One of the biggest concerns my clients have when we set out to design their home or hotel is whether or not the look we settle on will last in the long haul. Whether it’s due to a dying trend (think floral-print couches) or a living nightmare (think carpeted bathrooms), no one wants to redecorate every few years. Having worked in the interior design industry for more than three decades, I’ve closely tracked the rise and fall of various looks, and I’ve paid particular attention to what lasts. My discoveries contributed to my latest launch into the world of product design with Sue Firestone Collection, where I’ve recently created a line of hand-crafted furnishings for A. Rudin and a luxe collection of residential fabrics, sheers, and wallcovering for Kravet, Inc. Here are some of the tips that not only informed my designs but can help you create a stunning look in your own home that will stand the test of time.
1. Remember that nature never goes out of style.
As an avid lover of the outdoors, I’ve always been drawn to more natural materials and aesthetics. In my furnishings for A. Rudin, I favored durable, live-edge woods that showcased the material in its purest form. I paired that with neutral colors and clean lines to ensure the look was both modern and timeless. In my fabrics for Kravet, Inc., I used soft earth tones and patterns that echoed those found in nature. However, I made sure these reflective prints were never too busy or overdone by choosing subtler, more abstract inspiration, i.e. wild fields of grain or the splattered spikes of a sea urchin.
You can apply the principle that nature never goes out of style to your home by choosing materials like natural woods and wholesome textiles for the larger, more central pieces, such as tables, chairs, and sofas. Try to select items that have a classic material, but feature clean lines and neutral colors, so they remain modern. Keep the more broadly used textile prints in your home simple or slightly abstract. Then, use bolder, of-the-moment trends for items that can more easily be updated such as throw pillows, accent walls, or smaller decorative items.
2. Invest in quality.
It sounds obvious, but quality really matters when it comes to the pieces in your home that will see the most use. This isn’t necessarily about paying a higher price but considering the materials that are being used and process being employed to create the items you’re selecting. Whenever possible, invest in whole materials such as solid woods, wools, and non-synthetic fabrics.
Be sure to consider who is making the piece you’re looking at and how it’s being made. Companies that take pride in the quality of their goods and that work with experts and artisans will deliver a better product. Not only will that product be more beautiful but more durable, ensuring your dollar goes further in the long run. For example, I was thrilled to partner with Oaklore, a small business that makes custom wood furniture to help handcraft much of my collection for A. Rudin.
Choices like these should not be written off as unaffordable. They often simply require a little more time researching. Spend a few hours on Etsy. Go deeper into the pages of Google or simply look into the specs of the item you’re adding to your cart to make sure it’s up to your standards.
3. Make greener choices.
By now, we should all know that sustainability is not a trend but a necessity. It is also an extremely wise investment for your home in terms of both appearance and quality. It’s a huge misconception that aesthetic goals need to be sacrificed in favor of environmentally responsible design. Today, with demand on the rise, new, exquisite sustainable products and practices appear on the scene daily. Eco-friendly designs tend to naturally marry form with style by using organic, timeless, and more durable materials. No matter how much technology floods our lives, people love the unfussy, serene environments created by green designs. Choose them whenever possible for the longterm health, comfort, and beauty of your home.
4. Don’t overdo a single trend.
Home trends like shabby chic, Bohemian, or mid-century modern fall in and out of popularity. The truth is that any design can be sustained more effectively when executed tastefully and not overdone. If you’re adding a few rustic shelves to your kitchen, avoid the temptation to add a barn-style sliding door to its entry. If you’re covering an accent wall with floral wallpaper, don’t choose drapes or textiles with a similarly busy print or that are too “matchy.”
Remember, not everything has to fit a specific look to be cohesive. It’s more important that all the elements in a room fit with one another. Editing is a huge part of design. If you struggle to pair down, you may want to consider selecting one or two favorite accent pieces, then designing around them rather than trying to squeeze everything within a certain style into one space.
5. Make it personal.
Never forget that your primary goal is to create a space you love living in. Choose the things that speak to you or put you in a certain mood. Try to think of a room in its completion in terms of how it will make you feel rather than what you’ll walk in and see. If a specific shade of blue helps you relax or a funky print reminds you of somewhere you loved to travel, make sure to find a place for it. If surrounding yourself with bookshelves fills you with warmth or 1970s macrame just brings you joy, there’s a way to make it work.
For me, my love of nature started from my earliest days growing up in Malibu and expanded when I started to travel as a teenager. Incorporating natural elements into my aesthetic is the cohesive thread that makes every space I create a joy to design. It’s what makes my own home feel like a reflection of who I am. Never forget a lasting look you love is really more about what works for you than just what works. What means something to you will never go out of style.
About the Author
Sue Firestone is Chairman and Founder of SFA Design. She’s worked on projects for leading luxury hotel operators, including Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ritz Carlton Hotels, Waldorf Astoria Collection, and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and designed acclaimed private estates around the world. She’s recently launched Sue and created a line of hand-crafted furnishings for A. Rudin and a luxe collection of residential fabrics, sheers, and wallcovering for Kravet, Inc.