Your Opinion? Timeless Elements In Kitchen Design

amck2May 4, 2014

Yesterday I toured 11 upscale seacoast homes that were featured in our area's annual Kitchen Tour fundraiser.

I was hoping many might be traditional/transitional and that I might take away some ideas. I found the majority were over the top and could be dated almost to the year they were installed.

Admittedly, my taste runs to clean and simple, but it made me want to ensure all the more that I choose timeless elements for my kitchen.

Given that kitchen design is always evolving - there were no islands and pendant lights in any kitchens when I was growing up - what specific things come to your mind when you think "timeless?" Knobs, pulls, faucets, lighting, etc.?

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Sophie Wheeler

Absolutely nothing is timeless. The era of white shaker will be as dated as it was in the 50's when slab metal cabinets became all the rage.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:57AM
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I have to agree with Holly. I am designing my kitchen to what I love, irregardless of what is in style now, with the total understanding that in 5 years I will probably LOVE something else. What I loved 5 years ago is different from what I love right now, thats life, but if I truly love it and not doing it because its hot, I will more likely love it longer. I think the most important thing is layout and function for your family in the longterm. All that said, I don't think simple and clean will look as dated as doing something super trendy, it may not be totally on point, but I doubt you'll get sick of it ;)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:46PM
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I'd normally say that white would remain, folks have been forecasting it's death for decades. That said it has been so overused in the last decade I suspect a backlash, have even seen the beginnings of one.

Definitely beginning to see Shaker backlash, at least seeing some detail added to doors. I for one am tired of it and already see it as the golden oak cathedral door of the decade, great for builders.

Otherwise for timeless, simply good taste that agrees with the context, low on bling but carefully detailed, superior function without an excess of...Appliances, chatchkees, strudel machines.

Human scale please, no roller derby kitchens, no continents.
YMMV. ;->

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:47PM
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A white kitchen is about as timeless as you're going to get. White kitchens have been a staple in kitchen design for decades. They've also been featured regularly in TV/movie kitchens from various time periods, including the Waltons (classic farmhouse) and the Mary Tyler Moore Show from the 1970s. I'd take either of those white kitchens today.

White is easy to decorate around, and goes with almost any flooring, counter and appliance. If your tastes are clean and simple, a painted white cabinet is a solid choice. Probably the quickest way to commit a date to a white kitchen, though, is backsplash and counter choices.

Most appliances have to eventually be replaced anyway, so just get what you like now. Good lighting is a must, but you can swap out pendants that look dated, as you can with pulls.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:48PM
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I agree with others that no given element in a kitchen will necessarily feel "timeless" after ten or twenty years.
But, finding a style of kitchen that works with the style of your house will help create a look that stands the test of time.
Also, a good, functional layout that is adaptable to multiple uses will help the kitchen's longevity. Finally, while few elements are truly timeless, you can at least avoid sinking large amounts of money into elements that are clearly fads. If I am trying to figure out if I like something because it is a fad that I've seen in every shelter magazine or because it would truly suit my house I usually ask my partner's opinion. Since he never looks at the mags, he is able to separate the mere fads from the items that would truly look good in our house.

I fell in love with this kitchen in Better Homes and Gardens (circa 1996, I believe). I loved it then and used it as inspiration for my 2011 kitchen renovation. I think that the 1996 kitchen still looks great almost 20 years later.

Will the Better Homes and Gardens feel dated at some point? Perhaps... But the designer seems to have created a look that will feel "just right" for the house for a long time to come.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:38PM
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Re: jacuvall's comment - Human scale please - there was one home that exceeded the boundaries of common sense. The pantry was, literally, the size of the corner market where I grew up. The 60" fridge was a bowling alley's length away from the humongous range. And if I told you the size of the island, you probably wouldn't believe me.

Once people got over the shock, the comments were mostly related to how sad to have all that space and not have a functional kitchen to prepare meals. My point is, I think we may have reached a tipping point for how big working kitchens can be in single family homes.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:43PM
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Though I am not getting white cabinets, I would say if they aren't in style in any given particular year, they will be soon enough.

Something I haven't heard mentioned before, is WINDOWS - the more the better.

Though many of the new kitchens have no windows, it doesn't mean that owners wouldn't love to have a beautiful window to look out of. I can't see that architectural feature could ever go out of style.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:47PM
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Francoise47, that is indeed a lovely kitchen with classic appeal.

Amck, yes, size and scale. In my area, there many homes on city-size lots that have massive kitchen additions that don't fit the original scale of the house. It's easy, though, to get caught up in the marketing of commercial-size for residential kitchens. In the early stages of our remodel, my DH and I ran across Julia Child's kitchen (I think it may have been here on GW), very similar to our parents' and grandparents' kitchens.

We had a running motto between us to help temper our decisions: WWJD? (What would Julia do?) (And I apologize to anyone who finds that blasphemous.)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:18PM
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This is an interesting topic. I would love to get more ideas around jacuvall's comment that he is getting tired of shaker doors. What kind of detail would you suggest to add to shaker doors to make them more interesting, and if possible less quickly dated? We debated the raised panel vs shaker and are leaning heavily towards shaker.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:29PM
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francoise47, if I moved to a home that had the kitchen from '96, I wouldn't change it.

I was pleased to see schoolhouse lights in it. I've always loved them & put them in our lake place, which has made me think of them as more exclusively "cottage."I was hoping to come upon something different I liked as well for this house, but I'm having no luck, as yet. This home doesn't seem to call for chandeliers, bare filament or industrial-style lamps. And fabric drum shades strike me as hard to keep clean and dust/flour free in a busy kitchen.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Something that fits the overall feel and scale of the house. It doesn't have to be a historical recreation or a time capsule, but it shouldn't be "fancier" or fashioned from a style that is "older" than the house it's in, and I think that is something that's happening a Lot right now.

Plain old undercabinet or metal canopy range hoods.

Laminate countertops -- not stone, other than soapstone. (And soapstone is originally I regional thing, I think). Granite quarries and businesses were closing left and right before the granite countertop explosion. Although granite countertops have been coming back for thirty years and have taken over, I think what particular stones are popular at a given time will be something easy to date. I guess granite has been in comeback mode long enough that it may be timeless at some point, but I think there is huge Fad potential in the Types of stone people chose.

Chrome faucets, chrome hardware.

Tile floors.

Wallpaper (as a finish, although most patterns are very easy to date).

I think the white kitchen thing is kind of interesting. I like white kitchens, I grew up with an all white kitchen installed in 1969, and the next kitchen I do will probably be essentially white. But in terms of the local real estate market I would say that white represents 15-20% of the total. I think the white kitchen phenomenon is an editorial one that doesn't represent real life in a lot of areas.

Recessed or close-to ceiling/flush fixtures with a pendant fixture over the table, and nowhere else.

"Timeless" (which I think it mostly elusive) tends to involve something that already looks a little "dated" to some people, does not look trendy right now, and may come off as a little visually "boring" to a lot of people. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. But you aren't going to get people to go "wow" if you are going for something that also doesn't make people go "2014?" ten years from now.

This post was edited by palimpsest on Sun, May 4, 14 at 15:15

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:05PM
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There are probably dozens of timeless design features, but off the top of my head...

TIMELESS: Cast iron sinks. Been around for over 100 years, and are not going away. NOT TIMELESS: Apron front or farm sinks. Never common in North America and positively date a kitchen to the 20 years from 1994 to 2014.

TIMELESS: Polished chrome fixtures. The most popular and most durable finish for over 100 years. NOT TIMELESS: Oil rubbed bronze (never oiled and seldom rubbed). A 1980's finish that seem to be having an extended life. Used mostly in heritage and farm kitchens for a "dated" look. What date is not clear since these did not exist at all until1980.

TIMELESS: White appliances. NOT TIMELESS. Stainless steel appliances -- mostly common residential appliances dressed up in a stainless skin to look industrial -- for between 30% and 100% more money. Show every fingerprint and are high maintenance. What a waste of time and money!!

TIMELESS: Ceramic tile, cork, linoleum and wood strip flooring. NOT TIMELESS. Laminate flooring. Ugly and noisy.

TIMELESS: Laminate, wood and zinc countertops. The standards for 100+ years. Thousands of colors and patterns. NOT TIMELESS. Natural stone countertops. Easy to damage, costly and high maintenance. Tthey are now so common, there no longer have any Ooh and Aah factor at all. In fact, they are actually boring.

TIMELESS: Compact, well laid out, well organized human scale kitchens. The ideal size and configuration is about 12' x 15', and has been since kitchen design was first invented in the early 1900s. NOT TIMELESS: Stadium size kitchens with center islands, uniform wall cabinets the same height with the same doors marching along the wall with the precision of a Marine drill team, and the need to walk, walk, walk to get anything done. Not just boring, but also tiring. Anything larger than about 250 sq. ft, and you are just showing off.

TIMELESS: Natural wood cabinetry. NOT TIMELESS: All white painted kitchens. High maintenance. They get grungy fast and look dingy after a few years. The quintessential hospital look that even hospitals no longer look like. Display your creativity, try color. Any idiot can paint everything white.

TIMELESS: Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. NOT TIMELESS: All other stand mixers.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:40PM
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I do think white cabinets are pretty timeless. When I look for historic images of kitchens, white cabinets pop up in every decade. I also don't think they are nearly as pervasive IRL as they are here currently.

Is shaker timeless? I don't know, maybe not. But it is original to my 1926 house kitchen. And we like shaker. So we will be using shaker and I think/hope that because it fits the house it won't look dated in five years.

