27 April 2010

Let's talk about bad trends

Like Totally '80s

I've been talking a a lot lately about bad trends. Bad trends in interiors that is. A reporter asked me to rattle off some examples of what I consider to be bad trends last week and I rattled off about 10 things without really thinking about it.

It started me thinking. What makes a bad trend? And is there really such a thing?

Hey kids! Let's make our character-less McMansion look like
a one room schoolhouse!

Well, yes there is such a thing as a bad trend. It's usually not the trend though, it's almost always the expression of the trend.

Duck, dodge and cover.

Timelessness is a myth. It is impossible to create a room or a home today and have it be anything but right now. You can do a revival. There's a Belgian revival and an Edwardian revival going on right now, but each of those things is a 2010 interpretation of those eras. Exact replicas would be unlivable. How do you put surround sound in an authentic, old Belgian living room? Where do you put two dishwashers and a wine chiller in an Edwardian kitchen?

Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.

Times change, people change, life changes. That's a good thing.

I feel like I'm in a palazzo right on the Grand Canal.

So what can you do to keep a room or a home from looking dated? Well, I say there's nothing you can do to keep a room from looking dated. The key is to make it look good as it ages.

It's a tabletop fountain!

I say that it's not the trend itself, it's the execution. The problem's not that turquoise has been proclaimed the It color of 2010, it's uninspired turquoise paint jobs.

It's the color of the year so it has to look good. Right?

The problem's not faux finishes, it's faux finishes devoid of logic, context or skill.

The only l'oeil being trompe-d here is the one belonging to the poor soul
who paid for this mess.

What do you think? In looking over the interwebs and the design press (what's left of it) today, what's a bad trend? Is there anything to my idea about it being a matter of execution or are there some things that are just bad trends?

Somebody knows how to use an orbital sander.

A troika of bad taste --Baltic Brown granite, commodity tumbled marble tile and honey oak cabinetry. Wait, there's a wall plaque with some pablum written on it. What's Russian for a collection of four?


  1. Not exactly in the realm of kitchen design, but I can think of one. An unspeakable, horrific, unholy trend are those Thomas Kinkaide creations. Who buys that dreck?!

  2. Very good! This doesn't have to be about kitchens although the conversation with the reporter I mentioned was. I think his work is dreck too, but where it gets really bad is when that aesthetic gets applied to things other than paintings. The tabletop fountain I have in the photos above has some definite Kinkaidian influences on it.

  3. There is a lot to be said about execution. However, if I see one more faux finish on a wall, even if its of the highest quality and best execution, that would be one too many! Great round up of ugly! :)

  4. Hey, you're famous! And I'm honored. I've seen enough good faux that I go into hysterics every time I see a show on HGTV dedicated to telling people the lie that it's something they can do themselves. They can't. Good faux finishing is outrageously expensive and invisible. It's the opposite of the cheap eyesore I spend my working life painting over.

  5. lol You had me laughing all the way through! Especially the opening shot - is it someone you know??

  6. That's from a website dedicated to bad trends (and hair) from the '80s. Click on the link under that photo and it will take you to a website filled with horrors.

  7. HGTV. I love watching some of these shows for the entertainment value (Bang for Your Buck is hilarious, especially when the 'experts' hate something in one kitchen and then love the exact same thing in another, or don't know what an induction cooktop is), but the design shows and the real estate shows definitely promote a singular acceptable aesthetic--granite, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances...I am remodeling and have had people look shocked when they hear I am NOT putting any of these things in my kitchen (well, okay, the ovens)--like, what could I possibly be using instead that will look good or add value to my home?

    Obviously I have seen many gorgeous kitchens with hw, stainless, and awesome granites with lots of color and movement--but as evidenced by your photo above, you can also get a very boring room out of nice materials as well.....

