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The Render Episode 6: How to Shelter In Place Like a Victorian

Welcome to the visual companion for the sixth episode of The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

In the sixth episode, Maddy and Alessandra give us a bit of a history lesson on Victorian lifestyles and interior design. This is a group of people whose lives were centered on their homes. As such, there’s quite a bit we can learn from the Victorians about how to shelter in place without losing our minds!

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The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

We’re about six months into our COVID-19 reality that causes us to spend most of our time at home. While perhaps we’ve adjusted to this new reality more than we had in early April, most of us have probably had moments where we’ve lost it. And not just emotionally. There’s a frustration when your home—what was once your sanctuary from the stresses of life—has now become…well, your whole life. We can’t escape the reality that our modern homes weren’t created to house all these different uses and activities. But, as time goes on and there’s no sign of anything going back to “normal” any time soon, it’s time to fully embrace the season of life we’re in.

So, in our sixth episode of the Render, Alessandra and Maddy look at a group of people who knew a thing or two about spending the majority of their time at home: The Victorians. We’ll look at their lifestyle and how their homes reflected and served that lifestyle. And we’ll even learn a bit about how we can take some of their practices and implement them into our newly cloistered lives! Because, the longer we’re in quarantine, the more like the Victorians we become!

What is the Victorian Era?

What is commonly referred to as the Victorian era is the period of time that coincides with the reign of England’s Queen Victoria. She was queen from 1837 to 1901 and was quite the influential monarch.

Queen Victoria: The Original Influencer

In fact, Queen Victoria could probably be considered one of the original influencers. Whatever she thought was hot spread like wildfire across England and the rest of the Western world. Everybody was looking at what she was doing and copying it.

Victorian design historyQueen Victoria’s Engagement Ring

One example? Her engagement ring. It was a serpent ring, given to her by her husband, Prince Albert. It was shaped like a serpent (nothing says romance like a snake, right?) and included small rubies and diamond, as well as a larger emerald. Actually, it was a bit more romantic that it may sound, as serpents were a symbol of eternity at the time—so, eternal, undying love and all that. This serpent-style ring became a very popular form of engagement ring at the time—and even today they’re actually making a comeback. Not as engagement rings, but as a piece of statement jewelry.

Victorian design historyThe Modern Christmas Tree

She’s also known for popularizing the Christmas tree as we know it today. There was an image of an evergreen tree decorated with candles in her palace, which sparked an adoption of this tradition across England and America and influences how we celebrate Christmas today!

A Cultural Shift

Culturally, the Victorian era came on the heels of the Georgian era—an era all about science and enlightenment. And the Victorians? They had a bit of a cultural reaction to all this advancement and pushed back a bit. As a result, religion—especially Christianity—sees a major rise in popularity. Victorians were very spiritual and emotional people who leaned upon the romantic and sentimental.

How Did Victorians Decorate Their Homes?

All of this emotion and sentimentality had quite the impact on interior design. When we look at Victorian interior design trends, we see a lot of dark patterns and intricate details. Detailed woodwork and carvings. Tassels. Lots of drapery and wallpaper. Bric-à-brac.

Bric-à-brac

Bric-à-brac is a word that signifies small, decorative accessories. Other terms: trinkets, knick knacks, tchotchkes.

Victorians were collectors. In a Victorian home, you’d likely see shelves full of collections, whether that’s thimbles, Staffordshire dogs, collectible teaspoons, vases, you name it. Some people might collect a million of the same thing, others might find delight in a vast mix of objects. And bric-à-brac is the word—first coined in the Victorian era, actually—that encompasses these decorative collections of household ornamentation.

In addition to their collections of knick knacks, they also just tended to cover every surface. Tabletops were covered in tablecloths or doilies. Walls (and sometimes even ceilings) were covered in patterned wallpaper. Architecturally, ornate moldings were very popular. Essentially, especially among the upper middle class and upper class, a home was a place to really show off material wealth and personality.

Home As a Reflection of Self

We talked in episode 4 of the podcast that the French Rococo period of the late 18th century was when interior design as we know it first emerged, as a separate practice from architectural design. It was an era of opulence, when one could really show off their wealth through their home’s interior design.

We see this show up in Victorian architecture and design in a slightly different way. Yes, Victorians loved ornate design. But home wasn’t just a showpiece—it was a space that was really meant to be lived in. As a result, there was much more personalization to Victorian-era homes. With their penchant for collections and sentimentality, their homes truly became a reflection of self in a way that had never been seen in interior design before.

They used their homes to reflect their wealth, yes. But also to reflect their hobbies and interests, their culture, and their taste.

Victorian design historyHome As The Center Of A Person’s Life

In the Victorian era and the time periods before it, a home was really the center of a person’s life, in a way we haven’t seen since then. (Until, perhaps, now as we’re all stuck at home!) If you had a farm, you were actually producing what you needed from your land. If you lived in a large Victorian house in a small town or a small city, you might have had a staff that was cooking and cleaning for you—and they were actually the people who might be going out for groceries and supplies. So, much of life centered on the home and the property around it.

Of course, people would certainly leave their homes for entertainment. This was the era of fancy balls, after all! But these weren’t overly common occurrences. By and large, people’s lives centered around their homes and social visits to other people’s homes.

Little Women

If you’ve read Little Women or seen any of the movie adaptations, you’ve seen the way that home was the center of life for the March sisters. Yes, they went to balls and made social calls. But so much of their lives centered on being home. Home was where they cleaned and cooked, of course. But it’s also where they practiced their hobbies—like reading, needlework, playing the piano, writing, and painting—as well as where they put on “wild theatrics” for friends and family.

The Public Sphere vs. The Private Sphere

Out of the Victorian era was developed an idea of separation between the public and private spheres. The public sphere is everything that’s outside your home. The Victorian era was in a post-industrial revolution reality. More people in lower classes were leaving their home for work than ever before—spending long days in factories and mines. In an industrialized world, the public sphere suddenly becomes a scarier place—one that’s loud, scary, and dirty. Jack the Ripper is wandering around, murdering people at random for goodness sake! So, the public sphere begins to be somewhat demonized.

In this culture, where there’s a fear of “weaker people” (AKA women and children) going out on their own, the private sphere really developed as the realm of women. This is, in fact, when the idea of home becomes gendered.

Victorian design historyThe American Woman’s Home

Books and periodicals started to come out during the latter half of the 19th century that were guidebooks for women on how to live in and run their homes. The American Woman’s Home: Or, Principles of Domestic Science; Being A Guide to the Formation and Maintenance of Economical, Healthful, Beautiful, and Christian Homes by Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. This book, and others like it, was essentially a companion to what was happening in the public spheres as a place of work and professionalizing how women run their homes.

While, before this time period, architecture was a male-dominated industry, in the Victorian era the realm of “home” shifted to being a female sphere. Women took on the role of decorating their homes, which starts to become explicitly linked to the “women’s realm” and women really owning that home space.

Even today, we see some of those stereotypes continuing to exist, where interior design is viewed as more feminine. But, fortunately, our culture is redefining our own gender stereotypes and pushing against that notion.

So, with all this in mind, what can we learn from the Victorians about sheltering in place?

The Importance of Privacy

One of the key components of a Victorian home? Lots of room. (No open floor plans here!) During the Victorian era, privacy was a core component of the home, and there was this idea that private time really helped a person develop their own intellectual prowess. Having the opportunity for privacy and being comfortable with oneself was an important aspect of personal development that we see Victorians leaning into. And we see this value reflected in the way they constructed their homes.

Even in smaller homes—and certainly in larger homes—there were many separate and distinct rooms. So, a living space was separate from a dining room, which was most certainly separated from the kitchen. And the kitchen itself might have sub-spaces, with a butler’s pantry being separated from the main cooking area. And you’d never enter directly into a living space from the front door. Rather, homes had vestibules or entrance halls, and from there you could make an entrance into the living room or parlor.

All of this separation of spaces allowed for each person within the home to develop their own interests and pursuits, to have time for self-reflection, and simply to stay sane in a home occupied by so many other people.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Find Spaces Of Privacy In Your Own Home

Most of us don’t have this kind of built-in separation and privacy in our own homes. And this certainly isn’t a time that most of us are going to undertake major renovations. But there are a few things we can implement in our own homes that take that spirit and apply it to our modern lives.

We’re currently spending much of our time at home. As such, there’s a definite need for separation, especially between work and the rest of life. But within work, there’s a need for private space for being on calls and doing work that requires more concentration.

The “Cloffice”

This has resulted in the rise of the “cloffice.” (AKA the closet office.) For those of you who have walk-in closets in your home, consider clearing out part of it for a workspace. At Modsy, we’ve also seen a lot more people request desks and workstations being added to their bedroom design. (Something people have been somewhat against the past couple years as they were looking to create more separation between work and sleep.) But, with the state of the world today, it makes sense for people to make use of a room that otherwise wouldn’t be used during the day—and to be able to work in a room that has a door you can shut to separate yourself from what’s happening in the rest of the house.

Don’t be afraid to make semi-permanent changes to your home to make it work for your life today. You can always change it when you go back to the office and your kids go back to school. But, until then, you should invest some time into creating spaces in your home that really work for your needs. This can have a really material effect on your well-being at home right now.

Different Rooms With Different Purposes

Connected to the idea of valuing privacy within the home is the idea of carving out distinct space for distinct uses. Of course, this was easier to do in a home with so many distinct rooms. But the idea was that each room within a Victorian’s home had a different purpose. Not only did they leverage different rooms for privacy and their own individual intellectual development, but as a family they leveraged different spaces for different uses throughout the day.

So, in a large home you would have a distinct front hall for welcoming guests, with a separate parlour for entertaining them. This is where you’d have all of your fanciest and most ornate decor, so as to thoroughly impress all who entered. You would also, perhaps, have a piano or organ in this room for some rousing musical entertainment. A drawing room, on the other hand, would be a less formal gathering space for the family when no guests were over. This is where a family would gather after dinner for games, music, and reading.