In general I think details are what tends to look dated. So simpler forms are "better." But as pal says, that also means a kitchen that isn't likely to wow anyone. That's fine with me as I tend to very quiet non-wow decor anyway.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:46PM
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the kitchen that Francoise47 loaded a pic of is from 1996 and still looks lovely today. imo a "timeless" kitchen is simple lines that fit the style of the house. i love inset cabs but they would look out of character in my cookie cutter tract house or a mcm rancher. the kitchens i find "dated" are probably the same kitchens that had too much going on to begin with ie very patterned granite with a patterned mosaic bs with lots of corbels, trim etc on the very fancy cabs. it is overload, like going to a candy store and getting everything and eating it all at once:)
oldtimecarpenter- i have to strongly disagree on your countertop statement. marble counters & tabletops have been around since the 1900s as have marble tiles. laminate gets dated quickly and is not a highly desirable counter for resale. i can't see a natural material being "dated" actually since most people rip out carpet for wood, laminate for stone or wood, etc. natural materials withstand generations of use vs plastic/man made materials. antique mahogany marble top tables sell for a heck of a lot at antique shops. no one is buying my old jade green speckled formica counter!

This post was edited by ardcp on Sun, May 4, 14 at 16:52

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 4:42PM
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I would say that stone has been re-embraced, but would still say that it's not timeless. Like I said in my previous post, many granite businesses were closed or on the verge of bankruptcy until the resurgence of stone for countertops, and not just cemetery work, which was what most granite yards did before then.

Prior to the 1920s or so kitchens didn't really have countertops, they may have had some wood worktops, a marble slab for baking and enameled steel or porcelain tables/worktops.

Very fine houses may have had soapstone, marble or slate outside of the regions where those came from where they may have been a bit more common.

After this it was tile, linoleum, and laminate, and laminate really took off in the post WWII era. So when it comes to "modern" kitchens, which didn't exist much before, maybe, the efficiency studies of the 1930s, laminate was the most popular material in terms of duration, particularly in the 50 year period of 1945-1995--and I think I am being pretty generous in putting the turnover to granite in the US as a whole back to the mid nineties. (Although I've seen it in coastal regions in upscale kitchens dating from the eighties).

Does this mean that people want to go back from stone to laminate or tile? Probably not, for the most part, but if you are looking for something that is "anti trend" which is a form of "timeless" laminate has been around the longest, followed by tile in some parts of the country.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:11PM
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robo (z6a)

I agree that shaker doors will be the cathedral honey oak of the 2000s/2010s. They're just too widespread not to be!

I still picked them, even knowing that. Best combination of very simple lines and not being 'too modern' for the house. Well, simpler and more appropriate would have been 1/4" thick partial overlay plywood doors, but that would have taken historical verisimilitude a touch too far. Although I do love that look!

My neighbour just passed away - she was 97, lived at home, the last original resident on my street and this was her kitchen

She had 5 great great grandchildren!

This post was edited by robotropolis on Sun, May 4, 14 at 18:07

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:58PM
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My opinion? The ones selling this stuff today are the same ones telling us it's dated tomorrow. Buy what you like and enjoy.

I don't really get why it's so important to label things "in style" or "dated" ... why can't we just be allowed to enjoy the things WE HAVE for five minutes before being told they're dated? Chances are by the time you've gone through your whole remodeling ordeal and posted your reveal, you'll find out here that 50% of your choices are already dated!

I can see where someone designing or selling cabinets might get sick of selling the same thing over and over again, but that has nothing to do with how the buyers feel about their ONE choice.

This post was edited by jellytoast on Sun, May 4, 14 at 18:26

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:58PM
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The appeal of natural materials like wood and stone is that, after wear and tear, they can often be repaired back to their original state (or at least improved upon from their current condition). Wood floors can be refinished, stone counters can be buffed and polished, wood cabinets can be painted or refinished. Laminate just has to be replaced.

I grew up in kitchens with laminate countertops that cracked and peeled and scorched. I don't see any appeal to them in terms of durability other than the fact that they're so easily replaced to the point of being as disposable as appliances. Sources vary, but most note a laminate counter's lifespan as less than 1/5 of that of natural stone. A mid-range granite countertop is a much better long-term investment than a laminate, no matter how ubiquitous granite has become. (And, frankly, they're no more ubiquitous than laminate was pre-1990.) A good investment is always "timeless."

I realize many homeowners love their laminate countertops, as much as I love my white painted cabinets. This is all relative to personal preference. But sometimes it's OK for us to admit that what's available today is better than what we've had in the past.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 6:08PM
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Robotropolis, I hope all of our kitchens come to hold as many memories as hers. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 6:16PM
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One thing I have not seen mentioned is a free standing gas oven/range. Very classic to me.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 6:32PM
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A house nearby was sold to a contractor I know, who plans to renovate and sell it. It's a newish-house (1940s/1950s) in a neighborhood of 1880s houses. The belief is that it was a kit house. It's a bungalow that had been turned into a two family, and will go back to one.

The plan is, of course, to go with an open floorplan. And the kitchen will get opened out and get its island with seating with more dining behind it. No doubt there will be can lights and pendants over the island. We didn't talk about finishes, but I'd guess granite and some variety of flat paneled door. There was talk of an apron sink.

It will look dated before they attach the pulls because it has no connection to the house. But it will be easy to source and will sell faster (to the extent that the kitchen will make a difference) than if he went in a gutsier, period-appropriate direction.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Cabinet sellers have to keep telling us our kitchens are dated, otherwise no one would update them, putting them out of business. Kitchen trends come and go, remember how everyone had to have the honey oak cathedral style cabinets? Light stains, dark stains, painted, it all comes and goes. I am sure that honey oak will re-emerge, given enough time. I agree that keeping the kitchen style true to the character of the house is the wisest thing. Unless you plan to sell within 5 yrs, get what you like. You never know what the latest trend will be, or what a potential buyer will want. Your buyer may not like your beautiful white kitchen, preferring a dark stain, who knows? I have seen beautiful kitchens on this website, not just white, but green, black, gray, blue, light stains and dark. If its well planned out, quality construction, and fits with the character of the house, then I think you can pretty much pull off any color scheme.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 7:14PM
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I think some of us have a different definition of timeless, so I'll start there:

not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion.

To me, the photo francoise posted is a perfect example of timeless. That beautiful kitchen is just as appealing today as it was nearly 20 years ago. And it would have been just as appealing 20 years prior and will be just as appealing 20 years from now. The cabinets have a nice, clean look, nothing that screams mid 90's, or anything else for that matter. There is ample light and counter space. The wood floors, white cabinets with simple hardware and complementary countertops are indeed timeless.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 7:37PM
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Good insights here. Pal's post hit home the idea that many homes on tours such as the one I took are likely chosen because of the Wow factor. If I can execute what I'm trying to achieve in my remodel it certainly wouldn't be the talk of the town.

It seems unbelievable to those of us who follow this forum, but most people don't know inset from partial overlay. Not many agonize over paint finishes or shades of white. They have the passing interest in kitchen design and function that I have to electronic gadgets. So if I pull off the kitchen I'm hoping for, it will pretty much only be appreciated by DH, DD, SIL ,GDD & me. And I am more than fine with that.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 7:38PM
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I agree with Fishymom, but about the picture Robotropolis posted. :) I think the one Franciose posted is very much of its moment.

Which is the crux of this discussion.

What's timeless? Having a sink, cooler and cooker. EVERY kitchen built for the last many hundreds of years have had those, even when it was an open pit fire, an insulated box, and a basin and jug. For the kind of houses we all live in, however, timeless is a tile or stone floor, tile or stone counter, great windows, wood or painted doors and drawers, and a good flow of work. All the rest is open to interpretation.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 7:49PM
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Plllog makes my point as well. There have been two pictures posted so far and both share one common feature...lack of upper wall storage! A kitchen is a place to prepare, cook, and serve food. No more, no less. The phrase 'Everything but the kitchen sink' comes to mind when I see some modern kitchens.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Something in proportion to the house, well-designed for the task of cooking, that supports the house design and living in the house ... having one or two elements that are/were trendy in YYYY ius not a problem.

But if it looks like it was done with a checklist of the "must haves" off HOUZZ, it's going to wear badly. Especially if the usability suffers because of the trendy features.

Simple ages better than fancy ... skip the accent tiles, the framed thingy over the stove, the glazed cabinets, etc.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 9:23PM
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The other element those 2 kitchens have in common are white cabinets.

This post was edited by peony4 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 3:10

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:10AM
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One of these never hurts:

The cooktop slides into the cabinets when not in use. The oven doors open upward and out of the way.

I've seen some stunning 1950s kitchens, complete with original appliances and metal cabinetry, and I wouldn't change a thing. Easily changable items like handles/knobs, lighting, flooring, paint colors, I wouldn't fret about, all that can be changed easily and inexpensively.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:17AM
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There's a difference between 'trendy' and 'in style.' Certain things will always be classic though they may go in or out of style. White/Cherry whatever cabinets, shaker, raised panel, beadboard etc. None of those things are 'trends', they're all classic though they may be in or out of style at any given time. Other things are trends. They may or may not become classic over time but probably not. Mid-century modern springs to mind as something super trendy and totally identifiable as mid-century until the last few years when it's enjoyed a resurgence and a new appreciation of the esthetic of the design. I'd say it's becoming one of the 'classic' styles. Only time will tell what will be forever "oh that awful 20-teens trend!" but those skinny stick glass mosaic tiles spring to mind as a definite possibility for me.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Timeless is not possible. Original is possible. I cannot argue with anyone who wants what everyone else has but it is rare these days to see anything but cookie cutter white Shaker, cookie cutter minimalism, cookie cutter "warm" dark wood, or cookie cutter suburban with chandeliers, monster islands and overwrought cabinets.

It's not easy to do original. You'd need to really know your own taste and get away from the computer and look, look, look in person or find a good designer who can deliver.

