What Is The Real Question Being Asked To 'What is Timeless'

aloha2009January 23, 2012

I see this question so often on this forum, and I wish I could shout that NOTHING is timeless, except having a range, frig, and sink. The rest changes, changes, and changes.

Is it the lack of years of seeing trends come and go that prompts this question?

Is it purchasing expensive materials that helps ease the pain thinking that it is "timeless"?

White appliances have been around for DECADES. If someone were to call that timeless today, most everyone would jump on that since the mass marketing of SS has been around around a decade now.

I read here about the timelessness of stone counters when they've been evolving the the past two decades from tiles to slabs. It's laminate and especially wood & marble that have seem to have stood the test of time of DECADES. Yes, that laminate is timeless!

Cabinet doors change all the time. The stains get lighter, darker, lighter, darker. The style changes too. Who out there has cabinets that you still swoon over after 20 years?

I'm wondering who has a kitchen more then 15 years old, that hasn't replaced, a handle, faucet, lighting, counters or appliances, not because they broke, but they were tired of them.

Spend what you want but please know that there is a strong likelihood you'll be shopping around for something new in 15 years (likely less) for something to freshen up the kitchen.

Timelessness in a kitchen IMHO is a joke.

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Aloha- You seem a little down, or maybe I'm just reading this wrong. Timeless to me, means what I like, not what everyone else...and the magazines like. Yes, we're always being influenced by friends, ads, GW, etc. but what makes me smile, when I walk in the kithen is none of the things you've mentioned. I love seeing my snow man cookie jar, even in the summer. The little bunny plate that hangs on the wall, my favorite tea cups...the vintage Jadite sugar/flour/salt/pepper shakers, we found in the farmhouse, when we first moved out here. These are all little things that mean much more to me than any countertop or appliance.

I think what we tend to forget is that countertops, appliances, cabinets, these are all just tools...to make it easier to function in the kitchen. Yes, you want them to 'look nice' and 'be functional' but they're really just tools. What makes a kitchen special (and what you won't get tired of looking at every morning) are the special things that have meaning to you. Not everyone else, but you. Think about that, while you're planning your remodeling choices :)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:43PM
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I think the lust for "timelessness" is itself a current fad/trend. It will soon be seen as "dated'.

The "Timeless" ethos is pretty much a creation of home decor marketers and shelter mags. It followed a period when people wanted specific (and largely fake) "historical styles" (French Provincial, Mediterrean, Colonial and others of that ilk).

Then people got jazzed by the look of housing styles from the late 19th c. (Assort'd Vict.) and early 20th c. (Shingle, Craftsman, etc.) and the dreaded (by me, at least) descriptor "timeless" was born.

It perfectly dovetails with the Neo-Tradionalist house style with gables, porches, odd angles, multiple types of claddings and mixed-up roof lines slapped willy-nilly on every house in an attempt to partialy disguise the honking great size of the tract houses on steroids so typical of the late housing boom period.

Fake old is NOT timeless. Any particular aggregation of historical flourishes which becomes highly popular eventually becomes its own recoginizable, period-specific, style. Maybe the the present and immediate past will become known as the Timeless Period.

Unless you are remodeling for immediate resale, I think you should always get exactly what appeals to you, for your own use right now. Kitchens, even those now connected like Medieval peasant hovels with their larger living spaces, are working areas. They will change, wear out, become passe,etc. Don't worry about it; do what you like! (Even if it is in the "Timeless" style.)


    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:51PM
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It may be that the "bones" of a kitchen hold a timeless value. To me the biggest thing that makes a kitchen timeless is a very solid layout that has great functionality. I have a friend who bought a home with a kitchen done in the early 1980s. The stone tops needed a change and the hardware needed a refresh but the functionality of the kitchen is incredible for the space.

Of course as time goes on, you tire of your counters, or the fixtures start to break. But those are all accessories to a timeless kitchen. If you can replace those things and still have a solid function structure then you've got something good. It would be like having an old car, even if you keep it in great working condition, you'll probably get tired of having the thing eventually. And that just comes from using it and the 'spark' wearing off.

New things come along, and people want the newest and greatest innovation sometimes. I would say that having a 'timeless kitchen' is impossible because over the long run as we innovate and create more useful/better products. I mean can you imagine having whale oil lamps in your home because "that is just how it was then". Or as I've seen in old museum homes; silver counters. Today we have great access to stainless steel and that is a good alternative.

I wouldn't say it is a joke, but saying that there is a single style or design that will last the ages is a very hard thing to do. For me the best timeless style kitchens I've seen take ideas from many places and piece only the best ideas together.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:51PM
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Ummm...even having a range, frig, and sink isn't timeless. Just go back 200 years and you'll see that it's so. I personally am very happy not to have to cook over a hearth and carry in my water in a bucket, but ranges and sinks are comparitively modern, and refrigerators even more so.

I totally agree that the quest for a timeless kitchen is futile.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:54PM
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Sophie Wheeler

The real question behind the timeless one, is "Am I going to have to spend money and make more decisions later to "update" this kitchen?" And that's totally the wrong question to ask. But, the answer is always going to be "yes" if the kitchen follows the current trends rather than following the cues of the architectural style and age of the house.

Slab cabinet doors in a natural wood and a nice laminate in a 1970's ranch will always look like it belongs. A 1980's split level with square raised panel doors in a medium toned wood and a laminate counter will never be out of style, even if it's not currently "in" style. A 1940's bungalow with Shaker white cabinets and a tile counter will also never be "out" of style and will always look like it belongs in the house.

If you are a fickle follower of fashion, then you will always be behind the curve in "updating" your home and you will NEVER achieve "timelessness". It's the antithesis of current design trends. If you work with the home's bones and your own sense of personal style, you will be much more likely to be satisfied long term with your renovations.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:00PM
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JMHO: Good taste...while admittedly a fluid concept in and of itself...is timeless.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Lavender, you're so sweet to be concerned but I'm not down at all.

When I scan through the threads and see the question of timelessness brought up over and over, I start to wonder about the sales people out there trying to encourage someone to purchase something because of the "timeless" attribute.

I'm not talking about the little accessories in our kitchen that bring us fond memories. I still have the Cookie Monster cookie jar I picked up at a garage sale 30 years ago. The "kids" still love it being around. I've also saved off a iron pot a PO left behind in the yard 20 years ago that my kids made "soups" out in the yard that I will need to incorporate into my home.

I want consumers to purchase knowing that the likelihood of replacment sooner then later is VERY likely. If they want that something anyway, I have no problem with that. I just want them to know the facts.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:03PM
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I have often wondered this same thing but have not been brave enough to question the idea. (Basically I'm not smart enough to argue my opinion).

I don't think the notion of timelessness exists. We all have strong ideas of what we can and cannot live with in terms of decorating over the long term. I could not live with stained wood cabinets. Period - no discussion. That doesn't make it wrong for someone else or that I can't appreciate the beauty of them but neither can stained wood cabinets be referred to as timeless. As you say, stains come and go.

I think we have to avoid confusing timelessness (or a notion of it) with longtime trends. For ex - stainless steel appliances/counters are used in commercial kitchens because they are practical and probably will be for the long term - but that doesn't make it timeless for the residential market. Perhaps it's a trend - and at what length of time does it make it a trend or a viable alternative for the long term.

It's like laminate - laminate is not timeless because it keeps reinventing itself to keep up with the looks of the new counter alternatives. Laminate was the go-to counter top because it was virtually the only affordable alternative. Then corian entered the market , granite and the silestone/ceasarstone alternatives became more affordable and now laminate is being produced to look like those products as an affordable alternative.

We gutted our 1972 kitchen ( owned it since 1989)18 months ago because it was falling apart. In the previous 20 years we had stripped wall paper and painted the cabinets white. Other things were done as they fell apart (taps, lights etc)

I don't have the budget to replace things as I tire of them. I still loved my white painted cabinets that I painted 18 years ago and it is what I went with again. Timeless - who the H^#@ cares - I love it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:09PM
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I also am puzzled by this question. As you say, nothing is timeless, but I suppose given how much money people are spending they feel compelled to believe that they can find a loophole just for them, that somehow they alone can have a "timeless" kitchen, backsplash, whatever, that will still make people say "ooohhh" fifteen years from now. It's a nice fantasy, but realistically it will be just another middle-aged kitchen by then.

Face it folks, the Little Black Dress may be timeless, but would you really want to prance around in a LBD from 1988?

I think a lot of wasted effort goes into this kind of thinking around here. For something changeable, like a BS, just get what you like now and face it that ten years from now the more you like it today, the greater the likelihood that you'll be embarrassed by it by then.

I'm old enough to remember the first time the little mosaic tiles were trendy and hot and my parents did their bath with them, then by the late 70s we were having serious discussions about figuring out some way to hide them.

There's no such thing as timeless. Time exists. Some things eventually develop classic status, but everything goes through periods (usually long ones) of being considered a huge old YUCK before it gets there. I can also remember that for most of my lifetime, if you had said you were putting subway tile in your kitchen or bath there would have a been momentary silence, then 'Subway tiles--you mean like in the subway>?"

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Aloha, I think that some people were scared by the 70's - they went through a time when almost everyone thought that avocado green and harvest gold were great colors and then 5 years later they looked awful - or they didn't go through that decade but look at the pictures and react "What were those people thinking - how could that look good to anyone?"

From that comes self doubt that the thing you love today might look horrible to you in a few years.

For myself, I take comfort that we have to go back 40 years to see such a mass departure from good taste. The looks from many other times still look good today. Even from the 70's, with the avocado green, harvest gold, mirrored wall paper, huge fake stone hearth and shag carpeting gone, the bones of my 70's MCM house are great today. Fortunately only some surface finishes were bad but the layout and overall design were fine.

Many finishes and colors can be timeless as long as they fit together and fit the house.

As far as your opinion that anything will need a refresh after 15 years or less because you tire of it, I disagree. That may be true of some folks, but there are others of us who get more and more comfortable with something that they like as time goes on. My DH and I fall into the latter category. Our dining room set is over 30 years old and it still pleases my eyes today. The spindly legs of the chairs have been repaired many times. I don't look forward to finding a replacement if someday they become unrepairable.

