5 Design Trends Best Left in the Past (And What to Replace Them With)

Open kitchen shelving with bowls, cups, and silverware.

Have you ever walked into a house and felt like you went back in time? (Even if it was 10 years ago?) Every room had doors that closed you off from the rest of the house. Low hung cabinets blocked out light. Yellow walls. Carpet from one end of the house to the other. Stuffy. Now is the time to take a look at new trends that will open up your world.

1. Eliminate Walls. Replace With Open Space

When it comes to current home trends, less can be more. Less walls, that is. Houses used to be a segregated conglomeration of several small rooms. Which makes them feel, small, enclosed and claustrophobic. The same amount of square footage can feel larger and more comfortable with open floor plans. For instance, my kitchen, living room and sunroom are all one large room. The walls between them have been removed. I can work in the kitchen while talking to my guests in the living room.

Open floor plans started when architects opened up the kitchen to the dining room sometime in the '70s. This idea has expanded since then to include even more rooms. Basically the only rooms with doors anymore are bathrooms and bedrooms.

2. Boxy Cabinets? Replace With Open Shelving

Another trend that is up and coming is open shelving in kitchens instead of boxy cabinets. An even bigger trend is taking the cabinets off the outside walls and replacing them with windows. For instance, I only have one section of upper cabinets on an inside wall. They have glass fronts so they balance with the windows on the outside wall and maintain the uncluttered feel of the room. An island houses the rest of the pots and pans. Everything is waist-high, so nothing intrudes on the “open” experience of the room.

3. Pastel Walls? Replace With Earthy Tones

Another way to make rooms seem warmer is with paint. Remember the days of bright pastel yellow kitchens and pastel blue living rooms? This is one thing that I am really glad is left in the past. The newer colors are more natural and pleasing to the eye. Think greys, moss greens, and mauves. They fit with open designs as you can make subtle tone changes from one room to the next without detracting from your original intention of opening up the areas.

4. Ditch the Carpet. Replace With a Hard Floor

The past was all about wall-to-wall carpet. The current trend (like in the '50s) is hardwood floors. Only this time around, hardwood has competition. New to the game are laminate, vinyl and ceramic tile. All of these materials can imitate wood, if that is what you are looking for. Slate and travertine tile are also on the rise, especially for entry areas.

I think one of the reasons for this trend is to keep in tune with the clean lines of the rest of the remodeled house. Carpet can be a dust collector, stains easily and is a chore to clean. If it is cold feet you are worried about, most of the above mentioned floor coverings can be used with in-floor heating elements. (Check with the manufacturer of in-floor heating elements before purchasing your new floor.) Or, throw an area rug on it!

If your house was built a long time ago, take a peak under the carpet. I bet there is hardwood under there that is just begging to be refinished.

5. Dig out the Grass. Replace With Gardens

With all those new Low-E windows you just put in, wouldn’t it be nice if you merged the outdoor with the indoors? After all, you don’t want to look at the old backyard through gorgeous new windows.

One of the newest trends in landscaping is to reduce the amount of water needed for grassy areas by replacing them with blended gardens, hardscapes and plants that are native to your area. This not only reduces the amount of water you use, but also takes less time and muscle to maintain.

A blended garden is one in which you can plant edible plants with flowers. For instance, I live in an area where the soil is mostly sand, but there are als harsh winters. I have tried growing fruit trees, but the deer eat them. I succumbed to planting evergreens in the main yard. Closer to the house, I added some black soil and planted perennials. In the spring I mix in tomatoes, green onions, pepper plants and a few other vegetables in the same garden. Voila, blended garden! It not only saves me on the water bill, it hides the vegetables from the deer without installing a confining fence. (By the way, rain barrels are a great investment). I’m all for open space both indoors and out.

It’s time to open up your space and make it your own.