The gentleman of the house might have a study, where he could close the door and conduct business. In larger homes, each person probably had a dressing room in addition to their bedroom. While a bedroom was used strictly for sleeping, your dressing room would not only be for getting dressed and ready for the day, but might be where a young lady takes her breakfast and writes letters.

And then, of course, every home had a formal dining room, that was in a separate place in the home from your kitchen, butler’s pantry, and scullery. Some homes even had formal dining spaces and more casual dining spaces for different meals or occasions.

Essentially, Victorians had different spaces that truly had different uses—so, they ended up “travelling” through their home throughout the day, depending on what activity they were undertaking or who they were talking to.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Establish Realms and Zones

There are so many new uses being incorporated into our homes this year, which is causing us to have to expand how we use our space, even if our space itself is not expanding. Our homes are now not only where we eat and sleep, but they’re where we work, where our kids attend school, our gyms, playgrounds, libraries, movie theaters. We’re doing all these different activities in our homes—but the reality is that most of us probably aren’t like the Victorians, with a different room for each activity or need. So, how can we translate this idea into the modern home?

It comes down to identifying and carving out spaces and rituals within the space that you have. So, maybe you have a large, open-concept living room. In the pre-pandemic world, you used this space to watch Netflix a few times a week, and maybe it’s also where you hosted wine or game nights with friends. In our current reality, you might find yourself sitting at a desk in your living room during the workday, then sitting on the sofa watching more Netflix than you ever thought you could watch. Not only that, but it’s also become the space for board games or puzzles, your kid’s playroom, and maybe your home gym. That’s a lot of uses for one space!

You probably aren’t going to throw up a wall to create a few distinct rooms into one—but you can adjust your layout to create a more “zoned” space. Create context clues for your brain, so that when you move to a different space within your living room, your brain knows that you’re switching to a different task or activity. So, create a true workstation around your desk, and know that when you’re sitting at your desk, it’s work time. Then, when you transition to your sofa in the evening, your brain will know that it’s time to relax. Perhaps you want to add a reading nook to your living room that’s a screen-free-zone—and whenever you sit in that chair, you know it’s time to set your phone down and open up a book or magazine. Or maybe it’s keeping a bit of floor space cleared, so you know you’ll always have space to unroll your yoga mat, creating a lower barrier-to-entry to working out. You could also float your sofa and use that as a way to break up the space, or even add a room-divider screen to create some zones.

Routines & Rituals

Victorians had a lot of routines and rituals built into their lives. One major area we can see this is in how their sleep cycles were more aligned with the natural clock. They certainly used candles and lamps in the evenings, and wealthy families might have gas lighting, but since they didn’t have electricity, in general their lives were much more tied to when the sun rose and set.

There was also a sense of ritual in this; the Victorians were big on window coverings, so in the evenings they’d go around their homes and pull the drapes. THen, before bed, they’d have to blow out all the candles. In the morning, they’d upen up their drapes and shutters and let the daylight flood in since they couldn’t just turn on the lights. These little cues signified a rhythm and ritual of a day starting or ending.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Embrace Routines and Rituals

This is something we can learn from the Victoirans—especially during a time when we don’t actually have anywhere outside our homes that we need to be. Our normal routines have been completely dismantled. So, it’s easy to think we can just stay up later and then sleep in—but this can really mess with our body’s clock. With electricity and constant access to technology, we don’t have the same built-in clues to when we should go to bed and get up each day. So, it’s important to create them.

Try creating a routine for yourself where you go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, make that part of your morning ritual. Does your brain need help signifying it’s time to go to work? Putting on real clothes, or even putting shoes or lipstick on, might be a great way to signal your brain that it’s work time, even if you’re not leaving your home. If you’re using your dining room table as a desk or a homeschooling zone, consider packing everything up in a crate or tray each evening, and putting it away so you can mentally end your school and work days and also continue using your table for meals. Maybe, in place of a commute, you take yourself on a walk at the end of each workday.

All of these little rituals and routines help create mental boundaries for us which can help keep us sane when every day feels the same! Essentially, you’re using the visual space around you to train your brain that it’s time to shift modes.

Hobbies, Personal Development, and “Fun”

The Victorians desired to be a cultured people and spent a lot of time on personal development. Especially for the wealthier classes, there was a high value placed on learning languages, being able to hold your own in a conversation or discussion, and for women an ability to show domestic prowess through sewing, needlepoint, knitting, or crocheting.

Victorian design historyMusical ability was also highly valued. Music—especially singing and playing the piano or organ, was not only a form of personal development but also offered a way for your family to come around and find entertainment together. Remember, they didn’t have TVs. But they had plenty of sing-alongs and musical performances to keep themselves entertained!

The Lesson We Can Learn: Take On a New Hobby And Learn Something New

Ok, so maybe you won’t end up learning how to play the piano forte with all this extra time at home. But, like the Victoirans, we can use this time for hobbies and learning—both for diversion and for personal development. Today’s equivalent might be taking a Masterclass or Skillshare course, or learning a new language. Perhaps is working through a new cookbook or learning to bake a fancy dessert. For you grandmillenials out there, it might even be taking up the very Victoiran hobby of needlepoint!

While there will certainly be days and weeks the mental strength it takes to choose a show to watch is all we can muster, there will also be better weeks. And there’s something gratifying about using that time constructively and feeling like you’ve really accomplished something.

The key to making these hobbies more a part of your routine is to make them more accessible. So, set up a recurring appointment in your calendar to tune into a masterclass. Keep a basket of knitting or needlepoint supplies by your sofa so you can pick it up while you watch TV or talk with your roommates. Or dedicate one night a week to trying new recipes. Making a ritual of your new hobby will help it to stick.

Comfort

When you look back at the Victorians, “comfort” is probably not the first word that comes to mind. These were the days of corsets and hoop skirts, after all! But there was something about their overall lifestyle that was geared toward comfort—just in a very different way than we define it today.

In fashion, at the turn of the 20th century, restrictive clothing started loosening up so that people (especially women) became physically more comfortable.

 

You can also see the value they placed on comfort by how they filled and decorated their homes. As we mentioned earlier, their rooms were filled with knick knacks that brought them joy. And they loved drapery, and they layered their homes with upholstery and tapestries that added a sense of comfort and softness to their spaces. They wanted to create homes that were comfortable and inviting. In fact, in this time period, we do start seeing furniture that’s a bit more overstuffed and padded, that would allow someone to do a bit of lounging and relaxing. And even if a Victorian home doesn’t seem remotely comfortable to us, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t to them, in their cultural context.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Lean Into Comfort

Both fashion and interior design have become much more casual since Victorian times. But we can certainly take the notion that the Victorians valued—caring about creating a space that feels comfortable—and apply that to our own context. In spending so much extra time at home, you might be noticing parts of your home that aren’t comfortable for your current lifestyle.

Our advice? Don’t be afraid to make a few changes! Whether it’s incorporating more drapery for coziness, layering more throw pillows onto your sofa, getting a new rug for more softness underfoot, or upgrading your dining room chairs to something more comfortable. This is also a great time to consider if your current mattress is working for you. If not, consider investing in a new one, or getting a memory foam topper to make it more comfortable! You could also upgrade your bedding to make your bed feel more luxurious. It might even be time to get a real office chair for some lower lumbar support!

It’s all about finding little moments to introduce extra comfort into your daily routine.

Pomp & Circumstance

The Victorians sure knew how to make everyday feel special. Their lives were all about pomp and circumstance—AKA, infusing their days with a bit of luxury, that makes ordinary things feel more special. Victorians added this pomp and circumstance to their lives every day for dinner. (Or, at least, the more wealthy among them did.)

Looking at Downton Abbey is a great way to bring this picture to life. (Even though that show technically took place in the Edwardian period—but the idea still stands.) Every single night, the family gets dressed to the nines, just to have dinner. And this wasn’t because they were having guests over or hosting a party. No, it was just a regular Tuesday evening, but Lady Mary was wearing her very best dress and pearls.

The Lesson We Can Learn: Infuse Your Cloistered Life With Fun And Special Moments

Ok, so you’re probably not going to get dressed up in suits and evening gowns for dinner each night. But what would it look like to add more fun and even a bit more formality into your home to make each day feel more special? Today, the notion of pomp and circumstance can simply be the idea of breaking from the norm and layering on something exciting!

But what does it look like to make family meals feel more special? Perhaps you do want to dress up for dinner once a week and actually do your hair and makeup! (Maybe on the same night that you try out a new recipe as part of your new cooking hobby?) Maybe it’s creating the ritual of lighting candles for dinner every night and turning on some background music. And it doesn’t all have to revolve around the dinner table! It could also be infusing your home with hygge and splurging on a new candle or putting on a fancy outfit and popping champagne while watching reruns of The Office.

So, embrace the little moments of joy, because that’s all we can really do right now. And wear your mask!

Thanks for joining us for season 1 of The Render! We’ll dive back into season 2 this fall. So, if there are any topics you want us to cover, let us know by emailing us at therender@modsy.com or send us a DM on Instagram @modsydesign.

the render podcast

The Render (Episode 5) – Fact vs Fiction: What Science Says About Interior Design and Our Happiness

Welcome to the visual companion for the fifth episode of The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

In the fifth episode, Maddy and Alessandra are joined by an expert in environmental psychology, Elif Celikors. Together, they dig into the science and not-so-scientific beliefs around how our environment impacts our psyche.

Listen Now

The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

the render podcast

Every day, we’re inundated with headlines full of “scientifically proven” formulas for happiness—in just five simple steps (how convenient!). While we know from personal experience that a well-designed space can lead to a happier life, how much of the advice out there is fact versus fiction? Are there really colors that are universally calming? Will a houseplant actually make me happier?

In our fifth episode of The Render, we’re going straight to the source and chatting with environmental psychologist Elif Celikors to see where science stands on this issue. Spoiler alert: there’s no simple answer.

We’ll talk about the scientific studies that exist around environmental psychology, what tactics are proven to create an emotional reaction in your space, and we’ll even debunk a few common design happiness misconceptions.