It has been 6 years since our kitchen redo and I don't expect to be tired of the cherry shaker cabinets and the granite in 10 or 20 more years.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:30PM
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The question being asked, is, what can I put in that I myself won't regret and everyone will love too.

It is elusive because there is an industry dedicated to getting you to want stuff, which means making you think whatever you have already is wrong.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:33PM
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>will need a refresh after 15 years or less because you tire of it

I wouldn't say that--I love a lot of my 80s furniture, botanical prints, etc. just as much as when I bought them, but at the same time I don't delude myself that plenty of people won't think of it as grandma decor today.

That's the difference. Will you still love it because you like it for what it really is, rather than for the effect it produces right now today? The wow factor is going to go away, for sure.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Since you brought up the LBD from 1988: as long as it wasn't too "Dynasty" it might be all right, but it was probably a little boring or understated (or maybe a lot boring or understated for the 80s)

There are 5 women in my family, (mothers and daughters) and when we were having my mother's viewing and funeral, they were short of sensible black dress shoes, black handbags, and plain dark cardigans and things like that (two live in Florida, two are in their very early 20s)

Five discreet black handbags and three pairs of classic black shoes from high heels to flats made it from her closet to her own funeral. At least one of those handbags was from the 1940s and had been Her mother's. And not everything she owned was this way, but a lot of basics were.

I don't think they ever dressed the height of fashion, but I don't think they ever looked "wrong" either.

I think if you approach interiors this way: a little plain, a little not so a la mode, a trend here balanced by the anti-trend there...it may come close to, if not "timeless" at least enduring enough to not feel compelled to change it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:49PM
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When I first read your post, I thought the same thing as L--the "timeless" kitchen is a trend.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I know it's OT, but I have to say, I love Pal's anecdotes about his Mom. She sounds timeless herself.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 1:57PM
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My response has been reject at least 6x times now. Here goes another try.

Several of you were crossposting while I was.
Jgopp, I've don't remember anyone ever referring to their kitchen layout as timeless, it all the materials. I've spent soooo much time getting my layout right. Though I'm going for a modern theme, I try to imagine the kitchen with a completely different look too. I know that for us (and I think for others) my layout will function wonderfully no matter what look they are after in the future.
Cawaps, yes you are right, but those items have been around soooo long, that it's minimum to call it a kitchen in most industrial nations.

Hollysprings, that really makes sense the way you put it. Though I've never thought of modern, since moving to our existing home it's the only type of kitchen that seems appropriate. Not the ultra modern but a softer modern/contempoary. I still love cherry cabinets, but it doesn't seem appropriate for this kitchen. I often look longingly at white/cream cabinets but again, I just don't feel it for this house. Don't get me wrong because I'm very excited about the choices we are making but I do realize, that many other things I like, just won't look right for this style house.

Melissastar. The hip new styles can be thought of very stylish and with good taste, but it sure isn't timeless.

Blfenton, you're obviously smart enough to argue your point because you did just that.

Writersblock. It took me until I found GW to just pick what I like and don't worry about resale. Personally I don't want to spend too much on anything, as I do tend to like to spruce things up. If I don't "overspend" I feel OK changing things out more frequently. I envy those that like things for much longer periods of time.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:01PM
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aloha, when people ask about "timeless", I think it's because they want to be reassured they are not making mistakes. So, #1 is an underlying fear of trying too hard to be classical (and failing). Asking about timeless is the wrong question, or it's formulated in the wrong words, but the core is still there: a concern about doing the wrong thing.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:04PM
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I have a friend I've known since nursery school, about 1948. Her house was from the 20s or 30s (I don't have the discerning eye for that) and we thought it was sort of old and frumpy compared to our spiffy modern 50s houses.

Many years went by and in 2006 I visited her mom who still lives in the house. It is unchanged (still no dishwasher), but man, does it look great. Where before it just seemed dated, now it seems authentically vintage. It just stood still while other trends came and went.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:17PM
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When people ask the "timeless" question here, I always read it as, "Am I doing the safest and most conventional thing possible?"

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:21PM
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I think I've articulated this before but anyway, some ideas on how to make choices that are less likely to feel outdated in the future

1 It's been said many times, but if the look was in your house when it was built, or it feels like it would have been, that's a big help. This is why white penny rounds in a 1900 brownstone probably never look bad.
2 If it's too rare to be knocked off all over the place -- eg handmade, imported, etc, it's less likely to date
3 If it's too expensive to become ubiquitous, it is less likely to date.
4 If it's out of style when you put it in, it is less likely to date, ironically.
5 If you enjoy trends, try to express them in the least permanent ways.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Aloha, I have a twenty year old kitchen and, until a few weeks ago, we hadn't replaced anything you mentioned. A few weeks ago the faucet broke and we replaced it. I really should have replaced the faucet earlier, as it was an irritant for several years because it wasn't functioning as it should--hopefully, I've learned the lesson not to put up with things like that which are easily changed. Otherwise, while some might be appalled that we made no changes to our kitchen (other than painting, window coverings, and accessories) over twenty years, I'm pleased that we got so many years of good service out of it. It may not be cutting edge, but we have a lot of good memories of time spent with family and friends in that kitchen and a lot of good food has come out of that kitchen.

At this point, our floor is badly in need of replacement, so we will use that as our starting point and plan to also replace countertops, sink, and backsplash. We're probably also going to move our island for better function. We also plan to start replacing appliances proactively, rather than waiting for them to die.

For me, personally, I think of "timeless" in terms of something that I won't tire of in a few years. That is why I tend to choose neutral (but, hopefully, not boring) finishes for the major components of a room and then let the accessories add the pizazz. Accessories and paint colors can easily be changed, but more permanent and/or expensive elements not so much.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:28PM
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I think if a kitchen or anything is in fashion now, it will go out again, and then probably come back. The key is, like Hollysprings said, if you work with your house's architecture and basic original vision and tweak it to suit you, it will never be "out" in your house. We don't have to be slaves and recreate the original look, but to just keep it in mind and also keep in mind the local climate. What is timeless in Florida may not be in NY.
As much as I love really old houses, if we were to put that kind of kitchen in our 1950 ranch, it would not have worked. Instead, we cheated by a few years and put in a 1940's aesthetic. It is clearly a new kitchen, but the style harkens back and that will help it to not be so dated when another 10 years pass. Since no one else has one like it near here, I am hoping it won't be passe. Because the function was well thought out and the palette easy enough to tweak, I doubt we will get bored enough with it to rip it out. We may change paint color, but it will suit us for a very long time. We know it is not everyone's cup of tea but it is ours and we are the ones who live with it and paid for it. If we had gone with what passes as a builder's "kit" these days, you can bet we'd be tired of it pretty soon. In fact, I am tired of that look now, lol.

I think the ones that will look dated are the ones that were very common and taste specific. Anything that is over the top now will evoke a what were they thinking later. I see some nice kitchens from the 70s and 80s in the course of my work that were not overdone and just need minor tweaking (i.e. wallpaper or more precisely, wallpaper border, removal and maybe a hardware refresh). The laminate cabs with the wood trim edge have become dated, but if you put new doors on the frames, you have a new kitchen again. The same is true with the plastic pulls that people used. Once you put in a newer set, the cabs are instantly updated.

I'd be careful about floors because if you use something trendy there, it is a big hassle to change out. Appliances all fail at some point, so switching to a newer look can happen gradually. Although, our 70 year old vintage stove is working as great as ever (once we are allowed to hook it up). It needed a tuneup and was deemed good to go by a specialist. The only reason it would ever be out of service is if we can't find people who know how to handle them. I think if we leave it alone in its place, it will work for a very long time more. By now, kitchens have cycled through white, black, colored and stainless steel for appliances. I imagine that with the exception of particular trendy colors, that it will continue to be a mix of finishes offered.
Pendents may lose their trend status and faucets will change shapes some more, but then again, how much more could they change and still function as faucets?

The most important question is what will last in your own personal favor over the years. What is timeless to you for your kitchen? Since you are probably trying to get something you will enjoy for quite a while, then choose based on your long term tastes and not trying to be on trend or "wow" with the more permanent fixtures. Let the accessories be more where you express your funkiness because those change out easy. More importantly, if you see an item sold by every mfr and in every kitchen display and it looks so similar that it is hard to tell apart, then stay away from it, because it will soon be replaced by the next best thing and will become old in your eyes sooner.

The LBD comes in many shapes, styles and fabrics. Classic ones from any era will still look nice, but there will be ones that miss the mark now. A turtleneck, jeans, blazer, polo shirt, or neat t-shirt are always in style but something Madonna wore will come in and out. I think we know the difference when it comes to clothes and just need to apply it to kitchens since we can't change them out as often, nor should we want to.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:28PM
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I don't have a little black dress from 1988, but I do have one from 1991 that I still wear. It's still wearable because it is very simple in design. (No shoulder pads or frills.) Also, it is of good quality.

I think a little black dress that made a BIG STATEMENT in 1991, would look dated today. A little black dress that is simply a little black dress? Not so much.

I think kitchens are similar. The kitchens that make BIG STATEMENTS, for example the ones that go over-the-top in their attempts to evoke the Victorian scullery, will look most dated 20 years from now. And, no, they won't look dated to the Victorian era. They'll look dated to 2012.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Pal- What a nice way for the ladies in the family, to honor your mother...intentional or not.

Your story reminds me of a 1940s little black dress that my grandmother's friend gave me (still in excellent condition) when she was going through her old clothes. I wore it to a Christmas party and everyone was asking me, where did I buy it? LOL

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:40PM
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When someone asks the "timeless" question I usually think two things. First, they have no idea what they are getting into. And second, they are looking for solid purchases that will have some lasting value.

Whether or not we like it, appliances more than anything else date our kitchens. It's not at all about function or even materials. It's about architectural style and the technology available at any point in time. It's not about who thinks what.

I see dozens of kitchens each week and I can usually date them within a certain number of years by the way things are arranged. Built in vs microwaves on shelves. The presence of steam/speed ovens in a stack. Range hood style. Refrigerator style. Dishwasher handles.

Like it or not, there is no escaping this. Appliance color can be a factor but it's not a main factor in style. It's more about upscale vs moderate effect because color and type travel together.

