Kitchen finishes of the next decade?

palimpsestJuly 6, 2011

Since I am in a MCM frame of mind I have been looking at new introductions and currently available colors and finishes that are outside the norm.

This Kohler finish has been around for a while but they offer it on the Karbon, one of their most expensive faucets:

Kohler Sandbar sink with brass strainer:

Caesarstone "Linen", a new introduction:

Mocket Drawer Pull in English Antique

Plain and Fancy says this is one of their most requested doors, (Transisitions in Walnut):

And these finishes appeared on one of their perennial doorstyles:

One of the limited color choices from the recently re-introduced St. Charles Cabinetry (through Viking). Notice not only the matching powder-coated pull, but the color of the floor...

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Yes, I've read several places that gold is back as a finish (seeing that word used more than brass, although the actual finish is, like the photo in palimpsest's post, not really either).

And those beigey, grayish, RH-ish wood finishes are even being featured in the ikea catalog preview for Europe (for furniture, not kitchens especially).

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 1:51PM
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finishes get dings. I prefer whole stainless. There are millions of recipes for stainless steel: some are very white, some very gray.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 1:59PM
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I think it's time for copper to make a comeback.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:00PM
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Fori is not pleased

Yuck, for the most part. The direction RH has taken is tragic. I don't mind dated stuff, unless it was ugly new. That whitewashed stuff can on rare occasion look good but in general, yuck, blech, and bad. It was ugly in the 80s and it's ugly now. Brass is nice, but often paired with bad things.

Copper, on the other hand, is always delightful!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:15PM
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I'm guessing that (1) the kitchen industry will turn away from the most popular finishes of the past decade, for ''newness'' sake if nothing else, (2) ''green'' will remain a moderate draw, and (3) less expensive, more humble finishes in keeping with the cautious national psyche, (4) paradoxically, also brighter colors, along the most-visual-bang-for-the-scarce-buck line, and (5) maybe - kind of a stretch here - some attempt to use more Asian, Chinese especially, motifs.

Thus, I'm guessing (and that's all it is) at:


Glossy granites and marbles

White painted wood

Neutral colors on expensive surfaces

Ornate, very decorated (French country, Tuscan, etc)


Recycled (e.g. glass, rubber)

Bamboo, other renewable ''woods''

Darker colors, more earthy tones, grays

At the same time, more saturated, vivid colors

Stains and dyes


Brushed stainless steel - I think it has become the default finish that no-one ''sees'', so it will remain common, but the more designed kitchens will find something else

Soapstone, slate, concrete - the secondary stones

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:28PM
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Johnliu- I think you're right. My grandmother always said colors get darker and more conservative (browns, grays, navy) as the economy goes down. People tend to gravitate to the reliable and dependable...well made, well constructed furniture, clothes, cars, appliances, etc. High maintenance, specialty items are not as popular, when money is scarce.

I think you're also right about white cabinetry, shiny granites and marbles, and ornate finishes being on the way out. They've been around for a while and (while beautiful) I think darker woods, darker colors and less shiny surfaces (that don't need to be sealed and are easier to maintain) will be seen more, in the future.

Palimpsest- I think you're right on, with the walnut and a return to brass...not so sure about the bleached wood look. I think the darker woods and darker stains will be popular, though. Interesting thread.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 3:01PM
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What is "RH"? Is it restoration hardware? I walked into one of their stores a few days ago, and actually backed out to look up at the sign and verify that it was really Restoration Hardware. It looked like the dimly lit set of a steampunk vampire movie.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 3:27PM
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There are also some intense reds and blues starting to creep in with Kohler offering Rousillon Red cast iron sinks (and still offering Cobalt); Corian offering two intense reds, two intense blues and a turquoise; Zodiaq offering an intense red and an intense blue; (as well as a bunch of new 2011 offerings in the driftwood vein like the above cabinets); Silestone offering several intense reds and blues; and a number of cabinet makers offering distinctly "red" stain finishes, red painted finishes and blue painted finishes.

It has been a quarter century so its 80s redux time...its been working its way through the street culture and through fashion for some time, so it is moving out of the more ephemeral products into more durable goods.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 3:38PM
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Without shifting too much to Restoration Hardware, I think the problem is their marketing. I have never been a big fan of theirs: I think most of the stuff is much too big unless you live in a big suburban house, & the intense "all or nothingness" of their palettes has always bugged me. That said, its a "signature" and I hardly think they expect people to recreate the entire signature at home. They market like high couture runway. Very little of runway fashion is created "as shown" for people to actually wear. This is the same thing. Its a way of looking at a big picture for you to interpret. Even a pair of shorts I got from American apparel with a listed 6" inseam had one of about 3" on the model, who was male, 6-foot and probably weighed 135 --marketing is Not The Real World.

Some of it would be fine mixed in with what people have at home already. And, I think that is the general intent, but it is marketed at full-throttle.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 3:54PM
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>What is "RH"? Is it restoration hardware?

Yes, sorry.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 4:15PM
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I think the unrelenting sameness of the RH look will be its downfall. It offers no accommodation to any other style, and people will tire of it quickly, in some cases by the time they reach the restrooms.

But as far as the brass and pickled wood goes, those are some of the worst elements of the '80s. They don't look fresh, or new, or daring, but only lame and bankrupt. Do we really have not one single designer capable of inventing a new aesthetic? Are they so untalented as to actually believe that reviving a previous decade makes them bold or different--after we've already had umpteen revivals of Craftsman and Victorian and Edwardian and sixteenth-century French chateaux and the '60s and '70s? Can no one actually invent a new look anymore (as opposed to "freshen" it), the way we did until a few years ago?

In any case, housing starts remain in the sewer, and home renovation budgets are small. Meaning, despite what you see in this forum, there really aren't many new kitchens for some of these wretched finishes to make their dramatic entrance. That means the economy is going to strangle some of these babies in their cribs. I'm happy to lend a pillow.

Pickled wood? Really?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 5:41PM
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The answer to something new versus revivals seems to be "No". Completely new styles seem to arise out of their use in new technologies, and there has not been much in the way of new materials and finish technologies that lend themselves either to furniture or by extension, cabinetry. The same with housing although there are some brave souls out there.

Particularly when you take into account that people seem to express a visceral hatred toward the newer of the cabinetry materials anyway (Corian "plasticky", high pressure laminate "fake plastic coated paper", polyester finishes, etc.)

It's hard to create something new when almost everyone wants stone counter tops and stained wood or painted wood cabinets. In terms of housing, I rarely hear a positive comment about anything that is either not neo-revival on the outside and shaped drywall on the inside. Most people are outright hostile to glass boxes, brutalism, minimalism, alternative-material houses such as the mushroom house or the nautilus house, etc. You can only produce it if someone else wants it.

It's just like there is a stasis in the art world, because the only new technology, digital, is so ubiquitous that it can't be taken seriously.

As far as some of the above finishes, I disagree. I've seen these driftwood finishes in a number of applications and they look great. It's not a finish that is going to look particularly nice in any house before the mid century period . But it has its applications, and I bet people have even seen these and not even really thought about it much because of how they are used. I don't thing Any finish is particularly pleasing when they beat you over the head with it like Restoration Hardware does.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 7:58PM
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Palimpsest- Do you think the size of kitchen work areas will get smaller? While not everyone has huge kitchens, it's what you tend to see in the magazines.

I'm guessing the work spaces (and need for two or three sinks) will decrease, while separate pantries and more storage outside of the work area, will increase. What do you think? :)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:04PM
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After looking at the individual pieces you featured, look again at them as a whole.

I think they look like the solid, never-breaks, lasts-forever finishes found in spaces and their furnishings from the end of WWII to the 1970s. Now I am in my late forties, so if you are not, adjust as it suits you.

Here is what these evoke when I look at them.

Top faucet looks like the pull on the drawer of the card catalog at my grade school library.

Sink looks like the expensive bathroom sink grandma got in her modern ranch house built in the 70's. In a vanity. With drawers and doors. Still has it!

Linen looks like a nicer version of that old-school formica that never stained or faded.

Brass Pull looks like something found in a church that was built in the post-60s inclusive architectural style.

Mission cabinets from the desk your dad brought home from work with the lineoleum top because they were getting new furniture.

Beadboard inset doors from the restaurant decor for those family restaurants that came into being in the 1970s when both parents starting working... Where is the salad bar?

And didn't everyone's grade teacher had a desk that looked like the last picture.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:17PM
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I sort of like a matte pickled finish on slab doors. To me, it is not the same as the pinkish shiny pickled arched panel doors of the 1980s. I dislike the door style pictured here.

I was never a brass/gold fan, even in the 80s. I do like old brass fixtures.

The caeserstone posted here reminds me of one of the older Corian colors that is popular in public restrooms. Pinkish beige with speckles. I don't think that look is on the upswing.

I agree that Walnut is getting more popular. I hope people don't start installing swag lamps and orange moroccan tile floors with it. ;)

I think that solid color glassy-looking backsplashes and counters will get more popular. I think the colors will get bolder.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Supposedly, yes they are getting smaller, as is the average house size. I think that since people have started to embrace separate pantries again, this will not go away. This goes counter to the "efficient" kitchen where one stands and pivots and everything is practically mise en place. But--a separate pantry is 1) much cheaper to build than finished cabinetry, and 2) a good way to eliminate the need for upper cabinets. Removing upper cabinets is also counter to being able to stand in a relatively small spot and accessing most needed items.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:24PM
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I think the relative close time proximity of someone older than forty to these pickled finishes, and some other eighties stuff is what brings up the visceral response. Just like one of my instructors in design school who hated most sage-y greens, not because they were bad colors, but because they were the the wall color of every grade school and high school he had attended in the 50s as well as lots of other public spaces besides. My old building (a nursing dorm from the 20s to 50s) was slathered in sage-y greens.

But put take away the word "pickled", the name "Restoration Hardware" and think cerused or bleached and just look at the pictures. Are these finishes really inappropriate in the contexts they are shown?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:35PM
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Other than the walnut door and maybe the English antique pull, I could do without those items pictured. I did not like any of them the first time around....

I do like brass, but have never appreciated brass for plumbing fixtures. For lighting, door hardware, decorative plating, etc... it can be wonderful. The gold faucets always looked cheap to me.