What's an example of original? IMHO these don't look like any others.

Barcelona Modern Kitchen
Salsa Dancing Kitchen
Vintage Gumwood Cabinet Kitchen

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:37AM
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robo (z6a)

I would say judging by photos of real estate in my area, that wall cabinets were very de rigeur here at the time (50's-60s, but we were behind the time so it may as well have been the 40s) and that my neighbour probably painted her cabinets about the same time she painted those will tiles that delicious green. Originally they would have been medium brown plywood.

Another house near neighborhood is just gentrifying now so there are a lot of 50-60yo kitchens.

Originally my house would have had almost exactly the photo above before the previous owners put in:

But this was a working class Catholic neighborhood, post-war bungalows in a poor province. So the houses aren't exactly beautiful or ornate. Functional, yes. Mostly well made, yes.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, May 5, 14 at 10:17

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:13AM
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"Timeless" (which I think it mostly elusive) tends to involve something that already looks a little "dated" to some people, does not look trendy right now, and may come off as a little visually "boring" to a lot of people. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. But you aren't going to get people to go "wow" if you are going for something that also doesn't make people go "2014?" ten years from now.

^ ^ ^ What Palimsest said!

Understated and coherent ... doesn't set off any "WOW" from the viewer, but unlikely to have any elements that are soooooooooo 2014 you can pick them out.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:21AM
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A trend that I see lessening in popularity in the future is the open concept kitchen. I think there will be a return to the older mode of keeping the working kitchen seperate with a bar/entertainment space adjoined to the great areas. When you are young, watching the kids from the kitchen is important and open kitchens lend themselves to casual entertaining. When you are older, you probably have hosted some important business parties or family affairs that stretch the limits of the wide open plans so popular right now. Thanksgiving for 20 people makes for a pretty big show in the kitchen. Thank God for quiet dishwashers. TIMELESS- appliances that work the way they should regardless of the bells and whistles. A morning room right off the kitchen is timeless. A breakfast nook which is just an odd corner forced into the great room... not so much.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:58PM
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I think Rococogurl has some good points about timelessness vs. originality. I hear timelessness discussed around here so often that it seems that in the quest to create something "timeless," people are afraid to do anything original. Since there is no such thing as timelessness, the end result is often either cookie cutter (and eventually all things cookie cutter date more quickly), or so full of bling that they will date almost immediately.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:54PM
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Rococogurl- I LOVE that Barcelona kitchen!!!

I could be wrong but I think the gumwood cabinets is actually a GWs kitchen, I know I've seen it before.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:02PM
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I really agree with this comment by palimpsest:
"Something that fits the overall feel and scale of the house. It doesn't have to be a historical recreation or a time capsule, but it shouldn't be "fancier" or fashioned from a style that is "older" than the house it's in, and I think that is something that's happening a Lot right now."
I also find Rococogurl's comments important to consider. A kitchen that expresses a unique vision will date less quickly even if one can pinpoint its decade easily.

I have to quibble with white appliances being timeless - it depends on the finish. White enameled metal is timeless. What I can afford - some horrifying plasticky finish where the handle will look like a different colour than the body in 5 years - NOT timeless.

Windows are timeless and beautiful and functional. Upper cabinets should not oppress them IMHO.

Tile may be timeless as a finish, but the shelf life of most floor or wall tiles styles is about a decade in terms of looking dated - unless you pick something really unique that we don't end up seeing over and over. My builder grade kitchen floor tiles were neutral, but they really did scream a certain time period after 12 years.

Love the kitchen you posted a picture of Robotropolis (green wall). Not oversized, huge window, no oppressive cabinetry, bright, functional, and humble.

This post was edited by feisty68 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 14:24

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:22PM
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The backlash against open kitchens is already upon us. The thing is, open works better for small houses where the 8" you gain from taking down the wall is a huge gain in livability. If your house is big enough for a keeping area, breakfast room, or similar in the kitchen and not part of the main living space of the house, then it's easier for the moms who want to keep track of little ones while they're cooking to have them in an enclosed kitchen. But there's also a backlash against sprawling houses...

Re cookie cutters, my GW kitchen most definitely is not. But to achieve this you have to be financially stable enough not to worry about being able to sell quickly and easily.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:41PM
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I think open-to-the-living-room kitchens are here to stay. Lots of things drove this trend - reduced time preparing food due to frozen foods, microwave ovens, etc., larger, more useful countertops and cabinetry, much quieter dishwashers, and more elegant-looking fittings that homeowners want to show off to guests rather than hide. It also gives the house a roomier feel, and helps parents keep an eye on kids whilst cooking. What's on the way out are separate formal dining rooms.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:45PM
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robo (z6a)

For me (extrovert) the benefit of the open kitchen is functional - I enjoy company while cooking (or keeping Mr. Robo company while he cooks). So kitchen either needs to be big enough for a kitchen table or to be open. In a smaller kitchen like mine, there was not much room for a kitchen table. For those who like to be alone to create works of culinary art, I can see the appeal of the closed kitchen.

For my grandmother who built a ranch in the 60s, the small, dark and closed (8x8) kitchen was supposed to signify women's liberation from the kitchen. The place didn't need to be huge or nice because modern conveniences meant you didn't need to spend much time there! Athough she didn't have a dishwasher. Her kitchen did have a tiny breakfast table in it. I hesitate to think what the aisle clearances were :) My grandfather took over cooking and baking when she fell ill and I think he did most of his mass production (e.g. rolling out pies) at the dining room table. They also had a full basement where they kept pantry items, roasting pans, etc.

Our house is older but renovated and has a mix of open/closed areas. I like the mix. You can be private if you like or host a crowd comfortably.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:07PM
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The kitchen has always been a functional space, and IMHO function should be the primary consideration when considering an open concept kitchen.

How my mother hated the galley kitchen in one of my childhood homes! It was impossible to socialize while working there, it did not allow awareness or supervision of children, and it felt closed-in and had limited natural light. Opening up the kitchen to the dining room was a wonderful improvement that greatly improved the value of the home.

I've opened up my kitchen as well, to create a greater sense of space, allow more light flow, and facilitate supervision of children who are studying, cooking, etc.

Separate kitchens may be more functional for some, and may best respect the architecture of some homes.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:17PM
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I have to agree with lee676 about the demise of the formal dining room. I never use my dining room and the good china, I am much more informal and my life is too hectic for that. Kitchens today are more than just a room to prepare food, they are social centers and I do think the open floor plan is here to stay.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:25PM
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Well, I could very well be wrong- but when we walk through the vast cookie cutter set of homes being built behind us, all we see installed in that great room area is what we affectionately call the "granite ufo". This vast lump of brown or black (usually) speckled rock is supposed to be the visual demarcator between the one living area and the kitchen. We live with one now and here it is. This is something current and popular that will look like harvest gold in a few years... because there is no way to live elegantly without better defined spaces... and there is just too much of this not to produce a backlash.

This post was edited by musicgal on Mon, May 5, 14 at 15:43

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Super interesting read.

On the topic of open floor plans - we have had two 100 year old houses with tiny kitchens and dining rooms. I absolutely loved both of these houses. The details, the separate rooms for everything. Just great. But, now we have five children and we like to entertain. My tiny kitchens turn into a jumbled mess of people. I love to socialize while cooking and cleaning up, but it's either crowded or I feel like I'm missing things. So, we are remodeling and opening things up. I can't wait to be able to be cooking and cleaning but still socializing. Being able to help with homework and projects while I'm doing what I do every night.

Yes, sometimes I like to shut the kitchen door and be alone doing dishes while I hear my kids going crazy, but not enough to give up being part of the fun. So, I really do think the open plan is here to stay.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:56PM
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I think there is an art to opening up that visual space while maintaining the privacy of the kitchen. We are doing that in our new build with a raised bar and a dropped living room. No guest in the main room can see me below the chest but I can see everything from every corner of the kitchen. There is also ample space for foot traffic between the bar and the first piece of furniture. This is an aspect that is missing in our current home and in most of the models we see on our exercise walks. In kitchens that can accomodate the changes, I think that there will be some square footage taken in the future from either unused studies or underused formal dining rooms.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:26PM
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FamCook, You prove my point. The issue isn't that you need an open kitchen for openness's sake but that your kitchen is too small for your needs.

As to the demise of the formal dining room, the problem, again, is small houses. A formal dining room that is too small for company is stupid. It's something that builders add to small (and sometimes rather large!) family homes just so they can say "formal dining room" in the advertising, and it invariably becomes an office or a playroom. Dining rooms are also more functional for entertaining if they are partially open to other space, whether it be a passage, living room, or even a covered patio. That way, entertaining can spill out, instead of being confined, or one can cheat the size and add to the table. Additionally, formal dining rooms work best when they're next to the kitchen. This may seem obvious, but I've seen plenty where they're paired with a parlor in the front of the house, with rooms between them and the kitchen/family room. Useless as a dining room unless one has staff!

So, I disagree that formal dining rooms will be obsolete. I do agree that stupid dining rooms should be!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:45AM
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I agree with Pal as well. I also think that everything goes out and back in to style with varying changes each time.

For me, white cabinets are the safest choice. I also think white marble counters are timeless. I think the less movement in counters is also safe. In the end, I think we should all do what we like with our spaces. They will always go out and likely come back around again. Same with fashion. Who would have though the 80's would every return. Yet, they are! Just with a little twist.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 6:29AM
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I have to laugh when I see questions about what is "timeless". The implication being an answer to the question "How can I rehab my kitchen (or bath) such that it will not look dated in X years?". Take a look at the 'before' pictures posted in the kitchen and bath forums. It's usually pretty easy to date any of them within a decade during the last 70 years. Even if they appear to be in very nice cosmetic shape, they are accompanied by comments such as "my horribly dated" kitchen or bath.