I think it's perfectly ok to want something timeless. That means you're seeking non-trendy choices that will enhance your home and give you a kitchen that's more pleasurable to live in. Because we do live in that room.

So what if someone asks this question? If you don't ask you won't get answers and if you don't learn something fairly significant about your own style from a kitchen reno then you haven't been very engaged. It's the opposite of what they used to say about the '60s: if you remember it you weren't there.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:42PM
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A few things that come to mind are timeless:

Subway Tile
White Cabinets

Perhaps this will help you.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Spot-on question, aloha.

I agree, there is no such thing as "timeless" in a kitchen. Or anywhere else in design, for that matter. Tastes never stop changing.

It's true that much of the concern for timelessness is driven by fear. No one wants to be humiliated in five years by a kitchen that they spent $20K or $50K or $100K to renovate. No one wants to invest in the hot trend of 2012 only to be laughed at in 2013.

However, I think you're all being much too kind to believe that absolutely everyone uses "timeless" in this way. Evidence: look at the finished kitchen posts that are introduced as "My timeless, classic kitchen." I mean, seriously? Who calls their own kitchen timeless? Who shows you around their house, saying, "As you can see, my taste is exquisite?" Who shows up at a cocktail party, greets you and says, "I decide to look quite elegant tonight?" I'm not talking about bubbling how much you love your counters or cabinets, or how much better your new kitchen is, or how happy you are. I'm talking about praising your own aesthetic sensibilities.

It's clear to me that,, for lease some people "timeless" is merely a synonym for "tasteful," as distinguished from the vulgar trendiness that (implied) you people indulge in. It's like the preppy clothing of kitchen styles, something that is not only traditional, but above the likes of you. Glass mosaic? Shudder. NOKD.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 2:48PM
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I finally reset my computer and was able to post. again, not that I had anything earth shattering to say.

Mtrnredux, I think you hit the head on the nail. I'm hoping that consumers just won't get sucked into believing timelessness is achievable in the kitchen. It's great that so many innovative materials and choices are out there, but wow do some of them come with a pretty hefty price tag. I am one to enjoy MOST trends. #5 will be a good thing for me to remember personally.

Furniture around the house seems different. Perhaps it's different (at least for me) because it doesn't get the abuse as a kitchen does. Even if a piece of furniture gets worn, it's usually small enough project to refinish.

Palimpsest, classic never seems completely in style so never out of style either.

Davidrol, I'm sure it is a fear.

We all see perfectly good appliances and cabinets being tossed aside for no better reason then because they don't look right any longer. No one wants to think they are building a kitchen that many will deplore in a decade or two.

We are remodeling to completely change out the kitchen floor plan. Even with that I tried hard to reuse the cabinets we had. I was going to reuse some in the utility room but now, I'm thinking strongly of using them in the walk-out basement kitchen. They are in wonderful condition and being I won't be a particular about that installation, I'm sure they will suffice.

I personally don't feel squimish about spending money on the layout of the kitchen. Adding windows, changing plumbing, wiring etc to have a MUCH better functioning room is worth it because it's the "bones" of the kitchen. The adornments that give it my personality I shy away from spending too much. Just like I'm evolving, so will likely my tastes.

Sail-away, it's great that you have enjoyed your kitchen so long!

For the first time ever, I am picking out choices that I never thought I would (but they do feel right). The common thread for me over the decades though is I like strong contrast, so the black/white theme should keep me happy I hope for as long as possible. Though I realize that the black/brown cabinets I'm picking today will be OUT in a decade or so, I think for myself, I'll like the edgy contrast for quite awhile. I know some of you may cringe, but I have it in my back pocket to change out the drawer fronts, if I start to hate the look. To me $500 or so to change it out to get a whole new kitchen look, is well worth it. Perhaps I should change it out seasonaly (just kidding).

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:09PM
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I think I may have given the impression that I'm trying to get a timeless kitchen, and let me crystal clear that I am not. If anything, I think of my material choices as non choices since they are so basic. The cabinets will be very plain with only the handles to give it some sparkle. White counters to give me the high contast I have always gravitated towards.

When I "dream" about my kitchen. I dream about looking out my new windows while I'm cooking or preparing things, talking to others in the adjacent room or at the island without a wall in between, having countertop space where I need it, a sink that functions where I don't have pans on the counter soaking, recyling in the kitchen instead of having to walk 30' to put it in the garage (Rococogurl will be able to date my kitchen by that if nothing else). Function, function, function.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:26PM
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I use a handbag of my mothers from the 60s. As a kid, I saw her using the bag. It is made of elephant skin (sigh, so politically not-correct) and simple elegant shape, reminiscent of Jackie O style. I carry it to the opera now. It is never in style and never quite out of style.

My kitchen, I hope will also be that. There are elements that are definitely not in style. (I ran the slab quartz for backsplash, for example) I see folks doing that with the marble because of the drama of the veins. With quartz, there is no drama. Just the simplicity of the material.

It is extremely simple, 'boring' to many and completely not in style as far as what I see on the mags. It reads simple and basic to me. I did not do it to be "timeless" because I don't believe in that concept. I did not find that tiled backsplash was for me. I liked the simple and basic and nearly boring for myself....

my entire house is a bit that way. This is my style and i do not see myself changing too much in the future.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:31PM
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oceangirl67 has drunk the KoolAid. LOL!

Design has always been incestuous. Designers copy other designers and people copy those designers. Thanks to the new age of information, that copying has become dizzying. Trends that once would last a decade or longer now last 4 or 5 years and we're off to the races for the next shiny shiny bling bling. If you get on that merry-go-round, you've already lost your quest. Stay on the sidelines and pick something that is out of style. People won't admire you as a hot trendsetter, but neither will they think you are all that frumpy if you do it well.

Point to ponder. Brass. Timeless? Well, yes, but it can also be trendy or gramma, depending on who and where you are. If you are in one of the trend setting coastal locations, brass is HOT! If you are in Podunk, and watch HGTV, you are probably planning on ripping out your brass fixtures as soon as you can decide between satin nickel and ORB.

And that's why white shaker cabinets, marble, and subway tiles are already off trend. It was dead the first time you saw it in a TV commercial. It's everywhere now in advertising. The style setters are on to a 2012 version of "modern" as the next big trend. Slab doors are the next quest on the "timeless" merry-go-round. And yes, both ARE timeless. And trendy. The cycles are becoming so rapid that they can be both at the same time! LOL!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:33PM
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I think there is a difference between asking the question or worrying about timelessness or tastefulness, and assuming that you've nailed it.

I have found that clients who are worried about something becoming dated, is really a synomym for their growing tired of it; which is in turn a synomym for their having fickle tastes; which is not a character flaw, but what it means is that their sense of what they really like is Not as Strong as their ability to be greatly influenced by all the visual stimuli out there.

Besides having a client who wanted to choose a cabinet because she liked the NAME of it (and nothing else about it, really)...

I've had clients who found a Remnant of material, and wanted to rework an entire room that there was nothing wrong with -- based on a piece of material by an unknown manufacturer, and possibly not even still available.

I've had people completely change ideas midstream based upon something they saw on TV, or in someone's house over the weekend. Fighting the way back to the core taste is not always easy.

These are extreme cases, but a seed of doubt is planted by every new image that one sees--unless you *already *know what you like.

I have gotten to the point that I don't look at ANY design magazines, particularly when I am planning a kitchen. I look at online resources for the materials and I pay a Lot of attention to appliances, but I don't look at anyting that says Trends, Ideas, etc. I figure out with the client what they want, in the simplest of terms and Then find the stuff to make it work, because it really is out there.

(Conceptually some of this is easier for me because trends are more variable in most matters for women than they are for men. Unless your dad was big on leisure suits or jumpsuits you could pull out a shirt, tie, pants and maybe jacket from 30+ years ago and wear it without looking too silly.

I've said this before, but I wear a winter jacket that my dad is pictured wearing, holding me when I was a toddler, and I just turned 50. It looks vaguely like what some obscure designer might be doing presently and has always kinda looked like that--I wore it in HS too, sometimes.)

So, I think the concern about fashion may spill over into these decisions as well, and this difference may be why you find your husbands scratching their heads over some of the subtleties you are worried about.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I agree with what marcolo said about some of the "look at my timeless, classic kitchen" posts. And others here seem to speak of what is timeless or classic with great certainty, telling people that they will regret any decisions that don't fall within a certain narrow spectrum of acceptable materials and styles.

But there's a difference between telling people "my kitchen is timeless" and asking about whether a particular thing is timeless or how to achieve a timeless look. I think the question-askers are motivated more by a genuine concern about the soundness of their choices and not a sense of superiority.

About the little black dress comment, I have a few pieces of clothing from my mom that she bought as "investment pieces" in the 50's and 60's. They are pretty classic in that they have simple lines and are made of luxurious fabrics, but you can still tell by some of the details that they are not "of today." When I wear them, I pair them with newer things. If I tried to put together a total 50's or 60's look with them, I'd be a caricature. Same thing with kitchens, IMO. In most situations, a mix of elements will be fresher for longer.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:42PM
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Don't fret... if your kitchen isn't timeless now.... it will be in a few short years... what goes around.... comes around!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Circus Peanut

People often ignore the fact that white is a color, too, and every bit as susceptible to the vagaries of taste as any other color, like gold or avocado.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:47PM
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I always think the question is "Should it be timeless?" not "What is timeless?". As an old house lover in a city with extensive historic neighborhoods still intact, it is a real disappointment that the original builders here did not fully embrace the styles of their times. Houses here are overwhelmingly a muddling of styles - a little colonial revival, a dash of craftsman and a few dollops of art nouveau and deco for good measure. Not a great deco house, or a true craftsmanm, just a lot of venacular houses, well made with nice woodwork and none of the historic character that people have come to love and expect.