I had 2 pickled oak kitchens from p.o.s and did not ever like them. The first one was a little better with large slab doors and a great layout, but the finish was always my least favorite part. The second one was arched doors and my biggest issue was the size and layout, but those cabs did not wear well and I could not wait to demo them. At least the first kitchen was nice enough to leave as is.

The Caesarstone pictured is a step in the wrong direction. I hope to someday see some more interesting Caesarstone.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Now that you mention it, this is a perennial at Ann Sacks. Note the skirted pedestal tub, so this is a fairly recent installation. Again I think this is more appropriate in some regions, styles/eras of houses, etc.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:45PM
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I know the idea of technology driving design is a classic. But I'm not sure it's always true. Greek Revival came from cultural influences, a celebration of democracy following the Greek revolution. Arts & Crafts came as a reaction to Victorian excess and (originally) machine-made goods. What technology in the '70s caused orange carpeting? To me, it feels like too many designers and artists have nothing to say. A lot of recent movements were all about breaking things--breaking the tradition of hiding structural forms with ornament, or deconstructing paintings to their pure materials, or whatever. I'm not so sure people are still good at creating things.

If these finishes stay around, they will be sold to two groups. One will be the design mavens who see them as the latest fashion and want to keep up. But the much larger customer base will be people who think shiny brass phony colonie chandeliers still look just great, and are glad to finally have something to go with their cathedral arch oak cabinets and dusty rose countertops.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:55PM
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I don't think it is always true, you are correct. But Greek Revival, was a revival, even though it was brought about by cultural changes. Technology obviously played a part locally because the size of a businessman's Greek Revival dwelling outstripped the size of the gentleman's Federal house in this city geometrically. Lumber management technologies made both detail and sheer size more accessible.

Shag carpeting was an outgrowth of "improved" synthetics and fiber technologies.

But once you strip to the bare minimum. (e.g. an entire museum gallery of white canvases) What's next? What's more minimal that that? Post-modernist cartoonishness was a response to the idea that we had come full circle to something so minimal that Maximal was the response.

I don't understand the visceral hatred of brass (and neither faucet nor fingerpull finishes are brass, they are light
bronze). Its a finish that older than nickel or chrome. (I couldn't GET nickel in most things the first time I used it somewhere---I had to have some of it custom plated. Same as ORB--I had to get some of it plated. And before you accuse me of being so tragically trendy I had to Make it, rather than Buy it...I was using these finishes to match (as much as possible) something that already existed. There is solid brass and there is that plated brass on pot metal or plastic, but as far as I am concerned the two can't even be compared to each other.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I'm loving this discussion. It was about a year ago that I got serious with designing my new kitchen.
I had those pickled oak cabinets from the 80's, they were on the pink/peach tone and I even had peach laminate. I was so sick of it all.

As I sat thinking about what to replace them with I had visions of dark wood closing in on me and closing up my not so big kitchen. So I decided that I would do a white birch wood. But....I am also not a yellow or orange wood fan. Slowly I came up with the idea of staining the wood to look more like driftwood. I wanted the wood grain to show and I also wanted to use the wood running horizontally for a more contemporay look.

I worked very closely with my cabinet maker on the stain.
I don't think it looks anything like the old pickled cabinets. I guess after saying this I should post a picture. I haven't posted it yet as finished because I need to repaint and find better switch plates. My pulls are a brushed aluminum.

In person, I'd say the cabinets come off more grey than in the picture. I call the cabinets a driftwood look partly because I live on the water.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:39PM
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I don't have a thing against brass. I just finished filling my house with Visual Comfort brass light fixtures. I'm toying with using unlacquered brass for my kitchen cabinets. (Though that's a bit different from the blindingly shiny '80s brass that was supposed to remind you of money and Wall Street, especially when accompanied by pink marble.)

Nor does naturally bleached wood look wrong in the pictures you posted. But that's kind of cheating, like the way RH sells 9-foot couches made of flour sacks by pretending its customers live in sparsely-furnished Belgian castles.

It's not the individual items so much as the kit that's so objectionable. The pictures you assembled, all put together, make an '80s revival kit. Instead of each piece relating to the house through some other context--like a beachfront vibe--they relate to each other as a "Facts of Life" set prop. All that's missing are shoulder pads and 20" tall hair.

I hereby pledge that if I am ever forced to view a full-on '80s revival kitchen in person, I will personally toss a match on it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:01PM
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They weren't all *meant to *go together in the same place. (There are four different cabinets up there, for example.) They're individual offerings of several different companies, put together to show that thematically that's what different companies are coming out with. Even though they work somewhat independently, there is some synchnocity, since they come up with similar stuff at the same time, rather than it all being random. Or perhaps this is causality, because there are actual forces behind it.

The redux never looks like the real original anyway. That's why unless you are a 20 year old emo girl going for irony, you can't pull out your old 1980s Sophia Loren eyeglasses with the dropped ear stem without looking ridiculous. You have to get the 2011 ones that riff off of them. They are about the same side by side as the new Beetle and the Super Beetle of the 70s...not really at all.

I don't think it's cheating to show a finish that gets the automatic "I hate that" response almost as a knee jerk reaction working properly in the right context either. Its putting it In Context, and showing that maybe things don't deserve the knee-jerk "I hate that" under all circumstances. All I ever harp on is context:)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:22PM
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This girl can work these real 80s glasses. If her mom still wore them that would be ridiculous. Recreating an 80s time capsule kitchen would be too, but reworking some of those finishes, ---its been a quarter century, so unless you have something *completely* different--and no one seems to have anything completely different that anybody likes, its been long enough..

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:38PM
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I agree most of the materials in kitchens are the same old thing, endlessly revived and respun. Wood. Stone. Chrome. It has been around forever.

There are interesting materials that could make a stunning and different kitchen. Not necessarily ''new''. It is overambitious to think that bucky balls and nano tubes will get to the kitchen before they're old hat in actual high technology applications. I mean older materials that simply don't get used in this room of the house.

We could have rubber countertops. There are rubbers that will withstand heat to 600F, resist oils and solvents, have enough mechanical strength to be a work surface, enough give to cushion a dropped glass, and can be colored.

There are a dozen synthetic solid surface materials that would be good countertops. Resins, pressed stone, glass products. Here is a website:

I mentioned antimicrobial copper alloys in another thread.

Traditional wood cabinetry is, in many ways, an absurdly difficult approach to the simple goal of drawers and shelves. An industrial engineer, tasked with specifying a work area, would never say ''we'll use expensive labor to piece together boxes from wood and glue using approximate measurements, then use more expensive and often indifferent labor to shim, screw and prop it all together with filler strips and molding covering up all the mistakes''. He would use a modular system of pre-made boxes and containers, fix a perfectly level mounting rail to the walls and hang the boxes from that. The counter wouldn't be glued down to the boxes, it would float above. Want to move the dishwasher to the other side, change a three drawer stack to a four, install an oven? No sawzall, no prybar, no living in the basement for months. Simply detach the box from the rail, swap in a new one. 1/8'' metal leaves more room for contents than 3/4'' wood, multiply by the hundred or so cabinet sides, drawer sides, door fronts, in a kitchen.

IKEA sort of follows this principle, partway. A wide variety of standardized elements that can be combined to make any cabinet layout you want, at a fraction of the cost of the traditional solution.

Even the way we think about kitchens is restrictive. We think of a sink, here, and a prep counter, there. Can they be the same? Some time ago, I got interested in using a darkroom sink as a huge sink-and-work surface-combined. If you're not familiar with a darkroom sink (film is not dead!) it is six or seven feet long, steel or fiberglass, watertight, about 3 or so inches deep, with multiple faucet spouts that reach everywhere. You work anywhere in the sink, then hose the whole thing down into a drain. If you had a rail at the front and rear walls, cutting boards and drain boards could be placed anywhere. The entire counter run or any part of it can be a sink, or a work surface, as you wish. The Kohler Stages sink is a miniature version of this.

Induction can make cooking location almost as flexible. Sometimes you only need a tiny two burner cooktop. Sometimes you need eight burners spread out. With induction, when you're only using two burners, your kid can color on the remaining six. The burners don't even have to be all jammed together in the same part of the kitchen.

For example, suppose you had a 10 foot long counter. Starting at the counter edge, the first 14'' is a 3'' deep darkroom type sink, with work surfaces placed and slid where-ever desired. The last 10'' to the wall is a long induction cooktop, one burner after another, lined up along the wall. You can prep a dish, cook it, and clean up after yourself, anywhere along that counter. You could have four people cooking, or just one.

Then there is verticality. I've been thinking a lot about verticality. We never have enough counter space. Because we only have one counter. If a library stored all its books on one shelf at waist level, it would have to be the size of a soccer pitch. If Manhattan housed all it's people on the ground floor, it would have to be the size of Kansas. But that's what we do in our kitchens. Darn, I have this sheet pan of trifles in progress, and no-where to set it down - my prep is now spilling over to the dining room. Too bad I don't have another shelf, or a stack of shelves, spaced to fit my mixing bowls or sheet trays or whatever I use for prep, ready to simply slide my work-in-progress onto.

I think, sometimes, that the reality is, most kitchens are not designed for cooking. Maybe a casserole or a pot of pasta. That's it. Most kitchens are designed to sit around in, to entertain in, to supervise homework, to show off all that Restoration Hardware neo-Elizabethan gloss. They're not primarily working spaces. They are parlors and sitting rooms, studded with faucet porn and writhing granite.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:59PM
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WIZARDNM, I love your cabinets! The horizontal texture is like.......landscape. I think this is beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:10PM
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Kitchen as workspace gets a lot of eye rolling contempt in kitchen forums these days. Pretty soon the kitchen will have a bed in it, and we will have come full circle to the "Hall" of the colonial period. The only thing it will Not have is a toilet since that "must be separated from the kitchen by two doors according to code." Or so I've heard.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:28PM
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Palimpsest- I like the light wood floor, in the first picture...and the driftwood pole in the last picture is beautiful!

