Designer Smackdown: Rematch!

Jen and Annabel are back at it for the second week in a row. They’re going head to head (and Gen-X vs Millennial) and sharing their takes on the hottest trends for the coming year!

via  FLOR

via FLOR



I love this movement (let’s call it a movement instead of a trend--movement seems more like a positive, permanent shift in people’s habits rather than a passing fancy, and I really hope sustainability in interior design is a movement).

Here’s a comparison I’ve used before, but for me it really strikes home so I’m going to share it again:  You see, I’m a sucker for heartfelt endings to movies (and Mastercard commercials for that matter!), and just thinking back to the final scenes in the movie Toy Story 3 makes me a little weepy (I’m such a wimp with that stuff). At the end of the movie, Andy, 17, is leaving to go off to college. He gives his beloved old toys to his young neighbor Bonnie. Bonnie will take care of them and give them many more playtimes in the years to come--a much better fate than if they’d been carted to the dump.

Whenever I go to estate sales or the Salvation Army or other thrift shops and rummage sales, I think about this scene from the movie. There is so much life left in beautifully crafted furniture, rugs, light fixtures, art, decor and building materials. Just yesterday I was at an estate sale in a unique, deck house style home that needs a ton of work. But, wow, the bones on that place! For one, the vaulted ceilings were clad in gorgeous mahogany. Unfortunately, my gut feeling is that whoever buys the home will demo it and rebuild new. My hope is that this movement towards sustainability will prompt the construction company to harvest that beautiful wood and re-sell it at an architectural salvage store like Portland Architectural Salvage in Portland, ME.

Let’s all keep passing it forward when we can!


I have a feeling Jen and I are going to agree on how great this one is because:

  1. It’s totally in line with our philosophy at Trim

  2. What kind of monster hates sustainability?

  3. We are literally going to be living on Mars if we don’t start loving up on Mama Earth, so yeah, we need this to stick!

Places I’m noticing increased chatter around sustainability:

  • Materials, especially textiles (rugs made with recycled denim, carpet tiles made from fishing nets and recycled plastic bottles) and lately I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around cork

  • Green initiatives rolled out by large companies, like FLOR’s ‘Return and Recycle’ program which lets customers return their old carpet tiles free of charge to be recycled into new ones

  • The backlash to ‘fast furniture’

A couple years ago the capsule wardrobe exploded in popularity, in part a reaction to fast fashion, which was seen as driving waste and excess consumption.  I think the design world is having its own capsule wardrobe moment (fingers crossed that it’s more of a permanent shift) via the resurgence of vintage! Why use natural resources to manufacture new stuff when you can re-style and refurbish awesome treasures from the past!  My gut says the exponential growth of the thrifting/vintage tribe on instagram is a sign of a larger shift; a healthy mix of vintage and new pieces will become the new norm.

handmade ceramics


While I still prefer simple white dinner plates and thin-lipped coffee mugs, I am loving the more organic, even rustic look of handmade ceramics in vases, planters, and decorative bowls. I think these neutral pieces mix in seamlessly with many different styles, and subtly add art to a space.


Pottery (along with baskets and vintage rugs) is something I’m drawn to like a magpie, especially pottery in matte glazes and organic shapes!  The weirder the better!

And it seems I’m not alone because I’m noticing handmade ceramics popping up more and more in the shelfies and tablescapes of designer portfolios, magazine ads, and instagram posts.  I think this is likely due to the influence of the California boho/modern style that’s been dominating instagram via designers like Amber Interiors and Katie Hodges.

It’s no surprise that in an increasingly techie world, we crave natural materials and earthy accents in our homes.    

saturated kitchens


These saturated kitchens are beautiful! Every time I see them a part of me wishes I’d incorporated this type of color into my own kitchen. I love deep blue cabinetry paired with creamy white marble (like Vermont’s Imperial or Olympian Danby marble), and warm brass light fixtures. Add to that an island topped with natural wood, and a vibrant turkish rug on the floor and I’m completely sold!

If a kitchen that’s completely saturated in color is too much for you, consider leaving your cabinet uppers white and relegating the color to the lowers. Lower cabinets take a beating, and if they’re a rich color those scuffs and smears and nicks may be more easily concealed.