I think it's OK to ride with the times. It's OK for styles to come and go. It seems like people lever really appreciate them anyway until they are long gone.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 3:55PM
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I'd like to say, I think avacado green and harvest gold are timeless. They're brought up all the time, when we have these discussions...we can't seem to forget them! LOL

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:07PM
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Timeless would have to mean unaffected by passing trends thereby avoiding the ability to be, in the future, pegged easily as being one style-movement or another. Usually this gets expressed as being plain without being "sterile", or functional without being "cold". A cold, sterile kitchen may well be timeless, but also undesirable.
Another way to look at it would be that certain overarching themes are emphasized, such as lots of light, good views and aspects, and an exceptionally well-planned functional layout, that no matter what the decorative style is, it has a utility that surpasses the moment.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:08PM
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I agree that the fear of making a mistake often comes out as a search for "timeless." But I am also thinking about the analogy with clothing. Some people buy clothes that many, many people are wearing at that time and that almost no one is wearing five or ten years later. Other people buy clothes that a (smaller) group of people might wear at any point in time. We're used to this concept with clothes. Kitchens, being so much more expensive, make it more scary.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:16PM
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In Re Pal's quote
"but what it means is that their sense of what they really like is Not as Strong as their ability to be greatly influenced by all the visual stimuli out there."

I really identify with this sentiment. It is so American to think we are individuals but we are such lemmings (I know I am!). I try hard to fight the urge not to love what some marketer/designer/tastemaker/columnist/respectedGW'er has told me I should love. But sometimes i just can't resist. For example, I am still in love with Ikat, white marble, and industrial chic. I cannot help it.

I once redid a bathroom and I had such a clear vision of exactly what I wanted, down to every detail. Then I went to one of my favorite restaurants, where I visited the ladies room. And there it was. The wall color, the wall tiles and floor tile, the sink and faucet style. Even the mirror frame! I had no idea I was just channelling that room.

Again, a lot of money and careful wooing takes place to make us want things. Look at how often movies inspire design, ditto hotels and restaurants. We all "suddenly" find ourselves liking the same things. It's no accident and it's very hard to parse what YOU think from what you are being force fed. Not to mention, although it may not seem so at the time, when you go to buy something, your choices are already very much edited.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Aloha, I have to jump in here and answer one of your questions because I KNOW I have the answer.

Q: I'm wondering who has a kitchen more then 15 years old, that hasn't replaced, a handle, faucet, lighting, counters or appliances, not because they broke, but they were tired of them.

A: My husband! (and I suspect other husbands out there as well).

We are finally beginning a kitchen facelift. Not a full remodel because to hear dh tell it, we just remodeled the kitchen. And yes, we did. In 1996. To him, it still looks great. I see the peeling finish, the chipped sink, and broken tile. And after living with a kitchen built for an Amazon woman, I want it to be functional for ME.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 5:18PM
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I think this is regional. The house I grew up in has the kitchen it was built with (1969) with new knobs and pulls. The DW, fridge, cooktop, and range hood were replaced only when they failed. The floor was replaced only when the subfloor needed to be fixed due to a leak. The ovens are original. When one of the appliances wore out recently my father asked "Why isn't any ---- thing made to last anymore?!"

My neighbor's kitchen was completed in 1956 and is essentially unchanged.

I think people in different areas approach these things differently. (this area being small town, isolated, for example). New kitchens may get done as part of a renovation or when the house is sold, but Rarely do people remodel their own kitchens to update due to tastes.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 5:38PM
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Mtnrdredux - sometimes even this forum is a self-inflicted force feeding. As much as I love it, I'll try to wean myself from it when my kitchen reno is done. (I love GW so I'm thinking good luck with that!) It's hard to keep seeing beautiful ideas and not rethink things.
I think for me, choosing my view of something classic is between what I love and think I can live with a long time, fear, because I'm afraid to spend tons of money on anything really, and being wasteful (tossing out things that are still good). All of these things can make change difficult. But sometimes you just need a little change to give something you still love a little life again.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 5:44PM
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I really do think the quest for "timeless" and "not dated" does come often from people who just aren't exactly sure what they want, like I believe it was Pal said. When my dh and I were first married in the mid-nineties and contracted to build our first home in a quaint new neighborhood of what I would call "upscale starter homes" lol...the "designer" who helped me with my selections was aghast that I wanted white cabinets. She assured me they were on the downturn, they were being put in "cheap homes" and that I really needed maple. I assured her I didn't give a d@mn about how gauche they were, I wanted white cabs. We lived in that house until we sold it in 2010 to build the house I had been planning in my head for years. I will tell you, in the 14 years we lived in that house, we knocked down walls, replaced appliances, replaced flooring and counters...but I never considered, ever, changing the color of the cabs. In fact, that is why we never got new ones, dh refused to buy new cabs unless they looked different!

All of this is to say that while I adore interior design ( I am a shelter mag junkie)...I also know MYSELF and what I like to look at and what I like to live with. The notebooks of inspiration pics I have collected for years are very consistent. The ID I used for our new build said I was one of the easiest clients because I didn't hem and haw and waffle. Our home looks very different than most of the cedar/shake/stone European/and-or Nantuckety style homes in our hood. I just knew what I wanted...my house is completely off-trend...a painted brick, Georgian style hone with a simple gable roof. And while my kitchen has white cabs and subways (not black counters, though) and might be considered a OTK wannabe...I had white cabs and white subways in my old kitchen (subways installed in 2002.) I know I love it...and I really won't care that it is out. My materials are lovely and real, and I won't tire of them. I really do think knowing yourself is key.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 5:48PM
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Good for you, Marti. Have a blast.

I'm pretty sure 90% of today's increased emphasis on "timelessness" arises from the fact that most of us will be living with the results of this large spending spree for a very long time. No redos in 5 years for the vast majority of households (the new faucet and paint spiffing being evidence of that reality).

The problem arises with "timelessness" when, instead of using it in an attempt to extend satisfaction as much as possible, willful self-delusion about the value of the investment is used to "justify" excessive spending.

The same problem, big time, for those who manage to convince themselves that somehow a purchaser five years down the road will be happy to pay for most of their happy indulgence with today's hot items.

On the plus side, today's kitchens ARE fantastic functionally, better by far than ever before. Also very handsome, although we liked ours a whole lot way back then, and then, and even then too. Now, if only more thought was given to flexibility as kitchen technology continues to evolve...

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 5:54PM
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Tasteful may be stylish and stylish may be tasteful, but they aren't synonymous. Tasteful transcends what's in and, in that sense, is timeless, at least IMO. As others have said, tasteful is the LBD that is well-designed, well-made and appropriate to its place. It may never be. But it will always look good.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 6:13PM
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It seems to me that "timeless" is contextual. And in the eye of the beholder.

sayde's kitchen is timeless because I cannot imagine what could possibly be better for that space. Ditto Casey's and jakebedy's.

sandyponder's is also timeless because it is spiritedly sui generis.

In the best of all possible worlds, people who are working on kitchens for their own gratification will think less about what is au courant and more about works in their respective spaces for their respective lives. Anything else is a crap shoot.

Cheers. hbk

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 6:22PM
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I remember being a little girl (about 8) and admiring my grandmother's friend's kitchen. She had white cabinets and many of them had glass doors. I'm sure I would not love the counters or fixtures. Or, maybe I would. I do remember she had a white 4x4 backsplash with blue and yellow flowers. It was charming, but not something I would love now. I think it's funny that my first kitchen renovation (update really) I painted my cabinets white and installed glass in the doors. I keep thinking back to that sunny, white kitchen. I'm not young either. It's interesting how I noticed how people decorated even when I was little. I'm not sure if it's a sickness or a passion.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 7:52PM
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As a newbie to the whole renovating and decorating thing I have to say it's probably just all about fear. Fear that it won't be nice when it all comes together and fear that you'll hate it before it's even done, never mind in 5 years when that avocado green stove makes you wonder "what was I thinking?!"

I had never even bought a large appliance before, never mind buy an entire kitchen of appliances, on top of cabinets, countertops etc etc etc. I never used the word "timeless" but I totally get the fear of things not looking good or of wanting to ensure you'll like what you've chosen down the road a ways. A kitchen reno is a big expense! And some of us (myself especially!) don't have that gift of knowing how things will go together without actually seeing it. All the digital renderings in the world aren't the same as standing in the space and looking at all your choices in real life. The entire time I was making choices for my new kitchen I was wracked with fear that I was making a choice I would regret at some point. That caused SO much over thinking I got tired of my indecision. I had to remember that it's only a kitchen and that NONE of my decisions are forever. And then take a few deep breaths. And move on.

I agree that it's true, there is no such thing as timeless. But I suspect most people who are looking for the "timeless" look, are really just hoping they don't regret the decisions they made for their kitchen (or some of the larger expenses in their kitchen ) after all the time, money, and effort put into it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 9:52PM
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Does timeless really mean resellable? Does it mean not taking any chances and taking the middle ground so more people will love the space?
In my last house, 20 years ago, I had the OTK. White cabs, light grey corian, marble tile bs, a huge peninsula, plenty of light and good appliances. I loved it. The new owners ripped it out immediately and put in dark finishes and wall paper. They flipped the house 2 years later for 2x what we asked.
So I don't think there is a real timelessness to strive for. Just do what you love and pleases you and enjoy it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:22PM
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I just want to be able to walk into my kitchen next week, next year, in five years and not go, what the hell was I thinking? Like waking up next to the wrong person. As I get older I'm more accepting of my likes and dislikes. I'm going for that elusive, sublime feeling when things just look right. As many other posters have said, I can't remodel every five years or so when my choices look dated. I'm far more likely to go for something considered tried and true, safe, even if it lacks a certain zing.

I'm more worried about being able to put my kittens calendar on a cabinet door and white board back on the wall. I know the olive oil and Tabasco sauce are going to be sitting on the new quartz. I can't let my new-look kitchen be the boss of me.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:26PM
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Of all the hideous adjectives foisted on the public by the kitchen marketing industry, "timeless" has got to be THE worst and most misleading. As others here have said: There's no such thing. There just isn't. Subways and marble, as much as I love them, will be datable to this era 10 or 20 years from now.

That said, HBK took the words right of my keyboard when mentioning sayde's kitchen. It's perfect for her house and with the exception of her modern appliances, looks like it was always there. It's the truest and best example I've ever seen of a "timeless" kitchen.

I remember checking a book out of the library probably 10 years ago; it was Terence Conran's first book on kitchens, published in the early '70s, I think. Most kitchens were instantly identifiable as '70s kitchens. The only ones that weren't were the country-style kitchens which had been designed to look old. And they were very, very plain; hardly any detailing or frills. So if you are going for "timeless," that's something to keep in mind.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:27PM
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Funny that two other people mentioned Sayde's kitchen. I almost posted it as an example of timeless myself. I looked at it again, and it is and it isn't. IMHO. Before we use Sayde as a case study, let me reiterate how much I love your kitchen Sayde.