What is Environmental Psychology?

Let’s start by defining our terms. Environmental psychology is a field of study that looks at the relationship between humans and their physical surroundings, whether that’s built or natural environments. It’s a subset of psychology that seeks to understand how and why our environment impacts us and our well-being, and even how our behaviors and experiences change in different environments.

Elif says that interior design is related to the physical environment—and therefore environmental psychology—and it will naturally have some effect on a person’s psyche. What environmental psychology attempts to do in this realm is take a more analytical approach, to show scientifically why certain things work. They also take a qualitative approach, interviewing people to see what makes them feel better or what their behavioral patterns are, then use those behavioral patterns to prove why we design environments in certain ways.

But it’s important to note: When it comes to environmental psychology and interior design, Elif reminds us that conclusions are science-informed rather than scientifically proven. (Science is rooted in theory, after all.)

What’s the difference between environmental psychology and Feng Shui?

Feng Shui can be seen as an aspect of environmental psychology, as it deals with the psychology of the environment—and it specifically looks at what it means to find balance with the natural world. However, whereas Feng Shui is an ancient tradition, the field of environmental psychology today takes a more experimental, data-driven approach to connect the dots.

traditional interior designCeiling Height and Creativity

Ceiling height is one of those scientifically informed areas of study within interior design. On a basic level, what we know is that people judge buildings with higher ceilings to be more beautiful. Interesting, right?

But research has gone a bit deeper. Elif says that when a person is in a room with higher ceilings, the part of our brain that’s involved in visual-spatial exploration becomes active. Usually, that’s active when we are actively engaged in our environment and seeking to gain some sort of information.

She says that some theorists actually think that’s a good thing for people—that visual-spatial activation—because we want our attention to be captured by our environment. So, it is possible that when that part of our brain is active under high ceilings, we find ourselves in an environment that is a little more intriguing and we’re actually exploring it by changing our eye movements in that environment.

This also connects to creativity. One study showed that, under high ceilings, people perform better in a setting that requires some measure of creativity.

Rooms with Tall vs Low Ceilings

Of course, how people generally respond and how individuals experience specific environments definitely varies. While some people may find high ceilings stimulating and inspiring, others may feel exposed. Low ceilings, especially in basements, make many people feel claustrophobic—but others may find it cozy and feel safer. As Elif points out, there may be huge differences in how we individually experience the physical features of our environments. And cultural and social experiences can play a huge role in this as well, which shows up in huge ways in color theory.

Gothic Cathedrals

Gothic cathedrals of the Medieval period, with their high ceilings, flying buttresses, and tall spires, were (and are) incredibly grand in scale. Much of the idea behind these towering cathedrals—at the time using cutting-edge architectural advancements—was a desire to scale to new heights and reach toward the heavens, causing the onlooker to feel small in comparison to God.

File:Mond-vergleich.svg

Visual Illusions

Our visual system is prone to optical illusions. Case in point: the Ebbinghaus Illusion. This is an optical illusion where two circles of the same size are placed near each other, and each one is surrounded by other circles. Though they’re the same size, the circle surrounded by smaller circles appears larger.

So, with that in mind, the illusion of a higher ceiling is just as good (ok, almost as good) as actually having higher ceilings. Here are some of our favorite design tips to help give the illusion of higher ceilings.

Design Tips to Make Your Ceiling Seem Higher

Hang Your Curtains High

Look at how you’re hanging your curtains or drapes. Are you aligning your curtain rods with your window frames? Stop that. Rather, with average-height ceilings (when you have 11-12 inches between the top of your window and your ceiling) hang them as high as possible—just below ceiling height—and let them flow all the way to touch the floor. When you do this, it creates this visual illusion that draws your eye upwards. And voila! Your ceiling will appear higher. The same idea goes for floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

Low-Profile Furniture

When you opt for furniture that sits lower to the ground, you’re a little more grounded when you sit on it, and the ceiling feels (and actually is) further away. The result? The illusion of higher ceilings. (You’re welcome.)

Ok, so these aren’t scientifically proven illusions—but they make for pretty good hypotheses, huh? From personal experience, we’ve found them helpful.

rustic minimalist designClutter

Clutter. It’s something every design blog and magazine tells us to avoid. Mari Kondo built a career on helping people minimize belongings and streamline their space. Hoarders scared us all from collecting too much junk. But minimizing clutter isn’t just so that our homes look Instagram-perfect.

Cognitive Load

We all have a certain cognitive capacity—meaning we can’t process an infinite number of objects in one environment. And clutter often causes our cognitive load to, well, overload. It’s like the human brain equivalent to when you have too many tabs open on your computer.

If there’s too much to process, we can’t attend to all of them. As a result, we get distracted and maybe even start feeling negatively about our environments.

Cluttered Minds of the Creative Genius

Of course, there are always the rule-breakers. When it comes to visual clutter, the antithesis to maintaining order and respecting a reasonable cognitive load is the idea of those “creative genius” types. Their workspaces are piled with notes and papers, full of random objects, and it appears that absolutely nothing is in order—and somehow, they function (and even thrive!) in spaces like this.

quiz-francis-bacon-studio - ArtlystFrancis Bacon’s Studio

A prime example of this? The artist Francis Bacon. His studio, pictured above, looks like it was ransacked. But no, this wasn’t taken after a break-in. This was just his everyday working environment. (Excuse us, just breaking out in stress hives over here.)

Clutter-phobes vs Clutter-philes

A bit of clutter (or lack thereof) is another example of individuals having different experiences. Some people are comforted by being surrounded by familiar objects and an engaging, complex environment. (AKA, a little more “clutter.”) On the other hand, some people really need a streamlined, minimal space with few visual distractions in order to feel calm.

Children as a whole, however, thrive more in an environment where there is enough to visually and tactically stimulate them. Not overly chaotic or boring—but having things they can interact with in their environment.

Designer Tips for Corralling Clutter

Clutter doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. And, even if you are more of a collector or maximalist, there are ways to design your space that won’t max out your cognitive load. So, consider what “clutter” is additive to your space versus what’s anxiety-producing. For Alessandra, stacks of mail and loose papers are anxiety-inducing or disorienting. But she also loves a good collection; a shelf maxed out with decorative objects is appealing to her. So, think about how you’re personally impacted by clutter, and then consider taking some of the following steps to reduce it if you need!

Rotate Your Decor

Edit down your decorative accessories, and pack some away in a closet or the basement. Then, next time you’re tired and bored of your decor, you can simply rotate in objects and art that you already have. It will give a whole new look and feel to your space while also being very cost-effective.

Try Closed Storage

The idea of a perfectly curated and designed bookshelf is beautiful indeed. But if you’re someone who actually has a ton of books, this might not be realistic. Enter: the closed bookcase. You can fill your shelves to the brim and not worry about constantly looking at overstuffed and sagging shelves. Same goes for media cabinets. Closed storage means you can hide cords, gaming centers, and DVDs. (Do people still have DVDs?)

Consider this the interior-designer-approved version of cleaning your room by throwing everything in your closet or under your bed.

Double-Duty Pieces

In a similar vein, we love using double-duty pieces of furniture. Storage coffee tables. Beds with built-in storage. Poufs. (It’s a footrest! A chair! A coffee or side table!) This is a great way to add extra functionality to a piece of furniture you need in your space, AND reduce clutter while you’re at it.

Lighting

A home flooded with natural light. That’s the dream, right? And that stands in stark contrast to a room where the only source of light is fluorescent panels or ugly ceiling lamps and obscured windows. Good (or bad) lighting can really change the whole vibe of a room. We may not have scientific facts to back that up, but that’s a lived experience, people.

Warm vs Cool Light

But guess what? Elif assures us that there is actually quite a bit of research in environmental psychology about lighting and how it impacts us. Warm temperatures of light (like red light) causes melatonin secretion (what helps us fall asleep). And there are studies that show that people perform better at creative tasks when done under warm light versus cooler light. Meanwhile, people do better on tasks that require concentration when working in an environment with cooler light temperatures, like blue light. With blue light, our bodies transition to a state that’s more awake—which could be the correlation there.

Many phones now switch to “night mode” in the evening, where the normal “blue light” of the phone becomes a warmer light, helping your brain switch over to melatonin production. Blue light glasses are also becoming quite popular. Extended exposure to blue light can strain or even damage your eyes. So, these lenses help block the blue light of computer and phone screens, and sometimes even UV rays from the sun, to help minimize exposure.

And we also seem to crave different lighting at different times of the day. Task lamps give that “spotlight” feeling and more bright, cool light, which helps with long work sessions. But in the evening, it’s nice to turn on a floor lamp with a soft shade that emits a warmer light, which feels cozier for the evening. And does anything compare to the coziness and warmth of patio lights strung up and twinkling on a summer’s evening? So calming and cozy.

bedroom design tipsDesign Tips to Improve Lighting in Your Space

Ok, so we now know that lighting truly does have an impact, not only psychologically, but physiologically. So, it might be helpful to take some steps to align your habitat with the habits you want to put into practice.

Try Smart Bulbs

You can actually now purchase smart light bulbs that will emit different colors at different times of the day. So, if you need to switch from a high-concentration task to creative tasks—just change the warmth of the light! There are also alarm clocks and smart bulbs that help you wake up with bulbs that gradually get brighter and switch from a warm to cool light as the intensity of the light grows—mimicking the pattern of the sun rising to help stimulate your brain.

Consider Where You Put Your TV and Phone Charger

It’s worth being thoughtful about where you put TVs and where you charge your phone at night. If you’re someone who’s very sensitive to blue light in the evening, probably avoid a TV in the bedroom. You’ll inevitably watch TV at night, and it could impact your sleep cycle. And that’s no good. Same goes for your phone. Having it plugged in right by your bed and setting it on your nightstand will probably lead to late-night mindless scrolling. But plugging it in across the room—or even in another room—can encourage you to plug it in and be done with it for the evening before you start your bedtime routine.