You can be ABSOLUTELY certain that your wonderful kitchen you've just redone will look "horribly dated" in 20 years (if not sooner). If you keep it for 20 or 30 years and then sell your home, you can be ABSOLUTELY certain the younger, new owners will see the room as "horribly dated".

Build and decorate how you like and if you want it to be in the current in style or fashion, that's fine. Just don't fool yourself that it will be the latest and greatest (or even plain old great) in 10 or 20 years. It won't.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 6:59AM
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Plllog - my DH and I were sitting on the couch talking after I posted that comment saying the same thing you just said. If the house is big enough, then separate rooms are great, or you need staff! We were laughing. The problem we have here in Western Michigan is that most of the many, many historical homes have what we both mentioned, tiny kitchens off to the side, even if they are on the larger side for a 100+ house.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:39AM
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I think one also has to take climate and location into consideration, especially regarding formal dining rooms. I have a beautiful formal dining room, just off the kitchen and open to the formal living room. It has a lovely corner window with views to the front garden. We use the dining room once or twice a year, the living room is a glorified hallway to the patio and the master suite. Our kitchen is open to our family room and breakfast nook, where we eat most of our meals. We also have a large covered/screened patio and pool area that opens to the breakfast room and living room, with two eating areas and two large living areas, one under the cover and one just outside the screened pool enclosure. When we entertain, the living room and breakfast nook doors are open to the patio and people can sit inside or out. The majority if the time people hang out on the patio or in the breakfast nook, unless there is something on TV in the family room that the guys are watching. I use my bar height counter on the peninsula between the kitchen and breakfast nook for snacks and appetizers and when the main meal is ready, the bar serves as a buffet. Occasionally the older people(80's) will choose to sit at the dining table to get away from the hustle and bustle of the younger ones, especially if there is a game on that can become rather rowdy, but for the most part everyone sits outside and at the bistro table in the breakfast nook. I always have the dining room set and ready, but it rarely gets utilized.

When we were looking for a new house 6 years ago, I could not find a house with a decent sized family room and smaller formal spaces. They either had no formal living/dining rooms or the family rooms were small to accommodate the formal spaces. Or they had a gigantic kitchen at the expense of living space. I did not want a huge, overdone kitchen, I preferred to have the space in the family room. This house came closest to what I would have designed myself in terms of kitchen, family room and bedrooms, but we have a large 15x 30 living room(including entry way) that is underutilized space that could have been smaller, with extra space used to enlarge the kitchen and family room area, which is where we spend the vast majority of our waking hours. The garage is also 6 feet wider than the house and those extra 6 feet would be really nice to have in the 2 bedrooms, bathroom and family room on that side of the house. If we ever win the lottery, when we redo the roof, I would love to extend that side of the house!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:47AM
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I think everything goes out of style - the trick is making it flow with the house in such a way that, 20 years on, it doesn't seem "out of time."

This question comes up perennially on this message board. And I think it's something like picking out the perfect black dress. Can it be done, sure. Absolutely:

But no matter what you do it's not going to be on trend, it won't be everyone's cup of tea, and many people are going to want something "new."

(The dress above is the same one Audrey Hepburn wore in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I beleive it was recently sold for more than 100k at Christy's).

It also doesn't hurt to start out looking like Audrey Hepburn.

This post was edited by ThePaintedLady on Tue, May 6, 14 at 7:50

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:48AM
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I think the formal dining room issue is interesting. We have used ours in the last three places we have lived for all our meals. I think the problem is redundant spaces. We haven't had a table in the kitchen to eat at in any of these houses, so of course we use the dining room. I prefer this as I really like our dining room and I would really rather not look at my kitchen mess while I eat diinner. So the answer for me is that we don't have a "formal" dining room. Just the place we eat.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:05AM
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"You can be ABSOLUTELY certain that your wonderful kitchen you've just redone will look "horribly dated" in 20 years (if not sooner)"

I am going to disagree wholeheartedly with this statement. At least with its underlying subtext, which may be unintentional.

There is a sentiment in this statement that almost anything becomes horrible, or ugly--simply because it is out of fashion, and, conversely implies that things that are in fashion aren't ugly.

I think there are a number of trends in design that are very popular right now that are on the fast track to dates because they actually aren't very attractive in any classic sense, and people who are doing these things because they are in fashion are going to look back and wonder what they were thinking.

This, to me, indicates that people don't have any taste of their own,: not good taste, not bad taste, just an inability, or maybe unwillingness to develop their own set of likes and dislikes. So, they rely on what is trendy to tell them what "good taste" is (at the moment).

Here are examples of two cars manufactured in 1957:

The first is a Lincoln Mark II, made to lure away a portion of the Rolls Royce / Mercedes Daimler market:

This is a Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, same year, same auto company, produced for the masses. It is a cousin to the Edsel, and was designed based upon the most massive consumer research done by the auto industry up to this time: (what message does this send about the taste of the average consumer?)

Some kitchens are the Mark II, some are the Turnpike Cruiser. Both are dated, but only one is "horribly dated". We can now appreciate the TC in it's ugliness at a near 60 year perspective, but for decades after it's production it was just an ugly, dated car.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:06AM
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Unless you are looking to sell your house in the near future, worrying about what is the current trend is pointless. Get what you like, you are the one that has to live with it. You can try to choose timeless styles, such as white shaker cabinets and granite counters, but even so, it is difficult to keep a kitchen looking current after 20 yrs. Some styles will undoubtedly change. And it is hard enough to anticipate what a buyer wants today, much less what they will look for in 10 or 20 yrs. When everyone put in those honey oak cabinets, the thought was that they were a solid cabinet that would last for many years. And that was true, however, they are out of fashion now and everyone is replacing them. I am a believer in getting what you love and can live with, never mind what we think we should have, just for the sake of being on trend.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Photos capturing my family holiday gatherings in the '60's show people in the LR in their Sunday clothes. The adults are seated side by side on the sofa and upholstered chairs and DR chairs, piano stools & ottomans are where teens & youngsters are perched.

The kitchen was pretty much a workspace where the hostess and a couple aunts disappeared to prepare and serve.

Fast forward to when my kids were teens and the photos show people nicely, but more casually, dressed. They are seated at a peninsula or island nibbling on appetizers and chatting with the cook. The older folks are comfortably seated on the upholstered furniture in an adjacent room with coffee and side tables to set their beverages. Everyone looks so much more at ease and no one is isolated.

I often yearn for a closed kitchen when I'm entertaining so all the prep clutter would be out of sight. But I can't imagine that many young people, like my kids who are in their early 30's, would want to build a home with clearly defined and isolated rooms.

My DS & DIL live in Europe in a beautiful older home. Their kitchen is small & separate from other rooms. When people from the U.S. visit, they still tend to huddle around the small counter instead of spreading out in the formal rooms.

I think it would take a huge cultural shift to get the current and upcoming generation of homebuyers to let go of the idea of the open communal kitchen area they've known and enjoyed for most of their lives.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Another way to ask this question: If I bought a house with a 20-yr-old kitchen (or 5 or 10 or 40), what would I have to do to it? Replacing "dated" counters, pulls, or faucet is not really a big deal, if the appliances are in the right place and the storage makes sense.

So my definition of a timeless kitchen is one that works well.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:57AM
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I don't think the reason there is such a backlash to honey oak cabinets is the cabinets themselves, it is just there were so SO many of them! Which is why I feel the white shaker/marble/gray kitchens will suffer the same fate as they become mainstream/builder grade, just as the speckled granites. So I agree with hpny2, just choose finishes that you love and a layout that works for your family and enjoy your new space!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:05AM
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It's hard for me to imagine open kitchens going out of style. They fit our more casual society and culture today. Does anyone really think we'll return to a more formal lifestyle?

Our kitchen is not open, and we hate it. Every time we have people over, everyone hangs out in the tiny kitchen. So you're stepping all over people, and there's no place to sit. Now that i think about it, most anytime we go to anyone's house everyone congregates in the kitchen for at least part of the time. This is much more pleasant for everyone when there is adequate sweating, an open family room with comfortable furniture, and plenty of space. I just can't see that changing.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:17AM
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I make no predictions about whether open kitchens will become passé overall. But I have had more and less open kitchens and I find that I prefer the closed off kitchen I have now. I have young kids and when I entertain it is very casual. Still I prefer the closed off kitchen.

I hate having people on my space when I am trying to cook. I plan for parties so that my time in the kitchen is the absolute minimum. I do all my prep ahead and I plan things that don't require much last minute attention. Cooking is not performance art for me and an audience just annoys me.

I find that with my small kitchen people wander in, realize there is nowhere to sit or even lean and they wander back out. It's great. I am in there for ten minutes and I can go back out to the party rather than being trapped by people chatting with me and making it take longer for me to get my cooking tasks done.

Not sure if it matters, but since some people have refered to ages of kitchen users in reference to this issue, I am 44 and I have a four year old and a ten year old.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:21AM
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There is a sentiment in this statement that almost anything becomes horrible, or ugly--simply because it is out of fashion, and, conversely implies that things that are in fashion aren't ugly.

No, that is not the way I intended it nor is it how I interpret it when someone else uses "horrible" in the context of "horribly dated". My point was that the current style will become dated as in both of those vehicles are dated. Whether it will be (or is) ugly or not is a different question. I interpret "horribly dated" to mean "it is so patently obvious that the style of this room is dated that it needs to be updated to the current style."