I thought of her kitchen vis a vis my timeless bylaws.

1 It's been said many times, but if the look was in your house when it was built, or it feels like it would have been, that's a big help.

Sayde's kitchen hews very close to the original, CHECK.

2 If it's too rare to be knocked off all over the place -- eg handmade, imported, etc, it's less likely to date.

Try asking your local guy for gumwood cabs. Then price the leaded glass. CHECK

3 If it's too expensive to become ubiquitous, it is less likely to date. See #2 above. CHECK

4 If it's out of style when you put it in, it is less likely to date, ironically.
One of my favorite elements is the floor. But I think it is fair to say that tile floors are out right now. Moreover, if someone said they were doing square brown and cream tiles, no one would ooh and ahh like they do for walnut or cork. It's a little bit "out", but that makes it unexpected. It also is simply lovely, and though unexpected, not in a loud way. CHECK

I would also say that multiple botanical prints is "out". Now calm, down, I know it is a bit of a broad statement. But that look of grouping multiple prints in a very grid like pattern with the same frames and same subject was first made popular in the late eighties. I don't recall seeing any recent kitchen with such an element. I don't think it would get people excited in the hypothetical compared to " I am going to hang a framed Suzanu" or my great grandmother's collection of chocolate molds. In that sense I think it's a bit "out", but so lovely that Sayde may singlehandedly bring back this look! CHECK

5 If you enjoy trends, try to express them in the least permanent ways.
Backsplash is trendy subways; relatively easy to "fix" if one wanted. CHECK

I am probably alone in this but I think islands themselves are not timeless. But if the floor goes under, that's not a huge deal either.

I only see two "timeless" (BAER) demerits. I think the farmhouse sink and marble counters carbon date the kitchen to today, and they are a big project to change.

ALL in ALL, i think Sayde not only has an unusual and very lovely kitchen, I'd say she has a pretty darn "timeless" kitchen. I hope you don't mind my using it for a "case study"

Here is a link that might be useful: Sayde's fabulous kitchen

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 11:14PM
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Suzani of course not Suzanu, which is a character in Dr Seuss

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 11:16PM
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I was going to mention her floor as well but forgot to. It's quite unusual given the trends right now, and that will help keep it from dating easily. It's also GORGEOUS and perfect in the space.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:04AM
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i look at function.

Form follows after function exists. This much i know.

Here are some specifics
framed wall cabinets = can have continuous shelving inside
framed base cabinets = waste space + bad bending over

an apron front sink is more functional than others because you are closer to it and thus don't have to lean over to put stuff in.

mtnrdredux's 5 points are good. Somewhere in the list I would add something about function

Looking at someone's kitchen island that doesn't have a toekick, I wonder what they were trying to achieve. Seeing millwork on the corners makes me think they wanted to spend money on decorative twists and curlicues and that is far far far from my ideal

the one kitchen mentioned a few times is, for some, an example of approaching the sought after ideal. I can't remember ever reading about aspects that made it fit the ideal, in my mind. It is a kitchen built to be consistent with a look. That is fine.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 5:41AM
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Mtnrdredux, I think your analysis is fascinating! The only aspect I disagree with is your contention that Sayde's marble will carbon date her kitchen. I don't think marble is a material that will ever become ubiquitous in mass market kitchens due to its expense AND perhaps more importantly, its difficult reputation. While tract home builders routinely slap uba tuba granite in kitchens as a matter of course, I doubt marble will ever reach that level of popularity, so I think it is less likely to date. I can't imagine those starry-eyed couples on "House Hunters" saying, "Oh, look at that, we have to tear out that Calicatta marble, so 2011!". Most likely, they would say, "what IS that counter made of" :)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:13AM
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About the marble. We bought a 1959 custom home from the original owner. The house had no updates since the 60's. There was/is marble everywhere. Bathrooms, foyer, fireplace hearth and accent touches all over the house. I am not a marble lover, but marble lovers would swoon over all the marble in our home. But even though marble is a "classic" material that has been used forever, the way it was used in our house looks dated. Much of it doesn't look bad, because it goes with the house (though there were some really awful touches we had to eliminate). But it still looks dated in the sense that most of the style choices made back then don't look like the way we would use marble today. People will probably still be using marble years and years from now, but there will be something about the way that they are using it that will date our present choices with it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:41AM
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I don't know my marbles that well, but Home Depot sells white marble tile for $3 sq foot ... different animal I know, but part of marble bastardization and overexposure. Similarly, a new coffee shop just opened in my town. I noticed white marble counters and counter seating every where.

I also predict a lot of it will get ripped out by new owners who don't want to wait for someone else's random etches and stains to coalesce into the ideal patina.

Full disclosure - I have a white Dolomya marble on my island and am known to caress it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:58AM
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Your list is pretty similar to mine, mtnrdredux. I'd point out that using a complete kit--like the OTK does--stamps a big fat expiration date on a kitchen much faster than using just one or two trendy elements.

However, even following all of your rules won't make a kitchen timeless. Even though I am the biggest proponent of doing a kitchen that fits the house, and believe that a period-looking kitchen tends to last the longest, not even sayde's kitchen is timeless. Not at all. Vintage is currently in vogue. Eventually, it won't be, and some future buyer will look at that kitchen and just think "old."

I think the lesson of this thread for anyone planning a renovation, is that if you're wondering if your choices are "timeless," the answer is no--100% of the time. So it's better to ask a completely different question., such as: "Will these choices look passé in two years instead of ten?" since some trends really do pass that quickly.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:54AM
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"Vintage is in vogue".

I often remark that we have Bob Vila to thank. It seems to me, before him anything "vintage" was just used, and old. Twenty five years later, I like to think that. while particular styles will come and go, that vintage per se will never be out again in the way it was mid-century.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Circus Peanut

I think the best question to ask is: "What is timeless TO ME?" And this, as others have pointed out, is the crux of the matter.

If you're not absolutely sure what YOU like, you're almost guaranteed to be swayed by whatever's being flogged in the magazines and home stores. And this in turn hastens the moment when you decide you're sick of it, since it didn't really come from within yourself in the first place. It ain't easy, of course. As Mtnrdux said, the consumer economy makes this much more difficult, virtually pre-editing our choices. I had to look forever to find the right glossy yellow tile I envisioned, ferinstance, since yellow and glossy aren't 'in style' at the moment.

My kitchen is similar to Sayde's in that it attempts to fit into an older house as a whole, and many people have assumed that it's original to the house. But I have no illusions about permanent 'authenticity' -- it is guaranteed to date itself via subtler things we tend to overlook or take for granted, because they are so much part of the current discourse we rarely question them. Things like counter thickness, special cabinet functions (spice pullouts, revolving susans, cutting boards, etc), overhang depth, appliance size, toekick height and depth, door frame width, faucet height, sink color, and the texture and cut of any cabinet trim like lightrail and crown.

I'm fascinated by the "fear" comments vis-a-vis style. Afraid one's kitchen will or won't be ... what exactly? Passé is all in one's own mind, isn't it? As I think Pal said somewhere, I'm insecure about many things but the interior design of my house is certainly not one of them. As long as I love it, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? (And if I love it, why wouldn't they?)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Extremely important point, circus--we can't stand outside ourselves and see what our own limitations are.

We typically don't realize how much our choices are edited today unless we go searching for something in particular that isn't in vogue. I've been frustrated by the Design Around This threads because it can take hours to find a material or object that I know exists but can't find a picture of online. If I wanted to do a wine-barrel chandelier, I could find one in three seconds. By contrast, I've been looking for more than a year for certain items that seem to fit my 1920s colonial but the search is exhausting.

Your other related point is something I was going to say myself. Every kitchen has certain "tells" that reveal when it was built, regardless of how authentic the renovator tries to be. As you say, it could be countertop thickness, or the light sockets, or the particular tones of white in the paint, or the handle styles. These characteristics are completely embedded in every choice available to us in our edited selection, so we think they are just the way things are, and can't' even notice them if we try. In ten or twenty years, they will stand out like sore thumbs.

In the same way, many of the details we all love in old houses were never even noticed by the original builders or occupants, such as the roundness of the vintage sinks or the construction details of the laundry chute door. To them, these were just the way things were, but to us, they are "tells" that reveal the true age of the kitchen.

But I stand by my point that "timeless" is not only inaccurate, but a positively harmful way to discuss design. Rather, people should try to articulate what they are really asking about even though that may be a little threatening. For instance, if someone asks, "Will I tire of this backsplash in five years?" they will need to honestly determine if the problem is a flash-in-the-pan design look that will age prematurely, or their own fickleness and lack of self-confidence.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:26AM
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I did my last kitchen nine years ago and I see virtually identical kitchens done today. I was ahead of my time with my cherry wood countertops, and the only thing that I think is "out" in my old kitchen is the hardware (easy) and the tile (and even that is not very different from something someone posted yesterday as an example of timeless!).

So I think 10-15 years is a worthwhile goal, timeless is not going to happen.

Marcolo does a great job of delineating all the myriad details that we don't even really get to choose, because of the pre-editing problem, i.e. the narrow choices we face when we go to purchase things. To those who still think marble is timeless, I will add ogee vs eased edges as a "tell".

The timeless question has come up a lot in the 2years i've been on this site, so instead of just wagging our fingers at everyone, maybe the best brains here should start a new thread that aggregates the best advice for an "enduring" kitchen. Not only what we think might last, but choices one can make that will make a facelift easier in the future? Is there a wood cabinet that you would choose because it can look good stained or painted, for example?

The "enduring" kitchen is a very worthy goal, not just because no one wants to be passe or waste money, but because it is very bad for the environment to take durable goods and treat them like ladies shoes...

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:11AM
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I think the Design Around threads have the potential to steer people away from trend-based decision making.

Not that I think every house needs or deserves a period-appropriate kitchen, if you look at those threads, you'll see that it is possible to do a kitchen that would be absolutely period (excepting appliances) for every kitchen since the white sanitary Edwardian kitchen to the year 2000, using currently available materials,

This includes the much-maligned oak styles, laminate with the wood edge pulls, peach solid surface and streaky marble solid surface right out of 1975. It's all still being produced.