Layer Your Lighting

Here’s a bonus tip that we didn’t talk about on the podcast: layer your lighting. Layered lighting means having different sources of light within a room. So, perhaps a mix of floor and table lamps, sconces, overhead lights, or even string lights. You don’t have to have all of these in every room of your house—but having two or more light sources in a room gives you more control over the lighting and mood throughout the day. It’s what allows you to make your space go from bright and stimulating for work or study sessions where productivity is key, to dim and cozy for movie nights.

Color

It’s now time to debunk a couple of myths in the realm of environmental psychology and design. There are things, like color, that the Internet would like us to believe will make us happier, feel calmer, be more productive—and the list goes on. (Green will make you happier! Red will make you angry! Yellow is cheery!) But they are not actually proven to influence our mood.

Universal color theory in interior design is actually a myth. Sure, color influences people. But what we don’t know is what specific colors do. And when we talk about incorporating colors in our environments, there are so many different ways this can come to life. A red wall will have a very different impact than a red vase. So, it’s not as easy as saying that a certain color will make you feel a certain way, without question.

The Dress (viral phenomenon).png

The Dress

Remember the dress from a couple years ago? You know, THE DRESS. Was it blue and black? Or white and gold? Perception, my friends. The way people saw it completely boiled down to how your brain made assumptions about the light in the environment.

Image by Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link 

Common Color Theory

As designers, we always hear that, “If you want a serene and calm space, add blue.” It evokes thoughts of the ocean. Feelings of serenity. But not everyone likes the ocean! Some people find it scary! This is an oversimplified example that illustrates how color, and the accompanying emotions and perceptions that go with it, are much more personalized to the individual. There are colors that might make one person feel calm and another feel anxious. And then, of course, different cultures often have different associations with different colors.

But sure, there are some general perceptions of color that we’ve experienced. Here are some quick notes on common western associations with different colors. Blue, as we mentioned, is often associated with feelings of calmness and serenity. It has also been linked to dependability and strength, or, more negatively, it can seem cold and unfriendly. Some sources say that red evokes feelings of love and comfort or passion. Others say power or even aggression. Green, with its associations with nature, is often connected with feelings of refreshment and tranquility. Though, some have said that, when incorrectly used it can seem bland and stale. And all these competing theories—proof that that color theory is an imperfect science, if you can call it a science at all.

pink-lockerroom-shutterstock_1184636545.jpg

Pink Prison Study

Back in 1979, a case study was conducted at a prison to see how people responded to the color pink—the hypothesis being that it would have calming effects. In the study, several cell walls at the prison were painted bubblegum pink. Afterward, prisoners showed reduced aggression. So, other prisons started following suit, with mixed results.

In reality, it probably wasn’t so much that bubblegum pink made them feel better. Rather, it was likely more because they had a change in their environment. That it wasn’t just grey but was more visually stimulating.

Plants: Do they really make people happy?

Bringing the outdoors in. Plants make people happy. But do they really? Is there actually a benefit to filling your home with natural greenery? The science is definitely out on this one.

Here’s what we do know, for sure: Being out in nature is good for you. It reduces stress levels and helps you feel better. But, according to Elif, what we don’t know is why. Which makes it pretty tough to scientifically reason if plants as part of interior design actually have a psychological impact.

One of the working hypotheses is that there are interesting things in nature to engage with. Things that inspire us or trigger our curiosity. So, it’s possible that house plants can trigger that same curiosity as you watch your plant grow and change over time. There could also be something to the idea of how taking care of a living thing in your space brings greater satisfaction (and therefore happiness) to your space.

But then there are the people who hate plants. Those who would only consider a fake plant because they’ve killed every live one they ever had. Real plants decidedly do not make them happy.

So, do plants really make people happy? Maybe. Sometimes. Depends on the person.

 

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Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is a concept that’s used within the building industry to increase people’s connectivity to nature. The thought is that incorporating natural elements within an urban space will have positive health, environmental, and economic benefits. So, if you’ve ever seen a grass wall: biophilic design.

2020 home design trend reportPersonalization: The Magic Bullet of Interior Design

So what have we learned today? A lot of what we discussed comes down to personalization. When we think about how we talk about style, we often push people to think about what makes them tick. There are a lot of aspects of your space where happiness is introspective. It comes down to personal preference. But Elif does share that, when people have control over their environments, when they’re able to personalize it, they report being more content.

So, while universal tips on how to design a space may be interesting, going through an introspective process is more important when it comes to the interior design of your home. We need to collect some data about ourselves: What makes me feel good? Does this color, this painting, this style make me feel calm or stress me out? Get in tune with your individual needs rather than blindly following a universal design tip.

Because we’re all different! We all have different needs and preferences as humans, but also when it comes to the design of our homes. So, here’s what we say: Create a space that reflects who you are—your own psyche and your own personality. And that will make you happy in your home more than any design tips ever will.

And this is why we care so much about helping people find their individual design style at Modsy. We want to help you create a home that will make you feel happy—and that comes down to your individual preferences. (Need some help? Listen to episode 1 of our podcast!)

So, what makes you happy when it comes to your home?

Special thanks to Elif Celikors for joining us!

Elif holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Environmental Psychology. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Cognitive & Perceptual Psychology at Cornell University. Her work focuses on understanding how visual scenes elicit emotional responses. She also attempts to photograph scenes that elicit beautiful emotions. Check her out on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

the render podcast

(Episode 4) The Render Visual Companion: Where Do Interior Design Trends Come From and Why Do They Die?

Welcome to the visual companion to the fourth episode of The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

In our fourth episode, Maddy and Alessandra are joined by special guest, Danielle Walish, the creative director of The Inside. Together we dive into the world of interior design trends and discuss what trends are, where they come from, and why they eventually die.

Listen Now

The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

the render podcast

Ever wondered where your favorite (or least favorite) trends got their start? Or what’s happened to them since their fall from popularity? Then you’ll want to tune in to our fourth episode of The Render, which is all about iconic interior design trends, where they come from, and why they die.

We’ll be giving you the inside scoop on why avocado kitchens were big in the 70s, what was up with the granite countertop craze of the 90s, and our take on the edison bulb/mason jar everything trend of the 2000s.

We’re excited to be joined by an awesome guest, Danielle Walish, the creative director of furniture company The Inside. She gives us her take on the all-time best and worst interior design trends and dishes her tips on how to spot the next big trend. Then we’ll finish with a fun game of Love It or Leave It, trend edition.

A Brief History of Interior Design Trends

Rococo Interior Design StyleFrench Rococo Style

The 18th century is when interior design trends first emerged on a larger scale, with the birth of French Rococo style. Prior to that, interior design was much more focused on the architecture of a space, if it was considered at all—but with Rococo design emerged a celebration of lavish handmade designs that transcended a home’s architecture.

Rococo style has all the opulence of the Baroque period before it, but it has a much more lighthearted and airy aesthetic. It relied on light pastels and whites, as well as gold, silver, and marble, to create an ornate look. And this wasn’t just in the furniture and architecture, but showed up in places like silverware, paintings, and decor as well. (Not to mention in fashion.) The trend spread like wildfire throughout aristocratic circles in France and reached its height of popularity in the time of Marie Antoinette.

Top-Down vs. Grassroots Trends

There are two primary ways trends show up in culture, from fashion and interior design to music and art: top-down and grassroots. Top-down trends come, as they sound, from the top. In interior design, that’s the elite tastemakers, professional designers, industry experts, and those who are manufacturing and designing the goods we’re purchasing. Grassroots trends, on the other hand, come from the people and make their way up the trend ladder, becoming popular cultural moments.

The Devil Wears Prada Cerulean Belt

Who can forget this moment in The Devil Wears Prada, where Miranda Priestly berates Andy Sachs for her cerulean blue bargain bin sweater—a color which originated in high-end fashion houses. (The direct result of a top-down trend.)

 

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Influencer Trends

If you’ve ever lusted over a “War Is Over” print, you’ve dabbled in a grassroots trend. Today’s grassroots trends tend to come more from influences. While they’re certainly tastemakers of some sort, they’re much more “regular” people than the industry elite who are creating trends, being more removed from the industry in which they’re creating these trends.

Millennial Style

A great example of a grassroots trend in interior design? The ubiquitous “Millennial Style.” It grew more out of social media than Architectural Digest, and has now become the style you see in every trendy home goods store. Can’t you just picture it?

“A basketlike lamp hangs overhead; other lamps, globes of brass and glass, glow nearby. Before you is a couch, neatly tufted and boxy, padded with an assortment of pillows in muted geometric designs. Circles of faded terra-cotta and pale yellow; mint-green and mustard confetti; white, with black half-circles and two little dots — aha. Those are boobs. You look down. Upon the terrazzo nougat of the coffee table, a glass tray trimmed in brass. It holds a succulent in a lumpy ceramic pot, a scented candle with a matte-pink label. A fiddle-leaf fig somewhere looms. Above a bookshelf (spines organized by color), a poster advises you to WORK HARD & BE NICE TO PEOPLE.” –Will the millennial aesthetic ever end?

3 Iconic Interior Design Trends From History

Avocado Green | Green appliances, 1970s, Vintage house

Avocado Kitchen Trend

Remember the avocado green kitchen your grandmother had when you were growing up? Or perhaps hers was a rusty brown or a burnt orange. In the 1970s, avocado green kitchens became all the rage.

With the early 1970s came a newfound interest in the earth. We had just put a man on the moon a few years prior and gotten our first space-eye view of our humble earth. There became a growing interest in being outdoors, in being environmentally conscious, in learning about nature.

So, interior palettes began taking on earth tones—not just avocado greens, but burnt oranges, earthy yellows, and browns. And hey, if you can have an avocado green fridge, why not go for it? (Rumor has it that this trend may actually be coming back around.)

The Last Whole Earth Catalog: Access to Tools: Stewart Brand ...

Whole Earth Catalog

Stainless Steel + Subway Tile

Today, it may feel like the only real choice for a kitchen is white cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and a white subway tile backsplash. (This is what we call a trend, my friend.)

Everything You Need to Know About Buying Antique Appliances ...

