When it comes to decorating, just a fresh coat of paint or TikTok’s latest “it” hack can be transformative. But if you’re looking to freshen up your space for 2024 with some expert-approved intel, you’ve come to the right place. I asked a few designers to share the types of decor products they’re tired of seeing in people’s homes — plus, what to buy instead. Note that just because these might be no-gos for the pros, it doesn’t mean that they need to be banished from your home. At the end of the day, your space is yours and should be decorated with your tastes in mind (you know best!). But read on if you’re wondering which eight items designers suggest skipping.
Word Art That Doesn’t Resonate with You
A picture says a thousand words, but signs emblazoned in “Live, Laugh, Love” or “Keep Calm and Carry On” can feel a tad limiting. If these word artworks bring you joy, Havenly’s Design Director, Heather Goerzen, says to keep them; however, there are plenty of alternatives. “Fill your home with art that evokes a personal connection and holds some meaning to you,” she adds. “Whether it be collected from your travels or discovered at a local flea market, or it’s simply a scene that ignites your imagination and inspires your interests.” For example, if you feel inspired by the ocean, this aquatic artwork from Minted below will recreate the ultimate beach vibes.
Slogan signage isn’t the only thing designers think you should remove from your walls. According to designer Elizabeth Krueger, it’s also time to give “bad abstract art from a discount store” the heave-ho, if it’s not truly speaking to you. “I’m sure my first apartment had one of these, but I’d encourage you to get creative,” she says. “Can you frame a scarf or paint something on your own?” Thanks to a handful of framing services — you can find our favorites here — creating your own art has never been so easy.
Inspired art and framed textiles might be welcomed ways to dress up your walls, but designer Mary Patton wants you to reconsider the number of personal photos. “I would take inventory of the amount of family photos you have in your house,” she says. “Try to limit framed photos to three per room or area.” If you do have a lot of pictures you’d like to display, Patton recommends creating a black and white gallery wall somewhere more private, like the hallway leading to a bedroom. Or load up a digital frame with your most special moments. These pared-back alternatives are still packed with personality.
It’s official: Goerzen is calling checkmate on the checkered rug trend. “First spotted among the fashion set in the form of hair clips, tops, purses, jackets, and beyond, the retro checkerboard pattern has since made its way into interiors — and in particular, rugs,” she shares. “While I love the 1970s-inspired aesthetic and touch of edge it lends to a space, after two-plus years of checkerboard print everything, I think it’s time for something new and different.” So, what’s next? Goerzen is a big fan of free-flowing, abstract rugs to give your floors a cool, artful edge.
After years of pared-back interiors, the design pendulum is swinging back toward maximalism. While you shouldn’t necessarily throw away your sleeker stuff, Goerzen has her eye on statement essentials and decorative touches. “People are craving homes with character, personality, and a bit of oomph — a bold departure from the subdued styling that has held sway for too long,” she explains. “Enter the renaissance of pattern on pattern on pattern. I’m not just talking about a small print here and there. It’s all about mixing it up: upholstery, textiles, wallpaper, and beyond.”
Even better? You don’t have to look far to find a bounty of bold options. “Get the look with iconic prints from The Inside — I’m particularly obsessed with the Tigress wallpaper — or anything from the House of Hackney x Anthropologie collection,” she says. “It’s an exciting new era of design innovation with provocatively layered homes.”
When it comes to dressing up your living room, a coffee table and a stack of art books go together like peanut butter and jelly. “I always cringe when walking into a new client’s home and see overly trendy or mass-produced accessories as decor,” says designer Candace Shure of Shure Design Studio. “You know the kind: boring vases, soulless objects, or the same coffee table books as everyone on Instagram. I’m lookin’ at you, Tom Ford book.”
You could buy an art book that everyone has if you’re truly interested in the subject, but why not try something new? “Look for books with interesting titles or stunning covers — in subjects you’re actually interested in,” the designer says. While the internet is packed with options, Shure loves The New Black West, which showcases photos from America’s only touring Black rodeo.
I love fun trinkets and decorative objects as much as the next person. However, finding the right mix between pretty and personable can be tough. That’s exactly why designer Kate Chapman of Baxter Design Studio is a major proponent of filling your home with objects that have meaning to you. “Don’t place things that are just meaningless shelf or coffee table fillers — you will tire of them in a year,” she says. “They don’t also elevate any part of a room.” Finding accessories with a story might take some time, not to mention it’s an entirely personal endeavor, but Chapman has some recommendations. “Try an attractive, leather-bound photo album or nice coffee table books,” she adds.
We know what you’re thinking: Unless you want to move through your home in total darkness, overhead lighting is pretty necessary. That said, designer Sara Malek Barney of BANDD/DESIGN says she’s tired of “the lack of lamps and overuse of overhead lighting.” Her advice? “Keep the overheads off,” says Barney, who specifically recommends to “add table lamps and even rechargeable small task lamps in soft seating areas.” Not only is Schoolhouse’s Sidnie Portable Lamp incredibly stylish, but it can also be moved as needed to score that gorgeous glow.