Do you want to replicate these particular things in a new kitchen? Probably not, but since you Could, it is also possible to design a kitchen that is both new looking and Sympathetic to the house. It takes more legwork than a lot of people are able or willing to do (well, online searching),,,but it is definitely possible.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:42AM
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When I first read the title, my kneejerk reaction was "Do I look fat in this?" To me, those questions are in the same category. I agree with Marco that the "timeless" question (like the "fat" question) is not helpful and even harmful.

My questions were "can I comfortably live with this choice, when the newness fades in a few years?" And honestly, how durable are my choices? They need to last functionally, as in "not fall apart." College is just around the corner for my oldest, and then it's one child after the other.

Oh and to answer the OP's question, until this remodel, I never replaced anything in my kitchen because simply I was tired of it. Any replacements were because the original broke beyond fixing with superglue. My whole house is 30 years old and there were too many other pressing needs.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:06PM
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Even though I will have more of a cookie cutter kitchen, I so love and appreciate a kitchen that is kept it's architectural integrity. For myself, I think it's appreciating the uniqueness that it offers while staying functional.

Since I HATE shopping, all this talk makes me exhausted hearing it. It's much easier to just go to the big box store, find what you need (not necessarily what you want) and you're out of there. It's hard not succombe to the lure of styles, unless you have the inclination to do what it takes to find all those special pieces.

I'm not happy with appliance finishes but not wanting to blow by budget on getting what I want, I have to take what the mass marketers provide. Does my kitchen suffer because of this, of course. Is it because of the drive for the timeless kitchen, the finish options are severely limited to not date as much. As fast as I hear appliances are breaking down these days, it doesn't sound like you'd have to live with any finish choice too long anyway.

Not wanting to have to go out and make more material choices 15-20 years down the line, will convince me that my kitchen is timeless at that point. I can live in my own little world regardless of the reality around me can't I?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:08PM
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I'm no expert on kitchen design but here's how I took the whole "timeless" concept when I began looking into kitchen remodel.

Kitchen remodel/design is a costly project and no one wants to waste money on it so they want this kitchen remodel to last a while.

Everybody has two "crowds" they have to please in the future. First, you have to make yourself/family happy. You are the ones living in this space and if you hate it in 5 years you likely regret some of your design decisions and right now you want to avoid that.

Second, you want to please everybody else. That includes guests that come see your kitchen and anybody that might look at your house in the future if you try to sell it. You want a kitchen that people will like and maybe even "ooo and ahhh" over. And if you're selling your house you want your kitchen to add resale value and not detract from the rest of the house and cause people to have to budget for a kitchen remodel if they are buying your house.

However, as many have already pointed out taste can vary widely over time and even if you and everybody else loves your kitchen now there really is no guarantee that will be the same in the future.

I think the safest best is to have a kitchen that is functional, simple, and pretty but easily dressed up with accent pieces or quick changes such as wall paint. Even though I do like the look of the OTK (really white kitchen as I understand it) I thought this was the idea behind so many pushing that look on these forums. It does seem like a "safe bet" and not some outlandish design that might look crazy to people in 10 years once tastes change again.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Funny, aloha, I piped in on your thread on the HD forum, which I always call "the blond leading the blond." With some exceptions it's sometimes a great place to learn what not to do. There, everyone seems to agree that appliances should never come in a color because "remember avocado and harvest gold." OK. But their cheap white appliances with plastic handles will be "timeless."

I'm really intrigued by mtnrdredux's idea of a thread on designing a 15-year kitchen. Her own suggestions are good ones, and pal has noted some tricks he uses, such as mixing metals, which was a characteristic of most kitchens for most of the last century. I'm sure we'd have to beat down the timeless contingent now and then, but it could be useful.

Although the gadfly in me is forcing me to say: One way to have a kitchen that looks good for a long time is to design it with absolutely the most cutting edge trends that none but the style makers are currently doing. (Ducking.)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Respectful disagreement here.

Multiple botanical prints are hardly out. They are featured constantly. A case could be made that they are very much in and working their way into the very newest wallpaper designs. Say thank you to Bunny Williams and the Brits.

Patterned tile floors are very much in. The newer iteration are cement tiles with Iznik designs. Additionally porcelain tiles that mimic stone are huge. And Moroccan zeliij are being rediscovered. Say thank you also to the trendy Belgians and Indians (cement tiles are also made in Rajastan).

Subways are the opposite of trendy. There are more or less standard and possibly on the way out in favor of 2 x 8s and 2 x 12s. Though I do feel they will always be used because of their pricing and mutability.

I think a kitchen can be "memorable" or "distinctive" because it is individual with a personality of its own and some quirks vs a copy of elements with a different paint color. Sayde's kitchen is like that and there are others. Circuspeanut's certainly is individual. When done well those are very tough to date.

And I think the irony may turn out to be that the movie kitchen often cited as "enduring" or "timeless" or "the one true" -- the Something's Gotta Give kitchen -- is the one that 20 years from now will need freshening first. That won't stop people believing they have built a kitchen that somehow, miraculously, will escape looking dated. But the phenomenon of visual time makes that impossible.

Movies have always been more influential on style than anything else. So when the next great movie kitchen comes along, bam! New look.

No matter what anyone builds, it will happen. And no matter how lovingly you preserve your own look, can count on the next person who buys your house to rip it all apart and change everything to reflect their own taste and time -- and probably post photos of all the hideous things you did to that kitchen way back in the early 2000s.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Generally, we agree on that. But since everyone wants one, why can't we collectively offer the best, though flawed, advice on an "enduring" kitchen.

I do respectfully disagree the subways aren't trendy (I put them in most of my bathrooms anyway).

And while exotic, handmade, vaguely middle eastern, turkish etc tiles are very in, they are mostly on b/s. And tile floors are not "in". What is in is wood, very dark wood. I totally stand by my statement that if someone said they were putting sqaure tiles on their floor, no one would ooh and ahh, but we all oohed and ahhed when Sayde actually did it, so beautifully.

I distinctly recall the first time I saw prints in matching frames done as a grid, in a NYC dining room, in the late 1980s. It was a big deal and then everyone did it. Especailly botanicals and birds. More recently, maps have been more popular in the style. I can think of an Elle cover that I think had huge b/w maps done that way, prob in the last year. But as far as nature, corals and three dimensional things were more recently "in". Specimens.

Now, framed prints is pretty classic so it doesn't really go OUT. But, again, if someone on here posted and said, id really like to put some framed butterfly prints up, would anyone drool? No. They would be much more excited by vintage whatever, handmade whatever, ikat, suzani, eg current trends. Yet, again, Sayde did it and it looks wonderful. That's all I'm saying.

Maybe it isn't IN versus OUT as much as HOT, HOT versus traditional?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 1:30PM
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For prints evidence, see this for example.


"Sure, they're still a little grandma..." after the silly frame update with the ubiquitous ORB spray paint. Yes, there are some kinds of florals/botanicals that are in style, but they're not old prints of real botanical drawings, more like the kind of stuff kids used to do with rollers and block printing of silhouettes, or else absurd mishmashes with large text to point out that it's a BUTTERFLY and usually a platitude or two thrown in ("Let your heart soar" or some such nonsense), and extra points if you can work in:

A. Old sheet music
B. French language text
C. Burlap

I don't kid myself on this. I like Redoute and Gould and such, but those are as out as out can be right now, unless all faded and then you can pretend they're shabby chic.

While everyone wants to be "timeless", there's not really any such thing as "classic" anymore. It's a dated concept, too, amongst those who care about such things. I personally think that's a lot of where the whole timeless discussion comes from. It's kind of like when there stopped being "pop" music and it suddenly had to be called "jazz" to be socially acceptable, even though it mostly isn't anything to do with jazz at all and the people who like it would hate real jazz like anything if they had to listen to it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 1:57PM
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The "real question" is "How can I preserve or increase my investment, be perpetually in fashion, and love my kitchen forever?" The answer is "in your dreams."

Remember folks, it's only a kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 2:20PM
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But what is the answer to this query:

I recognize that decor trends change swiftly. But for my kitchen, both budgetary and ethical considerations dictate that I will not gut my kitchen more than every 15 years.

In your opinion, based on what is available to today, what choices would you make that give me
1. The best possible expected longevity
2. The easiest ways to update it as fashion changes.

Isn't that a reasonable quest?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 2:30PM
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I still say, if you design a kitchen for yourself and not everyone else...you will like it for 15 years or more! If you only plan to stay in a house for 5 years...why worry? Then, design for fashion and resale.

If you take resale out of it (at least for 15 years) then who cares, if you want blue countertops and bunny tiles (LOL that would be me) because you're the one living with it.

Sounds like we have two different issues...timeless for our enjoyment and timeless for resale. Since Aloha plans to stay in her kitchen...I say, pick what YOU love and have some fun with this remodel! :)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 2:42PM
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... my question was hypothetical, it's not for me.

I totally indulged myself in my new kitchen, and I am very very happy with it. I am hoping to never ever do it again.

To that an end I am going to work on becoming a charming, eccentric colorful (in the non-chromatic sense, of course) old lady in my dotage, who still has her _____ fill in the blank. Hmm, I think I will have to take up some odd hobbies or collections, and maybe affect an accent. My passe kitchen will be the least of it in 25 years!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 3:00PM
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I suggest an ill-fitting wig collection.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 3:55PM
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I think we're going to look at these "One true kitchens" 20 or 30 years from now and they're going to scream 2000's. Just like avocado green and harvest gold scream out their own decades and faux-lonial screams it's decade. There isn't anything wrong with that, and I can guarantee that when all those people were designing their cabinets and counters and houses many yeasr ago, then they also said "it's timeless".

It's human nature. Sort of like "oh you'll TOTALLY be able to wear that bridesmaid dress again! It's timeless!"

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:18PM
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You crack me up Marcolo....

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:24PM
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We do disagree on what's in and what's out/ or hot-not. I've been paid for years by major publications to produce that kind of thing so I'll stand by my observations. But the fun here is in the discussion so everyone's opinion is valid. And it's good to kick it all around in a big group like this with so many different approaches and taste groupings.