Johnliu- Your idea of using vertical spaces is intriguing. It reminds me of the vertical gardening in a potager, as opposed to the 'field garden' style of most vegetable gardens. And I have to say..."faucet porn and writhing granite" is the funniest thing I've read all day :)

As for the lack of anything new in kitchen style...I think Johnliu just came up with some wonderful ideas. While I prefer to have the parlor/sitting room concept, in my kitchen...I do think some of the surfaces and ideas would be worth investigating...and I love the idea of the floating counters!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:34PM
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As I read this thread, the smooth jazz channel playing in the other room has offered new versions of the themes from both "Taxi" and "Hill Street Blues". So apparently everything old is new again.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Not all my taste, mind you.
House Beautiful

Country Living

Coco Kelley

Boston Design


Martha Stewart

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:37PM
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pal, I think the sudden reappearance of Dynasty set props as "new" kitchen finishes means that their context really is an '80s revival. Not that a consumer has to use them that way, but the designers who all get the industry color bulletins and go to the same industry conferences are thinking about them that way. That's their context, at least from their creators' standpoint.

And that's why they're pathetic. Spent. Sterile. The designers are really just shooting blanks, now.

I think it's less about waiting around for new technology to spark a new look, and more about being uninterested in the technology we already have. Johnliu is right. There are tons of materials and layout ideas and new forms for kitchens at hand right now, just waiting for new uses. No one is interested, because you only use technology if you want to accomplish something. Not many consumers care about accomplishing anything in a kitchen anymore--proven by the fact that induction ranges have chicken nuggets buttons. For most people, a kitchen is just a derivative idea they got from a TV commercial selling jarred tomato sauce using images of families. It's all just decor, including the tools and appliances. That's why kitchen design doesn't respond to technological changes; it's all just frivolous party decoration anyway.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:53PM
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Pretty soon the kitchen will have a bed in it

I believe ideagirl was going to have a tanning bed in her kitchen. Just poking to see if she is listening, I know she was kidding. Well, I think she was kidding. Y'know, now I wonder.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:05AM
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Personally am waiting for revival of Founding Fathers look in home decor. American Federal period, give or take. With the economic downturn and conservatism SHOULD come another Colonial Revival or Early American revival. But...given the current misunderstanding of the Am public regarding the Constitution, the original or the Republic, the thinking of the Founding Fathers on issues such as religion, etc etc etc, should it surprise me that there is also no particular interest in Am historic style before the late Victorians? The "Greatest Generation" has more following--the empowerment of the middle class. Early postwar housing in suburbs has more following than salt glazes or 6-pane windows or white tablecloths and mahogany furniture.

Do think that it's interesting that on Bravo there is one decorator in the Million Dollar Decorators series who is a classicist and buys pieces that belong in my Old Sheffield Plate collection. He goes to England to get things and lectures his colleagues on the newness of the U.S. (and lack of perspective for historic style). They have to hire him to guide them on their quest for historic good taste. Also am finding the other decorators very interesting. Even some of them bristle at the choices made by their client who are essentially rich people lacking visual education it would seem.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:20AM
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Will a tanning bed cook chicken nuggets?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:23AM
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I'll agree, this is a very interesting thread.

John, in the past year or so, I've been eyeing the wheeled bun pan racks in my grocery store's bakery department, trying to figure out how I could work one into my new kitchen design, either in the main area or in the pantry (to be wheeled out when needed). An under-counter model would certainly be easier to fit in to the plan than a full-size model, but I love the idea of taking full advantage of the cart.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bun pan racks

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:35AM
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re bun pans....becky, would you be using this as extra plunk space for cooking adventure time or would you store items on it? Are there trays riding on it permanently or are they stored elsewhere?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 1:13AM
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florantha, I was thinking of it for plunk space only, but I can see, especially with the full size unit, that I could probably get away with some storage at the very top and very bottom. Especially for keeping lots of empty canning jars on the bottom shelf for August and September. And all the crazy special baking/decorating stuff we tend to use mostly in November and December. And I think it would be faster for plunking if the trays were in there permanently, perhaps toward the top and bottom, though the rack could be reconfigured at will, as necessary.

I would love to be able to "kidnap" a rack from the supermarket and give it a spin in my existing kitchen -- not that there's room, though -- for a month, and see how it works...


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 1:33AM
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>>verify that it was really Restoration Hardware. It looked like the dimly lit set of a steampunk vampire movie.>>

I'm a Boomer with a lot of Millennial friends. Right now most of them are in an Arts & Crafts mode. And yes, steampunk/vampire/fantasy is HUGE, but more as a fun thing than what they want to live in.

I can totally see them getting tired of A&C in ten years and looking for something visually different like the pickled wood. For them this is a new fresh riff, and they lean towards the cool gray tones than the pink or yellow tones of 80's whitewashing.

One can always be confident that when the older generation (once our parents, now us) starts dissing something as "oh, that's so tired, we've seen that before" and "no originality", or "who would want that?", the homeowner generation coming up behind will be seeing it as something refreshing, different and stylish, because it's genuinely new to them.

Let's be realistic. I'm not going to be selling my home for a few years yet, or maybe as long as a decade in the future. But I WILL be selling it at some point, and that buyer won't be someone my age. It'll be someone thirty or forty years younger, just as we bought the house from two sisters forty years OUR senior. I'm sure they'll find my finishes to be as outdated as I felt about the PO's taste...but hopefully they'll find the redesigned layout of the kitchen at least usable, which wasn't the case for us when we moved in.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 2:41AM
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The changing of design materials based only on looks rather than functional improvements, has always intrigued me. Why do trends come and go? Is it due to retailers and the commercial nature of the business? Or is it more of an innate visceral reaction like someone above stated?

I find it curious that dated materials and styles seem to move forward with the current time by a fixed amount. It seems like that time period may be around 30 years, based on all the negative 80's comments. How can a look be so acceptable and desireable in the moment, yet thirty years down the road, it becomes abhorrent? I'm not sure I really get it. Is this reaction created from within ourselves intrinsically or from without due to "industry"? Or a combination of the two?

I still like pickled cabinetry when it is in the correct context. And I find the photos Pal posted to be attractive. I wouldn't want that look in my house, but I can appreciate it.

Marcolo mentioned the Facts of Life set. I can't recall if it had significant cheese factor at the time, but it certainly does now. Still, I would never have looked to that program for decor tips in the first place. I think we would have to look at a kitchens that wowed us then and examine them now to really get to the bottom of this. I still find the "Something's Gotta Give" kitchen very attractive, but that is more recent. I can't recall any 80's kitchens that were awesome at the time because my interest didn't lie there, but maybe someone else can?

I wonder if I will reach a stage in life where I will find a past selection hideous and ask myself "What were you thinking?" It hasn't happened so far in my life. (I'm in my mid forties.)

As far as RH goes, I agree that a whole room full of it is too much. I just ordered a single piece from them (a weathered wood media console) to place in the "man" cave. And I think it will work well in that context.

Just a few morning rambling thoughts...

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 5:39AM
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pal, gold? Really? I think someone is considering that house, I mean Vegas Gilt Trip in Mechanicsburg.......aren't you?.....C'mon--out of the city with you, time to become a farmer!!!!

Actually, I think gold finishes will be back, but not like they were in the 90's (with all that brassy shiny look), they will be more dulled down.

I'll let you know if I see an open house at that Palace......

Here is a link that might be useful: So others don't think I'm whispering behind their is the Vegas Showhouse in PA

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 7:13AM
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I think a lot of designers do what they do and the best are only peripherally influenced by trends. I know designers that don't read a single shelter design magazine except technical/business related ones. A retirement-age designer I know has been furnishing his houses (6) with the same furniture for 40 years (and they have included an 1850s, a 1920s Spanish revival, a 1970s "Japanese" beach house, and three mid-century high rise apartments). And they don't look particularly "the same" when he is done with them either.

This is different from what gets selected for publication by the design media, or marketed by furniture or kitchen companies. I think the sterility of trends comes from editors and marketers wanting to show something that is both "new" (meaning we haven't seen it for a couple decades) and "comfortable" (meaning we saw it a couple decades ago and its not So Different that it makes us embrace something really different). This in turn is what the consumer wants, because they often want what they see, rather wanting what they want. There is a lot of individualistic design out there but it pretty much is neither seen by, or is rejected by the masses.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 7:59AM
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Hmm - create more vertical spaces? I'm so confused -

I've LURKED and LURKED and hesitated posting but being vertically challenged has finally inspired me to respond.

I live in an adorable townhouse with a very typical kitchen, OTR microwave and sink on the counter directly below a breakfast bar which separates the work area from the dining area.

My 2 stumbling blocks for redoing my kitchen have been these 2 'vertical' items - the OTR microwave and the raised breakfast bar.

On GW I have read numerous comments about removing a breakfast bar to create one open space. I've recently removed the raised bar to see how it feels visually.

That's the dilemma. I am getting used to the openness of the space but I feel that I've lost the function of an extra vertical space.

As far as the OTR I don't want it on the counter or give away valuable cabinet space. Others have also mentioned safety issues.

I would love the opportunity to post photos on another link and view responses on 'what to do' with these 2 VERTICAL issues.

What to do? What to do? Heigh ho - off to work I go!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 8:03AM
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I a sorry if what I am about to say hurts someones feelings, but I feel The something's gotta give kitchen has gotta give. I loved it years ago when it was unique and new but now, 8 years later, I find it yawn producing and , altho not sure about the application in my own home, I find the reinterputation of 30 year old influences, ironically, very refreshing.
I feel, just like in literature, where man vs man; man vs nature; and man vs himself are the main source of conflict in all novels there are not only three books writen but from only three themes an infinite number of stories are produced. interior design and art are similar. There is only so much you can do with a wood finish so you borrow from past ideas yet a slight change can produce an entirely different feel.
If you are doing a white kitchen I am sure yours will too be a fresh and lovely reinterputation of the 2003 kitchen and and as such will have many interesting, unique and refreshing 2011 qualities:).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:11AM
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A design magazine is funded by advertising. So are design websites. That fact drives all their editorial choices. You are constantly shown "What's Next!" and "How We're Using Color Now!!" and "White: The New Black!!" so that you will run out and make a purchase to stay fashionable. You are not shown anything that challenges your entire way of thinking, because, first of all, that's bad marketing and second, that's bad for business, since a manufacturer only wants to make inexpensive tweaks to their assembly line products, not have to retool the factory to start making cabinets out of rammed earth or nanomaterials.

