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All Grey Home in 2011 and All Black in 2019

By 02/15/2019December 11th, 202044 Comments

Since I’ve been writing this blog for over 10 years, it’s interesting to go back and read what I said about the grey trend when it was still in it’s infancy. Back then people were still asking questions like “Is the grey trend here to stay?” and my response, ‘Why yes it is’.

When I suggested that ‘Grey is Out’ in March 2015, many of you got SUPER reactivated. But you had to read the post to get the full context of that headline.

Black elevator doors | Interior Design by Sissy and Marley Interior Design

I often get asked, “How do I keep up with the trends?” Well, one way is to follow this blog.

And why should we care about the trends?

You don’t want to be the designer (or the homeowner) who just installed an espresso brown kitchen with grey and white horizontal stacked tile all over the backsplash. That’s what we were doing 15-20 years ago.

Did you get that? I’m saying that a brand new espresso kitchen–installed today–will look like it’s been in your house ALREADY for 15  years.

Same thing if you were to paint the exterior of your house brown. It would also look instantly dated. I don’t know about you, but NO ONE and I mean NO ONE has asked me for a brown exterior in a very long time.

So before you chalk this up to another ‘trends post’ and tell me that ‘You don’t follow the trends’. Well what I just said (above) is exactly why understanding trends is critical and exactly why you definitely SHOULD follow the trends.

Okay, so since I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I have learned that there are two kinds of people who instantly say ‘I Don’t follow the trends’.

The first group is thinking ‘How can anyone possibly keep up? I can’t afford to re-do my house every 10 years?!?!” And and the second group are the non-conformists, “I’m still in the trend before the Tuscan trend, so I’m just going to stay here because I just don’t care enough about interior design and staying current.”

Fine, if that’s where you are, disregard this post. However, if you are about to make some changes and you simply throw every trendy finish into your old house unawares, that’s when you’ll get upset. It’s always smart to educate yourself on where the trends are and where they are going before you invest in a renovation or very expensive new build.

Okay back to this post, when I came across this lovely New York apartment Kate from Centsational Style posted on her weekend round up, I wanted to show it to you, because it checks all the boxes on where trends are right now.

Rustic beams that might be part of the building but incorporated to work with the modern feel of this apartment

Beautiful pale, timeless and classic hardwood.

Black windows with no window coverings. I talked about that here.

Dramatic ebony stained kitchen (correct me if it’s something else I’m guessing here) with black marble surround countertops and white marble island. Notice that although this is dark stained wood, it’s miles away from the espresso kitchens of the 2000’s in the details. Which is exactly what I just said in this post. Do NOT attempt this kind of kitchen without a designer.

The black marble continues up the backsplash

Black and white bedroom. Notice the ONLY place there’s cream in this room is the area rug. And this is fine. It’s hard to find a stark white carpet probably because it would look dirty in 5 minutes. I like that the width of posts of the four poster bed is similar to the black window frames.

Oops, there is more cream. . . the lambskin head roll on this chair 🙂 What’s the undertone of the fabric covered dresser drawer fronts?

Black and marble bathroom (above).

High end bathroom with book-matched marble behind the tub with honeycomb tile floors. I like that there’s only one pattern and it’s the stone which looks like art here. Am I really looking at violet grout to coordinate with the violet undertone of the marble? Such an interesting and well-done detail.

Also, notice that the balance of black is really well done. Black can look boring, masculine, harsh, flat, and predictable really fast once you hit the tipping point.

For example, they could have chosen black faucets in the above bathroom which would have been predictable. Instead they chose flat brass.

So there you have it! Art gallery white walls, a touch of rustic wood along with trendy black.

What do you like the most?

PS. Come see me speak at KBIS in Vegas next week! You can register here if you haven’t already!

Related posts:

5 Reasons You Cannot Paint your House Art Gallery White

Ask Maria: Now that ‘Beige is Back’ is Painting my House Greige a Mistake?

Black is the New Grey at KBIS

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  • Dunja says:

    Great post, Maria! One other trend that is everywhere and that I would love to see you talk more about is the natural (often also minimal) trend – there are elements of that here, but let’s say all the black had been switched out for natural finishes everything. Lots of wood, linen, cane… I am seeing that everywhere! Is that something that is here to stay, do you think, or is it a passing iteration of the fresh trend? Of course wood finishes are classic, but sticking to an all white and beige/greige color scheme will surely get tired at some point soon?