1950s Colorful Kitchens

Post WWII kitchens were also colorful, but with a more playful and youthful palette. Think: pinks, jade greens, sunshine yellows. It’s like the sun finally came out after a long winter and people were ready to play.

Sample chip of vintage formica laminate design #6959-58, Aqua ...

Raymond Loewy Boomerang Design

Think the boomerang design trend will ever come back around?

I don’t really care about what they say / I’mma come back like a boomerang

Kitchen Debate - WikipediaThe Kitchen Debate

Colorful kitchens aren’t all fun and games though—they’re actually a symbol of American freedom. Case in point: During the Cold War, then-Vice President Nixon had a conversation with Russia’s Khrushchev, where Nixon was arguing that the choices Americans have in the color of their appliances is a direct illustration of the freedoms we have in America—versus in Russia, where, at the time, everyone got the same government-issued refrigerator.

Granite Countertops in Garfield, New Jersey | Flemington GraniteGranite Countertop Trend

In the late 90s and early 2000s, suddenly every kitchen redesign included granite countertops. For a while it was seen as a high-end luxury—but soon they were in nearly every modern kitchen in America. But how did this trend start?

A classic top-down trend, granite countertops came onto the scene in the mid-1980s and was seen as a highly luxurious material. It had to be imported, and then fabricated into a countertop—making it both super expensive and a sign of the elite. It began gracing the kitchen being featured in high-profile design magazines and became this aspirational ideal.

Then, in the 90s, the supply chain for granite suddenly improved, and turning granite into countertops became much less expensive. So, more and more sources began producing granite. With that, it became the material of choice for real estate developers building homes with a sense of luxury—and soon a granite countertop made its way onto nearly everyone’s “must-have” list when house-hunting.

But, now that it’s seen as an “accessible luxury,” granite countertops have all but lost their mass appeal. And so the trend cycle moves ever forward.

 

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Edison Bulb and Mason Jar Everything Trend

Around the time that Pinterest came onto the scene, so did the advent of replacing a regular ol’ lightbulb with Edison bulbs. America was in the throes of The Great Recession, and people were looking back to simpler times. So, on to the scene came the Edison bulb and mason jar everything craze. People used them for canning and pickling, yes. But also as DIY wedding reception centerpieces, vases, drinking glasses, soap dispensers—and the list goes on. Thus evolved the Pinterest-hipster aesthetic, which also involved an endless supply of bearded men.

There’s a sense of nostalgia that comes with Edison bulbs and mason jars (perhaps less so the bearded men). It’s a nod to the perceived cozy comforts of “the good old days.” And, since the rapid rise of social media now allowed the mass sharing of images, soon everyone picked up on this trend which has now become known as the Brooklyn Aesthetic.

Though this trend never truly died, it did dissipate a bit. But in these uncertain times, we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a second wave of this trend. At least now they’re making energy-efficient Edison bulbs!

The “HEMLINE INDEX” | The Leading Business Education Network for ...

Hemline Theory

There’s this idea called the Hemline Theory in fashion, which essentially says that you can tell how well the economy is doing by the length of hemlines in women’s dresses and skirts. Think of it: in the 1920s, dresses and skirts were shorter than ever before. People were living fast and loose, having fun and taking risks. Then the stock market crashed, and all of a sudden hemlines got longer and more demure and conservative.

There’s a sense of that showing up in interior design as well, where people gravitate toward more traditional styles in times of uncertainty. Traditional design is certainly on the rise right now.

 

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Mario Buatta, AKA “The Prince of Chintz”

Mario Buatta, a renowned designer in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, became known as “the Prince of Chintz” for his love of florals and English country style. His maximalist British aesthetic is experiencing somewhat of a comeback with the advent of “grandmillenial” style.

Americana designGranmillenial Style

Grand Millennial (or “granny chic”) style leans traditional—with a tendency toward floral patterns and ruffles, and an appreciation for heritage and vintage influenced styles. It stands in stark contrast with mid-century modern or even the farmhouse aesthetic. It’s cozy and personalized, and it’s definitely a trend on the rise.

British Maximalism

This desire for cozy comforts is also why British maximalism is becoming the new interior design darling. The layering of patterns and materials brings a sense of comfort and creates really joyful interiors. The British impulse of decorating really seems to be about joy and comfort and the sense of celebrating something being quaint and cute.

2020 Trends: What’s Next In the Interior Design Trends

Where does the Mid-Century Modern trend go from here?

All this doesn’t mean the Mid-Century Modern trend is going away. In fact, MCM is almost at a point where it’s been immortalized. It’s a style that always feels fresh and relevant. But, the way it comes to life will probably be mid-century with a more collected, eclectic approach.

Case study conservation on the Eames' Case Study House - Los ...Eames House in Pacific Palisades

The Eames House in Pacific Palisades is a perfect example of this. It has a timeless mid-century style that continues to feel fresh, decades later.

Our Blogs | Eames Foundation

The Eames’ Tumbleweed

Danielle’s Tips for Identifying New Trends

When it comes to trend forecasting, Danielle recommends staying inspired and being in touch with your own sense of what feels fresh. She says that, when you look at the same type of imagery and the same type of interiors over and over again, it becomes difficult to know when something feels fresh and truly relevant. So, you have to get out of the Instagram algorithm—because that will only continue to show us the same type of thing over and over again.

Danielle says it’s also important to have an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about what’s relevant and what’s a growing trend. So, look at fashion, music, food, even the auto industry. (They’re always on the cutting edge of trendy colors!) If you’re in a big city, walk the streets and start noticing the colors you’re seeing in clothes, signage and cars. But really, what it comes down to is staying curious.

The “Trend” of Fast Furniture

The fashion world is moving away from fast fashion and toward a more slow fashion approach. And that idea of sustainability and made-to-order products versus having a warehouse of inventory is a direction that the furniture industry is moving as well.

3D technology is allowing companies to disrupt their supply chains and show their products in different colors and fabrics without actually producing those products. With that, some companies are opting to not even produce a product until an order has been placed. Danielle thinks that that sort of made-on-demand supply chain is going to start to get adopted by a lot of bigger retailers.

How to Balance Trends and Personal Style?

Trends are fun. But most of us don’t have the luxury of switching up our home’s design with every new trend. So, how do you balance trends and personal style? Danielle says, if a specific trend is bringing you joy, why not dabble in it? Make sure your big furniture pieces are reflective of your overall style—but then incorporate trendy pieces in your accent decor and even light fixtures, which can really change the overall vibe of a room.

And if it’s a trendy color you love? Don’t be afraid to paint your walls! This is a great way to infuse a trend into your space.

With that, don’t be afraid to let your style evolve over time. You don’t have to love the same things today that you did when you were 20. We’re all ever-evolving and growing and changing—and that means your preferred style, too!

Love It or Leave It: Trend Edition

At the end of the episode, Maddy took Danielle and Alessandra through some iconic trends and asked if they loved the trend or would prefer never to see it again. You’ll have to listen to the episode to hear what they said—but here’s the trends we touched on.

How to Sponge Paint a Wall

Sponge Painted Walls

Forget rollers! In the 90s, we painted our walls with sponges. It created a textured, layered look that our 90s selves couldn’t get enough of.

mint blue and white chevron accent wall in a home office

Chevron

For years, we saw Chevron patterns on everything, from rugs and mugs to notebooks, dresses, and about any other surface you could add a pattern to. Some called it a trend, others argued it’s a timeless pattern.

How Terrazzo Moved Out From Under Our Feet to Absolutely ...

Terrazzo

Terrazzo is a type of tile that consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, or glass, held together by a binding. It creates a lovely mosaic vibe. But, more recently, terrazzo patterns have been, like chevron, co-opted by the masses and applied to the likes of bedding, lamps, and art prints.

 

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Shiplap

Joanna Gaines may have made us all love shiplap in the last several years, but it’s a wall treatment that’s long been used in coastal homes to give a space that seaside vibe.

 

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Glass Block Walls

Need a wall but want to still let natural light in? Enter Glass Block walls. They had a major moment in the 80s, and some people are still installing them today for their light-filtering-but-not-translucent properties.

 

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Houseplants

Sure, houseplants have always been around, so can you really call this at trend? We’d argue, yes. In the last decade, bloggers and influencers have started filling their homes with fiddle leaf figs and succulents galore, and suddenly houseplants went from being a dusty dinosaur that was always in the corner of your grandma’s living room to a major decorative choice.

So, what are your thoughts with these trends? Love them or leave them?

Thanks again to Danielle for joining us!

Danielle Walish is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of The Inside, a digitally native home furnishings brand that’s making furniture fun, with access to more design for more value. She holds her MA in design history from Parsons, The New School for Design and has taught courses on the history of Main Street, rebranding post-war Italy, and the history of objects. She is an interior designer by trade, and prior to The Inside, Danielle co-owned an interior designer studio whose work has been published in Architectural Digest, Vogue, Refinery29, and Southern Living. Danielle truly believes in the power of design as an agent for change and the joy of decorating. Her personal mission is to help leave the world more beautiful than she found it.

the render podcast

(Episode 3) The Render Visual Companion: Why Is the World So Obsessed With Mid-Century Modern Design?

Welcome to the visual companion to the third episode of The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

In our third episode, Maddy and Alessandra are joined by special guest and Mid-Century Modern expert, Lark Morgenstern, as they unpack why the world is so obsessed with Mid-Century Modern design.

Listen Now

The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

the render podcast

If your dreams are filled with Shell chairs and Tulip tables, you’re probably a lover of Mid-Century Modern design. But even if the sight of an Eames lounge chair makes you roll your eyes, there’s no denying that this style has dominated the interior design landscape for the past 50 years. Why is the world so obsessed with Mid-Century Modern design?

Today, we’ll be joined by an expert in Mid-Century Modern design, Lark Morgenstern from 1st Dibs, to unpack the answer to that question. We’ll talk about the style’s rise to popularity, its resurgence in the 90s, some designers to know (beyond the Eames), where the trend is heading in the future, and we even get into the surprising connection between the Playboy mansion and Mid-Century Modern design.

