Design Trends Continuing into 2012

By Kate Riley December 30, 2011

It’s fun to look back on what we obsessed about in DIY and design over the last year, from chevron patterns to chalkboard and pallet everything!  There were so many inventive projects and gorgeous spaces we saw in 2011, when I look back on my own inspiration files, I’m amazed all the beautiful rooms I see.  In the interior design world, several elements have been trending in 2011 which I believe will continue into 2012, and for good reason. 

Reclaimed and Natural Wood.  Raw and repurposed wood has surged to the forefront of design and it’s good to see that wood is back in a big way with its amazing organic qualities. I can’t wait to see more of it in 2012 and I hope to work with more salvaged wood myself in the new year. 

boligliv reclaimed wood table

wisteria pine shelving



Industrial Resurgence.  Industrial is really big in design and in retail, however the industrial style can be hit and miss for me ~ I think it’s because galvanized metal can be so cold to the eye and to the touch. But recently I’m crushing on industrial light fixtures and loving many of the accent pieces we’re seeing everywhere, they add a masculine touch and are a great way to add something unexpected to a space. 

industrial cabinet bodieandfou

industrial pendants shades of light

industrial stool west elm



Scandinavian Influences   We are obsessed with the minimalism of Scandinavian design and also spaces that include paler wood and whiter walls. Layers of cozy textures make this style so appealing and prevent it from becoming too austere.  

sandra aslaksen

veranda swedish design

livet pa landet blog



Gold Accents.  When it comes to metallic sheens, gold is de rigueur in design these days. Funny how things always ‘come back in style’ when in truth, gold is eternally stylish. Paired with classics like black and white, linen and leather, elegant touches of gold are always timeless.

gold accents canadian house and home

asli tunca gold accent table



Wallpaper: Bold & Subtle   Bright color and bold pattern and instant pizazz to any space and today’s modern wallpapers are just the ticket. For the more timid, there’s always the more subtle grasscloth and natural fiber wallcoverings to add instant texture.

amy butler wallpaper

albert hadley bathroom wallpaper

keith scott morton grasscloth wallpaper



In truth, I think it unfair to label any of these design elements as trends.  They’re all fabulously implemented design choices recently highlighted and pushed to the forefront on the pages of online and shelter magazines. 

What say you?  Are you happy to see these styles continue?  Any DIY or design trends you hope will disappear in 2012?


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  1. I’m curious, you said “In truth, I think it unfair to label any of these design elements as trends. They’re all fabulously implemented design choices recently highlighted and pushed to the forefront on the pages of online and shelter magazines.”

    Do you think people would have said the exact same things about avocado appliances and formica countertops? And in a few years when we’ve had enough of “accent walls” and same-old-kitchens (granite/stainless) will we consider those as trends or timeless classics?

    I’m always amazed at how many people believe that whatever “we” are doing “right now” is something that is classic and will “last forever”. I mean seriously… how many of us shake our heads in horror at oak cabinetry? And how many think that “white everything” will always be in style?

    Sigh… I guess I’m glad I live in an old ranch-style home that could NEVER be considered mindful of trends. ;)


    • Wow Meadowlark, great point! I once visited Versailles in France and it was gilded from floor to ceiling, way pretentious, but I noted that many of those classic architectural elements, gold accents, and furniture styles still live on. Wood is certainly timeless in my book, and time will tell if we all look back at all the industrial fixtures and bold wallpapers and wonder why just like with avocado appliances!

  2. Great post! I’m excited to continue to see reclaimed wood and industrial elements in 2012. Happy New Year to you and your family! :)

  3. I am liking the minimalist Scandinavian look these days and lighter shades. Wood and industrial elements give a room character. I am over wallpaper – being that we had it in every room of our house and I am still working on removing it from some of the rooms. New Year Blessings to you and yours.

  4. I’m so happy to see that natural/reclaimed wood is still hot. What are your thoughts on dark wood floors? I’m glad to see those in the gold accents pic because I’m nervous we made too trendy a choice in going with espresso wood. I guess there’s no going back on 3000 sq/ft of wood flooring now though!

  5. I enjoyed your post, and suppose there’s a part of me that wants to be at least somewhat stylish! I like what I like, regardless of whether it’s the latest style or not, but I do put some of it away when it doesn’t seem to “fit” if I rearrange things. I’ve loved textural white environments for decades, and probably always will. I also love bright colors! For now, those are being put away, but I’ll still keep the special things as I use my neutrals and enjoy the fresh look of things I already have. Thanks for the update – I think I’ll dig out my gold things to go with the new look…:)

  6. Great post! The only thing that I don’t like is the gold accents. While done well sometimes I just feel like all I think of is that old outdated brass. And I feel like so many people have finally updated their fixtures so that’s why gold and brass are back in. A design comspiracy to make buyers feel discontent, that they dont have the on trend items.

