The Debate on Interesting and Trendy vs. Timeless


Have you ever noticed how many different tile combinations can be found in commercial bathrooms?

When I travel I notice it the most.

It’s always staggering to me why so many people feel the need to choose such a variety of conflicting patterns, colours and multiple sizes of tiles–and install them all in one bathroom.

source (TIMELESS)

As I mentioned in this post, when I consult with clients on their final decisions regarding their hard finishes, especially tiles and granite or quartz countertops which generally don’t get taken out for 20 or more years, they will say things like:

‘I don’t want to have the same countertop, kitchen, bathroom, backsplash tile that everyone else has in their house’.

source (CLASSIC – Because it’s your favourite colour)

But when it comes to a sofa which is a way less permanent design choice, no one EVER says ‘I don’t want the same sofa colour as everyone else’. In fact, that’s where most people choose a ‘safe-the-one-everyone-else-has’ colour. Right now it’s in the realm of charcoal or brown.

And in all honesty, if I look back at the tile advice and selections I made for clients 15 years ago at the beginning of my career, I didn’t even question using accent tile. In fact, I thought if you had a creative backsplash or tub surround you were probably a really good ‘out-of-the-box’ designer or homeowner.

That was until I saw thousands of bathrooms and kitchen back splashes, most of them with conflicting undertones and busy patterns that rarely coordinated.

Do you have a theory on why? Why do we choose ‘interesting’ over ‘classic’ for tile, but then go totally trendy (still not timeless) for furniture?

I’m doing a poll so I’d love your take on the comments below!

Related posts:

One more Reason you Should Skip accent Tiles Altogether

Which Colour Sofa Should you Buy?

Selecting your Kitchen or Bath Backsplash? Accent Tile or Not?

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

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  1. Maybe for the same reason people will sing in the shower, but not in public. It’s a private part of the house and want to express themselves with wild abandon. =)

  2. I think there are a lot of things in play! First, people believe their taste isn’t going to change. Most people don’t think they’re choosing something “trendy” — it’s just “what they like.” When 1-inch multicolored glass tile is in every magazine, that feels like an obvious choice.

    Also, while a backsplash is an expense, it feels like the “easiest” fixed element to change in a kitchen. In ten years when the backsplash trend changes, you can make a small investment in new tile and still have an up-to-date kitchen.

    Personally, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as timeless or classic. White painted kitchens are so popular right now that they will almost definitely date a renovation. I’ve seen more white shaker cabs with charcoal countertops, white subway tile, carrera marble, dark wood floors, industrial light fixtures, etc., in the past 3 years than in the previous 3 decades combined. While I love the look in pictures, I no longer want it for myself.

    Likewise, a colored sofa may seem timeless, but it’s very easy to end up on trend (and then behind-trend) accidentally. For example, I LOVED blue and brown and used them for years. Fast forward to early 2000s, all of the TV designers put blue and brown everywhere, and I had to edit my palette. The same thing happened to my sister with Tuscan colors in the 90s and my mother with turquoise in the 80s.

    Overall, people may get more time out of a simpler renovation plan, but ultimately, they have to like what they choose. I’ve never been in a house that looked timeless 15 years after the last renovation/redesign. The answer might be that we need an overhaul every 10 years regardless, so might as well choose what you like.

  3. When I walk into a tile store I am dazzled by all the beautiful options and it is difficult to choose but the last thing I want is white subway tile or marble. I am not dazzled when I walk into a furniture store and look at sofas. I look around for the least offensive sofa and plan to jazz it up with throws and pillows.

  4. I actually do think that the all-white kitchen is trendy, too. I’m sure you are 100% correct that it is more timeless than a very specific color palette with lots of specialty tiles, and if you like the look now, you will be more likely to like it for longer because of its simplicity. But, painted everything is so in, when that trend disappears, something else will take its place.

    I think that what it sounds like you like the least about interesting and trendy tile is that it is rarely chosen with the context you are always talking about. When people are looking at tile, they are usually just looking at the tile…they don’t always compare with countertops, cabinets, fixtures, etc (contrary to what you advise), so it’s super easy to get it wrong and have it look bad.

    In kitchens, there is just so much going on texturally, with all the fixed elements, it’s easy to have too much & for it to get busy and have clashing undertones. Keeping a simple design for your cabinets, countertop, and backsplash, like you suggest, may not be super exciting seeming to people, but it is a clean, fresh look that you can brighten with accessories…and isn’t that what’s trendy now, anyway?

    (Confession, am about to install mosaic glass/stone tiles for my own backsplash. I know they are too trendy, but they are what go best with the mixed tone silestone countertops, light wood cabinets, and oil rubbed bronze hardware & fixtures chosen by the previous homeowners. We just need something to make it look more finished for resale in the next few years.)

  5. That’s a thought-provoking question!
    The only reason I can think of is because tile packs more of a punch than upholstered furniture and when spending hundreds of dollars, we generally want the “wow factor.” But I’m with you and agree that classic beats the trends when it comes to expensive, long-term decorating.

  6. So, I am OBSESSED with the pink sofa. Wondering if Maria or any other folks have suggestions for where to find a fabric like that to reupholster a chair? Websites/stores…. I am looking everywhere, but it’d be nice to direct my search a bit better.

  7. I wonder if it is because of an earlier post….they just do not “love” the plain white subway tile (or whatever) ? They cannot really see the bigger picture and see the that each element of hard finishes contributes to the whole picture.
    I was always excited that I could “punch up” my rooms with the odd piece of furniture, etc., because it would not necessarily be there for 20 years.
    I found a “story board” always helped me see where I was going and I could use it to tweak things.
    I also found my “story board” helped my husband and family see my visions and see the big picture.