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Timeless designs: How to create a home that has staying power

From hand-crafted Ercol furniture, with its timeless smooth lines and functionality, to colour schemes and quirky flooring, we look at interior designs that stand the test of time.
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How is it that some designs stand the test of time, while others end up looking dated in a matter of months? We’ve all grimaced at photos of our homes from times gone by – a look of, ‘what were we thinking?’ etched firmly onto our faces. But then there are the rooms that have stayed oddly relevant over the years, that exude chic style no matter how much trends change. What exactly is it about their décor that makes them remain so steadfastly gorgeous despite perceptions of what’s ‘in’ constantly changing around them? It may seem like one of life’s great mysteries, but creating a look to stand the test of time is easier than you think. It’s all about designing with timelessness in mind, as opposed to what’s ‘hot’ right now. Here are some of the essential rules for creating a home that looks good, year after year, after year.

Invest in high-quality, stylish furniture

When it comes to choosing furniture that goes the distance, you’ll want to opt for items that last not only in terms of style, but durability too. This is as much about quality as it about that understated, never-goes-out-of-fashion vibe – products that lack in substance are bound to look scuffed and old sooner rather than later. As for design, go for sleek and simple pieces as opposed to the ornate or the overly detailed. We love Ercol furniture, renowned for its smooth lines and clean-cut silhouettes, as well as functionality and understated beauty.

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And that brings us to our next point. If you’re going for long-term appeal, you should always choose furniture that’s 100% functional at its core. Avoid gimmicky pieces that can’t actually be used – uncomfortable chairs, overly-fragile coffee tables, mirrored cooking stoves that harbour more fingerprints than a crime scene – you get the picture. Instead, go for furniture that simply works. Not only does it look great, it fulfils its purpose above and beyond – those are the pieces you’ll treasure for years, and even decades to come. We love the Ercol Romana dining table, which can be easily extended and put back thanks to its smooth, functional design. It’s hand crafted from beautiful pale oak and exudes style, with smooth, curved edges, making for a piece that will look as good in old-age as it does brand new. And the fact that it’s so easy to extend means you’ll find it genuinely useful when it comes to dinner parties. An extending dining table that’s clunky and hard to set up, on the other hand, will end up being more of a nightmare than a godsend come those big family dos and you’ll wind up replacing it.

Be careful with your colour scheme

It’s true, you can technically change the colour of your walls as often as you like, but this becomes trickier when you want to stick with the same furniture for a long time. The best way to tackle this problem is to go for a traditional colour scheme that errs on the neutral side of things. That way you can easily refresh your interiors with brighter or more quirky accessories, but you’ll always be able to return to that chic, timeless look when you want to. Creams, taupes and beiges work well, as well as pastel blues, greys and white.

Whatever you go for just be sure to think logically and plan the look of your home as a whole – incorporating furniture choices with wall colour and vice versa. If you don’t like the completely neutral look and want to add a feeling of depth, other colours that work well with traditional design include dark green, navy blue and even black. Just make sure you don’t go for anything clashing or overly bright. Primary colours, for example, can jar with classic furniture.

Go for classic flooring

When it comes to flooring you’ll want to go for something that’s classic – but it’s important to remember that ‘classic’ doesn’t necessarily equate to stripped back or ‘barely there’. In fact, opting for something that makes a bit of a statement can really bring your interiors to life. It’s vital, though, to choose a style that has already stood the test of time (no experimenting here, please). With a bit of research you can find something that’s both quirky and classic. Think traditional checkerboard flooring for the kitchen, offset by white walls and lots of glossy red kitchen accessories (if you get bored of these – you can replace them). Leave wooden beams exposed if you’re lucky enough to have them, and invest in an AGA stove for a look that feels as homely and stylish now as it will in the far-off future.

Likewise, going for a statement, retro-feeling bathroom tile will keep your bathroom looking trendy and chic through the years. We love designs that hark back to the art-deco style of the twenties. Geometric patterns add plenty of character to a room and, as long as you go for monochrome and creams, look great indefinitely. For the rest of the house, you can’t go wrong with heavy real-wood floorboards or an uber-polished porcelain tile in off-white.

While timeless design is about creating a look that will last into the future, it’s the past we need to look back on to see what really stands the test of time. It helps, too, to look at what hasn’t worked, and learn from our mistakes (did floral wallpaper borders ever look good?). That way, you can sort the wheat from the chaff and create a home that incorporates chic designs proven to last. Goodbye fads, fashions and shocking faux pas, hello lovely, tasteful, timeless home.

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