  7. I like your post alot and I liked the first comment on it too…This is what I always think when I decorate my house…is this trend will last for 1 year or more…Back home I have to decorate my 5000 Sqaure feet appartment and I got so overwhelmed cause it should me from scratch…floor wall furntiure everyhting and it is so hard to decide what to choose….pastel color/dark colors/white with pop of colors….I still cant decide and hopefully by the summer I will have an idea cause I should go back there to decide :S

  8. I agree with “Revi”. I like what I like. I’ve been eclectic for over 40yrs. I didn’t even know it was a word. Anyway, Sometimes I do have to put away some “stuff”. But when I bring it back out again, I see it differently. If I don’t still love it I’ll give it away or off to the thrift store it goes. As long as your home is comfortable, clean and inviting, that’s what matters. Because face it. Not to many of us are lucky enough to be featured in a magazine. Cheers & Happy New Year.

    • Hi Scot and Revi, you should meet my great friend and neighbor Jennie. This lovely lady could care less about what the design world is doing, she decorates with vivid saturated colors and it all works, I love her home! Most of her belongings are second hand scores too, I must remember to feature her someday!

  9. and here i am trying to get my last white-walled-room painted over. ah well…i never was a trend follower much. i like what i like and don’t much care about the rest. i do like the looks of the all white rooms, it just isn’t for me so much.

  10. I am always leery of doing something too trendy, myself. Brass seems to be coming back, but just last year was horrible. I don’t really like brass, btw. The chevron stripe seems to have gone crazy, and I am growing tired of seeing it everywhere. I see Ikat now being the chevron for the next trend. I don’t mind trends, they are fun and can make things fresh and new – it’s just funny that you go and decorate your house and then five years later it’s already looking dated :) Organizing will never be out of style, so I guess I’m doing well!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  11. I think these are trends, but there are some trends that turn out to be timeless. My mom always said styles always come back… I think she’s right, because I’m even starting to see people thinking corsets are a good idea. The same is true for design…everything comes back in style. Twenty years ago, Victorian was all the rage…then mid-century modern…now minimalism.

    I think what sets what’s happening now apart from the past is that we’re not throwing things away. Instead, we’re redesigning and re-purposing.

    BTW, Monday I’m hosting my first Linky Party on my blog Small Moments. I’d love it if you stopped by and linked up something from your blog. It’s one of my favorites, and I know my readers would love it too!

    • Amanda, you should do what YOU love, not what design trends dictate! You want it black, baby paint it black!!!!


  12. I am loving the Scandinavian styles. I am wanting to sew some slipcovers this year and paint out my oak fireplace white. I am also over wallpaper, it is no fun to remove no matter how well you prep the walls. I do like some of the designer stencils in the damasks or the wall decals that are out. They seem a lot easier to deal with if you want a change.

  13. I love all the different aspects of design. We get to all be different or the same. We choose. Beautiful pictures that you have shared. Happy New Years to you and your family. I am very excited to see what’s up your sleeve for 2012. Thanks for sharing your great ideas and bloggywisdom. Cheers!

  14. I am so in love with the new textured/graphic wall papers! Unfortunately, my hubby has banned ALL wallpaper from my design box…I’m going to keep trying to sneak it in a corner or on one wall somewhere…hehehe.

  15. Any thoughts on what to do with a two drawer metal filing cabinet? I’d like to pull it out of the closet and put it into our computer room/office.

  16. Thanks for the great post – I’m loving ALL of these trends and especially love that they seem a little more classic than some of the trends in the past and hopefully will stick around for a while. Love all the beautiful pictures!

  17. I have to agree with some others here. I read “what’s trendy now” posts to figure out what I want to avoid. I’m a little jaded, because I’m slowly reclaiming my house from the 1970s, and early 1980s. Sadly, the more permanent parts of my kitchen and bathrooms are really dated (harvest gold tub and surround, anyone?) so I can’t simply repaint or do easy updates. I need to start from scratch. And guess what? I have the 70s version of some of these trends. White tiles with gold flecks, wrought iron light fixtures, wood paneling a-plenty, and 80s wallpaper borders in abundance.

    I’m another “I like what I like” type. I have used bold color on the walls throughout my house, in a time where it seems like everyone else is using white or some shade of taupe.

    Not much is truly timeless. We shouldn’t fool ourselves. Decorate with what you love. Change it when it grows old and tired. Keep the permanent, harder to replace things as neutral as possible.

  18. I hope the trend of constantly making your house “YOUR house” no matter what you paid. I’m glad the Susan Lucci over the top home is out and making it look like the people who live there is in. I love everyone into there homes. I hope blogs like this one continue—so inspiring and so supportive to do it yourself! Great job Centsational Girl!

    I hope the cow-collecting, lace curtains, mauve couch, teddy bear bed, Brady panels, flowered wall paper everywhere, Target hoarding and pictures of your kids everywhere look never comes into style!
    I’ll take the avocado appliances or orange couch anyday!

  19. I think trends just have to be used wisely, in moderation. I LOVE the second pic from the top, of the bare wood shelf/cart! But I wouldn’t want all of the furniture in the room to have that look, you know? So a couple of pieces mixed in is fun and freshens up a space. One trend I never really got into is the bare-bulb light fixture…looks cool initially but I almost always prefer light to be softened, not glaring.

