Is your home cool or just a bit, er, basic?

The ‘hipster basic’ trend has filtered down to the high street and every Airbnb listing

You don’t need me to tell you that home design trends come and go with alarming speed. It seems like mere moments ago when we were buying into full-blown opulence: purple velvet, mirrored furniture and crystals on everything.

It’s a basic tenet of fashion that trends are a reaction or rebellion to those that precede it, so perhaps the natural successor to this heady, ultramodern glamour was always going to be a little homespun and retro.

Yet the hipster aesthetic has definitely outrun its original lifespan. Worse, it’s so ubiquitous by now that it threatens to veer into “basic territory”.

It's hard to trace the bloodline of the hipster décor trend. Perhaps it generated in the warehouses, lofts and artists' studios of Brooklyn, Kreuzberg and Hackney. Using industrial accents, reclaimed wooden pallets and battered mid-century furniture was, in the very first instance at least, likely borne out of financial necessity.


This rough-hewn aesthetic soon moved to coffee shops and trendy restaurants, where the original accents were joined by quirky mismatched china, jam jar glasses and Edison light bulbs. From there, the aesthetic began its life as a design trend at the top design fairs before slowly filtering down to the mass market. What was once vaguely cool soon became depressingly uniform.

Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare only helped drive a stake through the trend's heart as users shared their "trendy" interiors online. The homogeneity of the hipster trend soon became the exact opposite of cool.

Young and wealthy

In an essay for the tech website The Verge, interiors writer Kyle Chayka pinpointed the trend with a damning new label: AirSpace (a nod to Airbnb, the company that went from cool homesharing collective to commercial giant). The motifs are meant to be comforting and homely, appealing to a young and wealthy elite. Yet when the interiors look exactly the same, says Chayka, "an entire AirSpace geography grows, in which you can travel all the way around the world and never leave it".

“Consultants who work with Airbnb hosts as well as the company’s own architects told me that a certain sameness is spreading, as users come to demand convenience and frictionlessness in lieu of meaningful engagement with a different place. You can hop from cookie-cutter bar to office space to apartment building, and be surrounded by those same AirSpace tropes I described above. You’ll be guaranteed fast internet, strong coffee, and a comfortable chair from which to do your telecommuting. What you won’t get is anything interesting or actually unique.”

In Ireland, we're no slouches in the "hipster basic" department. Even on the last series of Room to Improve, the signs were everywhere: DAB radios. Bold graphic art. Edison light pendants. Inspirational slogans. Sure, they looked gorgeous, but will it all stand the test of time? The jury is out.

I know people who adopted this aesthetic for many years before the mass market cottoned on. Take it from me, they die a little inside every time they set foot inside a branch of Oliver Bonas or Urban Outfitters. They hadn't bought "a look" but instead found their treasures, lying unloved and out of fashion, in flea markets and charity shops.

The good news is that many of these trends are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to decorate a property without changing fixtures or furniture, which is probably why they’re so beloved of “generation rent”. They are bold and (meant to be) eclectic – a real move away from the homes belonging to previous generations. What this means is that they are also relatively easy to replace, once you don’t spring for a slightly ironic avocado bathroom suite.

With that, here’s a list of items that will tip your home over from cool to “basic bitch”. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Cactus prints

Gold pineapples. Ye olde timey drinks trolleys. Milk bottles (used either as vases or for serving drinks). Fairy lights draped everywhere. Cactus prints. Flamingo accessories. Faux taxidermy. Vintage metal stools. A record player. A wall filled with framed pictures of different sizes. Vintage suitcases (used or storage and/or tabletops). Polaroids. A typewriter. A felt pegboard. A neon sign. A vintage film poster. An Ercol coffee table. A Pantone or Penguin Classic mug. An LED letter light box. Decorations or textiles featuring owls or birdcages. A Smeg fridge in a sorbet tone like mint green or baby pink. Anything made of copper. Anything – an ornament, vase or lampshade – geometric-shaped.

You might think that these items say, “this is who I am”. I know I certainly have: I have amassed an alarming number of these items. I’ve succumbed to the siren-song of fashion: I’ve believed that flamingo cushions are joyous to have around and the light from an Edison bulb is just nicer.

But make no mistake: what people are more likely to hear is, “I think I’m being cool, but I’m just like everyone else”. It’s not “making a statement”. I’m as basic as the next person.

Unsure of how to avoid the “hipster basic” trend now that it’s been outed? Designers have pinpointed leather and velvet as big news in the coming months, while terrazzo tiles – remember them? – are reportedly on the up again after being cool in the 1970s, and very uncool in the 1990s.

According to the designers of Made. com, sage is the new neutral colour, while soft mustard, jade and olives are also tipped for popularity. Whether you want to swap out one high-flying trend for another is entirely up to you. Ultimately, the best thing for our sanity (and our pockets) is to give up chasing those design "moments". Just remember what fate befell those awful mirrored bedside lockers.