By Elly Leavitt

Published on October 20, 2018

When it comes to design trends, there’s the good, the bad, and the unsure. We’ve seen a lot this past year, from trendy materials to innovative color moments, and some of it has certainly proven more divisive than the rest—so, we thought we’d dissect it.

Here, a deep dive into some of 2018’s most controversial decor trends. Would you try your hand at any of these? 

Color-Coordinated Bookshelves

Do you invert all your books to have the pages facing out, so that the entire shelf looks uniform? Would you consider yourself a color-coordinating aficionado? This penchant for an over-dedication to curating a bookcase has caused quite a bit of a debate here at Domino.

Pro:

Bookcases offer up a prime opportunity to turn something functional into a visually exciting moment. If the aesthetic of your home veers towards colorful minimalism, a rainbow bookshelf may just be the way to go. Conversely, if you’ve spent time and money copiously ensuring that your space is a neutral-filled oasis devoid of color and pattern, it makes no sense to sabotage that with your books. Coordinating your books is fun, it’s a super easy way to pack a bold punch in any sized space… and it’s just a bookshelf. It’s hardly the biggest design crime one could commit.

In the words of Christy Smirl, owner of Foxtail books and book therapist, “There is no right or wrong way to organize or arrange books—only you can choose what you like to read. It’s okay to shelve Victorian history next to your erotica next to your interior design books if the look or simply miscellany of it inspires you—it can look fun, and remind you of the layers of interesting things about your life.” Take it from an expert.

 

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Con:

From a practicality standpoint, this styling decision doesn’t make a lot of sense. As one commenter in the above Instagram put it, this way of bookshelf organization is best “for people who don’t read.” Harsh words, yes, but for the avid bookworm, it’s hardly practical to have to hunt through the rainbow or invert every single hardback in search of the one book you want to read. Maybe books don’t have to seamlessly match your decor; books are your decor.

Instead of painstakingly organizing the books themselves, try bringing style through other accent pieces. Break up stacks of books by leaving a spot bare, to be filled with a decorative touch like a group of candlesticks, a little vase, or a ceramic bowl. And try mixing horizontal stacks with vertical ones for a bit of visual intrigue.

Grandma-Chic

While we pretty much unanimously love this return to the cozy and the classic, others seem to be less sure of this trend. We’re using the catch-all “grandma-chic” to include pattern-heavy pieces, retro throwbacks, and softer silhouettes—interior design’s answer to the prairie movement taking over fashion.

Pro:

If you don’t identify as a minimalist, there have never been more options on the market for you. From chic yet worn-looking furniture you’ll actually want to curl up in, to eclectic decor accents, there’s a lot out there. Head to antique and vintage favorites like Chairish or 1stdibs to find gently used pieces with tons of charm—on the more budget-friendly end of the spectrum, you can find some really great gems on Craigslist or even eBay.

The best part about the “grandma-chic” trend is that it feels more personal. We’ve been given the design seal of approval to break out the sentimental trinkets. What was previously seen as “clutter” now makes you positively trendy, and you don’t have to worry about everything looking perfectly cohesive.

Con:

If you do identify as a minimalist, this one’s a bit hard to swallow. When you’ve pledged your heart to sleek silhouettes and cool acrylic materials, suddenly wallpapering your apartment in floral prints is not the answer. This trend isn’t for everyone, but if you like the idea of it and are looking for ways to try your hand at it without sacrificing your personal style, here are a few things you can try.

Opt for micro prints over larger chintz, and try everything in small doses—a wallpaper panel on the wall behind your desk instead of an entire room, or an antique end table mixed in with your more contemporary bedroom furniture.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Kitsch

A borrowed-from-the-runways trend, kitsch is an offshoot of the larger Grandma-chic movement; though this one’s a bit trickier to navigate. It pushes the boundaries of eclectic, irreverent style to the brink of being tacky—and there’s a very specific kind of decorator who will appreciate this.

Pro:

If you’ve been in a rut, this trend offers the perfect opportunity to get a bit experimental—nothing seems to be off-limits. Think: animal prints, clashing logomania, resuscitated ’70s and ’80s tropes. Mix with abandon and flex your creativity. It’s a great time to be a maximalist in design.