That's why the "revivals" tend to focus on the most cliched, mass-market elements of a decade. I have a boxful of '80s artisanal tschotschkes in my basement, all basically Memphis-inspired with black and intense colors, with turquoise resin candlesticks and purple anodized aluminum clicks with lightening-squiggle hands. I still think they're cool although I'd die if anyone saw them in my house today. No one will be reviving those, though, because they weren't mass-market and never appeared on TV in the '80s, which is where most young people today derived their ideas of '80s design.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:14AM
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One external influence that does influence designers is What Is Available. And this doesn't necessarily mean what is available "new" as it means what is available "old" or "vintage".

Many designers experiment with their own living spaces before trying things out with clients. Most designers don't make as much money as the clients they work for. So, designers often utilize whatever vintage is coming onto the auction or resale market at any given time. So, who are the people in their 80s who are dying off in Florida and whose material estates are coming up on the vintage market? A lot of people who are my parents' ages who probably did their last big decorating projects in the 80s sometime.

As for Colonial Revival or Early American Revival, this is one of the revivals that has never been completely out of fashion. Stickley has produced colonial and federal styled furniture longer than it has produced the Craftsman style we associate with them for example.I don't think there was a decade in the 20th century were Colonial Revival or Federal style furniture was out of fashion.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:23AM
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>I can't recall any 80's kitchens that were awesome at the time because my interest didn't lie there, but maybe someone else can?

Well, that might be partly because it didn't occur to anyone back then that a kitchen needed to be awesome, breathtaking, noteworthy. In those dear dead days beyond recall a kitchen was just...a kitchen. The marketing machine hadn't yet realized how much money could be mined from making people believe that kitchens had to be trendy dramatic statements.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:25AM
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roarah, regarding the SGTG kitchen, (I don't have one, btw, just a white kitchen) I think that we see a lot of that look here on GW and in magazines, but have you looked at any houses for sale lately? I have been looking and I only wish that I could find one of those kitchens. All I see are kitchens that look like my before photos. It is so depressing. Yes, I can always reno another kitchen, but why oh why, can't I just stumble upon a GW'ers kitchen and be done with it?

My point is that even though we think that the SGTG kitchen is overdone, it really isn't in my opinion. Maybe in certain regions it is? I just feel that white kitchens with soapstone are not as overdone as we would believe by looking at kitchens here and in magazines. The "outside" world hasn't found out about this look! My guess is if you ask a non TKO person if they even know about the SGTG kitchen, they would have no clue. My "real" friends, probably didn't even see the movie!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Sorry about the double post.

I think there is a steady market for Memphis and Memphis inspired and post-Modernist pieces, some of which are still produced in Italy. And some of Michael Graves' pieces have never been out of production.

Some of it I love, some of it reeks of Miami Vice--and it was one of those styles that could Devolve rapidly into the cheesiest of cheese. But I would have no problem using it if that were the type of thing I liked--why be influenced by what other people think? Yay Patrick Nagel.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:30AM
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I'll confess that I hadn't heard about soapstone counters (outside a chemistry lab anyway) until I came here. The first time I saw mention of the SGTG kitchen was here. I can't remember whether I saw the movie. If I did, then the kitchen didn't make an impression.

I'll agree with the theory that items available at estate sales can influence design. I've been addicted to estate sales for years, though I don't buy much. When I got started, the stuff being sold was from the 30s-40s. I recall that a couple items I bought at estate sales were later reproduced by Pottery Barn. Now, the stuff being sold is from the 50s-60s, and I notice that the midcentury look is popular.

I also agree that the revival of a style can be just a riff off of it, not a faithful reproduction. I joked about orange moroccan floor tiles above, and Pal answered with a photo of some lovely Ann Sacks orange Moroccan floor tiles. I think they'd make a great statement in the correct house. A nod to the 1970s. Something faithful to that era without going all the way to cheap Moroccon tile printed vinyl flooring and swag lamps. Sometimes all you need to do to create context is make one big statement.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:19AM
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BKW your kitchen is so unique and one of my all time favs!!! I Also used you as my inspiration for my living room redo...I love your glam style and have tried to incorporate some of it in my life and I would not have if I had seen your orginal work!

But I live in coastal CT where every new build and redone kitchen is a redo to the tee of SGTG, so yes my market is supersaturated by it and maybe that is the cause of my tiredness. I hope you find your dream kitchen and my opinion is only my opinion so please no one take offense...I btw am by no means a style maven:)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:23AM
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When I moved and needed to declutter, I was certain I could find some website specializing in these '80s-era mod pieces, but I couldn't find a one. Nothing on ebay either, at least not selling at any value. I still like them but they no longer fit where I live. They're not easy to integrate into other looks--some degree of modernity is required.

One external influence that does influence designers is What Is Available.

And obviously it influences consumers, too, although in their case it's more about what is available new vs. vintage. That's why there is such a visceral reaction to some of these new finishes. A new finish in stock means some current finishes will no longer be carried. Consumers will be required to bow to the current look if they expect to actually purchase anything. Look at all the people desperate to buy white appliances that aren't tarted up with bulbous, yellowing white plastic.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:27AM
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Beckysharp, I have one of those bun racks in my garage. It is loaded with both full and empty canning jars. The problem with using it in the house is space, at least for me. They can be hard to maneuver without banging in to doorways and walls. That said, if you built a space for it in the kitchen where it could be hidden behind closed doors, it would hold a lot. The sheet pans just slide in and out, spacing as needed.

Back to the topic at hand.

This forum contains a wealth of knowledge and I have much appreciation for it. It saved me from some mistakes in my own redo.
Pal, I think you are right on in some of your finish trends. Which ones will go over in a big way is any body's guess. Costs are always a factor in just how big a trend will grow. I think we will continue to see a rise in painted cabinets. Shades of grey will have a big impact. It's neutral, calming and can be accented with many colors. I do see the driftwood look coming on but as someone else mentioned, it fits into a coastal area best. Keep in mind though, people who live inland fall in love with a look and adapt it to their own situation.
I also see more natural finished woods like walnut.
Stains will become cooler, the warm tones being less important.

I would hope we see growth in the newer cabinet varnishes. They are out there. I believe my cabinet guy called them conversion varnish's and he used one that has only been around for a few years. There was no oder on cabinets that he stained and varnished the day before he installed them. The varnish is baked on, satiny, hard, smooth and all you need is a damp cloth to clean with. I'm a messy cook and even my cleaning gal remarked about the finish.

They can try to push gold toned hardware but I doubt it will become big in the kitchen area, there's just too many who love their SS appliances. It could however see a slight resurgence in bathrooms but it will be a soft brushed look.

Thats my take from where I sit on the up and coming trends. Maybe not the norm, I live in a resort area of Northern Michigan. I am also a person who tries very hard to do my own thing. I bought tons of magazines to study what I didn't want to do. I find most of my decorative accessories at fine art shows, we have some of the best here in the summertime.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:13AM
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marcolo~ As long as you brought up "white appliances"...I have seen them use them a few times on HGTV lately....are they making a come back? I wish they would come back with an off white....a bit softer than the old almond.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:37AM
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Roarah....not offended at all!

It's just that so many people say that the SGTG kitchen is overdone and here in the land of dark stained oak cabinets I just wonder "where?".

I imagine that you do see a lot of that style up your way and if I were there I would be trying to create my own look.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:42AM
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I have to agree with Bee. I see lots of white kitchens here but few IRL. Most kitchens I see lately are stained wood or creamier painted wood, most with glazes (which I notice are often offered for free as a promotion). The tilework I see is almost 100% the tumbled stone or travertine look.
We see ceramic subways used a lot here, but I do not see them in new homes or ones with recently renovated kitchens (unless they are in the beige stone family).
I think I have seen 1 or 2 soapstone kitchens in the past few years IRL, despite them being very popular here.

I think there are a lot of "GW" elements that non-GWers are not familiar with. Have you ever asked someone what they think about Marmoleum, or tried to find an installer locally? I am not out in the boondocks as we are approx 30-40 mins from NYC.

I am fine with the driftwood look (but don't like the RH overload version). You won't get me to appreciate pickled oak though! I have lived through that and can honestly say I did not like it when it was new either. Some things that are now dated should not have been used in the first place!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:08PM
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With the exception of the big ticket items though (like appliances), most manufacturers produce cabinet doors in many species and in many stain finishes. Not so many painted finishes. You can still get natural oak with a cathedral arch door. Click on cabinet knobs and pulls on Hardware Hut, and you get about 16,700 matches. Granted hundreds of them will be virtually the same, but that is still a lot of choices. There are more counter top options than ever before in terms of materials and availability. So, I think that the Options are There if you Look for Them and you are an individual, however, a lot of people are like so many lemmings running into the sea: they are afraid of criticism if they do something singular. Other people don't really know what they want, so they use what they see as a decision making process.

There are two major low points in the finishes market for kitchens. Laminate (thousands available but not easily accessible to the consumer through the big names), and vinyl floor products, which are mostly hideous because they are marketed toward a low market demographic right now.

In the general design industry, carpet is offered in all sorts of unpopular shades, and paint colors are almost infinite. The sticking point in this market is fabric selection for off-the-shelf upholstery. If you can afford to upholster a sofa, again, your fabric choices are wide and varied.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:10PM
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Infinite choice requires you bring your own design vision. Only a fraction of the population is capable of that. Most people who end up with modestly attractive spaces do so by copying something.

It's interesting that someone brought up the "Something's Gotta Give Kitchen." Or, as I call it, The One True Kitchen, whose followers are sometimes quite zealous and doctrinaire in their adherence to its rules. It's a "kit," and people like to buy the whole kit, including soapstone and white cabs and subway tiles and and and. Sure, there are lots of other choices. But what I don't see now is an alternative or maybe replacement look, another cohesive kit for people to follow.

