The original article was written for and published on Living300Main
Every time I hear the word “timeless” in relation to fashion or home décor, I feel so much hope. This piece of furniture or a pair of shoes will last, will indeed be timeless.
In my living room stands a small, mustard-yellow, mid-century sofa. Was this style of sofa fashionable in the 1950s? Absolutely. Is it fashionable today? Certainly. Will it be fashionable in twenty years? I dare say so. Having those three definite answers in mind helped me decide to buy that piece of furniture. Asking if it was timeless helped even more when my subconscious decided I would enjoy this sofa for the next twenty years.
Some things might be considered fundamentals of timeless fashion, but what’s timeless for each of us might be different. What we decide to call lasting and classic depends on our ideas of current and vintage trends. It comes from our backgrounds, preferences, and feelings.
I might call my yellow sofa timeless, but it might not be something you want to see in your living room every day for the next twenty years. I know why the tweed Chanel suit is considered beautiful and timeless, but it’s just not for me. When it comes to home décor, the same rules apply; each piece of furniture should suit your vision and your lifestyle.
The point of such a talky introduction was only to get us thinking about and appreciating the things we own. In a fast-paced world full of issues such as climate change, plastic and fast-fashion production, we ought to pay attention to the quality and durability of our clothes and furniture. Building a wardrobe and home centred on timeless pieces will make a positive difference to both your life and the environment. Let’s look at the process of searching for décor that will last.
1. Stay away from clichés
A home that evokes sighs of admiration with its timeless style wasn’t decorated in a week. Everything that deserves attention, anything that will last, takes time, love and effort to find. I’m not trying to judge Costco or IKEA. However, I tend to believe in other, more sophisticated and exciting ways of discovering your home essentials.
Current trends, which tell us to live more organically and embrace slow-fashion and slow-living, affect our ideas about the right way to shop. There are many ways to avoid mass-produced pieces of furniture to find something that will add character to your place that you’ll treasure and enjoy using.
Visit flea markets and antique stores, like Antiques & Funk or the Johnston Terminal Antique Mall. Honestly, what compares to the thrill of finding a chair in Louis XIV style, or a set of old chandeliers to make each dinner and party you host sparkle?
Try local furniture boutiques. When people hear the word “boutique,” they tend to imagine high-end pieces with high-end prices. But you’d be surprised by the quality you can find at affordable prices My yellow couch, for example, cost just under $600, and the quality and the style are tremendous!
Frequent local marketplaces that feature artists and makers. These markets, like Alleyways Market or Third + Bird, can be found throughout the year in Winnipeg. Many artists will have examples at their booths that can be pre-ordered or purchased on the spot. I’ve found beautiful wooden side tables, kitchen items made from olive wood, and handmade woven baskets that are great for décor and storage.
Go treasure hunting at thrift stores and second-hand places. Sure, sometimes you’ll leave empty-handed, but you might also leave with pieces that will suit your style and serve you loyally. Search thrift stores for small details like a magazine stand, books, candelabras or even seasonal decorations. You’ll find unique pieces while doing your part for the environment by reusing, recycling, and restyling.
2. Add culture to your place
My great-grandmother was Ruska Roma. Learning this explained a lot about my preferences. Every time I promised myself that I would keep my house minimalistic, and style it simply with bohemian pieces, I would find something a colourful carpet, golden candle holder, or velvet pillow I couldn’t resist.
Don’t let a fear of being different blind you. Don’t force yourself to follow trends and clichés if you feel no connection to it. I’m not saying to surround yourself with only appropriate cultural pieces. You don’t want your home to be a museum; you want it to be your home that reflects who you are and feels comfortable and warm. Add culture by mixing in art pieces (maybe something you picked up while travelling) with modern furniture for a timeless look.
Imagine a room where the main pieces, like the sofa, chairs, and table, are simple, but the room feels full of character. Look closer, and you will notice more than basic furniture. Is that a rug from India? Are there French impressionist paintings? Photographs? Are there handmade vases from Poland? Discover what your culture is about and sprinkle it throughout your home.
3. Let the basics be timeless
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: everyone has their own interpretation of what makes something timeless. However, there are some standard rules for choosing timeless pieces.
Allow bigger pieces such as sofas, dining tables, kitchen cabinets, and your bed to be timeless. The same rules that apply in fashion apply to interior design: keep your essential wardrobe and basic furniture functional and timeless. Then, add trendy or cultural notes to it seasonally.
Timeless furniture makes a functional base but doesn’t have to be boring. Research the epoch you find the most delightful or interesting and be inspired by its designs. Pay attention to descriptions such as “retro”, “mid-century” and “contemporary”; you might even keep an eye out for “Victorian” if you like a bit of pomp. Use these pieces fearlessly as your basics.
If cultural or trendy decorative details suit your personality, then timeless furniture is your neutral base. The more timeless and essential your main furniture is, the longer it will stay with you. You merely won’t get tired of its appearance and presence.
The advice that helped me: start a mood board (physical or just on Pinterest) and do your research. Collect ideas for timeless (but not dull and boring!) interior design pieces. Then, enjoy the slow thrill of the furniture hunt at antique stores, little unknown shops. Search Instagram for artists and handcrafters; you might find unique dish sets, side tables, pillows and baskets. When you’re finished, your home will be more than just a shelter. It will be full of useful, uncommon pieces that have a story behind them; pieces that serve you and express your individuality. And that’s truly timeless.
What are your favourite places for finding unique, lasting pieces of furniture? Leave your tips in the comments!