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:45AM
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so much of this is personal taste. i keep seeing references to honey oak as if they were ever attractive and i can honestly say when we built in '98 i hated honey oak then but didn't have the money to upgrade to maple. i picked the natural color as it was the least offensive to my eye. i always hated the arched door! that is my opinion and clearly other people like the oak and the arch door so what i think is dated, someone else might think is attractive. after all, those oak arch door cabs that i abhor are still being made and sold by every manufacturer so people are buying them.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:52AM
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My turn to pull a quote:

"it is so patently obvious that the style of this room is dated that it needs to be updated to the current style."
But *does it *need to be? I don't think there is much improving the maroon car even in the context of today's current fashions, and if I had that maroon car as a kitchen, old fashioned or not, I think it is pretty enough to leave, if it functions well.

The flashy, ultra trendy 1957 car though, embracing the kitchen version of that would be embracing it for it's kitsch factor or as a time capsule.

I think those are two quite different things. If someone looks at both of those cars (or kitchens) in the same way, they are judging them both simply by Age and not by attractiveness and the person who does this is generally going to dissatisfied by Anything that is not current or trending and they are always going to be chasing something rather than being content to have something that is fine other than the fact that it is old, in my opinion.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:09PM
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ineffablespace "to have something that is fine"

That's the way I described my soapstone fabricator's home kitchen to my DD recently when I was trying to express what I'm looking for when I used the term timeless.

He had built his home and it was about 15 yrs. old when I saw it 7 yrs. ago. I can't remember specifics about the kitchen but I know the cabinets were finely crafted, the soapstone and wood countertops were beautiful and the whole scale and style was appropriate to the Cape style home. It's one of the nicest kitchens I've been in, but I can't recall details about lights, backsplash, hardware. I just recall that it was Fine, not fine, as in Okay, but fine as in meticulous craftsmanship & materials.

I can't imagine anyone looking to purchase that home saying, "That's got to go."

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Like that pop song that blasted from every single radio last summer, specific, ubiquitous elements are at risk of developing a "yuck" factor. How many condos in my city had the identical builder grade shaker maple cabinets, 12x12 greige floor tiles, and brushed steel wire pulls installed within that decade? Nothing wrong with any of those, but those kitchens proclaim their timestamps. I just ripped all of that out because of serious layout problems in the kitchen. And I'll be putting in the guaranteed-to-be-dated grey stained cabinet fronts :) . But....the fronts will be inexpensive and replaceable for less than $1K so that's not the end of the world. And I think I will enjoy them for their practicality and unique touches that will make them mine.

This post was edited by feisty68 on Tue, May 6, 14 at 14:00

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:03PM
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Some valid points made about the honey oak cabinets. Everyone seemed to have them! I think that is a big reason no one wants them now. Really, were they so bad, or is it that they were just so common? And if so, it does make me wonder if the white shaker cabinets of today will be looked upon the same way in 20 yrs or so. I love white kitchens but it seems everyone is doing them now. Nothing is forever. I suspect that the cathedral door is due for a comeback too. Everything comes around again, eventually.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I remodeled my kitchen last summer, replacing cheap builder grade honey oak cabinets (complete with cathedral arch) with custom-built oak cabinets. I went with a light stain, but they still probably qualify as "golden oak". I don't care - I love oak grain, and I love my new cabinets.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:54PM
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Does it really matter if it's timeless or dated? Does it really even matter if it goes with the rest of your decor or is historically appropriate to the period of the house? When it comes down to it, it's your kitchen. All that really matters is that you like it. Right?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:25PM
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I'm not completely convinced that all that matters is that you like it.

I think the main reason people are concerned with whether something is timeless is that the are wondering if they themselves will get tired of it. I'm pretty sure my mom liked avocado green appliances in the seventies. I'm also quite sure she doesn't like them now. Would white appliances have been a better choice for someone in the 1970s who planned to stay in their house long term and didn't want to/couldn't afford to remodel again in the 1980s? Yes.

I think many people are also concerned about resale. We don't plan to sell our house. We plan to live here until our heirs have to sell the place. But we have planned that before and because of an unexpected job change, we moved. Good thing I had done the kitchen, a mere year before, in a way that helped rather than hindered resale.

It makes perfect sense to me to consider whether you can make choices that you will like AND that will hold up well for as long as possible.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:38PM
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My old kitchen had honey oak cabinets with the rounded, no knobs, partial overlay slab doors. I have a friend whose delight is honey oak, to the point where I won't let him buy more because the floors, bookshelves (i.e., walls) and furniture make it look like a squirrel's house.

I promise you, however, it wasn't the appearance of the cabinets that made me remodel. It was the awful layout, crappy appliances, cracked counters, dry rot, few drawers, cabinet lowers and lack of uppers (boy, did I hate that!). There was also an ugly, though not obtrusively so, floor, but it was very functional. I added a hood, since there was none, put up some shelves, and painted a mural to make it livable, but the horrible appliances, and the big distance from the stove to the fridge, doomed it.

If I had to move today, and was offered honey oak arched top cabinets, but the function was good, I might grouse a bit since I don't like either, but there are lots worse things in the world, and I wouldn't rip out the cabinets just because I wasn't fond of the style.


What really creates a dated look is the trendy elements. We all know that. My kitchen is so not on trend it squeaks! There are clues to the era (ignoring the appliances), even so:

  • Three different counter materials including soapstone
  • large single basin sink
  • trough prep sink
  • gooseneck faucet
  • Karbon faucet
  • trash pullout (though that might become as common as a sink in the future, I put it in mostly because it's de rigueur--there may be a whole new way to deal with trash in 10 years)
  • blingy statement hood
  • mixed pulls and knobs
  • plugmold
  • handmade, matte tiles
  • bamboo and recycled glass

There are also things that are timeless not from the point of view that they're always in, but because they don't consider what's in at all:

  • lots of color
  • layered visual textures
  • indirect lighting
  • integrated appliances
  • many different storage configurations to accommodate different kinds of things to be stored
  • clearly utilized work zones
  • art nouveau touches, mid-century ideas, and new century materials

It's the last that kind of frees it up from the style-go-round. I used brass (gasp!) in a combination of shiny, repro hardware and very now recycled pulls and knobs. I have sleek, slab cabinets (very 1990's), but in warm, stripey bamboo (very now). There are tile counters (not so trendy ;) ), but they're matte, handmade and individual, with different shapes, colors and textures, and no grid, rather than repeating tiles (probably never in style any time). There's soapstone (now) but it's the hard green kind that doesn't get oiled (not so identifiable).

My point is, that while someone in twenty years might be able to date my kitchen, there's enough eclecticness, and individual style, that it's not so likely to look "dated", per se.

OTOH, while most people love it, someone could easily walk in and say, "WTF???" :D

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:43PM
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If we're stretching the discussion to incorporate the concept of "original," then here are some of my favorite originals.

Here is a link that might be useful: Original kitchens

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Of course all that really matters is you like it, at the core.

But the problem is For How Long will you like it and Why will you start to Not Like it. There is an awful lot of Love that seems to go on, only to turn contempt, quickly--right here in these forums.

How often do you read of people picking a finish, not even Purchasing it yet, and then saying they are afraid of Tiring of it. They don't Have it yet and they are already worried. My feeling is that if you are worried about hating it maybe you already do?

Since it is such a large investment (such that I would never do it twice in the same house), I think it is worth analyzing Why you like things before deciding you want to commit to it. A kitchen is not a pair of shoes, or a trendy haircut, something you can indulge in on a whim, only to be embarrassed by it soon after. A kitchen *shouldn't be Fashion, it should be something that makes sense for the house and for the long term. Unless you have Lots of Money, of course and can indulge your whim to change it whenever you don't like/are bored with it.

I try to analyze this stuff carefully, because I live in a high cost area, and I am going to do it exactly once for the duration of the time I live in a particular house.

I also try to analyze it because I deal with clients who (claim to) love Love LOOOOVE something, and they are already tired of it before their house is even finished. This is not a good thing.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:57PM
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I don't think white kitchens in general will ever be "horribly dated," but I'm pretty sure there will be a backlash against white shaker cabinets at some point. Not because they aren't nice, but because there's just so darn many of them. Most of the spec and flipper houses in our area are getting them lately. They are still in high demand, at least until the next big thing hits.

While I do understand the desire to retain resale value for those who are planning to sell soon, I do not understand the prevalent fear of tiring of ones own choices. Especially if you are choosing something that appeals to you-- why is it a given that you would not tire of white or stained wood, but that you would tire of a color? Also, if you are going with something because it is popular at the moment but maybe not your favorite style, doesn't it stand to reason that you may in fact tire of it sooner?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:59PM
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the kitchen posted by robotropolis would be just fine to me now. I'd probably want more drawers and would change the color of the lower wall. Otherwise I'd be just fine with it.

can't see much of the floor but what I do see looks like it'd be ok with me too. It looks to have about the same counter space I have now and the window is much bigger.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 6:29PM
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@sas95, there are lots of kitchen with white shaker cabinets on the web, but are they really that popular? The only one I've seen in person is in the showroom of the manufacturer I'm buying my cabinets from. I've never from memory step foot in a real one in my life.

And most if not all people I've discussed my kitchen plans with all seemed 'politely' intrigued for why I would choose white for the cabinets. Anyway, far from being afraid of having purchased something trendy, I'm starting to wonder if I didn't go for something dated/eclectic.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 6:51PM
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barista9- i really think it is regional because here, north of albany ny, it is rare to see shaker style but especially shaker style white. any white i see is 80s or 90s melamine stuff with the raised, sometimes arched doors. usually paired with green laminate and ivy accents(either border or hanging off the tops of cabs, and no i am not kidding!)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:07PM
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I'll bite because I think my kitchen has many timeless elements. That means that it is twenty years old, and I still like it. And, when I go on a house tour showcasing recently remodeled kitchens, I come home and still like it. And, other people do too.