If an '80s kitchen becomes the new "kit" kitchen, heaven help us. I think we'll see an abrupt break in the GW tradition of not criticizing finished kitchen posts.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:35PM
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I think a lot depends on who one is trying to please when designing a kitchen. I can see that it would be tempting to use the "Something's gotta give" kit because the end result will be pleasing to most people. Most people won't regard it as a derivative work because they don't really spend much time thinking about kitchen design. They'll find the kitchen attractive because the kitchen will seem familiar from magazines, movies, TV, etc, but different compared to the real life kitchens they're seeing (since most real life kitchens are at least moderately dated). So, if you want the neighbors to swoon over your kitchen, you should use a "kit" as Marcolo describes.

If you are trying to create a kitchen that makes a unique statement, then it is less likely to be a crowd pleaser.

I think most people want to put in a new kitchen and hear praise from everyone who sees it.

Also, a lot of people worry about resale value.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 5:30PM
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I don't know why the 80's should be coming back into style. It seems we skipped right over the 60s and the 70s. How about an early 1960s kitchen? Rat Pack, skinny ties, and martinis...what could be more fun than that? LOL

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 5:52PM
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Bummer! I am planning to use the driftwood/pickledish wood in my future kitchen if that ever happens and now I see it is coming on strong....darnit. I have seen it coming but have tried to ignore. I still plan on using it as it I already have a mantle and bookcases in a close finish. It is going to be my hutch.

On another note, I find some of the eighties sitcom kitchens quite charming. I think mostly b/c they bring back the cozy feeling of my childhood...The Cosby Show, Who's The Boss, Family Ties, just to name a few.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 6:03PM
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Maybe a pool table in the kitchen, instead of a tanning bed? :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 6:13PM
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Perhaps we need to look at some actual 1980s kitchens with some late 70s and early 90s for good measure and see what they really looked like. I am not talking about builder's or mass market kitchen, but designed kitchens that appeared in magazines, because that it still what people draw inspiration from.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 6:52PM
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Fori is not pleased

BKW, I have a GW kitchen for sale! Okay, except for the white cabinets and TapMaster, it probably doesn't qualify...but it sure is a functional workspace!

I will skip the pool table (no room), but if LLass will help me design an early 60s kitchen, I need it now!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Circus Peanut

Here's the International Builders' Show "New American Home" kitchen from 1984:



    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Fori- Here's my favorite early 1960s couple...Rob and Laura Petrie (Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore).

They had a very cool home, with a modern 1960s kitchen.

Who knew those appliances were blue, though? :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:31PM
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Hmmm... Are those cabinets pickled?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Or bleached...

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:26PM
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If I hadn't been inspired recently to declutter and purge, I would now be scanning photographs for this thread from the Smallbone of Devizes catalogue c1985, featuring Johnny Grey's unfitted kitchens. And also several Mary Gilliatt books from the 80s -- "Kitchens and Dining Rooms", "Setting Up Home", "Decorating on the Cheap" -- several of which were college graduation presents and which were my main inspiration when I felt trapped in my "efficiency apartment" in the late 80s. And the Terence Conran/Conran Octopus books from the eighties.

I lugged all of those around with me for almost 30 years, and finally decided it was time to release them. But not without the realization and acknowledgment and realization that there were some very beautiful, still very current rooms in there.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:04AM
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Um. What possible difference does it make that the elite of the elite designers created timeless rooms? Last weekend I toured a 1909 home owned by one of America's first famous interior decorators. Some of the spaces look like Martha Stewart would covet them today. Is that any statement about pre-WWI decorating? No. The prevailing look in those days was something none of us would like, not even the Arts and Crafts fans. Most people back then did not even know where to put a couch. There are always exceptions that prove the rule.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:04AM
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I can't remember my actual kitchens from the 70s or 80s. Kids and work seem to dominate my memory. The conceptions for "new" are all sitting at used building supply businesses. Should I have grabbed those pickled oak sets? And the gold faucets?

Here is a quick link with photos from 8 eras to wander through.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchens of the 60s, 70s, 80s

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:45AM
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Because, Marcolo, we're talking about Design references, not Cultural references. What do you think future designers would want to reference from 1990-2000? The Busk Sleeper or Gehry Hat Trick Chair, or the Media Lounge with plastic cup holders and bins?

As for elitism, I dunno--this room was redecorated at the height of the 80s by a couple of decorators nobody's ever heard of & my mom, with some input from me 8-[, and although the palette is heavy on the peach, I don't see any geese in bonnets, ruffles, dusty blue, or wreaths with dried flowers and ribbons. Those are cultural design references but not something that was pervasive in the design world.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:08AM
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Beekeeper- I could not agree with you more. I knew I wanted white cabinets before finding the forum but nothing more. Never heard of soapstone or the SGTG kitchen. Once I saw those photos I fell in love. And I know for those of you on this forum who have been following kitchen trends for a while this look is more of a common than something trendy on GW. But when I looked for houses 3 years ago I could not find anything with a decent kitchen. Even after I decided to remodel my friend and I went to open houses in very snazzy neighbhorhoods (i.e. I could not afford the tree house muchless the garage or house itself) and most of kitchen were dated and quite awful. And these were $800K- to million dollar homes. I saw only one kitchen that was drool-worthy. But even that kitchen had shiny black pearl or absolute black countertops (not saying it is bad or cheap but it is very common). No soapstone, no quartz, no nothing. Granted I did not see a 100 homes, but for the most part I did not but 1 kitchen that was as nice as the kitchens on GW. And still my friends and family have not heard of soapstone. Also with the recession maybe some of the these "trends" will take longer to see in people's homes because people are not remodeling as much? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:53AM
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Palinpsest that is still a lovely room. I have been seeing a reemergence of eighties in decorating for the last 2 or more years. It is subtle but it is here. I see alot of blue/ green painted walls( BM calls it quiet moments in the eighties we called it seafoam). And coral is really a bit peachy isn't it. even the popularity of the color grey is a throw back to the 80''s too. Grey and pink were hot fashion colors back in the day and grey was used in decor alot 25 to 30 years ago too. Influenceing is not replicating and I do not see it as a bad turn. I have wonderful memories of the eighties and altho just a child I remember loving kitchens in shows like Benson and Family ties. I never did like the golden girls decor but it was florida and suppose to represent a home of women of a certain age and I think it purposely was not hip but dated for 1985. But it did have the panelled fridge.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:13AM
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The key design vernacular of the '80s was masses of chintz. And it's the decorators who were to blame for that one.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:39AM
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Marcolo, while that is more of a layered look than I like, the rug in the room reminds me of the sisal and seagrass neutral rugs that are in every blog and shelter mag today. Also the Green /blue chair is very hot today. The pink background color looks very much like the color of the year this year too. I also think many people over at the decorating forum who favor a layered look may, rightly, appreciate many aspects of this room still.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:57AM
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Well, roarah, I guess we can ignore the elephant in the room even though it is covered in shiny pink cotton flowers! But a "layered" look is not remotely distinctive to the '80s--it's part of traditional design and has been around for several centuries. You might as well point to the fact that the room has chairs, and pieces of glass called "windows," and exclaim that some people still use those today.

What is distinctive about that room is the chintz--masses and massses and masses of chintz, on walls, draperies, upholstery, pillows and more.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:26AM
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I don't hate that room though. I was never big on the bright cabbage rose thing, but if it were a bit more subdued and less structured floral chintz, I think it would still stand up--its still a tasteful room of a certain period, and even if it were revived, it wouldn't be done quite the same way.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:38AM
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Well marcolo demask is the chintz of 2009 to 2011 maybe. I guess my point is that altho we are seeing an 80's influence we will probally not see an exact replica so I do not understand the resistance to the idea that like all other decades the eighties will be revisited in design elements. A footloose remake is to soon be released. Just like the late 70's tv glorified the early 50's with happydays and the late 90's and early 2000's did the same for the 70's with That 70's Show. We are due to see the eighties mainstreamed into our culture now. It is happening and it may not be horrid.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:46AM
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Design References.
This is a subject broader than Finishes.
Now i see this discussion is about design in a broad sense.

When new things are created, there is no pre-existing set of concepts (references) which match perfectly. Today's phones will keep on changing shape. The keyboard will keep on changing too. It's an "ergon-" question: how you use it, how your muscles move, whether you are using your micro- muscles for fine motor control or the larger muscles for major movement. The first phones were wood boxes that you stooped down to talk into. Then, things evolved; it took hundreds of iterations before we got to a combined earpiece and mouthpiece (later called a "handset") with two wires not one. There were no references to think of, to follow, to refer to. It got evolved.

Today's kitchens present the same quandary. Kitchens have been around for all time. We've always done real work in a kitchen, moving things around. We've not lounged or relaxed. We coordinate and control heat, exhaust air, pressurized water, light, flat temporary holding space, drawer/shelf/cabinet storage, cold and frozen space. These days, instead of lounging or relaxing together, we show off. That is OK. It's human nature, or mammal nature, to give respect and enjoy receiving others' positive glances. We like to be appreciated. There are more mirrors sold worldwide than transparent heat-reflective panels.

When phones were new, people had to buy two of the same in order to let the other party speak to them. (Later, this incompatibility was dropped.) One day we might have standard oven racks that we can interchange with the storage rack next to the ovens, and standard cutlery trays that we pull out of the dishwasher or the cutlery drawers to interchange them.

In the next decades, our choices are new. Materials are available that we are not yet using well.

It took a thousand years before liquid stone came to be used for structures. ( the glue known as K-C-imentum existed before the Romans turned it into a big part of their technological offering to the world ) . Today, we have moldable glass-like materials and rubber-like materials with properties that are new and allow us to design new things in these materials. We have materials that can transmit light and reflect heat (fiberglas, low-E window glass, etc). We have flexible bendable moveable materials. Ikea has Blum waste bins with Self-Disappearing handles made of flexible rubbery material. The rubbery stuff has "memory" and knows how to put itself back into its place where it won't catch or impede. Rubbery O-rings in faucet valves make faucets much better than ever. O-rings made the Karbon jointed faucet possible, and made Sharkbite plumbing joints possible too. Pipe joints can be made safer than ever, and swiveling too.

