Design Trends: Love Them or Leave Them

Designer Karista Hannah at Set the Stage.

By Nancy Miller

Photos by Jolea Brown

Maxed out traditional décor isn’t being relegated to the history books of design, but its stronghold on interior design is waning, even in Louisville. And while uber contemporary makes only an occasional appearance here, we’re not living in the dark ages of style.

We like trends but we don’t live by them. We’re too smart and too individualistic for that. Still, we’re savvy and want to know what’s going on in the world of design so we can say, “No, not in my house” or “Yes, yes, I want that!”

Interior design trends are great for spurring your thinking to new and different, but a little trendy can go a long way. And keep in mind, what’s trendy today may be tomorrow’s regrettable, what-was-I-thinking? faux pas. 

Karista Hannah, owner of Set the Stage Interior Design & Home Décor, helps her clients navigate their way through trends. As she does that, she visualizes how trends will best fit in her clients’ homes. “Most of my clients, and I think Louisville in general, are leaning toward ‘transitional’ and away from heavily traditional. Even our older clientele, who I would expect to be very traditional, have evolved to transitional tastes,” she says.

Trends can be worked into different styles–traditional, transitional or contemporary. All it takes is vision and imagination. Hannah has both. Borrow a little of hers and you’re on your way to taking trends in style.

Okay, you’ve decided to update your look but don’t want to spend a fortune replacing furniture, flooring, window treatments and all the accessories. She understands. Antiques you love? Absolutely keep them and cherish them. The chair that has seen better days but is too comfy to discard? Reupholster it in a new fabric that’s fresh and current. Have a room that’s suffering from serious drabness? A new area rug can turn that space into one you hardly recognize.

Think clean and simple, not ornate and overly decorated. Go easy on the window treatments and anything that screams you’re stuck in the last decade. Boring? No way. In a room that has a neutral gray or taupe background, you can add splashes of blues, greens, corals or navy for oodles of interest that don’t overpower, says Hannah.

Linen is in as a fabric at the windows and on upholstery. It’s a textile that can play with the seasons. As a window treatment, it doesn’t dominate the décor any time of year. When linen is used on a sofa or chair, it won’t look out of place even in fall or winter if you switch out summery pillows with ones that have a warmer look and texture.

Walls All Dressed Up

Wallpaper doesn’t need to be on every wall in a room to have a striking effect. Dining rooms and master bedrooms invite wallpaper accents on one wall. Trellis and geometric patterns are heading the list of favorite patterns and grass cloth is a visual and textural bonanza. If you want to create a bit of drama or imbue a powder room with a touch of luxuriousness, wallpaper may be your secret you’ll let out of the bag. Hannah estimates that she uses wallpaper in ninety-percent of the powder rooms she transforms.

Shiplap is showing up in homes all over Louisville and around the country, thanks in part to HGTV’s Joanna Gaines. “Almost every client I meet wants it somewhere…in the foyer, dining room or bedroom. It looks great and is versatile, coming across as beachy or rustic, depending on what you pair it with in a particular room,” she says.

What’s Underfoot?

Pre-finished, wider plank hardwood is a hands-down winner for most popular flooring. While some homeowners like a light finish, dark is more often selected. When you’re considering hardwood colors, take Hannah’s advice and stay away from those that are too dark. They show dirt and dust and everything that will make your beautiful floors an eyesore.

Hand-scraped floors that were all the rage a few years ago have been pushed from the picture in favor of the brushed wire, duller finish.

“Rugs do wonders. In a large, open space, like the ones that have a living area or hearth room opening onto the dining area and kitchen, area rugs can designate separate areas. It’s all part of space planning,” says Hannah.

Mixing and Matching Finishes

In the Homearama 2017 house for which she did the interior design, Hannah mixed and matched light fixture finishes, mirroring a national trend. But she says some people are hesitant about mixing finishes, even as simple as brushed nickel with those that have a chrome finish. Hoping that will change, she’s trying to convince them that matchiness is out the door.

Brushed gold faucets and hardware came onto the design scene a few years, but she predicts a short lifespan for them. “When clients tell me they want brushed gold throughout the house, I suggest they not do that and I tell them they’ll hate me if I let them make that choice,” she says.


Children’s rooms and playrooms are getting special attention these days. They can be simple or over-the-top. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of adding storage or finding just the right paint color or a fun lamp. But, for other families, it can be a much bigger project.

“There’s so much you can do in a playroom, from colorful rugs to walls with stripes and other accents. We recently painted a mural of a globe on a wall. Murals are wonderful, but they can get expensive,” says Hannah.

“With girls’ rooms, it’s glitzy and glam. They love a color scheme of pink or purple and often ask for a chandelier. Boys like to go all-out with themes. We have done airplane, taxi, bicycle and football themes.”

For A Smidgen of Something Different

Industrial chic may be the au courant style in major cities, but it’s only beginning to surface in Louisville residences. Hannah is mainly using it in basements or lower levels, perhaps around a bar area. If you like an industrial edge but don’t want to jump over the edge, you might start with a light fixture that has Edison bulbs. Such lighting can even be found in kitchens that skew toward transitional and traditional. VT

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