IMO the best possible longevity can be created by the most unique vision and the best integration of the kitchen into the general decor of the overall house.

There is no easy way to update a kitchen as fashion changes because of the domino effect. Just think of every one of those articles in magazines telling you how to do easy updates. They are always the same because there's only so many things that can be done without construction. Sure, mutable surfaces like wall color, window treatment, and cabinet color are least difficult but if the kitchen is well though through and stylistically integrated into the rest of the house, it's unlikely that only the kitchen will be updated.

OTOH, along with the bathroom and bedroom it's likely to be one of the rooms someone wants to update first. So then you're into a 15-35 year reno/redec cycle that's pretty normal since we are aging as well, sad as it is to contemplate, and we're responding to changing needs, life situations, lifestyle etc.

But whatever the choices are, I have learned from experience that visual time will change perception in some way that's impossible to anticipate. And then there's the movies.

In my mind, however, when I'm a really old lady (I've never been little) I won't need a kitchen. Just my iphone. I fully intend to live above a coffee shop and near a takeout store and have them on speed dial. By that time I will have cooked everything I ever wanted to and I'll need to spend less time in the kitchen and more time getting the false eyelashes on straight. I'll still enjoy people inviting me over (virtually or otherwise) to see what's new.

Speaking of new, has anyone actually seen that Thermador dual fuel Steam Pro range with the star burners, the 22K btu flame thrower, titanium grill, convection oven plus small steam oven and warming drawer? Talk about updates, I was drooling (though no idea if it's great).

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 4:53PM
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Someone mentioned wanting to create a kitchen that always looked "right" as it dated over the years. IMO a very enlightened approach and the best way to achieve something like timelessness.

I'd like to suggest a first step to "rightness": Creating a good space to develop. So many kitchens fail in rightness over time because expensive, often gorgeous purchases were installed in a space that was not optimized. Plumbing was not moved, doors were not lined up or filled in, windows not added or removed, ceilings not dropped or walls moved to improve proportions, etc.

With the basics of good design compromised, inevitably, as the special shine of stylish new materials wears off, the deficits of these kitchens become more noticeable.

Evidence supporting this is in the kitchen pointed at so much in this thread--Sayde's. Yes, the cabinets are good, but they're installed in an excellent space that allowed excellent development and thus has been very satisfactory through several decades of change now. The big key to its "timelessness."

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 5:09PM
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Timeless to me is what I have seen in old homes that have stood the test of time. Who cares if they are not shinning. It looks like the kitchen was actually used. The marble is etched showing meals were cooked and people enjoyed the space. It was not something to show I have arrived.

I know you cannot keep a stove fridge etc for 80 years now they are not built to last that long. But good wood cabinets, marble counters (not granite) is what I see in the old homes. When I say old homes I am talking about 100 year old houses.

I doubt any of the new homes built today will be timeless so it really will not matter what kind of kitchen you put in them. The house will not be there to be timeless.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 7:09PM
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.....................and the real answer is:

can you help me with my fear and self doubt !

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Marquest, there is so much track building out there that I think your hypothesis of no new home being built will be timeless will be truer. Craftsmanship is held off for custom homes only, and even those had a certain homongonous feel. I doubt you will see any smaller homes with the type of craftmanship we can see in older homes.

Antss, funny but true!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:58PM
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Aloha- I think that's what appeals to people, who read the 'Not So Big House' books. The choice between square footage, budget and architectural details...because there is a growing awareness that new homes often lack the 'quality features' that we associate with older homes. Maybe that's the key to being timeless? Including craftsman features (not the design movement, but the quality) that will still be appreciated and in demand...even 100 years from now :)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Could part of the question be "Why do I get tired of things I like(d)?"

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:12PM
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I can only speak about what I thought when I remodeled.

I didn't think about timeless, nor do I think it is achievable. I am 52 years old. Between my family home, where my parents have remodeled in some significant extent about every five years, and my own remodeling efforts, I have lived in kitchens with brown, gold, almond, black, white, and stainless steel appliances. Countertops have been laminate, tile, corian, butcher block and granite. I could give similar progressions for faucets, sinks, flooring, and pulls.

I think that the best that one can hope for in a kitchen remodel is that it fits into the rest of the house and that you haven't sunk so much money into it that you can't adjust in the future.

When I posted my kitchen remodel here, I called it my "black dress" kitchen. I know it is bland by some standards. It has the white shaker cabinets, the stainless steel appliances, subway tiles, the granite countertops.

Do I think it is timeless? No. What I do think is that it fits my house. No one is going to walk into my kitchen, and think, "What the hell?"

Things change. Particularly, appliances change. My parents have a trash compactor in their kitchen. They have had one for decades. I don't actually remember a time when they didn't have one. It dates the kitchen, but they like it. I think wine storage will be similar: it is something that people who have one like, but will have a certain "used by" date.

And appliances die. Looking back at the kitchens that I have lived in, nothing has a greater expiration date, both by function and design, than appliances. I personally wouldn't design around appliances, because those will eventually be as outdated as my parents' trash compactor.

I think that you have to design around your space, and forget about timeless in your appliances and finishes. Several people have pointed to Sayde's kitchen, and said "That is what we meant by timeless." It is a lovely kitchen that stayed very true to its roots. But many of us don't have as good of roots.

The only thing that is timeless, in my opinion, is layout. A good layout transcends time, or at least I'd like to think that. But I live in a house with a little 7 1/2 by 10 foot kitchen, so maybe it is easy for me to say that there is only one good layout.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 10:13PM
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I remember back to my teen bedroom. It was the first time I had been allowed to design everything myself and I was giddy. I chose a wallpaper with bright almost primary color cartoon flowers and stripes and pulled out colors from that for the rest of the room. Grass green carpet, taxi yellow closet doors, sky blue woodwork, and aqua and purple bedding. Yes, I'm getting a headache now thinking about it!

I was tired of that in a year. And I wasn't going to be allowed to change it because my parents spent money on this and how dare I be already ready to discard brand new decor! So, I had to wait until I was 14 and had started babysitting to pick up money of my own to spend. The first thing I did was to rip down the wallpaper. Then I painted the woodwork and closet doors cream, and the walls peach. I ripped up the grass green carpet and painted the damaged wood floors that they covered a chocolate brown. I used cream eyelet bedding and went to the local fabric store for remnant fabric in peach, chocolate, and orange for pillows and made a rag rug from them.

I kept it like that until I moved out of the house and into my first apartment. And that bedroom is still in my mother's house and she uses it as a guestroom today with the same everything. And I do mean everything. I spent a lot of money getting quality bedding, took care of it, and it's still in great shape.

The difference between the two was following what I saw around me as popular and trendy, and then following something I liked and found soothing, but that was much more basic, and well, almost boring to some.

I've pretty much used the same strategy in all of my homes since then. Adding trendy pillows, art, and rugs, to a room that you built with good bones can take that room through many years and many trends. That does NOT mean shying away from color and using "safe" neutrals! I love color! And paint is easy to change. But a 3K sofa, that's not so easy to change. All of my larger "investment pieces" are in neutrals in clean simple lines.

And that is what I think people should strive for in a kitchen. So, what does neutral with clean simple lines mean for a kitchen? I think that was described above. Slab doors in natural woods. Raised panel doors in medium toned wood or white paint. Recessed panel doors in natural or medium toned woods or in white. Wood manipulated in any way to look very light (think whitewashed) or very dark (think espresso) will always be a fad. Slab doors in black or orange lacquer or horizontal grained ebony will be faddish. Even the wide stiles and rails shaker cabinets will be a fad. White shaker will fade in fashion, but it will never look too wrong if it looks right with the rest of your house.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:11PM
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lavender, I agree that is the feeling I get when I walk into a old home,,,the quality the molding, detail. These are the things that will stands the test of time making it timeless. vs Walking into a new home and there is no detail and you get a hollow feeling.

Aloha, I know I watched them build a house on my way to the store weekly and I could not believe what they were using for building material. This was not a new development or track house. They were building a Mcmansion true enough on the outside but I would bet the inside was as pitiful as the outside.

I guess timeless has a short life span these days. Timeless has be come less time, LOL

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:20AM
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My evolution of the timeless concept, with varying degrees of naivete:

When we were first planning to replace our worn-out, bad-layout kitchen in our 1920's house, we actually said that we wanted our new one "to be timeless." What did we mean? Similar to others, I think we wanted a "safe" one that would last us a long time.

We actually put off the reno for a long time. We took two serious runs at it at 5-year intervals, before finally pulling the trigger last spring. So, as we looked through many magazines, inspiration pictures, and books that were 0, 5, and 10 years old, we decided we needed our kitchen to be "timeless." What did we mean then? I think we wanted one that was not hewing to the current trend, one that would not soon look dated. I think that in some corner of my small brain, I thought there were two parallel kitchen tracks: one for stodgy old kitchens, which did not vary much, and another track for trendy kitchens that had high design features that came and went. We wanted to be on the former track. I imagined this track used modest white appliances and eschewed fancy baubles. It did, however, use high-quality materials.

Next, I thought it was important that the kitchen respected the period/history of the house. (Still do.)

We finally started on the reno. We chose Shaker cabs. Those must be timeless, they are plain and have been around forever! (Little did I know that seemingly 3/4 of kitchens being built today use them.)

My evolution took a detour, as I hung out on GW and got my tastes refined for me. (Not sure that I WANTED them to be refined, but that is a different question!) The dollar amount soared. What was that we said about modest white appliances? That notion was vaporized, and a lot of disposable income was disposed of!

A more important outcome of GW was getting the layout correct and structure right. As an example of the latter, we opened up kitchen doorway to the DR to a 4' arch that matches the arches in the rest of the house. We also removed a door frame and arched over the other door out of the kitchen, and removed and arched the next door/doorway that goes to the front entrance. We came to the realization that, in the '20s, people wanted to be able to close off the kitchen. However, if you were building a 1920s house today, you wouldn't do that. So I tried to reinterpret the '20s aesthetic in modern sensibilities. ("Timeless!") But, as argued above, the improved layout should be vital in staving off a future reno before the materials wear out.