We have materials that are through and through the same material in their body, so as surface wear materials, they show they same material underneath when they wear down or get marked. Metals are well known to us (copper, brass, steel), but newer materials, glass-ey and rubber-ey, are often treated with contempt or fear. Just read all the faucet experts writing that you NEED a metal handspray that feels heavy in the hand; they also write that anything plasticky is cheap. Not true, not at all. Materials like resin, epoxy, or things with polysyllabic names are the best est and the greatest but nobody in the next thousand years will believe it. It took a thousand years for liquid stone to become a building material. I doubt that you and I can change the course of the future unfolding now simply by affirming that resins are strong warm robust and good.

So many materials that we are not putting to use.

Some materials are self-cleaning. Spray water on some glass surfaces and they cut the grease and grime because of molecular surface action. They are designed to do that. Imagine a slideout transparent exhaust hood at chest height, shaped like a "sneezeguard" so it captures rising effluent and channels it backwards to the duct.

And then, what about light? Anything can now be Backlit, Lit From Inside, a Source of LIght all by itself while it also performs its original function. Imagine the above transparent sneezeguard lit up from inside it. Light spills out the edges of the panes.

I see this as new and happening.

Imagine all drawer fronts are semitransparent, and a flick of a button sends light out in a certain way that lets you see inside. I have one of my fridge drawers with a Glass Bottom: this lets me see generally what is in the lower drawer when I open the drawer that I use the most.

There are ways to use light to make some materials alternate between being transparent (translucent) and opaque (cloudy). I have samples of some plasticky fiberglassy panels that do this. Thousands of iterations from now our kitchens may be very different.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:00PM
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What about how design follows the economy? The 80's were all about excess, and look at all the chintz and layering we are seeing in those photos. Flash forward to now and a lot of the trends are leaning towards the minimalist look, less is more--whether it's due to not wanting to appear to be having too much or in fact you want to live with the idea that you only "take what you need" philosophy. I did read once how the economy plays a role in what colors designers use and become popular.

I posted this on pal's other 70's-2000 thread, but it's just too good that you need to see this range. This is the grandfather of the potfiller:

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:12PM
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See, I'd be happy to look at new technology-driven kitchen design ideas. It just seems like we're not in an innovative mood right now. Induction is growing but penetration is still small. I'd like to consider the windows that go opaque at the touch of the button but they're still not commercially available--even though I first saw them in a SoHo restaurant bathroom fifteen years ago.

Instead we get a revival of the '80s? A decade that was specifically noted as a revival in itself--a revival of the '50s, in particular? A decade noted for irony, as if we can tell the same joke twice and still laugh?

Take a walk around Boston and Cambridge, looking at old houses "updated" in the '80s with clownish postmodern gigantic oculus and Palladian windows, and tell me we should look forward to that.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:20PM
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I have friends who married in the 80s and forced their bridesmaids to wear chintz gowns with enormous bows on the backside, dropped waists and sweetheart necklines. One of the same friends bought her first sofa around that time and made the error of choosing a high quality one covered in chintz. Now, it is slipcovered.

If they'd had the technology to cover appliances in a chintz print, it would have happened.

I wonder whether that's something that'll happen to appliances. Maybe we'll start seeing appliances with custom patterned finishes. I think the technology is there, and it will seem new and fresh.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:45PM
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They did this already in the 50s. Some companies will make skins for entertainment type fridges, but they kinda look like the skins on buses.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Fabric covered fridges? I think I can guess why that didn't catch on!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:47PM
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It's not the year that chintz room was created or its over-all layered, traditional style or even any particular element in it that's problematic. What's wrong with it is the fact there is way, way, too much of one element - to the point of being caricature. Even in the 80's that much matching chintz would have stood out as a design solecism to me.

Keep the curtains; lose the matching wall paper; get the sofa-matching chintz off the slipper chair and the fauteil. Whether the two sofas are covered in the identical print as the curtains is hard to tell. It's likely they are at least in a different fabric (the typical glazed chintz of curtains not being a particularly suitable fabric for sofas), so possibly the prints don't match either, which would be a good thing. After removing a lot of the extraneous chintz-ness, you could decide if having both sofas and curtains in a closely matched pattern was still too much, or just right.

in the end you'd be left with a pretty room of a recognizable style. Certainly not eveyone's cup of tea, but broadly popular with many people over long periods -maybe many decades, not just the 80's.

The problem of the SGTG kitchen is that it was a hugely successful stage set that managed to animate itself and leap right off the screen into a style niche of the current era. The set designers chose those particular elements to undergird the story and the totality of the movie apparently resonated. It's not just here on GW/KF, it's widely imitated in both high end and midmarket shelter mags. And that's where the banality of it starts to creep in. Anything repeated over and over looses its freshness and appeal. (See chintz, above.)

When that happens, no matter how great the design initially was, it becomes d-d-d-d-dated. Which is the correct description of anything that because of repetition and ubiquity becomes associated with a certain time period. Dated has nothing to do with the inherent quality of the design (although anything too popular is bound to collect clumsy copies which accelerate the transition to the status of being passe). Until, of course it comes around again in some form, as most things do. With luck it will emerge improved. And hopefully, dis-bound from its former associations so it will appear novel and, once-again, appealing.

This is thread devoted to kitchen finishes, but JohnLiu touched on another very interesting question to me: how will kitchen functions change over the next decade? Sure they will still be nominally the locus of meal creation, but will the idea of kitchen-as-social-entertaining-space endure? Will food preparation as the primary function begin to re-emerge (JohnL's working kitchen)? How would that change the size, fitments, and eventually, of course, the decorative desiderata of future kitchens?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:47PM
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I have friends who married in the 80s and forced their bridesmaids to wear chintz gowns with enormous bows on the backside, dropped waists and sweetheart necklines.

Hey! I resemble that remark! You forgot about the poofy sleeves! Although I did choose a slightly pastel water color looking chintz instead of the bold roses :)

I also had to walk down aisle in someone's wedding wearing a peach taffeta with a bow on the back that was so large it needed support. (as did our hair which we spent hours on with the curling iron ).

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:05PM
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I understand where you are coming from in terms of innovation driven kitchens Marcolo...I will give you my opinion on why this isn't happening a little later. I also wish it would drive design more.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:10PM
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I agree L. I think you have described very well why things date. It's the same thing with music. A great song comes out and invariably the radio stations play it into the ground to where it just becomes noise. Then you hear it a couple of years later and think "oh there is that great song again."

I believe this is just how our minds work regardless of the medium. In fact, I think for most this is true of many things like music, decor, food, etc. It reminds of me of Econ 101 and the law of diminishing marginal return.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:11PM
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I fell in love with this at a home show. It is very substantial. I plan on putting it in my new kitchen. Unfortunately, the have discontinued the line. Something different. It didnt catch on this time.....

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:36PM
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The problem of the SGTG kitchen is that it was a hugely successful stage set that managed to animate itself and leap right off the screen into a style niche of the current era.

Yes, as a kit. It's not just that people saw one element, like soapstone, and adopted it. No, The One True Kitchen must be adopted completely, whole and undivided as God intended; the cafeteria renovator, like the cafeteria Catholic, is regarded as a heretic or apostate. This is what has driven that look into the ground. You see it in every kitchen mag and it's become boring.

What's interesting is that there isn't any new kit. No other kitchen has recently jumped off the screen into real life, and I can't think of any likely contenders. It's cohesive look that tends to get adopted quickest, rather than individual elements that people have to figure out how to assemble on their own.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 2:47PM
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I think with every movement, there's a slow build to the universality. The One True Kitchen actually has several seminal sources that created it, and it was just SGTG that did the missionary work of getting a copy of it into everybody's hands.

I also think that it's the quality of the story telling that focuses on the kitchen that made SGTG such a touch point. It's not that there haven't been other wonderful movie kitchens that people have used for inspiration. It's that the storytelling caught up a lot of people and pushed the kitchen in that movie to the forefront. Add that to the fact that the emotional journey could be a metaphor for the emotions of remodeling, and it's one off.

I do wonder, however, if the open kitchens movement wasn't helped along quite a bit by stage set TV shows where having all the action really in one room made for a much easier shoot. :)

I haven't joined in so far, because the next decade is so not me. I don't like a lot of what's being offered in new kitchens. I totally looked to the past to inform my decisions. There's new in technologies, but a lot of old in design attitude, and a lot of rejection of current trends.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 3:28PM
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I am liking that there is no new kit. I never buy the entire show room of furniture and I like an "added to over the years" look in rooms. Maybe we will now see all different styles and colored kitchens soon. I hope the kit kitchen is a thing of the past and than maybe style will not date as quickly. Unfortunetly I think there will be a new different kit that the masses will eventually follow and install exactly as the orginal. Hope it is at least as tastefull as the SGTG kit orginally was.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 3:35PM
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"You forgot about the poofy sleeves!"
My bridesmaids' sleeves were removable too.

I found some other interesting old photos that look a little like today:

fridge drawers:

side by age:

no ipod? no problem. Yep it's a radio, now we see slide shows on fridges:

Double Ovens, please note, saves on "stooping", it's a top loader!:

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 3:43PM
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It's that the storytelling caught up a lot of people and pushed the kitchen in that movie to the forefront.

I think every successful design movement is about storytelling. Bauhaus--modernism for the masses, the egalitarianism of design, the socialist teapot. Arts & Crafts--a romanticized respect for the human hand. Art Deco--the speed of the machine, speeding us into the future. MCM--freedom from the ruin of war, free to rebuild the modern age.

The One True Kitchen was about a return to the mythic past, a well-stocked larder, grandma's pies and preserves, a (fictional) family gathered 'round shelling peas--whereas in reality, they are all off at separate soccer practices and Pilates classes.

This is where a return to the '80s really rankles. What were the design stories of the '80s? There were several. Wall Street's "greed is good"--that was the message of the gold finishes and pink marble. There was the birth of the yuppie, with wooden dish drainers in every yup kitchen. There was Memphis and the like--the '80s was the last time the avant-garde had a major impact on pop culture.

So which of these messages would a revival of the '80s signify, other than we're completely out of ideas?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 3:48PM
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I was taught in my art history course that there is a stasis in art because there is no new medium to express oneself through and the old media were reduced to minimalism. There was hope for digital (in animation) but it has too ubiquitous to be taken seriously, except as a replacement for film cameras in classic photography. There are some artists doing some interesting stuff with typography, patterning and fine art.