Brazillian Mid-Century Design

Some amazing mid-century furniture designs came out of Brazil in the 1950s and 60s.

A part of furniture and design history that doesn’t get studied or celebrated as much in popular culture. But right now, Brazillian mid-century designs are having a moment in the spotlight.

Paulistano Chair

Alessandra is a proud owner of this baby.

The Dawn of Modernism

If you’ve studied design history or even know a little about furniture, you’ve likely heard the terms “Scandinavian design” or “Danish design” tossed around in conversations about interior design. But what exactly is Scandinavian or Danish design and how do these styles fit into the larger Mid-Century Modern story?

Scandinavian Design

What Lark calls a “self-created concept,” Scandinavian design really launched onto the design scene in the mid-50 with the 1954 Design in Scandinavia exhibition. This was a beautiful exhibit where designers from all over the Scandinavian countries showcased their work, and it toured the United States for three years.

1954 Design in Scandinavia exhibition

While this exhibit was touring, we were also in the middle of the Mid-Century Modern boom in the US. American consumers, who were already primed to be partial to notions of “good design,” loved their work and snapped these pieces up.

Learn more about the Mid-Century notion of “Good Design” in Episode 1 of The Render.

Scandinavian vs. Mid-Century Modern Design

While both styles fall under the larger umbrella of modernism, there are some subtle differences between Scandinavian and Mid-Century Modern design. More like close cousins than siblings, these styles are both very focused on geometric forms and came on to the scene at the same time.

Mid-Century Modern design focused on the use of new materials like plastics, fiberglass, wire, and aluminum. By contrast, Scandinavian design took a much more organic approach to the same modernist principles. These designs feature more natural materials like wood, specifically birch and ash varieties, which are native to the area. Scandinavian design also tends to be softer, and references the organic forms found in nature.

 

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Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase

An iconic Finnish design, the Savoy vase is a glass vessel with an organic, amoeba-like shape.

 

Cranbrook Academy of the Arts

How did Scandinavian design influence American mid-century design?

Of course, design doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And in fact, designers from these different movements were looking at each other’s work and there was some “cross-pollination” between their schools of thought.

So many of the designers that we associate with the movement—think Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, Eero Saarinen, and George Nelson—studied at Cranbrook Academy of the Arts. This was a school founded by Eliel Saarinen (Eero Saarinen’s father) who was the school’s architect and president.

As such, a lot of the Scandinavian design principles trickled down through that and influenced many of these Mid-Century designers and is one of the reasons we think of Scandinavian design as inherent to Mid-Century Modern in so many ways.

The Re-Popularization of Mid-Century Modern Design

One of the big questions we’re trying to answer, is why is Mid-Century Modern design so popular again today? Over the past decade, we’ve seen Mid-Century Modern become the number one style, and it’s still our most-requested style here at Modsy.

Has Mid-Century Modern Ever Gone Out of Style?

Today it might seem like Mid-Century Modern style has always been popular, but there was a time when it was not such a popular style. In the 80s and early 90s, there was a short time period when Mid-Century Modern was equated with “grandparent’s style” in a dated, not trendy way.

This was the era of the “McMansion” and many people were looking to traditional and classic styles when furnishing their homes—think 90s sitcom style—while Mid-Century Modern felt dated.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Style

The traditional furnishings that were popular when Gen-Xers were growing up.

The Resurgence of Mid-Century Modern Style

At the end of the late 90s, we see Gen-X helping to create a resurgence in Mid-Century Modern design. At this time, Mid-Century Modern furniture wasn’t popular, which also meant that it was really affordable. You could find cool, well-designed furniture like an Eames lounge or Nakashima table (that today go for thousands of dollars) at crazy affordable prices.

 

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Wallpaper Magazine

The “bible” of the cool, urban Gen-Xers who all of a sudden have jobs and money and are ready to buy apartments and fill them with furniture. Instead of adopting the style of their parents, this generation is really defined by the Mid-Century Modern style. Wallpaper Magazine featured photo essays of cool, Mid-Century Modern houses and effectively made them the It style.

 

Tom Ford’s Mid-Century Modern Home

 

Men in Black Mid-Century Modern Set

Check out those Swan chairs, originally designed by Arne Jacobsen.

Mid-Century Modern Designers

One of the big differentiators between this time period and others was that you as a regular person can own something that was created or designed by a “genius.” This was also the era of the designer, and these people were considered almost celebrities so there was added allure to owning their pieces.

 

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Charles and Ray Eames

 

 

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Harry Bertoia

 

Eero Saarinen

 

George Nelson

 

1961 Designers Playboy Spread

 

Playboy Bachelor Pad

What’s In and What’s Out? The Mid-Century Modern Collector’s Market

Just like the stock market, in the collector’s market we see certain pieces of furniture, designers, or even design styles that go up and down in value. This is particularly evident in Mid-Century Modern designs, which are so widely copied and reproduced.

Designs Trending Down in Popularity

The pieces Lark says are losing steam in the collector’s market.

 

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Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair

Lark’s favorite example of the rise and fall of the collector’s market.

Once the market gets flooded with these widely-copied designs and the value of them drops.

 

 

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Eames Lounge Chair

Probably the most-copied design from the Mid-Century Modern era, you can get cheap knock-offs of the Eames Lounge design on sites like Amazon. After 30 years of popularity, we think these loungers are on their way out.

Designs That Hold Their Value

The pieces that have held their value for decades in the collector’s market.

Marshmallow Sofa

A piece that is definitive of the Mid-Century Modern era, Lark thinks this is a design that will never go out of style.

Mesa Coffee Table

More intricate designs tend to hold their value over time.

Designs Trending Up in Popularity

What’s trending right now in the collectors market?

 

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Cesca Chair

A design by Marcel Breuer, we’re calling the Cesca chair the new Eames shell chair.

 

Jeanneret Chair

A super chic, and cool looking chair design from India, get the scoop on the story behind this iconic design.

Mid-Century Modern Design in Pop Culture

Mid-Century Modern has always enjoyed a prominent place in our country’s popular culture. Here are a few of the ways it’s showing up on the scene in the 21st century.

 

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The Kardashians

Spotted on Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram. It’s no wonder this chair is having a moment in the spotlight.

 

Mad Men

The show that introduced the general public to Mid-Century Modern design in the late 2000s, we couldn’t do an episode on this style without talking about the iconic interiors of AMC’s Mad Men.

The two main character’s offices are the perfect examples of two different takes on Mid-Century Modern.

Roger Sterling’s Office

A more feminine, chic take on Mid-Century Modern design. His office is much more youthful, poppy, and even fun and features pieces by designers like Eero Saarinen and Italian designers.

Don Draper’s Office

In contrast to Roger’s space, Don’s office features a much more masculine take on Mid-Century Modern design.

On Set With the Eames Lounge Chair

A piece of furniture associated with very “cool” people, we often see the Eames lounge chair in more masculine environments.

 

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Shark Tank Set

Even on the new set of Shark Tank, all the investors now sit in white leather Eames Loungers.

 

 

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Frasier Crane

Another TV character who owns a lounger.

What’s Next?

Some of Lark’s predictions on the designs that will soon be trending.

 

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Mel Smilow’s Designs

A new designer to take a look at.

 

Ernest Race’s Antelope Chair

Lina Bo Bardi

An Italian designer who moved to Brazil after WWII.

organic modernismOrganic Modernism

You heard it here first folks! The Mid-Century Modern trend is taking an organic turn. This style pulls in rustic elements to a Mid-Century framework and infuses the style with a sense of warmth and creature comforts—something we could all use right about now.

Take the Organic Modern home tour

Thanks again to Lark Morgenstern for Joining us!

Lark Morgenstern is a decorative art and design specialist. She has a B.B.A in Strategic Design + Management and an M.A in History of Design and Curatorial Studies from Parsons School of Design. Over her career, she has worked in furniture and fine art galleries. In 2016, she founded the 133 Design Collective, a network of artists, designers, and performers, and curated exhibitions showcasing young designer’s work.

She currently works as the Senior Business Associate for the 1stdibs Art + Design Research team where she acts as team lead for design specialists that review the 1stdibs marketplace and develops partnerships with archives, designers, and artist estates. This past year, she served on the vetting committee for the Salon Art + Design Fair. Prior to 1stdibs, she worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the Brooklyn Museum in the Decorative Arts and American Art Department.

Recently, she co-founded Coco + Morgenstern, a company geared to helping those at the entry and mid-career level find jobs in the art + design world.

the render podcast

The Render (Episode 2): Are Antiques Making a Comeback? Everything You Need to Know About Grandma’s Furniture

Welcome to the visual companion to the second episode of The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

In the second episode, Maddy and Alessandra dive into the surprisingly-interesting topic of antiques. Alessandra predicts that antiques are making a comeback and will soon be on-trend. Learn more about the history of antiques, famous interior designers who popularized them, and some insider tips and tricks on how to shop and decorate with antique furniture.

Listen Now

The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

the render podcast

For the past year, numerous top tier editorial outlets have suggested that antiques are making a comeback. Browsing through the pages of Architectural Digest and Veranda, and your never-ending Instagram scroll, you might have noticed a similar trend with designers.

And if you’re like Alessandra and love looking through dead people’s things, you might be familiar with the idea that there is something really special about antiques. These are things that have endured into the present carry an aura and a story. They conjure images of their past lives and owners and incite our imaginations.

But what even is an antique? What’s the difference between an antique, an heirloom, and something that is vintage? Where do antiques come from and how can you design with them today? We’re going to answer all those questions and more in this episode!

antiquesWhat is an antique?

The general definition of an antique is loosely something that is 100+ years old. They are objects that have been around for a while and have survived into the present.

And while you might think of antiques as a style of furniture or decor, we actually see a lot of styles encompassed by this definition of an “antique.” In other words, antiques are not defined by a style, so you’ll find pieces that are Victorian, Neoclassical, and even Art Deco, which is now hitting that 100-year mark.