In the past year we did a few upgrades only because they were necessary to replace some things that no longer worked. Our Jenn-air downdraft (definitely a sign of its installation era) went and was replaced by a free-standing gas range with a simple chimney style new hood. Our tiled counters (modeled after those from the 1930s with bullnose edges) were chipped in places and were replaced by soapstone and marble.

Other than that, the kitchen is the same as when we put it together twenty years ago. We have a built-in wall oven microwave combo that definitely looks dated and needs replacing, but that can always be true for any appliance, and I don't think appliances are what people are discussing here.

Why makes this kitchen timeless IMO? It fits the period of my house. I have a 19 teens house and cabinetry from the 1920s or 1930s. Maple floors. White drop-in sink with a drainboard side. Antique light fixtures from the era.

I really do believe that if you match your kitchen to the feel and era of your house, you will be better off.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:19PM
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needinfo1- your kitchen sounds great, we need pics! i agree to matching the style/era of your house. i have a cookie cutter late 90s build that has no character but it is a old fashioned new england? colonial style so i try to stay somewhat traditional. i drool over the old houses on rehab addict with original cabs, woodwork, etc. lucky you to have original character:)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:32PM
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Barista9, in answer to your question, in my area (NY suburbs) the white shaker is so common it is now builder or flipper grade. Not that it isn't being done in other more pricey or thought-out kitchens. It is. It's everywhere here. That is why I think there will be a backlash.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:51PM
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I wish I had a house from the 1920s or 30s (with good wiring, insulation, etc.). My house was built in 1991, a modest, builders grade, cookie-cutter house that has brothers and sisters up and down and around my circle street. Apparently golden oak fit the era and feel of my house, in 1991. What are my options in 2014?

That was meant to be a silly question, because my era/style house doesn't conjure up a lot of cool looks from bygone eras.

I'm sorry to keep harping on it, but I'm the only person I know with a white shaker kitchen. It doesn't look like anyone else's kitchen among my friends and family.

I agree with the grave concern that a choice you don't even have might become tiresome...before you even have it. Something's definitely wrong with that choice if that's how you feel about it.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:59PM
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ardcp, I relate to having a relatively new home that's a New Englander on the outside but an open plan on the main floor. My house is in NH and I gravitate to clean Shaker style, so I think my new Shaker cabs will feel appropriate here if/when their current trendiness fades.

My DD & SIL have an older little Cape they've been remodeling. There's far less angst involved with her decisions. She lets the house call the shots.

This post was edited by amck on Wed, May 7, 14 at 10:11

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 8:02PM
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White shaker is very widespread here as well.

Linelle, there is nothing wrong with white shaker - it's a great look. It's nice that it's not overdone in your area. I have a circa 2001 characterless condo so I know what you mean. I yearn for the character but it isn't happening here. I've picked slab fronts with oversized pulls to "respect the architecture" of my home, dull as it is.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 8:07PM
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House Beautiful has slideshows on its website of kitchens from the 1950s to the 2000s, and there were several Shaker or shaker-like simple recessed panel kitchens in the 80s and 90s, in white. I put shaker cabinets in my first kitchen in 1995 and at that point it was an established door style at Wood-Mode and the showroom had a white shaker kitchen setup. My choice was pickled maple, which makes people run away screaming on Gardenweb, but several owners have kept the cabinets,and in that finish, despite making some other significant renovations including new countertops.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:52PM
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Linelle- it is the same in my area. I don't think a single person in my town would say a white kitchen is timeless. The only ones that exist are from low or middle class run down neighborhoods that were built from the 1920's to 1960's.

Bear in mind my town didn't even exist 110 years ago so there aren't any "old" houses around here. The few historic homes that have been kept original to the 19 teens and 1920s all have ornate woodwork, deep rich tones, etc.
Certainly no white kitchens.

So here, if you have a white kitchen, it is instantly dated. I suppose things are very slowly changing around though bwcause on our recent parade of homes, there was ONE kitchen that had SOME white cabinets, not shaker though.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:14PM
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Technology also plays into making a kitchen look dated. 25 years ago, a previous owner of my last house put in laminate that looked like a butcher block counter top. Real wood around the sink wouldn't have worn well, and may have been out of their price range. Compared to what's available now in that price range, that kitchen would look "horribly dated". It was cutting edge at the time, but newer products came out that made it look cheesy.

And those "honey oak" cabinets and floors don't look the same today as they did 25 years ago. Exposure to sun made them turn an orange colour that I don't believe anyone would have chosen.

As for open/closed kitchen, I think it's a mistake to vote based on how you entertain.

Open is probably not ideal for parties. We had a small, closed off kitchen in the old house, and when we hosted, most people lounged in the living room. People didn't hang out in the kitchen because there was no space. In our current house, we have a large(r) kitchen that's open to the family room. When people are over, we have to put significant effort to get them to use the living room and dining room.

But we entertain 3-4 times a year. That leaves 361 days a year when it's just us. I HATED that closed off kitchen. I was always so lonely when I cooked. I didn't do any bulk cooking because standing to chop for an hour would be a nightmare. In the current kitchen, I can sit at the island for marathon chopping sessions. The TV is visible, so I can watch my talk shows while I make dinner. I can watch Christmas movies while I bake Christmas cookies. DH can lay on the couch and I can talk to him. If I had kids, I could keep an eye on them. I wouldn't be isolated like I was in the old house.

I think that's why the open kitchen is here to stay and the formal dining room is going out. People are realizing that it's really not practical to build houses for those quarterly moments rather than for every day life.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:51PM
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I don't think it's possible to do timeless. I think there are definitely things that look more appropriate in old homes, specifically walls and doorways and the unfitted look. That being said, if you go to sell the house, you're going to run into a ton of people who turn up their noses at the "dated" or non-functional kitchen, because they expect the biggest, newest, and trendiest features.

I don't necessarily see kitchens as dated. Sure, some you can pinpoint the year, or at least within a few, but I don't find myself turned off by a golden oak kitchen, or even a harvest gold and avocado kitchen in your average home. Sure, I wouldn't pick them for my kitchen remodel, but they always feel comfy and inviting, more like home, I suppose. It's the overdone, ornate kitchens in the ranch or the ultra-modern in a 1900's farmhouse that I think will always seem dated. They give that "trying too hard" vibe and draw too much interest for me. Of course, if I walked into a multi-million dollar home and saw harvest gold or golden oak, I'd get that similar shocked feeling.

I think what dates modern kitchens the most is the idea of the kitchen needing to serve so many purposes. Kitchens used to be workhorses, a place to cook and eat. Now they are places to do homework, watch TV, browse the internet, host parties, etc. They keep getting bigger, less efficient, more extravagant. They no longer seem cozy and inviting, but sterile, unpersonalized, and fragile.

I think it's kind of sad high dollar kitchen renovations are expected or demanded nowadays. It's terrible to think perfectly functioning, but older, kitchens are being tossed to meet these demands. Even worse is when these functional kitchens are replaced with arena sized kitchens that are no longer functional, but just some showpiece done to impress the neighbors.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 2:43AM
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I keep an eye on real estate in my zip code, where there are always lots of multi-million dollar homes for sale. I always look at the kitchens first and lots of them have golden oak cabinets! I also see a lot of ornate French Country and Tuscan kitchens in much more modest homes, they just look out of place in a 2000 sq ft suburban home built in the 80's. Upscale new builds around here run the gamut, from dark woods to white, modern to traditional, I don't see anything timeless about any of them.

Every time I open this thread, I go back to the BHG kitchen. I really love that kitchen! If I were building a house, I would put that kitchen in in a heartbeat, with more drawer bases of course. I love all the windows, the warm feel of the space, the clean cabinet lines, I would really enjoy spending time in that kitchen!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:40AM
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I recently had the opportunity to see the inside of NASA research buildings built in the early 1960s and abandoned in 2010, and that facility is beautiful. Walnut paneling, terrazzo floors, velvet upholstery and curtains in the auditorium in Aqua and marine blue. It seems to my architecturally uneducated eye to be classic 1960s architecture with upscale finishes. So it's not timeless, it is dated, but it is beautiful. My home was built in the same era and I wouldn't have changed a thing if it weren't for the mice (the #%^n mice).

The Nike of Samothrace was a product of her times and she is beautiful. Pals car is beautiful. If you want your kitchen to be beautiful to you in twenty years time, study the proportions and symmetries that have been beautiful for millennia. Your finishes are going to be dateable at some point but if they're beautiful, no one will care.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:30AM
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I know nothing about cars, but I have to ask...

Really? Am I the ONLY person here who's real keen on that Turnpike Cruiser? I mean, I get that I'm not supposed to like it, but I think I'd pick it any day...


    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:45AM
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There's nothing wrong with the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, in it's context. If you had a house from 1957 and had a TC styled kitchen, they would fit each other.

You are also looking at it in a historical context at this point. This is an almost 60 year old representative of an important period of design history,

If this was 1967 or 1972, and that car was not restored, not in a car show, and was your daily driver, you might feel differently about the way it looked, compared to the other one. Percentage wise, there are probably a lot more Mark II's around because people knew they had something special, and they kept it even if it was stashed in a barn somewhere.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:40AM
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The Mark II is elegant. The TC isn't, never was, never will be. Kind of cool, but definitely not elegant.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:11AM
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Ha! I liked the red car better too, but I didn't want to admit it!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:16AM
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Turnpike Cruiser all the way!!! Not sure what that says about my taste but who cares!! I like what I like and that's how I'm choosing things for my kitchen too. I know there are very few people here at GW who choose sheet vinyl for their remodeled kitchens but I did. I just love no seams, easy clean-up, very durable...maybe it's the turnpike cruiser of floors!!!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:40AM
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The Mark II, while...nice, looks like something my grandpa would drive, even when it was new. It looks like "old person car" to me.
The TC looks more flashy and stylish, geared towards younger, fashionable people.