  20. I think you are spot on with all your trends. There are so many design styles and elements that are classic, but they go trendy, become mass produced and end up at Target. Not that that’s bad; good design belongs to everyone and I shop there too. But, when all the hype goes away, the style is still classic. Take toile for instance. I believe another difference is quality. Beautiful solid brass and gold guild is always classic.

  21. I agree with meadowlark and Kathy. Also, the internet makes it too easy for trends to spread like wildfire so they are overdone more quickly than in the past. People need to have more confidence in their style and start going with what excites them, or makes them smile, to spend the time searching out not what everyone else is buying but that one item amongst a sea of hundreds that we know we just have to have for whatever reason. It also seems to me that once you live through a trend it is not very common to return to it. Take wallpaper for example. Anyone who has had wallpaper on her walls before knows it isn’t fun to put up, you tire of it easily, and it is difficult to remove. You couldn’t pay me to put wallpaper up!

  22. I have lived with wall paper my whole life. Coming from New England, it has never been totally out of style. I personally am done with it though. It can peel and shrink and show seams, as well as limit your design options. I think it will always be used in certain rooms ( kitchen & bath), and not in others.
    I doubt it will ever be a situation where painted walls are “out” and papering your whole home is in. ( Although I grew up in a home where it was).

  23. I have lived with wall paper my whole life. Coming from New England, it has never been totally out of style. I personally am done with it though. It can peel and shrink and show seams, as well as limit your design options. I think it will always be used in certain rooms ( kitchen & bath), and not in others.
    I doubt it will ever be a situation where painted walls are “out” and papering your whole home is in. ( Although I grew up in a home where it was) :).

  24. In response to the trend/no trend nay sayers: Who really cares if what you like right now is or will be a true trend? Do you like it? Well then, good. If you plan for your house to look the same as it does now in 20 years, do you also get the same haircut every time you hit the salon, never change lipstick shades, buy the same pair of tennis shoes time and time again? Switch it up people! There is so much to be gained in life by being flexible and in-motion. Censational Girl, you really are sensational and always giving us new ideas and inspiration that we too can ‘do’. And obviously, we need you!

  25. With regards to the filing cabinet I mentioned; the thing is an ugly metal 2 drawer cabinet. Any suggestions on how it can be transformed so it becomes an accent piece that doesn’t look so ugly?

    • Michelle, you could always spray paint it an awesome bold color and make it an accent!


  26. Love the reclaimed wood and industrial elements you shared…espcially anything on casters. I am so over white painted furniture and the chalky feel but I have enjoyed seeing the way some people paint old wood furniture in bright lacquered colors. Also, am tired of looking at white kitchens with carrera marble countertops…will be glad to see something with more character come into “vogue”. Great thought provoking post

  27. My perspective has always been to decorate with things I love and to make our home work for us. While we do have reclaimed wood and industrial items, we also have a lot of leather and vintage and eclectic…it works for us. If something happens to be trendy, well, then fine. If not, no worries. That said, my favorite rooms to look at in magazines are ones that seem to tell a story-I think reclaimed wood and vintage accents are good (trendy) foundations to tell a room’s story.

  28. I want the distressing furniture trend to DISAPPEAR! I hate to see people put a bunch of work into a piece to scuff it up. It drives me crazy!

  29. I’ve done faux finishes in many homes from apartments to over mansions over 10,000 square feet. The thing that always stood out was that very few houses actually reflected the person or had any personality. The lady that owned the 10,000 went out of the box and it was HER all the way. She had 22 colors and I replicated a high end wall paper which was spectacular. I loved her taste. But, so many of the mansions I worked in looked exactly the same and there was no personality shining through. I notice that in many homes in the South. All the fireplace mantels have the exact same accessories. The trend here has always been to comform and be the same. That’s sad. For me, I decorate with what makes me feel good. Each space calls for something different. adore the use of resalvaged wood, artisan pieces, and at least one old piece somewhere in the room even if it’s painted white to make it fresh. One trend I would like to see go is are dark granite counter tops making kitchens looks heavy and serious. And, as for gold, it can work, but it takes effort to make it fresh and young.

  30. Michelle, spray paint your filing cabinet another color and ad some cool wheels to it (like the rolling shelf above, but smaller) and it would be a cool accent… even an accent table or end table. C’mon, you know you want to! (i want you to…)

  31. I’m with Angela, I get sooo tired of seeing the same old decor everywhere – the really heavy, dark, “European Chateau” stuff. That style makes me physically tired! I’ve repainted our home’s interiors this year with very light transparent colors (inspired by CG!) and I love it, it’s amazing how it has truly brought light into the house. And I just ordered some wallpaper to paper the risers on my staircase – can’t wait to get that project underway!

  32. I’m seeing more and more industrial items being re-purposed for home use and love the look. I love that you can mix trends for the look that you want… not the matchy-mathcy look we’ve had to look at before.

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