  • Nancy says:

    Maria – love the look in the pictures.
    They r calming .
    We all have our own taste but I prefer these looks over rooms that have color every place…
    I’m loving a little of the wood added in for the warmth …
    Thanks for all the information you give us !!!

  • Holli Amato says:

    I am so glad I am in incorporating black in my decor! Love all these!

  • Tammy says:

    Gah!! What I like most is that marble over the tub!! ?????

  • Julie says:

    Good morning Maria! I love the question of “Do I follow the trends?” Of course I do!! Rejecting the idea of trend following is like saying “advertising doesn’t influence me” with arms crossed and nose turned up. I would think anyone interested enough to follow design blogs is a trend follower. For me, the term “follower” means I stay educated about what is new and interesting, not that I have to go redecorate even if I like the new trend. I think it’s great to see new and interesting designs and decor. Evolving design keeps things fresh. I like what you say about keeping the bones of your home / the hard fixed finishes clean, classic and boring so that the smaller decorative items or furniture can be switched out when they get tired. Almost everything but the true classics gets tired / dated. Or we get sick of looking at those items long before it’s dated. Change is good. Wouldn’t it be sad if we were stuck in avocado green forever?? New trends are good even if I’m not in love with it. The black and white rooms you showed us are a great example. What a beautiful place! I appreciate the design and feel even while saying that’s not my go-to look. While I might not redo my house in this style, these pics give me some inspiration to add a little more black. I’ve been thinking about it and these pics, along with a few others, show me some great ways to incorporate a little black to freshen things up. I think anyone interested in home beautification has an awareness of what’s trending. It’s why design blogs and pinterest proliferate. Keep showing us the eye candy!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks so much Julie, very well said! I so appreciate my readers, your comments extend my posts and make them even better! Maria

  • Sandy says:

    I love the art in the living room area, and the geometry everywhere – it really stands out, even in the circles and cylinders of the bathroom vanity shot; also, the space-age light fixtures. I’ve seen them in our local ‘Modern Homes’ tour the last few years. One question for a future blog might be: how long do you expect the midcentury modern type furniture to be so trendy? I do love the simplicity, but it’s been ubiquitous for a while now. And even art galleries are moving on from white.

  • Carrie (TCE Dallas ‘18) says:

    I do wish when you pose an undertone question you would then answer it somewhere in the post. I always want to know if I’m on track or not.

  • Joanne says:

    Interesting post – great food for thought. The apartment is really a superb case study. With the exception of the kitchen, the rest of the space could look entirely different with changes in furniture, lighting, etc. If you take away the easily changeable aspects – it is pretty much a blank canvas so it will never be dated.

    Those of us who don’t have the endless resources or perhaps the energy to constantly change our homes need to be even more careful about trends. Otherwise when we do build or remodel we can unwittingly be locked in an unintentional time warp.

  • Becky H says:

    I really live that apartment. It’s a little more light and airy than I will have in my own home, but I love the mix. I like to put black back in pieces so to say, but how do you add black and it not look like it’s still left over from the past or mix black with more traditional design? Remember when everything was black and heavy looking?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes that was the 80s, that last time black was in as the ‘trendy neutral’, there are many interiors and kitchens being done as we speak that are too black and heavy looking.

      Many of you that saw this headline were probably expecting more black then you saw but that’s because this is black done well where they did not hit the ‘tipping point’ of masculine, harsh and predictable. Thanks for your comment Becky! Maria

  • Sandee Doss says:

    What is the answer to your question about the undertone of the dresser front? 🙂

    • Maria Killam says:

      It’s pink beige. And I should have posted it at the bottom of the post. that would make more sense 🙂 Maria

  • Brooke says:

    Hi Maria, I have been reading your column for a while and thought medium brown wood floors was the only timeless option. Won’t these light floors scream 2019 in 10 years? They are really pretty but are they “timeless,” which is what you call them? I am confused….

    Thanks for the clarification,

    • Susie says:

      I was thinking the same thing…didn’t we all just hear that medium brown is timeless?

