Renovating: A Mindful Balancing Act Between Trends, Personal Preferences & Respecting Mother Earth
Updated: Jan 25
On the dawn of starting a new venture efforts are not only focussed on settling the family into the new area, but energy is put into planning the renovation...
... that is, assuming it ever comes to completion and the keys are in our hands ! The entire process of selling and buying is a long, drawn-out uphill battle - I'm sure many of you could relate and share a fair bit of house-selling "horror" stories.
On a more cheery note, the prospect of finally being able to walk through the doors and make the place our forever home is rather exciting. What can be more thrilling for interior addicts than a relatively clean canvas to renovate to your hearts content... naturally within budget (ha! ha!).
Days are spent scrolling through Pinterest, searching Instagram, scouring the various interior design magazines and listening to podcasts in an attempt to find THE floor, THE bathtub, THE kitchen sink... The options are endless - concrete vs wooden floors, ceramic sink versus petrified wood, cast iron baths vs ceramic, modern vs traditional, sleek, curvy... never mind the colour choice!
Naturally we are swayed by trends and here are some that stand out for 2020.
In the design world neutrals have taken centre stage for many years now, BUT colour is making a comeback. According to EPORTA the fastest growing colours are the brightest with demand for orange growing 195% in the last six months ! Although there is a movement towards introducing colour into the home, being bold with strong vibrant colours is still a little slow to be adopted.
Recently, Dulux have announced Tranquil Dawn as the Colour of the Year 2020.
A muted sage / mint green inspired by the space between the land and the morning sky. A colour "meant to offer an antidote to an increasingly disconnected modern society" .
Graham & Brown has chosen "Adeline" green - a dark, leafy, floral colour - and Benjamin Moore has revealed "First Dawn" - a soft pink - to be their colour for 2020. Interestingly the common link for these colours is calmness and tranquility, which we find in nature. The Pantone Colour Institute is yet to reveal their colour for 2020 and it will be interesting to see what they will choose. They were heavily criticised in choosing Living Coral as colour of the year 2019. Michelle Ogundehin, editor in chief of ELLE decoration UK, stated the choice "harks of naivety, not optimism". The Melbourne based creative duo Jack and Huei described it as "tone-deaf and downright irresponsible" and had even gone so far as to propose "bleached coral" (P115-IU) to draw attention to the environmental crisis killing the largest coral reef system; reflecting the colour coral actually turns to when it dies. Last March, Laurie Pressman, VP of Pantone Colour Institute, eluded that their 2020 colour of the year could be coastal-inspired colours - again the nature theme. We'll have to watch this space.
Looking more closely at the colour green it is very versatile and complements many colours.
According to Marianne Shillingford, creative director of Dulux, "green is right in the middle of the visual spectrum so it's very easy to look at. It is actually a neutral colour and it works with everything whether it's adding a plant to a room or painting a wall." In her blog Mad About the House, Kate Watson-Smyth looks at the colour Tranquil Dawn in greater detail and has some very useful interior design tips. But whatever the colour, we choose based on a personal connection - colour is a statement of who we are, what we love and how we feel.
Climate change with its resultant eco-awareness and the increasing desire to detox on digital exposure has and will continue to have a great influence on interior design. The human race is becoming very aware of the vulnerability of the planet and as consumers we are making more informed choices about the homes we build and the products we buy. There is a massive drive towards eco-friendly interior design with a decrease in single-use plastic and a surge in developing furniture and home decor from sustainable alternative materials and waste products. Some of these innovative designs, such as fungi-grown table and pendant lamps, fruit leathers from apple and pineapple skins and even furniture made from leathery resin-like blood-based material (yes! definitely not for the faint-hearted!) are already on display at design shows, yet they are at the pioneering stage and not readily available or affordable for the majority of consumers. However, what is increasingly becoming apparent is our need and desire to connect with nature.
This love for nature (Biophilia) and belief that humans thrive when in close contact with nature is not new. Particularly in the workplace Biophilic Design has been present since the 1980's and has gained momentum, notably since a 2014 publication in The Journal of Experimental Psychology that found that the presence of plants inside a building increases occupants wellbeing by up to 40%, and studies have highlighted that adding elements such as potted plants to a workspace can increase productivity. We are now seeing this Biophilic Design trend seeping into the home and interiors will continue to have a strong connection with green spaces through use of plants, water and natural materials. 2020 will see wall papers that evoke nature with exuberant florals and exotic foliage.
Wood as a natural sustainable material will continue to feature in our homes particularly carved wood AND we will see the return of dark wood. Rattan, bamboo and woven materials will continue to feature in the home, combined with cork, clay and linen. Layering all these different materials to create a space that is comfortable, natural and nurturing.
DECO MEETS MID-CENTURY
In this particular trend, abstract geometric straight lines as seen in De Stijl movement, give way to curves together with playful strong Mondrian colours and metallic bling accents from the Art Deco era.
Back in 2017, with De Stijl's centennial celebrations, I wrote about the movement's influence on design and it's interesting to see how strong it remains in modern architecture and interiors. It's all about line and colour. For homes this translates into squares, rectangles and semi-circles yet for 2020 these abstract lines will give way to soft and sultry curves.
Chairs will see scalloped shell like backs and fringes, mirrors are taking on more of an egg oval-like shape, and bar carts and side tables with gold accents will add a touch of luxury to your home. Add to this palms, hand fans and Mid-Century teak furniture with natural reclaimed parquet floor and you will create a distinctive and unique interior.
This trend is taking Retro Revival to the next level - "30s sophisticated elegance with sexy Seventies-style opulence" or "Abstract Energy" as someone else put it.
Not sure why this trend catches my eye - could it be my Dutch roots? being a hippie baby? spending my teenage years in the Art Nouveau capital Brussels? Or is it reminiscent of days gone by with fond memories of family life and traditions? Whatever it may be, it is safe to say that, overall, we have a nostalgia in some manner or form for tradition, most likely because of its comforting feeling.
SCANDINESE or JAPANDI
For many years Scandinavian design has dominated interiors. Although still very popular, the Scandinavian rustic simplicity is now being combined with Japanese minimalism - the mindfulness trend of hygge meets Wabi-Sabi.
The attractiveness lies in clean lines (reminiscent of De Stijl) and uncluttered interiors promoting calm and nurturing chilled - out spaces. With a nod to connecting with nature and embracing imperfection, spaces to rest and regenerate are created through the use of soft ambient lighting and natural materials such as bamboo, lanterns, sophisticated bird motifs and silk textures, not forgetting the ever popular sheepskin rugs (which are so much more than hygge with their medical benefits!)
So with an abundance of choice, trends do provide great inspiration, but equally they come and go ... or is it that they evolve into something new? Whatever your view, ultimately, your home should be a reflection of your personality, of you and your likes and dislikes. AND, as in many homes, others are involved, each with their own personalities, likes and dislikes. Bringing me to the subject of your significant other who has their own ideas on how and what should be renovated. How do you then convince them to keep that tired-looking period herring-bone parquet floor rather than chucking it?! How do you choose between their preference for ultra minimalist modern to your own period style? How do you marry colour preferences when they are on the opposite spectrum? Whoever can answer that question will be revered by many!
Having said that, it is clear that the numerous trendy styles and materials available to us allows for creating the most wonderful, distinctive and individual home, yet within all these trends the common thread is the inherent need to connect with nature, a nostalgia to traditions and a merging of styles. Reminding us that, fundamentally, WE are all connected and an integral part of Mother Earth, which needs to be valued and nurtured collectively.