Home decor that never goes out of style – What to look for and examples

I’ve had most of the decor on our living room bookcases for years.

There’s a lot to be said for home decor trends. They’re new. They keep things interesting. Everyone’s doing them. But at the same time, there’s also a lot to love about home decor that never goes out of style. You can invest more in it up front because you know you’ll get a lot of years out of it. It’s more sustainable. And you don’t have to spend time and money replacing all your stuff every few years.

I’ve recently gotten more into looking for things for my home that are a bit more timeless. Art and decor I love because I find it beautiful or interesting, not because it’s the thing of the moment. I think this makes my home feel more personal, because I’m choosing what I like, not what retailers tell me I should like. I also want to try and make sustainable interior design decisions as much as possible, and timeless decor helps with that.

Of course, I’m definitely not immune to decorating trends. I think there are general trends in ways of living, or color palettes, or pattern preferences that are hard to ignore and fun to play with. I mix those things in, too. But my goal is to have a good base of things that I keep for a decade, or more.

Here’s what I look for when it comes to shopping for home decor that never goes out of style, plus a roundup of items you can look for on your next shopping trip.

How to identify timeless decor

First, lets talk about the characteristics of decor that never goes out of style, so you know what to look for, and also how to rule out items that aren’t truly timeless. Then, I’ll share some examples of these items.

There are a few qualities always-stylish decor will have:

It’s been around for a while.

For one, decor that’ll still be in style in 10, 20 or 100 years are things that have stood the test of time already. Anything that you’d find in a home in the 1890s, and in the 1930s, and in the 1990s, and today will likely be in people’s homes in 2056.

Things like subway tile, natural marble, silhouettes like Louis XVI chairs and English roll-arm sofas, oil-painted portraits, or hand-loomed Persian rugs are all good examples.

It’s simple.

Simple decor is less likely to fade in and out of style as something ornate or busy. Classic white drapery in a natural fabric like cotton or linen will always look great. It might not be the most daring choice, or something that makes your heart stop when you first see it, but it’s lovely, and the style will last.

Generally, if you’re decorating your home in a way that it’ll be beautiful in ten years or more, make your most of your big choices, and half of your little choices, simple (or even boring). Big choices are things like sofas and drapery, little ones are throw pillows and paint color.

That doesn’t mean your home has to be bland and beige. Just make the foundation simple, and layer on interesting things that feel more personal or trendy.

It’s part of a layered scheme.

Speaking of layering, if you want a home that’s perma-stylish, make it layered. This means: don’t decorate your house entirely in one trend or one style. No matter what style that is, it’ll feel dated faster. Instead, mix some modern pieces into your traditional house, or balance out a classic farmhouse look with midcentury styles. Creating contrast will make your home feel more original, and less pegged to on particular design style or look.

Because home decor is such a broad category, I’ve broken this post down into a few parts. The first is actual decor items, like art and accessories. Then I’ve also added sections for furniture and materials (i.e. flooring types and tiles).

Home decor that never goes out of style

Real artwork (or nice prints) you love

Artwork that’s original is always more interesting than mass-produced pieces, especially mass-produced pieces that have been on-trend. Original doesn’t have to mean expensive. Art is a great thing to hunt for at a thrift store or antique shop. Another option: purchasing high-quality prints of original pieces from smaller artists.

Vintage rugs

A vintage rug from New England Loom

Vintage rugs, whether they’re Turkish, or Oriental, or Persian, or something different entirely, are like fine art. They’re innately beautiful, and you’ll always be able to decorate a room around them.

Plants and greenery

Over the last few years, plants like the Fiddle Leaf Fig and Olive trees have came in and out of fashion, but truly, greenery is always a good idea, no matter what type you choose.

Gallery walls

Image & home, Audrey Sprinkle

Gallery walls were a huge decorating trend in the 2010s, but really, they’re just one of many methods of displaying art. So long as the art you choose for your gallery wall is beautiful, and it relates to the other pieces around it in some way, i.e. in the example above the leather chesterfield sofa above, gallery walls are timeless. A gallery-style art installation is also a perfect setup for a family picture wall.

Simple Bookends

If you’re looking for specific decor items to stock up on, I love bookends. They’re a fun item to collect at thrift stores or antique centers, and they add an elevated look to built ins or tabletops. Skip the trendy versions for sculptural stone or metal versions.

Metal candlesticks

table with candlesticks
Candlesticks on the dining table at our Vermont house. Image by Chris Daniele.

Metal candlesticks, whether they’re new, antique, pewter, brass, etc., are always beautiful to display, and also come in handy around the holidays or during dinner parties. Having a variety of styles, sizes, and colors lets you mix and match them for endless vignettes.

Crisp white bedding

White bedding is as classic as it gets. A crisp white duvet cover always looks inviting and sophisticated.

Furniture that never goes out of style

The icons

Image via Knoll

By icons, I mean designer pieces like the Barcelona chair, or Kartell Ghost Chairs, or an Eames lounger. These mostly modernist designs have become icons for a reason.

Chesterfield sofas

A classic leather chesterfield sofa is always a good idea. This style has been around for centuries (the first chesterfield owner is said to be Lord Philip Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, in the 1700s). It always looks polished and elevated, especially in an office, library, or cabin.

Farmhouse tables

Farmhouse tables were around long before Joanna Gaines made them ultra-fashionable. An antique or real-wood farmhouse table is the perfect centerpiece for a country-style or traditional dining room, and can also be a great choice for a more modern or bohemian home paired with the proper dining chairs.

Materials that never go out of style

Subway Tile

Subway tile in my kitchen

Subway tile is another material with historic origins. It was first used in the New York City subway in the 1900s. While it was definitely a major trend in kitchen design in the 2010s, subway tile is a classic material that’ll always feel fresh and stylish.

Marble and natural stone

Marble and natural stone have been used in high-end homes for centuries. You can’t go wrong with a white marble countertop, a limestone fireplace surround, or marble basketweave or hexagon floor tile. When it comes to choosing a color, think simplicity. Panda marble might make a striking statement now, but in a few years it’s more likely to be out of fashion than a simple Carrara or Calacatta Gold.

Mid-tone wood floors

Even hardwood flooring colors go through trend cycles. Right now, bleached wood flooring is in style, and a few years ago, it was deep brown tones. And who can forget the yellow-orange stain of the early 2000s? If you want to love your hardwood floors for the next decade, go for a mid-tone wood flooring, in a stain like Varathane Early American or Aged Walnut.

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