I was told that the stasis in furniture design is an outgrowth of the lack of new but inexpensive materials technologies to make furniture out of. There are some interesting new high tech materials but they are not inexpensive like the last big sweeping changes like pressed plywood, fiberglass or foam. ---There are some great plastics and polycarbonates but people consider them outdoor furniture.

The Memphis Movement was a response to this stasis. Crooked shelves that wouldn't hold things , glass chairs , the penis shaped vase--the practical turned impractical. It was a joke that people took seriously (Check out the LR in Ruthless People). I would have a Memphis Carlton bookcase if I had the cash myself, though

And, people haven't embraced the new materials in residential design. Translucent Corian that changes color when backlit, liquid crystal floor tile that shows footprints like a mood ring, Dichroic glass...felted textiles--most people just don't like it.

So there are ideas out there, but not ones that people like enough to embrace. These are used commercially, but no one seems to want it at home.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 4:23PM
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I grew up in the eighties and I have a different story than greed and yuppies and do not see it as a lost decade. I remember it as a time of hope after a very long and bad bout of economic stress. the late 70's to 81 saw unemployment rates of 11+ percent in the us and above 13% in parts of europe. We could only purchase gas every other day according to our license # and the gas lines were long. This was compounded by a fear of the cold war.

What i remember of the eighties was a rebirth of hope, the end of the cold war along with the demise of the Berlin wall. HBO playing rated r movies only after 8pm. The birth of music videos and later the premire of thriller on mtv. John Hughes movies. The goonies etc. The decor was, I believe, much nicer than the decade before and the music too! So yes the mainstream theme may have been excess but as a young girl I saw this as hope and a promise of better times to come. And again I do not think we will see a total 80's remake in decor. But maybe the hope of better times will prevail now after another period of recession, unemployment and real wars.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Roarah, I think you are my long lost twin. That is how I feel about the 80's. You have made my heart sing. Oh how I wish I could go back just for a moment. There are so many great things about the 80's that I could add to roarah's list. I do have to say though I do love 70's music.

For some reason, your reference to HBO though made me think of the Iran-Contra hearings and why they had to be on tv all freakin day! Oh how my friends and I suffered through that summer when it was too hot to be outside even swimming.

Ironically enough, things like the history of the Iran-Contra Scandal are things I enjoy reading about now in my free time. Damn maturity!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 4:40PM
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Here's the precursor to the "Something's Gotta Give" house. It's the "Baby Boom" house. Same lead actress. Same writer. Produced in 1987. You have to scroll pretty far to get to the kitchen photos, but you'll see that they aren't terrible looking.

Here is a link that might be useful: baby boom house

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 4:51PM
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Marcolo...what I want to know is what you would have it look like? (especially with the relative lack of applicable new technology)

Here is the other reasons things repeat or stay the same, and back to kitchen examples.




And then what do you do with the kitchen you built around it.

Here is the fantasy

And the reality:

These did not work, especially the freezers. I knew two people that had these. One family had a freezer in the basement and had to remodel the whole kitchen when it gave out. The other had a turquoise metal cabinet with wire shelves for dishes and stuff.(This) and a fridge in the service porch.

What would you do if you built a small kitchen around this and part of it failed?

What about this Gaggenau cooktop that pulls out?

They stopped making this, what if that was your ventilation?

What about this? These ovens were used in ceramics technology first--and the elevator makes a lot of sense... so why not try it in kitchens?, Gaggenau has...but can you mount a regular wall oven even with a side hinge up that high to replace it?

These shallow depth cooktops make a lot of sense. No back burners, No reaching...why don't people like these?

The cheap one:

Fisher Paykel with pop up hobs:


What about these hobs that can be mounted anywhere right in the countertop. Gaggenau tried this first, but I don't see those around anymore.

I am not criticizing the innovation, Nor the people who are afraid of it. What do you do when it stops working? If you have a 30" range you pull it out and buy another. If you have a 45" x 12" cooktop mounted in a granite counter, you just have a hole.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Well, everything I listed was a major force in the '80s, along with double-digit interest rates, unemployment that rivaled anything since the Depression, a brief boom ending in a historic stock market crash, widespread nuclear fear, and AIDS (along with total government neglect thereof). The wall fell only after the decade was over.

I admit the music was fun, though, as was wearing black all the time. What would a Smiths-inspired kitchen look like?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 5:01PM
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Marcolo the wall fell in 1989... and LP I am so glad you too have good memories of the era:)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 5:10PM
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Mcmjilly- I love that movie! It's the reason I've always wanted a fireplace or wood stove, in my kitchen. Personally, I'd like a litle less rustic (a bit more cottage/european influence) but it's a great movie. The rat race getting by with one less rat...directed at James Spader (LOL) and Diane Keaton saying she never misses a concert given by her plumber, are my two favorite lines :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 5:12PM
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Marcolo the wall fell in 1989...

Um, yeah, with a month left to go in the entire decade.

Pal, sure, innovation can go wrong. That's not new. What's new is the fear of trying it. Had that attitude prevailed in previous eras, we'd still be lighting our stoves, or refusing to buy newfangled microwaves, or getting ice delivered through the back door. Error is the inevitable price of advancement.

What do I want new looks to look like? No idea. Just not a retread of the 1980s. Or any other decade, really.

Once, sitting in a bar next to an architect, I told him that if I became a billionaire like the tech boys, the last person I'd hire to design a house is somebody who's already doing it now. I'd start with a really good set designer. You can tell a set designer that a structure is supposed to house dwarves who lives underground, or aliens that look like black lobsters, or King George VI, and they can instantly invent a cohesive new look with its own style and vernacular. Just like architects used to be able to do.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 5:20PM
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Okay, I will admit the Cold War, the economy, and the AIDS epidemic were pretty scary esp. from a child's/preteen/teen's perspective hearing about all of these things everyday on the evening news. Those things maybe why I and others find so much comfort in the homes and kitchens of those tv sitcoms and John Hughes movies.

Another great 80's movie whose sets where great is "Fatal Attraction". I think I love every set in that movie...his office, their apartment, her apartment, and the house they move to later. Though I haven't seen this movie in awhile, as best I can remember many of the finishes in these spaces still look great today, e.g. grasscloth paper, blue and white ginger jars, etc.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 5:26PM
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regarding innovation, who would have thunk that MW with built in vent would become the standard de rigueur for spec grade homes and condos. If you would have predicted this in the 1980s, one would have laughed. But it has. So things slowly evolve.

You are absolutely right in that most people cannot afford to replace the entire kitchen when the appliance becomes obsolete leaving nonstandard sized holes.

IMHO, Induction hobs with absolutely flat surface with no knobs that stick out can be used as a countertop when not used as a hob is an innovation that will be used in small kitchens that need to double duty. I think appliances have to double duty in a meaningful way to save space. Space is a premium in most parts of the world. I actually think the innovations will happen elsewhere and move to the USA. Space use is an absolute essential elsewhere requiring out of the box thinking that USA folks do not have.

Undercounter refrigerators/MW and vent in the same box are in this category.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 5:38PM
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OMG! I'm reading this at work and nearly choked trying not to laugh at the chinz refrigerators. Awesome! And hilarious.

I think that a pool table with a clear acrylic top would make an awesome and unique kitchen island. Pair it with a rat pack mural on your wall and you are off and running. Sadly, I do not have room for such an island.

At 44 years old, I haven't seen anything really new appear in clothing fashions in a long time. Tunics and leggings are back from the early 90's. My daughter has a bunch of polyester dresses in psychadelic prints that I think are awesome (although that awesomeness is tinged with irony for me, it is not for my daughter). Hip-huggers came back as low rise, bell bottoms came back as flares. Culottes came back as--what? gauchos? Something. Blousson tops came back. Cowl necks, which I am loving.

I do have a point here. Clothing fashion cycles are so short that I am really completely over things being "out." They go out, I keep wearing mine until they wear out or until they come back in again. I don't buy extreme fashions, so they are never extremely out (nor were they extremely in). I just plain can't be bothered.

Kitchen fashion cycles are longer--maybe 10 years, compared to 2 yrs for clothing. So I haven't gone through enough cycles to just be over it.

On the other hand, I followed that link to the 60s, 70s, and 80s kitchens, and while some were laughable, there were a few I really liked. Not kinda liked, but really like. Like, "I'd do that." An there were more that I would like with a few tweaks.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:50PM
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Marcolo, come to L.A. We have a whole genre of houses that were designed by set builders during off times. They're pretty classic, but well designed. And the sub-genre of "Storybook" houses are darned cute!

What I meant about the storytelling, was the actual narrative thrust of the movie. It elevated that particular kitchen in many people's consciousness.

Fascinating what people remember of the '80's!! You say "hopeful". I say "desperate". People starting families couldn't afford to buy houses for the first time, so they bought "designer" and European housewares, that were fancy looking and pricey, because they had a feel of permanence and having arrived, but cost so much less than an actual house. I think this is when the curve of next generation being better off, better employed, and more stable, levelled out and started declining. There was a lot of resignation, stagnation, and, yes, desperation, caused by the socio-politico-economic environment. I think the '90's were a lot more hopeful in tenor.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 7:04PM
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It is funny how different people remember things differently. Of course, much of it has to do with age. I remember the 80's as a great time, but I do remember my dad being stressed a lot because of the economy and finances.

Just like now, I hope my oldest remembers these years as being a great time in his youth though for myself and his dad we have been stressed beyond reason for the last couple of years due to the economy. So now I completely understand my dad's stress.

When Marcolo comes to LA to see those houses plan for me as well. I always tell my family I would love to have a set designer to design my house. When we are watching movies at home, they are generally waiting for my commentary on the house though they don't pay attention to it.

I am like Annie in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle". When Becky (Rosie O'Donnell) tells Annie (Meg Ryan) "you don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie" that is me. Except for me it would be "i don't want to live in a house, i want to live in a house in a movie".

I think part of the reason these movies, sitcoms, etc. evoke so much emotion from us is because they are an escape from the real world for a couple of hours and maybe the reason we try to replicate them in our homes is to make that escape more permanent.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 7:39PM
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When I wear my Smiths Hatful of Hollow t-shirt now, I have to tell all the emo boys I bought it new.