  8. Gallery walls made from random yard sale "art".

  9. Where did you find my high school picture?!

    I have an ongoing series about design cliches and bad trends because I love and loathe them! Trends (or any design decisions) go bad when the person doesn't understand the intent behind it. You can't just paint everything Turquoise this year - you kinda have to understand WHY. But don't even get me started on Pantone...

    This morning's bad trend? cabinets like the ones above without hardware.

  10. What, you're actually in Safety Harbor!?! (live feed giveaway ->) All this time I believed the St. Pete appendage... Well, close enough for horseshoes (Holschuh's?)and hand grenades.

    Thomas Kincaid: Painter of Blight. Ugh! *muffled retching*

    Pantone: never trust someone who thinks pants have one - everyone knows they have two. Even @bobborson knows that.

  11. why does the topic of "bad trends" always make me immediately think of the 80s? tight, tapered leg jeans (before the invention of lycra denim no less), big hair-sprayed teased hair, and the worst (at least according to my husband) the rock power ballad.

  12. SMOOCH. Fun post.

    I am wondering how long this raw/reclaimed wood, burlap & "moody" interiors look that Restoration Hardware has is going to last.

  13. Modern: You are too young to have sported that 'do. That a memory for Gen Xers to savor. Thanks for the WHY. It's always about motivation, isn't it?

    Rich: Painter of Blight is priceless, perfect and I've never heard that expression before.

    Nim: Power rock ballads were even more appalling when they were popular than they are now, believe me. I would turn off the radio every time I heard the announcer introduce anything by Journey, REO Speedwagon or any of the rest of them. Ick!

    Erika: The raw wood and burlap is the Belgian revival I mentioned in my post. Of all the things for them to revive, why 19th century Belgian I wonder.

  14. My quest in life is to find out WHY?! I'm thinking the Belgian revival is in response to the 'everything chocolate brown box' that was furniture design the past few years thanks to west elm/target/CB2/etc. So the pendulum swings the other way: mix in a little 'recession', stir and voila!

    Oh and I forgot - you can call me Saucy or whatever you want!

  15. Thank you Saucy! You're right though. I suppose the monastic look of the Belgian stuff is pretty much the anti-Pottery Barn.

  16. I love them too. The bitchier, the better. That acid wit is unparalleled.

  17. Thank you! You know it's funny, Making It Lovely has another doe-eyed, fuzzy-headed post about "cute" *cringe* backyard chicken coops and urban chickens today. Someone tried to inject a bit of reality into the 100-comment squeal fest by linking to my urban chicken post from a couple weeks back. It's done little to even the tone of the brainless conversation over there but Lordie, my traffic's through the roof today. http://makingitlovely.com/2010/04/27/cooped-up/

  18. I hate to add fuel to the barbecue, but our local entertainment and arts weekly, the Valley Advocate (fueled by this national buzz-craze for urban chickens), just ran a cover story on that misguided topic' Link below:


    I nearly careened off the sidewalk when I saw it on the news stand. This urban poultry nonsense is spreading faster than salmonella!

  19. Funny you should mention salmonella. What's the number one reservoir for salmonella? Why, it's the humble chicken. Even the much-sanctified, free-range, vegan-fed, sitting-in-the-lap-of-the-Buddha, I'm-singlehandedly-saving-the-earth-with-my-backyard-flock kind are lousy with it.

    Why you ask? Because they eat their own shit, that's why. They're a terrific reservoir for influenza too.

  20. I'm going to write in defense of that turquoise-walls kitchen. It looks to me like an inoffensive kitchen, put together on a balanced budget. Adequate white appliances, ordinary wood cabinets, laminate counters: all very serviceable. Painting the walls a pleasant mid-tone cheerful color seems like a sensible thing to do.

  21. How did I miss this? Paul, you truly have a way with words. You will also DIE when you enter my home. But you are still invited.

  22. Oh we have all kinds of fun around here. I am thinking about making a pilgrimage to PA in November. I'm heading to New York in early December and I may have to make a detour. I haven't set foot in Pennsylvania in two years and I am long overdue.


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