3 Mother-Daughter Design Duos Weigh in on Today’s Top Home Decor Trends

published May 9, 2021
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Credit: Photos courtesy of Dahlia's Day, Interior Design by S&S, Mala the Brand. Design by AT

As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It doesn’t matter if you’re biologically related to your parents (or parent figures) or adopted, it’s likely that you’ve picked up a few traits from your kin along the way: quirky habits, go-to expressions, the way you say “water,” really… I could go on and on). When it comes to your design taste though, the apple might, in fact, fall very far from the tree.

You see, many people have grown up with totally different home design trends from their parents. I, for one, had a hamburger-shaped phone and inflatable chair in my childhood bedroom, but my mother? Not so much. As today’s decor-obsessed youth continue to find inspiration from social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok, design choices are straying further and further away from earlier generations. Curious to see how different generations view design today, I asked three mother-daughter design duos to weigh in on a few popular trends. Whether you get a new perspective on the latest fads or enjoy the all-too-relatable family banter, these insights definitely deliver.

Checkerboard patterns

Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of “The Queen’s Gambit,” but it feels like checkered patterns have moved far beyond the world of board games and picnic blankets. Today, checkers are everywhere — dinnerware, throw pillows, rugs — and most people seem to be all for it, depending on things like color palette and type of application within a room, of course. These mother-daughter duos, however, were split right down the middle when it comes to checkerboard.

While designers Dahlia and Brenda Jacobs of Dahlia’s Day think it’s worth doubling down on this traditional motif particularly for foyer or kitchen flooring, Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard, the mother-daughter designer duo behind the Atlanta-based Interior Design by S&S, aren’t completely sold. “It’s okay on a pillow or accent piece but not in a large area,” says Falcher, who thinks this pattern has a tendency to make larger items look like tablecloths. Maynard feels like the pattern itself is a little too blah to really get excited about. “It’s kinda falls in that polka dot category, eh… I can pass on it,” she says.

The upshot here? A classic checkerboard tile installation works in certain spaces, but checkered furniture and larger pieces are harder to pull off.

Wiggly furniture

Mid-century furniture dominated the market for years, but now pieces with a little bit of wiggle are giving clean lines a run for their money. But are these curvy silhouettes whimsical or just plain wonky? Again, these mother-daughter pairs were somewhat divided but surprisingly not necessarily across generational lines.

“I like the creativity, but it feels unsafe,” says Falcher. Her daughter’s response? “LOL, that was such a mom answer!” laughs Maynard, even though she pretty much agrees in terms of the wiggly aesthetic. “Maybe one accent piece but I hate when it’s overdone in a space. It just looks like you’re trying too hard to be trendy.” The Jacobses concur. “We think it’s fun but maybe a bit too trendy,” they say. “We would only use in smaller scale pieces in a home.”

Melody Lim, founder of Mala the Brand — of which her mother, Mary Lim, is chief candlemaker, is admittedly “obsessed with anything squiggly and wiggly.” You can see that inspiration in her Mala candle designs, from their curvy logo to their fun graphics and branding on social media. “Whether its wiggly graphics, fonts, furniture, ceramics — I probably already know about it and am all over it,” she says.

A wiggly candle or vase? That’s something each of these mother-duos seem to be able to get behind. A $10,000 squiggle mirror? Not so much.

Painted wall murals

ICYMI, Instagram and Pinterest appear to be low-key obsessed with painted murals. From DIY-friendly arches to maximalist creations from the guys at Very Gay Paint, this trend is giving the typical accent wall a run for its money. Even though paint tends to be the first thing recommended for a quick upgrade or makeover at home, these pairs don’t put painted murals on a pedestal.

While the Jacobses appreciate this trend in general, it all depends on the artwork for them. Falcher thinks murals feel dated and would rather wallpaper, but Maynard doesn’t totally agree with her mother when it comes to certain paint treatments. “Wallpaper is the better choice, but I don’t hate murals,” she says. “I don’t like landscape murals, but if the mural is graphic and edgy, then yeah, I’ll be down to incorporate that into a design.”