We made some iconoclastic choices. Not purposely contrarian, just didn't like the normal choices. For example, we will have copper-clad appliances. This is getting us into Pal's and other's notions of what is hard to date. Our KD tried to talk us into white cabs - no deal. Also, we chose soapstone counters, but, prior to GW, this WAS an iconoclastic choice!

Finally, form trumps function, and we will have a MW drawer. I am confident, whether MW drawers catch on or not, that this will date us.

What do I think is timeless now? Nothing. But I hope that the kitchen works for us for years thanks to good layout and quality materials/construction, and that it respects the rest of the home with a kind of period-appropriate, but not period, look. I think, intentionally or not, we now have most of mtn-rd-again's criteria covered!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:18AM
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My favorite kind of timeless is simply being period-appropriate for the house as others have stated. I don't love the timeless look in a modern house though (cringe - well maybe it would be okay if the house has a reproduction look in which case the kitchen looks nice when it's...what do they call those...transitional? A modern look with a few classic touches or vice-versa?). Not sure why I cringe at the thought of a newer house w/ the timeless look (in general) - probably for the same reason I don't like wooden ducks with blue bows. Not that that should make sense to any of you! And otherwise I think "timeless" is a romantic notion and those into that have an appreciation for the good ol' days - or how we imagine it was, anyway. I agree about the marketing though (more cringing)...

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:40AM
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Just read this thread and wanted to thank you for the kind appraisal of my kitchen! If only you knew how nervous I was about some of the choices, such as the checkerboard floor. But as I have said elsewhere, it was really the house telling me what to do. I almost felt like I was channeling it.

Also I agree about the Shaw's sink. I love the big single bowl but if I were doing it over again I would pick a different more anonymous (and less quirky) apron sink, and a larger one. Getting a 30 inch range also was a conscious decision as larger ranges were seductive. But in the end felt a 30 met my needs and seemed consistent with what might have been here in the twenties.

Thank you again. I feel very honored to have had such high praise on this forum! Love being able to share your posts with DH.

We are now building a pantry cupboard out of reclaimed gumwood. Looking forward to being able to show you all!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 8:35AM
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Oops. I, of course, meant "function trumps form."

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 12:13PM
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It is funny I was reading a magazine in the doctor's office and it was about choosing counter tops and granite was listed as a trend not to withstand the test of time because of its unique designs it is a individual choice it will be the Harvest Gold fridge of the 50s. LOL

Well I guess that product will not be timeless. When the new trend of zen comes back in vogue no one will want all that movement in their kitchens.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Marquest- Interesting...an exception may be the absolute black granite. No movement.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:05PM
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I think the reason Sayde's kitchen is noted as timeless is because it is not a mass produced kitchen. It does not look like every builder's kitchen or what Martha is hawking at HD (although I bet it is truer to the kind she'd want, lol).
When you use very common materials throughout, it is bound to date you to when those materials were popular.

Timeless will be the ones that work well and are interesting. They don't need to be far out or wild, but just not done in the current fashion because fashion changes. Try to use some unique pieces or put them together in a different way. It takes more searching, but when you find things that click it is worth the extra effort.
If some of the elements date the year it was done, that is fine too. I don't think we need new kitchens all the time, but ones that we will appreciate over time. Some people feel the need for a new car every 2 years yet others hold on longer and are just fine with it. A kitchen is not a disposable item and should be done with the intention of decades of use. Individual items may need replacing or repair, but as a whole, it should last a good long while. We take so much care to lay them out right and maximize the space that there should be much less need down the road to correct flaws like we all have done or are doing with our renos. The thread about what we hate about our old kitchens contains many things that no one would do in a new kitchen. I think kitchen design has evolved enough to need much fewer tweaks in the future! 10 years ago, we'd buy a new computer because the new ones were twice as fast or held more data. In the time in between, the advances have been so far and so fast that very few replace a 4-6 year old computer to gain speed or space, but only if they malfunction.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Again--I do not agree Sayde's kitchen is timeless. It would not have been at all popular between around 1930 and 1974-ish. We will absolutely cycle back to a rip-it-out aesthetic and vintage looks will pass completely out of favor. And I say that as a person who intends to embed strong vintage elements in his kitchen.

Sayde's kitchen has many virtues, but guaranteed future popularity is not one of them.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 2:42PM
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"Sayde's kitchen has many virtues, but guaranteed future popularity is not one of them"

marcolo, Is it not the idea that it is not "popular" and just the latest new thing is what would make it timeless?

I guess we have to define timeless.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Timeless does not exist. It is a fantasy. Nothing is timeless. As I said above, using the word only harms conversation, impedes clear thinking and leads to bad results.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 3:43PM
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Marcolo- So, what you're saying is that the only timeless thing...is that no kitchen will ever be timeless? :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 3:47PM
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In terms of guaranteed future popularity--this is a good point.

I don't think that avocado and gold appliances were introduced to be the bane of existence for the people who had them and hated them in the following decades; nor do I think they were introduced and planned obsolescence.

I think they were introduced as the next phase of personalization or expression that was available in kitchen design, and it didn't work out that way.

Ironically, these colors were probably chosen as the result of consumer research.

But the Ford Edsel was the car design based upon the most consumer surveys and research up to that time, and look what happened to it. At least it was named Edsel and not "Utopian Turtletop" which was one of the contenders.

No matter how beautiful or classic we thing things may look to our eye, there is no guarantee that our children will agree or their children will agree; and something from this era that we think is Meh or worse could enjoy an enduring revival.

And with full knowledge of coming off as elitist or condescending, I think it is a big mistake to confuse popular taste with good taste :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 3:49PM
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No matter how beautiful or classic we think things may look to our eye, there is no guarantee that our children will agree or their children will agree; and something from this era that we think is Meh or worse could enjoy an enduring revival.

As someone who is living in (and working on) a home purchased from parents, I have to say, this statement is totally, completely, utterly, and tragically accurate. It has been a somewhat awkward and stressful revelation to all of us that many of the elements most prized by my parents are the very ones we'd like to change.

In my case, the previous owners of my home are not strangers. They have the same background and values that we do. We share all of those things to this day. The main difference is only one generation.

Which leads me to agree that there is no such thing as timeless. I'm now pretty convinced that expending too much energy trying to assure that future "others" will love our choices as much as we do is probably not a good investment of our time.

However, I also think it's only human nature to want to believe that no one would ever want anything different. I agree that people may be dealing with the fear of doing something wrong when they ask, "what's the most timeless choice?" But they may also be asking, "what's the choice that everyone will always love as much as I do?"

And of course, in most cases, there is no such choice, because part of working on our own homes is expressing our own individuality.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:28PM
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The little black dress
The diamond solitaire
The string of white pearls
The white kitchen.

Not timeless:
the shape/style/design of the LBD , so a LBD from 1990 does NOT look current, no matter how much convincing you want to do. A LBD from 1950/60's MIGHT, but only because that is back in style.

not timeless: The yellow gold of my 1989 solitaire. It's still a solitaire but what's in right now is white or platinum. In 10 years, yellow gold will be back in style. My mother's rings from 1950 something are totally HOT right now.

not timeless: well, I can't say much about pearls. They don't change. Maybe a single string of pearls is the ONLY timeless thing? LOL

not timeless: the white kitchen with butchblock from the 90s, the white kitchen with tile or corian from the 80's, the white kitchen with formica from the 60's, white kitchens with stainless counters from the 50's- nor will the white kitchen with granite or soapstone from the 2000's be any different.

It's the Ideas that are timeless : "THE WHITE KITCHEN" is timeless. it's what we do to it that makes it come and go from style.

take a look at this link : there are white kitchens in EVERY decade. None are timeless. there are some that look perfectly current today, but I bet any money, 10 years from now we wouldn't think so.

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchens from every decade.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:53PM
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I can't say much about pearls. They don't change. Maybe a single string of pearls is the ONLY timeless thing?

Although around a year ago I was shopping in a store, wearing a single strand of pearls. The saleswoman remarked that my pearls looked "quaint." And that "no one wears them anymore." So maybe not even pearls.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:59PM
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Although around a year ago I was shopping in a store, wearing a single strand of pearls. The saleswoman remarked that my pearls looked "quaint." And that "no one wears them anymore." So maybe not even pearls.
true, they come in and out of high style, but THAT string of pearls, the same EXACTLY one, will look stylish without any modifications the next time they come back in. Though, IMO, there are always occasions where pearls are completely 100% perfect. Timeless. lol

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 5:05PM
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I would argue that a white kitchen has been in and out of popularity, but I don't know if that makes it 'timeless'. After the last white kitchen fad (1980s I think?) it was out of style for quite a while, with the cherry cabinets and granite countertops.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 5:18PM
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I don't have time to read through this whole thread, however more interesting it looks than my work. It doesn't have pictures, though!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 5:25PM
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So to go back to the original question--what is the emotional (and therefore irrational) need to call certain things timeless, when nothing is timeless?

I'm not talking about people who really mean, tell me my tiny glass mosaics aren't going to look really bad in eighteen months.

I still say it's a claim of superiority, not longevity.

And pal, I don't think popular taste matters. Think of all the artists and composers whose now-canonical work went through periods of complete disdain among critics and other artists before being rediscovered. Everything cycles in every circle.

BTW this thread caused me to Google "kitchen trends 2012." I recommend you don't try it, unless you are able to vent by physically punching some of the people who write these articles. They all start, "This year, kitchens are..." Right. I'll be sure to rip out my kitchen every nine months just so I can keep up with what "everyone" is doing.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 5:25PM
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i think the question asked is an expression of anxiety: i am spending a lot of money on this remodel and do not want to spend it again to fix my errors when it looks dated. please reassure me my choices are not wrong.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Plllog's pics reminded me of this website of fashions of the 50s and 60s (see link below). The 60s include questions with each photo asking what you think of the item (Options: poor design in any decade, cool but not for me, I would have worn it back then, I would wear it now). My answers were a mix. Some things definitely age better than others.

Of pllog's pics, only the first one makes me want to claw my eyes out. Both the style and colors are so extreme. The black/white and navy/white colors of the other two are conservative and are never exactly out of fashion. The specific styles and how they are combined date them, but don't make them look ridiculous.

Here is a link that might be useful: Historic fashions

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 6:35PM
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