I love the Heartland. The lakes are Great, the beer is bomb and our people are refreshingly genuine. They won’t brag but I will, like a proud and shameless soccer mom.
But a mecca for forward thinking and audacious interiors, it is not. There’s this thing about regular everyday Midwesterners outside of the major metro areas. They tend to make decisions based on comfort, convenience and not wanting to stand out too much. Picture Aunt Karen in a Home Depot aisle picking out tile, clarifying to the sales clerk that she doesn’t want anything “too fancy”. Like…girl. Nobody is about to mistake you for Kim K. cuz you went with Carrara. Don’t get me wrong, it’s admirable, this concern with not being indulgent or haughty. Its what makes the vibe of our tribe chill and honest. But as a millennial designer who suffers from chronic extra-ness? Sometimes it’s hard to watch. I guess what I’m saying is… it’s not you, its me. Nevertheless, this is my definitive list of the most pervasive design peeves of my people that need to be retired. (Like, can whoever abolished Iggy Azalea take these too? And we’ll just agree to never ask where they went.) and some alternatives for those who want to get a little wild. I’m looking at you, Aunt Karen.
#1 Brown on Brown on Brown on Beige
There’s “earthy” and then there’s “I live inside of the earth”. Neutral tones and warm, organic materials and finishes are great but nobody feels as comfortable as they could inside of a cave. A cave is civilization’s before photo. Started from the bottom. Now we’re here. We have choices now. And it’s magical.
If you feel safer in the neutral zone, just remember that darker schemes work better in rooms with good natural light. And make sure to implement textural and tonal variety. Contrast is key. Like this…
#2 Bowl of Balls
I mean… Let’s just not. Can we just not anymore. Why was this ever a thing? When sourcing décor, beautiful functional things are the best but if you just want pretty, try items that relate to personal interests or biophilic accessories that add color and the serenity of the natural environment. These are the three keys to your home feeling personal as opposed to furniture store-ish. But because I care, here’s an alternative cylindrical selection if you’re not quite ready to quit cold turkey.
#3 Affirmation Decals
I swear I’m not a monster. It’s cool that you love love. And family. And dreaming. So the thing with wall affirmations is that they always seem to be reminding us to do stuff we should be embarrassed to need reminders for. Eat? Yyyeah. I got this. They have all the subtlety of a bumper sticker for your house. They seem disingenuous because if you like to eat, your guests will probably share a meal with you and if you are faithful they should probably know it by your heart and if you like to dream…. I don’t know. Just be what your wall says you are. Nix the cliff notes.
If you still don’t see the writing on the wall (or you do, in this case), here’s what an imaginative and less played-out application might look like.
#4 (Pixelated) Mosaic Glass Tile
This one is only a mild offender. I have Pepto Bismol pink tile in my bathroom that I’m currently making work, so yeah…it could be worse. But if you are looking for tile brand new, look much further. This motif says “I like these colors. Here they are together. Design.” It is visually chaotic in a way few people are actually going for when they pick tile and with the endless possibilities the internet offers in the same price range it begs the question… when did “public swimming pool” become #goals.
Want kooky and playful pattern? There’s a hundred things a million times more interesting. Here’s a few :
I saved this one for last so I can make a run for it. I might have go into hiding for this one, but I’m feeling heroic.
I know it is all the rage and I’m not hating on shiplap per se, but I just want to warn folks about jumping on HGTV trends too readily. Your spaces should feel individual and unique to you. Not only will trend-chasing make your home feel impersonal and derivative but it will feel dated a week from next Thursday. I’ve said my piece. Now, if somebody finds my body in a ditch covered in chalk paint and cotton stems, tell my story!
And with that I leave you to ponder my unsolicited judgement and possibly to do a little shopping. Midwest 4 life!
Contributing blogger and KDI team member: Angela Malone