      • Maria Killam says:

        Medium Brown AND pale floors WITH NO GREY are both timeless. . . I talked more about medium brown early in the brown trend because no one was even considering this floor. However it is more contemporary so not for everyone. It’s a custom situation. Hope that helps, Maria

  • I remember you called it a while back – Black was in ascendancy! I think it was after Maison et Object. You have the eye and the sensibility. <3

  • Linda Trammel says:

    It’s all lovely but…I would never never do black mostly. It is balanced out with the gray but still too dark. I will stick with white! I believe white will endure when all others fade. Like many others on here there is no way I could afford to change up my décor according to current trends. What looks okay today may be totally out in 5 years! I believe not too long ago you said that white was here to stay for the most part. Black can be elegant but also depressing. I prefer to feel lightened and not darkened! I do love white and black mixed with white being dominant. In the first photo I noticed that there were no pillows on the sofa, just a throw. Are throw pillows still good to have? Thanks for the photos and advice. I love seeing them and reading your blog.

  • Loren says:

    I love that you point out why a space works or why it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
    A really good article.

  • Anne says:

    Maria, I would love to see a post focusing specifically on violet undertones. For some reason it is the one I have the most trouble seeing. For instance in the picture of the marble tub backsplash above, you cite the grout as being violet to match the backsplash. ?? It is so much less clear to me than when looking at a pink, yellow, green, etc. undertone. Could you write a post with lots of examples and maybe some comparisons to other undertones?

    I read your blog religiously although seldom comment. Thanks for writing it!

  • Liz says:

    For me, the best part of this very good article is that you clearly explained why I should care about trends and I finally got it! 🙂 I’m the non-conformist type of non-trend person, so trends have been meaningless to me and I roll my eyes. But as a renter now, who is just about to move again thanks to a condo sale, I know very well that the four places we’ve rented since 2011 “screamed” their era. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, since we hadn’t paid for the finishes and they were good enough, but if I were remodeling or building I’d want timeless to avoid that expensive pitfall.

    Our new place, a really neat “penthouse” condo downtown, was built in 2005 and has a white kitchen (yay!), black counters with rustic tile floor, very dark hardwood floor throughout, white built-ins and and “Tuscan” bathrooms. The clear bright colors I love will be great in the open living area, but those more muddy bathrooms will be a challenge, requiring new towels, shower curtain and accessories. We take possession today and I’m going armed with every paint sample I own to check undertones and try to figure out how to make the bathrooms look more “fresh.” I will review your article on that too. You’ve never let me down since I started reading your blog with our first rental eight years ago. May the “Maria force” be with me!!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks Liz, I’m glad my diatribe at the top of the post landed! That was exactly my intention! I appreciate your comment! Maria

    • Molly says:

      Liz, I just updated my 1st of 3 Tuscan baths. Getting the undertones right and picking the one that lightened the most made a big difference for my situation. Fresh accessories and towels further brightened and distracted from the tile we did not replace. Paint really made a significant difference. We have to work with what we have if we are not pulling it all out. I hesitated to go with pink beige as it often takes a heavy hit on this blog, but it was the right move for this bathroom. Good luck! It feels terrific when it’s done so long as we keep our expectations free of creating a white with clean colored bath.

  • Terry says:

    Looks like the black counter top is a satin, it says marble, looks more like a granite almost to me. The reason I’m asking is we are building a new home and picked a very similar black granite called “Meteor Shower” in the same satin. I love the satin but they have the same one polished and seems to have more character? What do you think of the satin? And thank you for OKing the grey thing. I love grey and have used it in a couple of homes in the last 15 yrs. I keep trying to get away from it because I don’t want to be in an old trend but I seem to keep going back and trying to incorporate the griege which some I do like. Thank you.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Terry,
      What I’m saying is that this is totally on-trend. Not to be confused with something everyone should copy. It works in the modern context of a New York apartment and the kitchen is also totally trendy, however, people who own this kind of real estate also have money so they can change out their kitchen once they get bored.

  • Betty says:

    Wonder what type of floor that is, white oak perhaps? Speaking of trends, getting frustrated with kitchen designer that says wood floor should not be too red or too orange. Not crazy about white oak which seems to be the hot trend. Brown or medium dark flooring doesn’t work in my house. Want it light and bright and actually like natural red oak. Hope designer thinks that’s okay. Maria says your wood flooring is like blue jeans. Hope so!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Pale wood floors are timeless in the right context however they can look too modern as well. She’s right that they shouldn’t be red or orange. Maria

  • Laura says:

    It’s beautiful and it looks like the kind of place I’d have the best sex of my life in. 😉 But, when it came time to raise a family, Fisher Price doesn’t have a black and white line of toys.

