The word “trendy” sounds exciting sometimes, like when you buy a house that’s so outdated that some of it has come back into style. It’s also great when you have a limited decor budget and happen to find something at Goodwill that’s actually “on-trend.” Or when your grandma gives you her old dishes and you see similar ones in a magazine. In these cases, trendy is awesome. It gets you back in style without even trying, and it didn’t cost you anything, really.
But trendy has its obvious downside: it’s the exact same style as “dated” a few years later. And again, if you’re talking about throw pillows and coasters, then who cares. But if you’re redoing your entire house and weren’t planning to drop the cash to completely redo it in a few years, you may want to avoid trendy.
Or maybe you don’t, if you happen to be selling your house in the immediate future and want to capitalize on other people’s need for instant gratification.
But let’s assume you’re planning on staying for awhile. And say you are sad about this entire conversation, because you perceive it not going well for your love of farmhouse style. You dream of plastering your home with white paint and farmhouse signs, and applying weathered wood to the surfaces. But the other part of you is afraid of being a poster-child for “stupid” and you would like to make good decorating decisions that won’t require you to tear down your house in a few years or else be the laughingstock of your visitors.
I’m with you. I liked “farmhouse style” before it was a thing, and I know a lot of you did too. And now, the mass-marketing of the style has left a lot of us wondering what we should do if we want to update our house when we know enough to realize that today’s drool-worthy room is going to leave us barfing in just a few years.
If you think I’m exaggerating, order some 1980’s decor magazines on eBay and look at their equivalent of farmhouse style, which was called “country” then. Yep, it’s actually the same style but with an updated title and different “hot” items chosen from the same time period as “country”. It won’t take long to see that everyone liked the same thing. I mean, REALLY liked it. And as a kid in the ’80’s, I remember going to little shops full of tole-painted decor items and baskets and roosters and little rustic, chippy-paint stools and the like. The women were crazy about these shops and plastered every inch of their houses with “country” style. That was, until their kids were embarrassed to bring anyone over to their house and insisted they update, once they were old enough to convince mom that “country” was the butt of all jokes about home decor.
The same thing happened a couple decades before ’80’s “country” with wood paneling, which was in at least one room (if not all the rooms) of every house. I wondered how people could’ve thought that wood-colored, laminated particleboard with vertical lines on it could have looked like a good idea. But it didn’t start there. It started because people loved the look of wood on the walls, so they came up with cheaper, easier-to-install versions of it. They were so caught up in the trend that they didn’t notice that it had no real appeal at all, but just reminded them of something they aspire to. It made no difference to them that it was fake, because it was in style.
And here we are again. We are in the throes of a new version of the same old thing, and there are thousands of shops selling us fake versions of what we think we want, and we’re so used to the fake that we don’t even know it’s pretend.
Let me give you an example.
See this cute little sign? It’s a perfect mix of the trends: look at the distressed wood frame. And the pretty writing. And even tells us what it is, in case we weren’t convinced yet. It’s a must-have object in Farmhouse Style.
Or is it?
We look at it and see distressed wood. But, actually, it’s incredibly cheap new wood with a dry-brushed paint or stain on it. It is actually nothing like distressed wood. And is it farmhouse style? That all depends on if writing “farmhouse” on it makes it farmhouse style. Or maybe it’s because the houses that dotted the rural landscape in America in the 1930’s had a little sign to remind you exactly what kind of house it was. Or maybe we just look at it and are reminded of a farmhouse (assuming we can read), so we think that adding it to our gray-painted, drywall-clad living room will transform our home into a real-life Edward Hopper painting.
(If you aren’t familiar with Edward Hopper paintings, google his name and farmhouse paintings. I thought about putting one here, but I still don’t understand how copyright* stuff works with using other people’s pictures in my blog though I see people doing it all the time.)
* Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can explain to me how to use other people’s stuff (Pins, websites, other bloggers, random online pictures) in my blog without getting sued for breaking copyright laws.
So I actually like the “farmhouse” sign above as an object. But the fact that it blatantly tells you it’s farmhouse style rather than alluding to it, the fake-distressed wood, and the fact that it’s squarely in the trend of lettering/text as art makes me think it’ll be one of the things you’ll be getting rid of when the trend passes.
And if it’s just a sign, then it might be worth it. But usually it isn’t just a sign. Usually there are a thousand other things, like wood furniture “distressed” the exact same way and decor that look exactly like this. Which means, you’ll be rehabbing your entire home at some point and starting from scratch. Just like everyone is doing right now, (at least in the South), to get rid of their formal, Asian-y reds-and-golds and twisty dark metal items.
I personally love farmhouse style, but not in a caricature way. There are actually real items that are from the time period when a lot of people lived a more rural life, and these are real farmhouse style. It just takes a little more patience and work (and for goodness sake, self-control) to get it, but the final look is a lot better and a lot more timeless.
In the next post: barn doors. Barn doors are a red flag for datedness, but I do believe there are some appropriate places for them and some ways to do them well. So if you’re thinking about getting one (or many), this next post will be for you.
One last thing. What we’re talking about here is how to make smart decisions in decorating and design that will allow your home to sail through the trends without major expenses in redoing everything down the road. However, I know that not everyone cares about that, and it’s also okay to deck everything out in a trend and change it later if you can afford to do that. That’s what we’re here for, so send us an email and we’ll get you scheduled!
To read more about real vs. fake, check out my blog post from a few months ago, Read This Before Buying Anything for more of my thoughts on this.
Thanks for following along!