As with any divisive decor moment that seems like it might be just a little too temporary, it’s best to start slowly. Opt for decorative pieces that you can resell or swap out if, a couple months down the line, you start to veer away from kitsch. Try a vibrant-hued throw pillow in a mesmerizing pattern (Push Pillow Cover, $80) or a psychedelic-printed blue shower curtain (Tie Dye Design Shower Curtain, $12.74). Go for low-lift updates that won’t break the bank.

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Con:

This trend is hard to pinpoint and even harder to master; there’s a fine line between kitschy and just plain poor taste. Plus, we can’t help but wonder (full-on Bradshaw-style) what the shelf life of this particular trend is. Being that it’s borrowed from the ugly-is-cool fad we’ve been seeing in the fashion industry—looking at you, Demna Gvasalia—we’ll wait to find out, but longevity doesn’t really seem sustainable with something so polarizing.

Instead, bring back the ’70s and ’80s that this trend draws its inspiration in more palatable ways. Swivel chairs are one retro staple making a comeback big time this year, in fresh and contemporary iterations. Pull inspo from 1980’s Memphis Design, back in a big way for 2018 and significantly easier to design with than full-on kitsch. And, of course, there’s always terrazzo. One of our favorite materials du jour, it has its roots in 1970s design and will help you achieve that throwback vibe in no time.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Open Shelving

Whether in the kitchen, the bathroom, the entryway, or the living area, the visual appeal of open shelving cannot be understated. But practicality is a different discussion altogether—let’s break it down.

Pro:

If you’re not big on art (and your apartment isn’t big on square footage), open shelving is the best way to spruce up empty walls and add a functional element to your space. Turn your shelves into stylish vignettes by curating individual moments: A monochrome shelf for your dinnerware in the kitchen, maybe, or a means to display your favorite vintage treasures in the living room.

There’s also a functional pro to open shelving. It enables you to actually see what you have—which, if you’re someone who accumulates a lot of stuff only to forget where you put it (current party included), is always a positive.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Con:

While pretty, open shelving is a Type A personality’s nightmare. Just think of the dust! The clutter! The lack of protective cabinet fronts! If your shelves are hung too low, they pose a safety hazard for children and pets. If they’re too high, the simple act of dusting turns into a herculean feat involving a stepladder.

Instead, turn your attention to alternate means of stylish storage. Pegboards are always a great way to hang tools and accessories. Opt for a modular version you can tack add-ons onto to best suit your needs. Then there’s always the humble bar cart: Find a version that matches your aesthetic (or DIY your own bar cart) and pile on the dishes, beauty products, and whatever else one might traditionally find on open shelving.  

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Neon

The saturated trend, beloved by sartorialists and highlighters alike, made its mark this year in various arenas. From lights dressing up our favorite restaurants to the coolest neon hotel to fashion week, this color movement isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Pro:

If you want to make a splash with the least amount of effort possible, neon is your go-to. It’s impossible for anything this technicolor to blend in. Whether it’s as large as a dining room table or as minimal as a set of hot pink candles, anything that touches neon is instantly a statement. For that reason, the fluorescent trend is perfect for both maximalists and colorful minimalists alike; you don’t need to have too many products in your home, just be sure that the ones that you do have, mean something.

Con:   

Unless your apartment is already decked out in complementary shades of neon, whatever you do purchase in this trend is going to stick out like a sore thumb. If that’s your intention, great. If not, there are ways to make the difference in tint between neon and normal colors less overbearing: go tonal. If, for example, you find yourself staring at a fuchsia throw pillow and aren’t sure how you’re going to make it work, mix it in with other shades of pink—a deep berry, a dusky blush—to make the neon easier to digest.

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Bed Skirts

If you’re wondering what something like bed skirts is doing on our list of controversial trends from 2018, it’s because we’ve been seeing a resurgence in the style in so many of the spaces we feature. A prime example is this globally inspired home, which proves the value of a unique-looking bed skirt.

Pro:

If you’re a believer in under-the-bed storage, you should probably get a bed skirt. After spending money on a bed frame and bedding that’s just right for your bedroom’s aesthetic, the last thing you need is having that ruined by unsightly plastic bins peeping through the base. A bed skirt makes everything feel cohesive and hides mess nicely.