Black, blue, charcoal, and green! These are my personal faves when it comes to this trend, because they still feel earthy and kind of classic, and they look great with natural wood shelving and almost any type of countertop.  I think the easiest way to avoid going too dark is to do the lower cabinets in a dark hue with open wood shelving in place of upper cabinets.

White kitchens will always be a timeless choice, but for those looking for a more dramatic look, it’s all about contrasting dark saturated cabinets with lighter elements like quartzite counters, white tile backsplash, or blonde wood shelving.  I’m also a fan of brass hardware for bringing warmth into the space. Finish it off with a vintage runner and I’m ready to move in!

As for doing a saturated kitchen in a bold hue like orange, yellow, or red? Count me out.  I’ve seen this done well; it’s just not for me. My inner hippie can’t handle that kinda bold color energy.  

via Aileen Grodzinsky

via Aileen Grodzinsky

via Patrick Cline

via Patrick Cline

statement ceilings & doors


In the old part of the town I live in (and by old I mean buildings from as far back as the 1700’s in some cases!), there is no lack of statement front doors. I could do an entire blog post devoted to the beautiful and colorful doors in Old Town Marblehead, MA. These old wood doors are often lacquered to boot! I love it.

To achieve this look, I think it’s worth seeking out the experts. Fine Paints of Europe has nailed it when it comes to creating richly lacquered, colorful doors. Another part of the world renowned for its statement doors is The Netherlands, and Fine Paints offers a Dutch Door Kit to help you achieve that glossy, dipped-in-melted chocolate look! This paint is not like other varieties, and you really should find a certified painter who is skilled in its application.


OK I love this, BUT I have a lot of caveats. Let’s break this one down.

Painted Doors:

  • great, low-commitment way to add a pop o’ color

  • love it for a front door! An opportunity to make a strong first impression & set the tone for the rest of the house

  • excellent for sneaking in a fun color pop if you have a spouse with tamer tastes

  • if you’re already going bold with wall or trim color, pass on this or risk entering Dr. Seuss territory  

Painted or Wallpapered ceilings:

  • I like a smaller-scale print, that from far away creates a visual texture effect as opposed to looking like a ceiling mural

  • Keep it cohesive by pulling a color from the wallpaper for the ceiling paint, or mixing a 50% dilution of the wall color and using that on the ceiling for a continuous color effect that won’t make the ceiling feel lower than it is

  • I’m loving wallpapered ceilings for nurseries/bedrooms where we spend so much time laying on our backs and can really appreciate it

  • continuing the paper from the walls onto the ceiling can unify an awkwardly shaped space and it totally opens up small rooms

Indian Influences: Dhurrie Rugs and Block Prints


I love the clean, modern look of these new block prints that come in more neutral colorways than some of the bolder, more saturated blockprints we’d been seeing in recent years. They work well in so many settings and look particularly beautiful when paired with vintage leather pieces and natural wood furnishings.

As far as Dhurrie rugs are concerned, I like them, but I think my heart will always align more with the patterns of wool Turkish oushaks and Kazak tribal rugs. But that’s just me!


The new block prints, used on pillows, throws, bedding, and wall art, have been reimagined with a modern, minimalist twist making them a natural successor to the mid century modern and scandi motifs that have dominated the last few years.  They’re also perfect to replace southwestern and aztec tribal prints (so popular the past few years that I’m completely sick of them). More proof this trend has arrived? Designer Sarah Sherman Samuel used modern block prints as wall art in Mandy Moore’s newly remodeled house. And The Citizenry just launched a new collection of Dhurrie rugs and pillows featuring “Motifs inspired by the tribes of India’s Nagaland region.”  The versatility of the designs sets them up for broad popularity, plus Dhurrie rugs are durable, reversible, and relatively inexpensive.  Maybe they’ll be the new kilim?

So, are you #TeamJen or #TeamAnnabel?

Did you stick with your generational counterpart or surprise yourself by siding with the other team?  

Vote for your favorite in our instagram stories poll and help crown this week’s debate champ!