Natural materials

Rattan, cane, sisal — the resurgence of these natural materials can add an easy, breezy edge to just about any apartment. If you didn’t think furniture and accents this neutral could be polarizing across generational lines though, think again.

While the Jacobses again seem to be on the same wavelength, fans of the way cane and sisal’s textures work to warm up interiors, Team S&S have different opinions. In Falcher’s book, cane and rattan look a little too casual and don’t wow with their comfort or durability for all that lack of formality. “Not my favorite,” she says. “It’s not comfy, and rattan rots.” She’s okay with faux rattan in an outdoor or sunroom type of setting though, mainly for longevity reasons. Maynard’s at odds with her mom when it comes to this particular trend. “Furniture designers are using these natural materials in cool ways nowadays like in a chair back or credenza front, so I would say, yes, I would green light this one,” she says. Again, approval of this trend may come down to strategic touches and small doses; maintenance is less of an issue if a natural material is used as an accent.

Credit: Liz Calka

Plant palooza

Whether you give your leafy greens meticulous TLC or get the look with some good fakes, plant-packed pads show no signs of slowing down. If anything, with people staying home more over the past year, plant parenthood has skyrocketed. But do these mother-daughter duos jibe with this maximalist aesthetic?

“No, it starts to feel like a jungle,” says Falcher. “It’s like a crutch to creativity; when it’s overwhelmingly done in a design, it’s just too much.” Maynard totally agrees with her mother on this one. “I like the look for a dramatic editorial shot, but I couldn’t imagine that for real life,” she says. The Jacobses don’t love an influx of plant babies either. “We like usually one great plant or piece in a room,” they say. “Less is more!”

The Lims, however, don’t mind a healthy dose of greenery — Mary in particular has a penchant for plants. “I have plants all over my home and backyard that I’ve collected from small little shops all over the city,” she says. “I love the way greenery can add life and energy to any space, even if it’s tiny or outdated.”

Meet the Mother-Daughter Panel

Credit: Photos courtesy of Interior Design by S&S

Sherica Maynard and Sharon Falcher of Interior Design by S&S

For Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard, the mother-daughter duo behind Interior Design by S&S in Atlanta, Georgia, dedication to design just might be in their DNA. “My mom has been doing design since I was a kid,” Maynard explains. “It lead me to change around my room every couple of months. Before I knew the term ‘architect,’ I knew that is what I wanted to be.”

Maynard received her degree in architectural design from Parsons the New School, and, after a decade in the Big Apple, she moved back to Atlanta to join her mother’s business.

Credit: Photos courtesy of Dahlia's Day

Dahlia Jacob and Brenda Jacob of Dahlia’s Day

Dahlia Jacob and her mom, Brenda, of the firm Dahlia’s Day might’ve been born in different generations, but they have the same design mind. In fact, Dahlia and Brenda lovingly refer to themselves as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2.”

“It’s always been our goal and dream to come together as design partners,” Dahlia explains. “Growing up, I have always loved my mom’s design sense and style and have since absorbed it over time. We wanted to bring our design family and eye to the world because we feel people should see what we have to offer.”

Credit: Courtesy of Mala the Brand

Melody and Mary Lim of Mala the Brand

As Melody and Mary Lim’s Mala the Brand co-found ing story proves, there’s nothing like a mother’s constant love and support. “My mum has always been my number one champion and supporter,” Melody shares. “From the get-go, she motivated me to work on Mala as a hobby, back when I was still working at my 9-5, and encouraged me to take it to the next level as things started to pick up.”

When Melody was slammed with business in 2020, Mary volunteered to become the brand’s resident candle maker later. Spoiler alert: She still is! “The relationship came very naturally, as she saw the ins and outs every day of how Mala operated, so her integration into my workflow happened very seamlessly,” Melody says. “From her experience growing up as a child in China and then immigrating to Canada in her late teens, she has experienced many cultures in her lifetime and it heavily influences the way she perceives scent and shapes.”