Both have their place but I wouldn't call either "timeless".

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:02AM
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this house is going for $480k in my cookie cutter suburban town. the median home price here is around $325. this house is in a development of larger mcmansion lite homes but is connected to my very ordinary development of smallish starter homes so 1/2 mile from my front door (which is why i had to be really careful about overspending on my kitchen). any upgrades in my house is overkill unfortunately:(
we don't have many old house here. 95 percent of the houses in this town were built after the late 1960s.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:28AM
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I tend to agree with the 'Nothing is timeless" group, but one thing I would point out is that except for the first kitchen in this thread, there's a lot of cheating in the examples here. NOTHING gets to be a classic without going through the era of embarrassingly outdated, and most of the other examples here have had long enough to have passed through that point. Believe me, my gramma's 1957 Bel-Air was plenty embarrassing in 1975.

Hardly anyone keeps their ktichen long enough to get past that point. Look at the number of people here who build their "forever kitchen" and then wind up having to move a couple of years later.

Incidentally, I live in South/Central FL, and I hardly ever see white shaker around here. White kitchens in my area tend to be hyper-modern style (ikea abstrakt white or the more upscale equivalents), but shaker is always wood finishes hereabouts. Our big box stores only began having displays of white shaker in the past year or so, and then only for grab-and-go stuff. Before that, beadboard was the thing for a more traditional unglazed white kitchen in this area.

This post was edited by writersblock on Wed, May 7, 14 at 12:16

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Nothing is really timeless on a trend scale but Quality and TImeless go hand in hand.

I would argue that Shaker (meaning siple clean lines designs, whether you call it arts crafts, shaker, etc) is not on the way out.

When you consider the alternatives to a "shaker" look (which could encompass most styles with simple lines, arts crafts, etc.).

1) Traditional (beading, raised panels, curves, etc) - this is what shaker really replaced and really just started doing so on a larger scale. In the 80's it was oak cabinets with a traditional style. In the 90's - 2007 it was still traditional style but maybe painted, glazed. Only recently are the masses starting to replace much of that traditional style with a simpler clean look. At least this is what I have noticed.

2) Modern (flat panels, frameless, etc) - this is also a clean lines look but does not fit with much of the typical architecture you find in homes lately. Also, there seems to be a slew of cheap cabinets in the "modern" genre (i.e. ikea, although their cabs are not terrible) which so many people are trying to make work, I think they will the look dated if not a quality product.

Shaker is really not based upon a trend but upon the timeless simplicity of cabinets that were easier made by hand in past years and are less pretentious than the dark oak with applied moldings you will find in your uncle vitos mancave built in 1982 (see pic). I see people running from anything that has ANY of those elements (curves, applied moldings etc). Perhaps I am way off but I can't see people giving up on simple lines anytime soon because of the many years of the 70-'s through 2000's trying to look like they were more than they really were with fancy looking (cheaply made) cabinets.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 12:45PM
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I don't think white cabinets will ever go out of style. In fact, before we bought land to build, I was turned off by all the homes that had oak or cherry kitchen cabinets. I just don't like them. I don't live in an area where trends matter with anything, clothes, décor, handbags, hairstyles, etc. I don't know if that's good or bad. However, there is nothing like a clean, crisp white kitchen. I do like espresso cabinetry, but while will always be my choice!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 1:37PM
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My grandmother used to say something very similar to Pal's observation...except with clothing.

There is classic and there is trendy. Classic will always be in style and that's where you should spend your money. A classic dress, coat or suit will always work in any situation. Trendy should be used for supporting items...blouses, heels, jewelry, etc. Trendy is fun! Don't spend lots of money on trendy, but add a few items to a classic piece to make it your own :)

I miss my grandmother! I think as far as kitchens....white Shaker cabinets are classic, but so are good quality wood tone cabinets. Medium shades are probably easier to work with than too light or dark, just like a medium gray suit is less memorable (and can be worn more often) than white or black.

This is a very sensible approach and my grandmother grew up during the Depression. But, Pal is also right that few are going to be 'knocked over' by classic. It's beautiful and rather timeless, but it's not hip or new...or Wow! That's what the trendy is for (LOL).

If everyone had a black dress (very classic and lovely) but everyone also wore a simple strand of pearls and pearl earrings with nice black would be boring! Yes, Audrey Hepburn could 'rock that look' but if all we saw was everyone wearing the same thing, it would soon be common and we would want something different.

Diamonds, gold, emeralds, pink heels, a sweater...something to make it our own and make us stand out from the rest. That's what back splashes, fabrics, hardware and paint and/or wallpaper are for! I think we all like the 'classic' look, but if it's too starts to look boring.

White shaker cabinets with beige walls, wood floors and stainless steel hardware and appliances can get boring! Add some floral fabric and light green walls....or glass tile and soft blue walls...or gray walls with white curtains and gray trim. Something different and unique will make if fun...but the 'bones' will still be classic. Just my two cents :)

This post was edited by lavender_lass on Wed, May 7, 14 at 15:09

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Grandma is right. Classic is always a good choice. White cabinets have always been in fashion, in one form or another. I love shaker cabinets, but there are some I've seen in the big box stores where the center panel is so thin and cheap, they are not going to last. But a quality, well made shaker cabinet - you can't go wrong with that. The same goes for a wood stained cabinet, some people will always love the look of stained wood, the color trends may change from year to year, but if its quality that is timeless to me.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 3:21PM
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I think in some respects there are parts of this discussion that are at cross purposes and various sides are not quite getting what other various sides are saying (my side included, don't worry).

I don't think that timelessness means that you can't look at it and say "That's from the 1960s/70s/90s, etc."

You will always have clues to when something was done, roughly, because things always change.

I think timelessness is more like "That's from 1989, and it still looks okay, even though it's obviously old fashioned."

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:03PM
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goodguy- THAT kitchen...Wow. And with the AC vent custom fitted to that smaller cab. That was a lot of work to get those three drawers dressed to match the door template. Someone was very proud of that when it was new:)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:04PM
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goodguy- THAT kitchen...Wow. And with the AC vent custom fitted to that smaller cab. That was a lot of work to get those three drawers dressed to match the door template. Someone was very proud of that when it was new:)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:13PM
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I think Ineffablespace has the right of it, but I would go farther:
Dated is when you walk in and say (or just think), 'Hello? The '70's called and want their kitchen back!" A cliche fitting a cliche.

Timeless is when you walk in, look around, find some clues and say, "This kitchen must have been built in 1975 or thereabouts."

Though, come to think of it, I have a friend whose kitchen actually is from about 1975, though looks like early 1980's, as did the rest of the decor when he bought the place. But the kitchen just looks like an old kitchen. It's well designed, visually, and there's nothing OMG! about it. All of the finishes are ahead of their design moment, but none of them shriek, and it still looks very nice.

Edit: I remember when being seen in any car that had fins was downright embarrassing. :) Now, people rag on squared off cars with pressed creases, and "boxiness", but think fins are cool.

This post was edited by plllog on Wed, May 7, 14 at 16:27

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Dang, I like the mancave cabinets too.

I think I must have really bad taste...


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:04AM
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Timeless is something classic and something you will love for a long time. Planning to put this kitchen in our new summer cottage being built this summer: wood floors throughout house, island where hot pans can be placed, regular appliances (GE or Kenmore), grey shaker lower cabinets and white open shelving above. I have spent months researching countertops and still don't know what to do. Soapstone counter on island, white beadboard cabinets below and honed granite (?) for the perimeter. We will have this cottage for years and it will be passed down to my sons. I agree with those who wrote that simpler is less trendy. Simple is never really out. Frankly, too bad if it is. It will be timeless for me as long as I am not pushed by sellers and marketing to buy something because that's what's popular.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 12:03AM
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You know what I think happened to golden arched oak (and may happen to shaker) is that it was not only everywhere, but it was CHEAP everywhere, with cheap, bad and therefore somewhat ugly finish -- and got associated with cheap and downscale.

The kitchen that goodguy posted above would also have been a turn off to me, despite any craftsmanship, because it evokes the ersatz "western" look, (akin to the maple ersatz "early American" which was more palatable and a better fit in many homes, but still overdone)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:30AM
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"Absolutely nothing is timeless."

Except sunlight and adequate space. I'm sure there are more.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 12:39PM
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One person's "timeless" or "classic", will be another's "That is soooo 20XX!" Make your kitchen your own, the place that makes you smile every time you enter. Unless you are planning to sell, who CARES what everyone else thinks? This is YOUR kitchen, not theirs.

My kitchen, that we have been working on for years... and years... oh, did I mention years?.. will likely be "dated", at least by Houzz or GW standards, by the time we finish that last detail, hopefully (God willing) in the next couple months. And I am entirely OK with that, because every time I walk into it, it just makes me happy. It is bright and flooded with light, with colors I love. And, yes, it has white flat-paneled doors-- some with bead-board, blue pearl granite, with white tiled backsplash, and an apron-front farm sink. It even has that "dated" glass/marble mosaic framed feature above the white-enameled cooktop. And it still makes me smile.

The kitchen we had before was a medium-toned oak with laminate countertops. We gave it a refresh in 2000, but it still was dark and crowded with no place to really work and little storage. It also looked so out of place in this 1941 cape. The kitchen I have now looks more appropriate to the rest of the house. It has the cozy cottage vibe I have always been drawn to. :)

As for that man cave kitchen, I envision it with a colorful paint on the cabinets, shiny chrome hardware, new (laminate) countertop, [maybe] sink, and a shiny chrome faucet, and I think it would be adorable. I did exactly that to my old kitchen cabinets that are in our mini basement kitchen, and I just think it looks so fun! It is what I originally wanted in my kitchen, but I compromised with DH, who wasn't even originally for painted wood of any color. This way, I still get my painted kitchen cabinets AND colorful cabinets. The icing on the cake is that DH loves both! :D

Anyway, I think when a kitchen has personality and a style befitting the home, that makes for a happy, welcoming and loved kitchen. To me, that spells "timeless". :)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 2:16PM
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Holly- Kay

Annkh took the words right out of my mouth when she said "So my definition of a timeless kitchen is one that works well". I totally agree with this. No matter if the cabinets are stained or painted, the counters are laminate or granite, or the appliances are ss, white, or black, a truly timeless element is function.