But beyond its age, antiques are also things that are special from the past. “Special” might mean because it still survives—they don’t have to have been owned by famous historical figures, but can instead be possessions of regular people. Anything that has survived all these years and carries an aura, history, and that story with it can fall under this definition of an antique.

What’s the difference between an antique and vintage?

While antiques are usually around 100 years old (if it’s 95 years old, it still counts), vintage is typically something that has been around for 20 years or more. One of the key differences is that vintage pieces are usually things that you bought new and still own—you are the first generation of owners. In contrast, antiques are more about the second and third, even fourth, generation of owners. Think about your mom’s jeans from the 80s versus your great-grandmother’s side table.

What is “Brown Furniture?”

What comes to mind when you picture an “antique?” For many of us, it’s probably a large piece of furniture made of dark wood with ornate carvings. If so, you’re actually imagining “brown furniture,” which is a type of antique furniture.

We see a lot of darker stained woods in the world of antiques, usually, mahogany and walnut, which is where the term “brown furniture” comes from. While this seems like a layman’s term, it really is an industry term that refers to antique furniture made of these darker woods.

We also see lighter woods, namely made of pine, in Folk furniture. Pennsylvania Dutch furniture is an area where you’ll find a lot of lighter, painted furniture pieces. Same with 18th- and 19th-century Italian and French furniture.

Who is Thomas Chippendale?

Thomas Chippendale, in the world of antiques, was an English furniture maker who is famous because he was the first cabinet maker who created and distributed a pattern book called, The Gentleman Cabinet Maker’s Director (1854).

Essentially, he created a book of templates that helped popularize his designs and spread them across the globe. His furniture becomes synonymous with this 18th-century era and you’ll hear people refer to pieces of furniture as being Chippendale pieces.

History of Antiques

The first time in history when we see cultures and communities really interested in antiques, is in the 18th century when Pompeii was unearthed.

Pompeii

In case you skipped class the day your history teacher covered this one, Pompeii was a city that was buried by volcanic ash during the classical era. Mount Vesuvius, right outside the city we know as Naples today, erupted and covered the city of Pompeii in ash.

When Pompeii was unearthed in 1748, they found an entire city essentially preserved, frozen in time, and all of these really beautifully preserved pieces of furniture, art, design (even food!) came out of Pompeii. And this really inspired a Classical revival and people started to collect antique objects—essentially Pompeii created a “collector bug.”

Age of Antiquity

Even ancient Romans wanted to emulate the architecture and culture of ancient Greece.

Constantine, the first Christian Holy Roman Emperor, moved the capital to Constantinople (Istanbul) and brought many antique sculptures with him.

Antique Architecture

Even America’s Founding Fathers enlisted this same “visual vocabulary” to align this new democracy with the values of ancient Greece and Rome. Look at buildings like museums, banks, libraries, and the White House and you’ll see a very similar architectural style to structures like the Pantheon and Parthenon.

Interior Designers and Antiques

When do we start to see interior designers decorating with antiques?

 

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Elsie De Wolfe

A pioneering woman, Elsie De Wolfe is commonly thought of as the first female designer. She practiced in the early 20th century when interior design was a very new profession. She is quite famous for re-popularizing French antiques in her designs.

Elsie’s designs for the Colony Club

In 1900 Elsie De Wolfe designed the Colony Club, which was her first official commission. This was a club for elite women of New York. She designed it with a number of French antiques and really embraced a light-hearted, French styling that was in such opposition to what was popular at the time (dark and heavy Victoiran interiors).

The House in Good Taste

In 1913, Elsie wrote “The House in Good Taste,” which was a widely distributed book that introduced her approach to interior design at a more mass level. A real tips and tricks, dos and don’ts kind of book, this gave people a way to learn about interior design that they hadn’t had access to before.

 

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Dorothy Draper

Our queen of glam who designed the Greenbrier Hotel, Dorothy Draper was another designer who used antiques in her designs.

She was starkly in contrast to the Mid-Century design of the mid-20th century. She introduces French and European styles into her designs, but in a way that was more contemporary and theatrical.

Decorating is Fun: How to Be Your Own Decorator

In 1949, Dorothy also wrote a book called “Decorating is Fun: How to Be Your Own Decorator” where she introduced her eclectic style to her readership.

Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings

But not everyone was into antiques. A more modernist designer, Robsjohn-Gibbings (which is quite a name) was a British furniture designer who actively detested antiques and their use in interior design. In his book “Goodbye Mr. Chippendale” (1944) he advocated for the death of antiques and calls out “women designers” who are “setting us back” by introducing antiques into their designs.

Are Antiques Coming Back Into Style?

Alessandra and Maddy think that antiques are ripe to become the next big trend. Why? Among a host of reasons is their appeal to millennials, their sustainability, their affordability, and the cyclical nature of trends.

Antiques and Sustainability

In contrast to the “fast-furniture” marketplace, antiques are incredibly sustainable. The materials used to make these pieces, which are now antiques, are pretty raw and free of many of the chemicals found in today’s furniture. And they aren’t packaged and shipped across the country, but can be picked up at your local flea market.

Antiques are Affordable

Another major reason antiques are coming back into fashion is their affordability. Most of these pieces are incredibly well-made, meaning you can get solid wood dressers and beautiful-constructed sofas at a fraction of the cost of a new piece.

Antiques and Millennials

Despite the adage that Millennials are killing antiques, we actually think Millennials will become major players in the antique market.

Millennials want to be different and showcase their unique personalities and style. And what better way to curate a one-of-a-kind interior than with pieces that are the antithesis of mass-production.

The Mid-Century Modern trend has now become so saturated, almost “cookie-cutter,” that people are looking for new styles and design aesthetics to express their personal style. And like we said at the beginning, who doesn’t love a piece with a story and an aura.

Designers Who are Using Antiques Today

This is not your grandmother’s house. There are several interior designers today who are using antiques in their designs. Many of them have an amazingly effortless way of using antiques in a manner that makes them feel incredibly fresh and modern.

 

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Lauren Buxbaum Gordon

 

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Nate Berkus

Antiques in Popular Culture

There are many places where we see antiques used on the sets of some of our favorite movies and TV shows.

Gilmore Girls

Set in Connecticut, Gilmore Girls is a show that displays a number of approaches to designing with antiques.

Emily Gilmore’s Home

The full-throttle queen of antiques, Emily Gilmore has a very traditional approach to decorating with antiques and uses them to showcase her elite status in society.

Lorelai Gilmore’s Home

In contrast to her mother, Lorelai Gilmore still uses antique furniture in her space but styles them in a much more eclectic way.

See how we think the Gilmore Girls house would look today!

The Friends Apartment

In Monica and Rachel’s apartment, we see the use of antiques mixed in an eclectic way but mixed in with modern pieces.

The Titanic

Another set that was decked in antiques, these people were going down in good taste.

 

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Grandmilleniall Style

“I’m a millennial and I love antiques!” If that sounds like you then you might be what we call a “grandmillennial.” This is a style that looks back to “old lady things” like needlepoint and florals and styles them in a way that feels current.

Staffordshire Dogs

Maddy’s favorite antiques, learn more about Staffordshire dogs here.

Tips for Incorporating Antiques into Your Home

If you’re ready to incorporate antiques into your home, you might be wondering where to start.

Where can I buy antiques?

Some of Alessandra’s favorite places to shop for antiques are flea markets and local antique shops, but your options will vary depending on where you live (there are more antique shops in Connecticut than California).

There are also plenty of places to shop antiques online. Places like Etsy, 1st Dibs, Charish, EBTH (Everything But The House), and even Ebay let you shop antiques from the comfort of your own home.

traditional interior designHow to Incorporate Antiques into Modern Spaces?

Antiques are not always easy to use in modern or contemporary spaces. Here are a few of Alessandra and Maddy’s tips for making them work.

See how we’ve incorporated antique furniture into modern spaces here!

Start Small: Skip the mahogany armoire and go for smaller-scale antique furniture pieces. Things like accent tables, sewing tables, and even art are great ways to dip your toe into the antique world.

Pull in Natural Textures: Balance out the dark heavy woods with natural textures. Things like jute, rattan, linen, marble, and even lighter woods will help balance out the darkness. Think about lighter materials and colors that will help to lighten up your space.

Use Color: Saturated colors like blues, burgundies, and even reds can help temper out the darkness of those woods and help balance out your space.

 

Need help incorporating an antique piece into your space? With Modsy we can create a custom 3D model of your exact piece of furniture. Then our expert designers can show you how it will look with new furniture and decor in your exact room. It’s practically magic.

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the render podcast

The Render (Episode 1): Discovering Your Personal Interior Design Style and What It Says About You

Welcome to the visual companion to the first episode of Modsy’s new podcast, The Render. The Render is a podcast hosted by Modsy’s very own Alessandra Wood and Maddy Warner, and is all about the untold stories from the world of interior design.

Tune in to the very first episode where Maddy and Alessandra break down 9 popular interior design styles. Together, they’ll chat about how you can spot these different interior design styles in the wild, unpack the history behind them, and give you tips on how you can start to define your own personal style and bring it to life.

Listen Now

The Render is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

the render podcast

If you’ve ever taken an online style quiz, you’ve probably been told your style is Mid-Century Modern, Rustic, or maybe even Traditional. And while those descriptions are a great starting point, unless you’re on the design savvier side it can be difficult to translate that description into a cohesive design for your home.

Not to mention, a one-word style description doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room for your individuality. Can we really say that there are only a few styles to choose from and everyone fits perfectly into one? We don’t think so.

Instead, at Modsy we like to think about personal style as a recipe—you’ve got your ingredients but it’s up to you to mix and match them to suit your unique tastes. Read on for our complete tour of 9 pure interior design styles. Be sure to tune into the first episode of the Render for the complete behind the scenes take on each style!

classic formal designClassic Formal Design

In the words of Alessandra, if you grew up with a grandmother that wouldn’t let you go in the living room, it was probably decorated in classic style. A style that “is what it sounds like,” classic formal design is refined, formal, rich, and polished.

