5 Once-Hated Design Elements That We Now Kind of Love

5 Once-Hated Design Elements That We Now Kind of Love

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Nancy Mitchell
Oct 24, 2017
Wood paneling (the good kind) from Domino.
(Image credit: Domino)

When it comes to design, what's in and what's out is constantly changing, and sometimes a particular trend will come full-circle—from loved to hated and then (eventually) back to loved again. Here are five once-hated design elements that are currently enjoying a renaissance. What's your take? Do you love these resurrected trends? Or do they deserve to stay in the past?

Wood paneling (the bad kind) from Your Walls & Ceilings (1983), via AnOther.
(Image credit: Your Walls & Ceilings)

Wood paneling

Wood paneling, in some form or another, has always been around, but it really hit a peak of popularity in the 1970s, when the really bad, fake wood paneling prevailed. By the 1980s, everyone was starting to realize how awful it was. The house I grew up in was covered in that stuff, and I remember thinking it was ghastly. For years, painting over wood paneling (usually in bright white) was almost a given. But lately we've seen a move back towards more textured, natural styles, and wood paneling has slowly crept back into favor. The heavy, dark, faux-wood '70s stuff still feels a bit icky, but if it's real wood, well, that can be very nice.

A mirrored backsplash in a modern Swedish kitchen from Alexander White.
(Image credit: Alexander White)

Mirrored backsplashes

I'm not sure why, exactly, mirrored backsplashes got a bad rap, but I remember hearing them talked about as a very undesirable feature. Maybe they were like any other overused design element, something people just got tired of. I simply assumed they were bad, until I moved into my first apartment out of college, which had a kitchen with a mirrored backsplash that I absolutely loved. Apparently other people have begun to come around to them too, because I'm starting to spot them in more and more new kitchens, including Scandinavian kitchens (and if the Scandinavians are doing it, we probably won't be far behind). They're actually a great addition to a small, dark space since it extends the visual room and bounces around any available light.

The height of wicker, in a photo from Sun and Glory.
(Image credit: Sun and Glory)
It's back! Rattan furniture in a modern interior from Bolig.
(Image credit: Bolig)

Wicker furniture

Folks in the '70s were very fond of natural materials, which included lots of wicker and rattan and cane. The '80s version was white-painted wicker, perfect for your Laura Ashley bedroom. Then, wicker fell out of favor for a long time, until the renewed interest in bohemian decor (which I would date to around 2010 or so) brought it roaring back. (It's probably still not advisable to do an entire room in wicker, though. I think those days are over.)

Teal fixtures in a 1950s bathroom from Mid Century Home Style.
(Image credit: Mid Century Home Style)
A green sink is just right in this Australian bathroom spotted on Inside Out.
(Image credit: Inside Out)

Colored bathroom fixtures

The heyday of this trend was in the '50s, although it persisted well into the '60s and '70s. Then the pendulum swung back in the other direction, and for a few decades this look was so universally reviled that it became the stuff of jokes. I'm not sure that jade-green sinks and candy-pink toilets will ever regain the level of ubiquitousness that they once had, but I think they've definitely made the full circle from "dated and gross" to "vintage charm". In an all-white bathroom, where their color is allowed to really shine, they can be very nice.

'80s florals in Vogue, May 1987 (via Period Cult)
(Image credit: Vogue)
A modern take on big, dramatic florals, seen on Design*Sponge.
(Image credit: Design Sponge)

Big, over-the-top florals

In the '80s, one of my most treasured possessions was a book of wallpaper samples, probably a reject from a showroom somewhere. I spent many happy hours poring through it, fascinated by the massive, chintzy florals I found therein. In recent times pattern has been making a comeback, including, now, a whole new generation of big, over-the-top florals. I am ready.

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