating, what fun this was!  Such great conversation right?  Isn’t it so interesting how we view the design world so differently?  I could talk for days and days about design trends, how far we’ve come and where we’re going.

What do you think?  What were your most favorite and least favorite design trends of 2011?  What are your predictions for 2012?  C’mon spill it, we all want to know!



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