Con:

The common issue most people have with bed skirts is that they can either feel a) too juvenile or b) too geriatric. A bed skirt can feel superfluous, not in line with the sleek, contemporary aesthetic that’s so en vogue today. And if you consider yourself a strict minimalist, bed skirts may not be for you; you want as few frills as possible, thank you very much.

If you are willing to try a bed skirt, the solution for you is to look for one that doesn’t fit the look traditionally ascribed to a bed skirt. Choose something in a crisp dove gray linen (Washed Linen Bedskirt, $39.99), and bring in a more modern fabric. Or, go boho—Serena & Lily make a great woven bed skirt (Macrame Bed Skirt, $128+) that’s anything but expected.

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Millennial Pink

People (ourselves included) have been heralding the inevitable death of millennial pink since the term was coined… essentially, to no avail. For better or for worse, the color is still going strong. The salmon pink tone is both perpetually pleasing to the eye and super versatile, and as such, we’ve seen it used in literally every capacity.

Pro:

The biggest pro for millennial pink has to be its versatility. The shade lends itself equally well to more formal settings, counterbalanced with moodier tones like deep charcoal, dark crimson, or rich navy, as it does to lighter, more playful backdrops. It’s for this reason that the color is a safe, marketable option, should you choose to paint your home in the hue—that, and its Insta-popularity, of course. The photogenic nature of this color almost guarantees that anything it touches is instant Instagram bait.

Buy into this ever-popular tint as an investment. Le Creuset, forever one of our favorites for long-lasting, style-focused cookware, launched an entire millennial pink line late last year (Matte Sugar Pink) so you can kit out your kitchen in bubblegum pink. Alternatively, invest in one of the trendiest chair styles on the market right now. A mid-century silhouette, luxe brass hardware, and dusty rose color all make for a winning combination (Linen Kimball Chair, $1,498).

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Photography by Meghan McNeer

Con:

You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard of millennial pink. Which means, as far as innovation goes, it’s hardly groundbreaking. And for decorators who are looking to go against the grain and track down the next big thing, this particular color can feel tired.

Luckily, there is a slew of punchy new hues making waves in the design and fashion worlds. Lively yellow cropped up around the same time as millennial pink, and has proven itself a cheery alternative to the sickly sweet hue. In recent seasons, we’ve seen another primary color take over: bright tomato red, beloved for its instant ability to make a statement. And if neither alternative is cutting it for you, check out the ever-growing list of 2019’s Colors of the Year.

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Courtesy of Urban Outfitters
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Courtesy of Urban Outfitters

A Mattress on the Floor

The ultimate way to convey how carefree and chill you are via your design style. Having an immaculately-styled bed lie directly on the floor is the decor equivalent of messy curls: To the outside world, it looks effortlessly cool, but you’d never admit how long it took to get your hair to look just effortless enough.

Pro:

Styling your mattress on the floor is an art, and when done correctly, it can look oh so cool. Embrace the bohemian, opting for tons of texture both on the bed (pillows, quilts, duvets) and off (surrounding rugs). Opt for low-rise furniture to ensure the scale of the room looks right, and keep colors to dusky, muted tones in order to foster a totally zen environment. There’s something almost spa-like about a bedroom whose bed shuns the formality of a frame. Lean into the simplicity of the design and you’ll have a space that feels perfectly minimalist and calming in no time.

Plus, there’s the obvious cost benefit. Bed frames can be expensive, and eschewing one altogether means more money you can use to invest in luxuriously cozy bedding.

Con:

It’s a health hazard if you live in a place with vermin. There are no two ways about it: cohabitation with mice and/or bugs prohibits you sleeping on ground level with them. Better to invest in a real, durable bed frame that’s safely off the ground than to risk getting sick. If this is you, and you love the idea of a mattress on the floor, try this pest repeller; one of our editors swears it solved her problems. 

See more controversial design trends:

Eight Outdated Design Trends, and What to Do Instead
Kitsch Is Trending—Here’s How to Bring This Tricky Style Home
According to Google, This Decade’s Design Is Making a Comeback