This design style is based on French and European antiques and you’ll find a strong emphasis on symmetry and proportion along with decorative elements like toile and chinoiserie patterns, furniture with ball and claw feet, dark woods, gilded materials, and pieces in perfect, pristine condition.

Explore Classic Design Ideas

 

 

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Chinoiserie Pattern

A look that was inspired by Asian patterns including pagodas and pastoral scenes. Beginning during the Rococo era, French people were looking toward China and getting inspired by their textiles and pottery.

 

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Toile Pattern

Similar to chinoiserie, toile is a pattern that showcases pastoral vignettes. You’ve probably seen it in wallpaper or fabric designs, or even in an IKEA shower curtain!

Classic formal design in popular culture

Have you seen classic formal style used to decorate the homes of your favorite movie or TV characters? Chances are those people are high-powered, wealthy, and aligned with more “traditional” values. Here are some of the places we see classic formal style in popular culture!

downton abbey interior designDownton Abbey

A great example of classic formal style in period, Downton Abbey, showcases the color palette, shapes and silhouettes, and the overall vibe of how a space designed in classic formal style makes us feel.

Olivia Pope’s Apartment, Scandal

Learn more on how to get Olivia’s look from Scandal. And don’t forget to check out that valance!

Charlotte York’s Apartment, Sex and The City

See how we think Charlotte might have designed Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.

traditional interior designTraditional Design

Not to be confused with classic formal, traditional style is rooted in early American design and is a less formal and more livable design style. In these interiors you’ll find an emphasis on the beauty of raw materials (mostly dark woods like mahogany and walnut) and excellent craftsmanship.

This style is synonymous with the White House and George Washington, and the greatest difference between classic and traditional design lies in their motives. Our Founding Fathers wanted to align themselves with “the people” and they used this design style, which was inspired by the puritan roots of America, to differentiate themselves from the regimes of Europe (think Marie Antoinette).

Explore Traditional Design Ideas

Traditional design in popular culture

Calling all Hamilton fans, this is the style that would have made Alexander proud. But where else do we see traditional design in TV shows and movies? This style is rooted in comfort and to us is synonymous with the designs of the 90s—think all your favorite 90s sitcoms!

Ross’ Apartment, Friends

Ross’s apartment from Friends was chock-full of traditional design. Peek how we think his space might look today!

Minimalist Design

Ever heard the adage “form follows function?” Or how about “less is more.” Both of those ideas were born out of the Minimalist Movement! Another style that is exactly what it sounds like, minimalist design is understated, not superfluous, and all about committing to this idea of how do we design and create things that give you just what you need?

In these spaces you’ll find little ornamentation, lots of sleek and streamlined forms, and raw materials. The Minimalist designers were reacting to a cluttered life and wanted to bring “good design” (something that was beautiful and useful) to masses of people through industrial production.

Explore Minimalist Design Ideas

Minimalist design in popular culture

Funnily enough, minimalist design is commonly used to decorate interiors of futuristic spaces and the homes of serial killers.

Patrick Bateman’s Apartment, American Psycho

What he lacks in moral conscience, he makes up for in style. Just look at those Barcelona chairs, which were an iconic design of the Minimalist Movement. GQ even agrees with our theory that serial killers love minimalism.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s vision of the future is all about less is more!

Marie Kondo

We’ve all heard the idea of sparking joy! Marie Kondo has put minimalism back on trend with her popular book (and Netflix series) on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

mid-century modern designMid-Century Modern Design

The style we hear people asking for the most, mid-century modern has been the “It” style that people want in their homes for a number of years. But what is this style? Mid-Century Modern is referencing a specific time period (generally from the 40s to the 60s) that was known for a specific form of modernism.

In these spaces you’ll find a lot of blonde and teak woods, primary colors, tapered legs, hairpins, an organic approach to forms and shapes, and a strong emphasis on geometry. During this time period, we see designers taking principles of the Minimalist Movement and rethinking them in a way that puts comfort more front and center.

Explore Mid-Century Modern Design Ideas

Mid-century modern design in popular culture

These days you can’t throw a stick without hitting an Eames lounge chair in pop culture. Probably more than any other style, mid-century modern is the star of many movies and TV shows. Here are a few of our favorites that showcase this iconic style!

Mad Men

Our favorite mid-century bachelor, Don Draper’s office from the AMC hit show Mad Men sure had style. Bonus points if you can hit the Eames lounge chair with a stick!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The elegant interiors of Amazon’s original series are almost as marvelous as the main character, Midge Maisel.

The Incredibles

One of our favorite Pixar film series, The Incredibles 2 features an iconic mid-century home complete with a sputnik chandelier and conversation pit that would make Don Draper jealous.

Hollywood Glam Design

Traveling west to the golden coast, we find the style Hollywood Glam. Also known as glam, Hollywood regency, or even chic, this style is bold, dramatic, and over the top. And while this style couldn’t look any different from the retro interiors of mid-century modern spaces, this style actually came on to the scene during the same era!

In these spaces you’ll find a lot of gold, brass, velvet, furs, mirrored surfaces, and animal prints galore. It’s a luxurious, quirky, and fun style that mixes different elements in a way that adds surprise and delight to a space.

Explore Hollywood Glam Design Ideas

 

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Dorothy Draper’s Greenbrier Hotel

Iconic designer, Dorothy Draper, is considered to be “the mother of Hollywood glam style.” Her designs for the Greenbrier hotel (what Maddy calls the “original Instagram museum”) showcase this love of eccentric patterns, bright colors, and all around over-the-top designs.

Hollywood glam in popular culture

A style meant to be photographed and filmed, this look loves the spotlight! So it’s no surprise we see it in the interiors of some of our favorite pop culture interiors.

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antionette

Talk about luxury, Sofia Coppola’s 2006 depiction of Marie Antionette’s life is full of glamorous style fit for a queen.

 

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Blanche’s Bedroom, The Golden Girls

Some of our favorite style icons, see how we reimagined the interior of The Golden Girls’ house for today!

Global Eclectic Design

The word “eclectic” can mean multiple things. In one sense it describes an approach to style that’s about mixing different elements together. But in regards to a style type, eclectic (or bohemian/boho) is all about a collected, globally-inspired space that is informal and approachable.

This is the look for the world traveler and the flea market lover. In this style, you’ll find a mix of colors, patterns, furniture styles, asymmetrical layouts, and unexpected decorative touches. Out of all these styles, it’s the absolute least formal and all about breaking the rules of traditional interior design.

Explore Eclectic Design Ideas

Global eclectic design in popular culture

A popular style for creating a relaxed vibe or for a young person’s space, here are a few places we’re seeing eclectic design used in movies and TV shows.

The Bachelor Mansion

Ever notice the design of ABC’s The Bachelor mansion? There are colors, patterns, and plants galore, along with design choices that create a relaxed and informal vibe like casual layouts, floor poufs, and daybeds.

 

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Lara Jean’s Bedroom, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

A youthful take on eclectic style, we’re obsessed with Lara Jean’s wall mural.

 

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Nancy Meyers’ Home Again

In contrast to Lara Jean’s bedroom, the interior of Alice Kinney’s (played by Reese Witherspoon) home is the adult version of eclectic style.

transitional interior designTransitional Design

A timeless style, transitional interior design (also sometimes called contemporary) is unfussy and approachable. In these interiors, you’ll find a lot of neutral upholstery, dark woods, streamlined shapes, chrome finishes, and a strong emphasis on comfort.

Transitional is a great base style that you can layer other design aesthetics on top of. It’s definitely a “safer” style that’s hard to dislike because, as Alessandra notes, it’s a “style-less” style that’s really the bread and butter of so many homes.

Explore Transitional Design Ideas

Hotel furniture

The quintessential example of transitional style? Furniture in hotels. Nothing to be offended by here!

Transitional design in popular culture

Since this style is such a chameleon it can be hard to spot in the wild. Here are a few places we see it crop up in popular culture.

Amanda Woods’ Home, The Holiday

Amanda’s house from The Holiday is a great example of transitional design mixed with traditional influences. Peek our designs for the two homes featured in The Holiday and learn how to get the looks!

rustic interior designRustic Design

Another incredibly popular style, rustic design is a look that is comfortable, warm, and inviting. Inside rustic spaces you’ll find lots of texturous materials, like reclaimed wood, leather with a patina, sheepskins, sisal and jute, architectural fragments, and unfinished metals.

This is a style that can be spun in so many ways depending on your individual tastes. You can go log cabin rustic, farmhouse, modern rustic… the list goes on! But at their core, all of these styles are centered around creature comforts and a love of natural materials.

Explore Rustic Design Ideas

Rustic design in popular culture

When we think about how design makes you feel when you’re experiencing it, rustic is a style that makes you feel comfortable, supported, warm, and cozy. Not a bad place to be. Here are some places we’re seeing rustic design on the big screen!

Winterfell Castle, Game of Thrones

It doesn’t get cozier than this! Want to get the style of your favorite Game of Thrones character? Peek our designs for the most-popular Game of Thrones houses.

 

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Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper Style

Joanna Gaines is without a doubt our idea of the quintessential rustic style icon.

industrial interior designIndustrial Design

A close cousin of rustic, both industrial and rustic design are into a vintage and rugged past, but industrial is more about the warehouse look. Spaces designed in this style embrace the use of industrial materials (what you’d see in an old-timey factory setting) like edison bulbs, exposed ductwork, pipes, unfinished woods and metals, and leather.

Historically, the industrial style comes from loft spaces. As warehouses were converted into lofts, many of which were lived in by artists like Andy Warhol, they were designed with the space’s history in mind.

Explore Industrial Design Ideas

Andy Warhol’s Loft

Industrial design in popular culture

Does your favorite movie character live the loft life? Some of ours do! Here are a few places we see industrial design in popular TV shows.

 

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New Girl Loft

Jess and co. live in this trendy, urban loft in LA. It’s a cheery take on industrial style.

 

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Queer Eye Loft

Warmed up with pops of brass and leather, the Queer Eye loft is a great interpretation of industrial style with an infusion of comfort.

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