Before I started or even contemplated a kitchen renovation I would lament that my kitchen had so many useless cabinets and wondered why drawers weren't used instead. Many times I told DH if we ever redid the kitchen I was going to incorporate as many drawers into the design as possible. Back then I had no clue that drawers had become popular. I now have a kitchen with adequate lighting, easy storage, and a layout that makes prep and clean up a breeze. I don't give a fig if it becomes dated because it is a dream to work in. Indeed function was the main goal. I have a peninsula with cabinets over it. I just couldn't bear the thought of all the wasted storage space if I didn't add them.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:45PM
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The Turnpike Cruiser looks like something landed on a Thunderbird. It may have been the product of the biggest market research to date, but no one stopped to think that maybe, JUST MAYBE they shouldn't have put everyone's wanted doo-dads in one car exterior. ;)

We've been in our 1947 house for 14 years. The kitchen is probably from the early 80's. Oak cabinets with no pulls or detail of any kind, not even edgebanding, and rust colored laminate counter tops. As much as I've cursed it for these past years, it's so neutral (in some respects) that its been okay to deal with. With newer black and stainless appliances and a new faucet, it's not been THAT bad. Except for the lack of functionality. And it's not even that the main area of the kitchen is that bad. (Except for the dishwasher we put in a couple years ago that makes the knife drawer impossible to open without opening the DW.)

It's just that they put a peninsula in that cut the useable part of the kitchen down to about 60% of the kitchen. Behind the peninsula, i'm sure the intention was for it to be a breakfast area. But it's too small for a table. And there's not a counter overhang. I wish I could have a conversation with whoever planned this. Functionally...horrible. And I have to go across the kitchen to turn on one of the lights that I need to cook/clean/prep.

That's my biggest fear. We're not moving, probably ever. So I'm not worried about the taste issue. I'm not doing it for resale, and even if the elements don't come together perfectly, as long as I love them all individually...I can deal. But I'm worried that we'll somehow make the functionality worse. That would 'date' the kitchen to me. Something that I am including or not including based on current wants/needs that will make it not good functionally in the future.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 5:49PM
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Here are my rules for as timeless as possible:

1. No excess ornamentation. Every detail serves a function. Beveled moldings and detailed carving do not serve a purpose and shall be omitted. That includes any "style" of cabinetry that has details to mimic some time period (unless you are in a VINTAGE home that you are trying to match). This goes for backs plashes too. Anything you pick for a backsplash that has a design WILL date your kitchen. Go solid, and go neutral. ANY "decor" you add will date it. Yes, you might have a boring kitchen -- but spice it up with paint and accents that are easily changeable.

2. Make the flow and function work. Do not sacrifice function for aesthetics. A kitchen that works will not be torn out as quickly as a dysfunctional but stylish/trendy kitchen. A well thought out kitchen is much more timeless.

3. Use the latest technology available. Do not use materials such stainless steel or granite just because you are told they are currently popular. For example, engineered stones may be superior in performance. Induction cooking is the future.

4. Size appliances using the most STANDARD of sizes available. Do not pick the LARGEST cooktop or the widest oven. Pick what is typical, then you won't be modifying cabinetry when your appliance breaks later when you want to update technology. In fact, I suggest that if you do have a specific opening for a specific appliance, that you add some additional spacers and dimension to accommodate more than one model if needed.

5. Select materials and palette that works with the house, in the same style. Don't but a victorian kitchen in a 70's ranch house.

I'll admit, I am a modernist. But look at the MCM houses that are 50+ years old, some look like they were built yesterday -- because they were built not trying to impersonate any other style and were using the latest technology available at the time.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Timeless is such a hard word for me. I think that white cabinets, marble, real butcher block, natural stone, some openness and natural light are timeless to me. Granted the MOST timeless thing to me is functionality.

When I started looking for my first house my dad said something that stuck with me, "Look past ugly, you can change ugly --you can't change location, size and layout (easily)- - it is a lot easier take down some wallpaper, lighting fixtures and sea foam green carpet then it is to add an extension or re-arranging walls and be in a different neighborhood."

Now when I first started my kitchen reno FUCTION was the most important thing to me, I opened a wall, closed another, moved all my appliances around, added appliances, added an eating bar into my living room and huge amounts of counter space. That to me is timeless, my finishes however are not.

If I were to sell my house 6 months from now, I am POSITIVE people would balk at my two tone cabinets, one white with a glaze, my big farm sink, my ORB handles and fixtures and busy granite, the fact I choice new white appliances over stainless steel,, my beveled arabesque, my choice to use multiple big mouldings and other things that I can't think of right now. But to be honest I don't care. I started this project looking for validation from friends/family on what to do and was so unhappy with the results.

My mom had a 1940's farm house that she recently re-did the sprawling kitchen with ivory shaker cabinets and black movement filed granite and super top end stainless appliances, restoration hardware lights, simple and beautiful, Many times, by many people called timeless and classic--but I would never want it in my house.

I finally decided to treat my kitchen like a reflection of myself, I am 28, I am a housewife with no kids who loves to entertain and does so at least weekly. I am Italian as is my husband with HUGE families that are very close. I love makeup and wear a lot of it, I do not usually leave the house ( or my dressing room for that matter) with out the longest fake eyelashes I can find. I have hip length long blonde hair. It is not uncommon to find me in the kitchen with a pair of 6 inch stilettos on and if I think I put on enough jewelry for the day-- I will go put on just one more piece ;-)

So why can't my kitchen reflect me?... It may be over the top, it may be easily dated, it may even be deemed tacky, busy or gaudy... but I can tell you I look just right standing in the middle of it, cause honestly I am a little bit of all of those things.

BUT my layout is perfect and functional, it is opened enough to entertain, but closed enough to give me peace when I want it. My cabinets are solid, my moldings are classic (albeit there are a lot of them) my appliances are quality as are finishes-- to me THAT is timeless....

I feel finishes are personal preference in all aspects of life... My ultra crystal filled ostrich feathered giant...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 9:37AM
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I love your post. So descriptive and well written, I could imagine being friends with you. :-) I love different aspects about my friends that make them unique, that I do not necessarily share, but I still appreciate.

The post about going totally neutral, including w/ back splashes, made me kind of sad. We don't live in model magazine homes. And I wouldn't want to. My home is not for the masses, it is for me. When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, especially not yourself. This reminds me of that wonderful poem by Jenny Joseph, "When I am an Old Woman I shall wear Purple", which I will post here because I am an English major and can't help myself. :-)

When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesnâÂÂt go, and doesnâÂÂt suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say weâÂÂve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when IâÂÂm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other peopleâÂÂs gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:58PM
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I also agree with many of the points in MissAmelia's post. The whole notion of "keep it neutral, even a bit boring" in a quest for the nonexistent standard of "timelessness" has always puzzled me.

When people see my kitchen for the first time, I'm pretty sure that some would love to have it and others probably not-so-much. But one comment that I have received several times is that my kitchen is very "me." And I consider that a great compliment.

I'm sure the high cost of kitchen renovations drive the quest for "timelessness." No one wants to think that the expensive features they are putting in today will look outdated tomorrow. But everything will eventually look outdated in the sense that it will no longer look newly done. A kitchen that reflects the style of your home, the rest of your decor and also somehow reflects "you" will be easier to live with years into the future.

There are some lovely, neutral kitchens here on GW, so I'm not bashing neutral kitchens. But a "boring" kitchen with no personality and no tie-in to the decor in the rest of the house and the personality of those who live there will be timeless in the sense that it will be as boring 10 years from now as it is today.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 2:33PM
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OldTimeCarpenter: My kitchen is white. I like it very much. Probably as much as the oak, cherry and hickory I have had in the past. Thanks for the compliment to us white kitchen owners.
"TIMELESS: Natural wood cabinetry. NOT TIMELESS: All white painted kitchens, try color. Any idiot can paint everything white"

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 10:20PM
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I am on the same page with EAM44.
A kitchen is not art because it has a function, but it certainly contains elements of design.
The Nike is art. It will never stop being art no matter how many years pass since it's creation.
Good design is the same. If it was good design in 1950, it is still good design now.
It's the good design that still pleases the eye, and therefore has no expiration date.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 11:08AM
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Just re-doing a 1954 kitchen in a Mid Century Garrison Colonial--grew up in that house. it had yellow ceramic tile counters and backsplashes, beautifully done,that simply got tired and used up after sixty years. Now, marble is down on the counters--new function to the house, as a sometimes- used property, not one that has to feed 7 people three times a day--and gorgeous tile backsplash surrounds the counters in ivory, butter and navy. The first kitchen lasted for at least 40 of its years in great condition and quasi-elegant attractiveness. Good materials, no crystal chandeliers in a small, simple but well-built house. After it started getting worn, then of course it was time to move on. This new renovation will also be elegant and attractive, I believe, for at least another 25 years. It suits the house, has connections to the past, and has a basis in good design that will take it forward. I like it. Works for me.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 8:36AM
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Timeless to me would be having a kitchen with cabinets and drawers that are useful and not having anything too trendy in the kitchen. To me, everyone should design their kitchen with their needs and mind and their taste since everything eventually goes out of style unless they plan to move in a few years.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 10:57AM
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