  • connie abbott-foster says:

    Beautiful rooms, but probably because I live in urban MN and much of the year (like right now!) the whole world looks grey, white, black…just can’t live in it in my home.

  • Julie S says:

    Great post about the hows and whys of trends! Thanks to following your blog, when we remodeled our starter house prior to moving/making it a rental I actually chose to put in a second bathroom similar in feel to the first 15 year old one (though a bit fresher)… prioritizing flow over a totally different type of room that screamed New Bathroom Old House, which I saw so many of my neighbors doing with an unfortunate effect.

  • Gery S. says:

    The lure of the current trend is a powerful thing. Thanks to your blog, I understand the value of staying neutral where it adds value for the long term. I also appreciate your mention of the little details that make the overall look sensational, like the flat brass faucet. As beautiful as every room is, I believe that I would never tire of stepping into that luxurious bath—a true work of art. The brilliant designs are what make us want the latest trend.

  • Lucy says:

    OK here is my take on trends. If you are a designer it is necessary to keep abreast of the latest trends! That is your (my) job. I love looking at new trends just as I like looking at art. Everyone has different tastes and that is what makes us unique. However that being said not everyone can incorporate the new trends each cycle as Maria stated. Some homes are not adaptable to new trends because of the home style. It would look out of place if you owned a cute country cottage and tried to incorporate contemporary styling to your interior like the illustrations above. The most important thing for a homeowner to do is discuss styles that they like or don’t like to suit their own tastes. Some people don’t like dark and dreary interiors and others love light bright and cheerful interiors. It is all personal! So I say go with the feeling that you want to achieve and not just go with trends. It important to hire a designer so whatever style that you choose will flow and make you happy each time you walk in your door! (Thank you Maria)

  • Barbara says:

    Since you asked…..I don’t like any of the interiors in any of the photos. Blech.
    The third option is people who like to use colours and styles that they actually like, rather than what others say is a trend. Which is what you have done in your own home.

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I think you have to be a certain type of person that could live in a place like that. You would have to be a minimalist for starters. #goals
    The colorful spines of my books alone would look out of place in that home. Most people have stuff. So I don’t think this trend of decor will last long. Unless you can show us a home with black that’s more livable.
    And I think the undertone of the drawer fronts is pink.
    Have a great weekend!

  • Stunning views of Black

  • cheryl says:

    Thank you … I get it now.

    I think one thing we have to emphasize somewhat is WHERE you live. The above would work best in an urban setting, but not as well in rural or some southern coastal communities. Temperature matters, too. As someone mentioned, in a cold, gray and snowy climate, too much gray without lots of color could certainly feel depressing. I’d probably want “warm and cozy”. I live in a coastal community in Florida. The above pics are gorgeous to me, but would not work here for very long, nor does it match the architecture. In an urban setting, the farmhouse trend is a trend, but perhaps less so in an actual rural farmhouse? Northerners move to Florida with their dark furniture and you soon see it in second hand stores. They now want light and airy. Here, that concept is fairly timeless just as the nautical look in coastal New England is still ok.

  • Tracy says:

    This color scheme of the first living room feels cold and “un-cozy” to me. I would not feel comfortable or at home in this house. If this were my house, I would be in the depths of depression. I think that has to count for something in design.

  • Barbara says:

    I really love white and black and this modern home is very chic. My absolute favorite is the fabulous bookend stone slabs behind the tub. Just stunning. The floors are exceptionally beautiful as well. In the kitchen I would have had to use the white marble for all countertops and backsplash but the cabinets are gorgeous. For me, even with those immense rustic beams, this house just feels “chilly” overall. Especially the bedroom. Thx for sharing.

  • Gayle W says:

    Great post! Trends are great to follow, and the challenge is transitioning those trends into your home when you have contradictory elements. Such as medium dark brown flooring All over your open floor plan, and now black is the new gray! How would you do that without ripping out the existing, perfectly good, and can’t refinish, floor?
    By the way, I n the kitchen above, it looks to me like the perimeter countertops and full height splash behind the cooktop is soapstone, not marble.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Medium brown floors are fine with black, nothing wrong! And I don’t think you have to work that hard to incorporate a new trend 🙂 just sayin! Maria

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