I am going to show a picture of the interiors of all the major architectural movements of the latter part of the 20th century with the exception of revival facade and contemporary interior which is the commonplace.

I think that one of the reasons design is at a stasis is that the general population has not embraced Any of these movements and in fact tend to feel negatively about them. I like all of them because they are all have a genuine "point of view" --something that I think is lacking in the revival-facade-with-contemporary-interior house that is embraced by the general public.

The glass box. Took off post WWII, heyday 50s, still being built:

The Vanna Venturi house. 1962.Prototype post modern.

Kahn's Esherick house and Fisher house. Brutalist, universally misunderstood, universally hated as a movement, and often not well executed. 1960s-70s

Organic Modern: 70s

Pod houses: 70s and beyond

Minimalism -mid 80s to present

Architect self-designed, urban rehab. regional, popular in depressed neighborhoods 1960s to present.

Eco Houses, Rammed earth/Bale houses, the "new Small house"--these are all movements but take on various regional vernacular and revival styles.

So, one reason for revivals is, that for the most part, the general public has not embraced any one of the above movements for residential housing.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 8:59PM
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The organic modern and pod houses...look a lot like a Hobbit house. Doesn't the Hobbit house combine the best of story book and earth homes? I like the curved fireplaces, carved wood and built in benches, myself :)

I know they're based on the book, but maybe Marcolo is on to something, when it comes to set designers being the new architects. At least we'd end up with something different and possibly even fun!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:21PM
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Nope. What the general public have embraced is little boxes. :)

Is it better to have a cheap, stylish house in a new subdivision or a one off, artisan built, infill house that costs four times as much?

One of the reasons that the general public haven't embraced many of the design trends is that the marketeers can't figure out how to sell them. They sold the Avocado Green/Harvest Gold/Orange shag thing to the masses, who soon grew tired of the cheap, tract home renditions, and had trouble selling them.

They sold them the mauve carpet, heavy stone or glass tables, uncomfortable seating and mirrored everything in the '80's, and people got tired of them and had trouble selling them.

The "industrial" chic of the '80's fared better. The black ash, black leather, grids, stainless steel, etc., are still around. It's pretty neutral.

They were able to sell the Mediterranean chic of the '90's to the point where you could get Italianate stone (concrete) railings for cheap at a big box store and have it be all out of scale with the rest of the tract house. This particular style suits So. Cal. I don't know how well it's aging elsewhere. People have gotten tired of the vines, acanthus leaves, and Venetian plaster, but that also isn't that hard to sell. Yet.

I think people are a lot more educated about design now than they were before a bazillion cable channels and internet sites. More sophisticated and more neutral things are trending well exactly because they're not such strong statements as the '70's wood, shag and velvet, or the '80's dark and flashy. People are, wisely, looking for things they won't tire of so quickly, and that will be easier to update and sell.

The biggest change I've seen recently is in wall paint. It wasn't that long ago that "fresh" colors, clear beachy colors, were all the rage. Now earthier colors, like a darker, more complex green (dare I invoke the alligator pear?), and burnt orange is also seen. Sort of '70's revisted colors, but more adult, less peppy. The furniture that went with the first group transitions well to the current colors, however, which, for most people, who don't have money to burn redoing over and over, is a really good thing.

Also explains why everyone hates the new Restoration Hardware. They make these case goods and tables in China with unskilled labor, and cover up the manufacturing faults with distracting finishes. Then they think they can go minimal on the finishes? Not just distressed but incomplete? People might have been okay with the Emperor's Bermuda shorts, but they're not buying the new clothes.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:21PM
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Cawaps- LOL! Well, if you don't have room for the pool table island and Rat Pack can still watch White Collar and see the 'new' 60's Rat Pack style.

The main character "inherits" many awesome 60's suits and clothes, including the fedora. It's a fun show on USA...check out the trailer, at the bottom of the link :)

Here is a link that might be useful: White Collar

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:55PM
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But vernacular modernism would not be expensive or a one-off, if people accepted it more. There would be economies of scale. Some of the true modernist/minimal features--very little trim, full height doors, are expensive because there is no trim to cover gaps and if the ceiling isn't perfectly flat, the door scrapes. But these things can be managed or slightly modified to get the same general effect less expensively. I don't think the cheap subdivision houses are stylish at all for the most part, I think they are depressing--because they are a mishmash of too many disparate items on someone's checklist.

I would live in that pictured 60s architect vernacular with the blue orgy pit bathroom before I lived in a neo-revival facaded contemporary-interiored drywall box. And I think that house is kinda ugly. But at least it has a vision.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:20PM
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Palimpsest, that would be the marketing thing. It's selling people on the look. It's hard to sell modernist/minimalism, especially because a lot of it is really uncomfortable. People experience the bad stuff in public places and the mass producers can't sell somewhat comfier versions. And ogees are comfier to the eyes than no trim.

Re the subdivisions--here I'm talking about current ones--that might be true in your area. In a lot of places, they have the latest design trends, agreed often as a mishmash, but done up by designers to have whatever is current in/in the stores.

You mustn't compare your own highly educated and refined tastes to that of most budget conscious home buyers. While you're looking for architectural significance, point of view, and a well designed way of life, your average suburban family wants a space that they can afford that gives them some elbow room, with good closet space and garage space, flow, entertaining space, and a whizbang master bedroom, even at the expense of the kids' rooms (I hate this last particular trend).

For "design", they want nice curb appeal, neutral fixtures that they can decorate around, neutral interior architecture that their existing furniture will fit into, and into which they can picture a whole new Pottery Barn room, and the latest de rigueur finishes like granite tops and vessel sinks. It doesn't matter if it's cheap stuff, so long as it goes with the Pottery Barn aspirations.

Remember, these are people who want a brand new house because it's brand new. I was taught that a brand new house would take a lot of fixing as the systems shake down. At which point, one might as well fix up a fifty year old house that may need new wiring, but has settled in, has mature landscaping and a functioning neighborhood.

The "neo-revival facaded contemporary-interiored drywall box" is exactly what a lot of people want most, and for the people who would rather have a Craftsman bungalow, or a saltbox, it's what they can afford because it costs masses less to build masses of the same little boxes made of ticky tacky.

I think maybe you should come out to California too. We have lots of modernist houses that you could be happy in. :) High cost of living, though, so maybe not in the budget... But you could save one from crown molding and swagged valances.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:33PM
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Decorated refrigerators, did someone say? I saw this one online today.

I think the genius of this is that the black sides coordinate so well with the water/ice dispenser on the front, so it'll look OK even if you don't build it in.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:54PM
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The trouble with a glass box is there's no place to put the TV. ;-)

The photos of the Kahn houses make me drool.

I'm perusing real estate ads from the prospective city where I might move, and I notice that many real estate sites have a "Built after" option on their search engines. I'd prefer a "Built before" option because I am not interested in a house built after 1969 (and I'm skeptical about the 1960s houses). Somewhere along the line, houses started being built as disposable items. McMansions make me twitchy, but I'll agree that's what most people want.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:13AM
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OK. Too many good comments to respond to coherently. So you get this:

Marcolo, come to L.A. We have a whole genre of houses that were designed by set builders during off times. They're pretty classic, but well designed. And the sub-genre of "Storybook" houses are darned cute!

Yes, I know! I love them. And in a weird convergence of ideas with lavender's post below yours, the house I've always wanted to live in is the movie version of Bag End.

When I wear my Smiths Hatful of Hollow t-shirt now, I have to tell all the emo boys I bought it new.

For some reason Morrisey likes to come to Boston a lot. We have a great venue for '80s music--a big permanent open-air tent on the water, with very convenient beer stands and extremely clean bathrooms. It's perfect for us geezers when the B-52s come to town.

Anyway, I have to point out, pal--you baited us. You've shown us some interesting counterexamples of '80s design in this thread. But in fact, in your original post, all the kitchen finishes you showed came from the classic, hideous, 80s ticky tacky builder's kitchen, with shiny goldie phonie colonie brass, plus (gag) pickled wood and lots of beige. You knew what you were doing.

One of the reasons that the general public haven't embraced many of the design trends is that the marketeers can't figure out how to sell them.

Yes, because in other industries the marketing world has figured out this thing called "narrative selling." It's not about features and benefits and PowerPoints, it's about being able to tell a story. By the time you're done, your customer is there with you. The purchase is simply inevitable.

And look where that puts us--back to my comments about set designers and kitchen kits. In the '80s, those sleek kitchens were sold as: let's be futuristic, we're going to make everything new right now, listen to the New Wave thump. That's why people bought them. They weren't sold cabinets, they were sold on the idea of becoming the Terminator, or Gordon Gekko, and then naturally they needed a set design as backdrop to their new part.

Today the only storyline comes from House Hunters. "Real estate is an investment. Nuteral (sic) will appeal to buyers!" Yes, let's all just set motionless in our houses for ten years waiting for the next buyer to walk in. Don't live life, just stage it. That's a compelling and fascinating story for sure.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:42AM
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Marcolo, have you ever seen/played Dream Chronicles? It's sort of Bag Eng gone Art Nouveau splendor.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 1:55AM
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"Yes, let's all just set motionless in our houses for ten years waiting for the next buyer to walk in. Don't live life, just stage it. That's a compelling and fascinating story for sure."

And it's a depressing story. The change came about when houses ceased to be primarily a place to live to "The Biggest Investment you will ever make", and people started viewing it as their investment ladder, their only investment, their retirement fund.

Culturally we have become afraid of innovation (where would that have left the Victorians?) Afraid if commitment (what if I grow tired of it?) Afraid of strangers (what will the next buyer think?)

I understand that mobility plays a role in this, people don't stay in their houses as long as they would like...but enough, already. I am was getting to the point where I liked looking at real estate that was exuberantly "ugly", because at least the owners stuck to their guns. There is something to say for individualistic houses like this:

Here is a link that might be useful: The house that Beekeeper's wife posted

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:41AM
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Patrick Bateman's apartment:

Sam and Barbara Stone's house:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 7:03AM
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Palimpsest, I think you're right on the money [cough] about the "investment" and the mobility. "Resale" never used to be a watchword, but it's very important now, as in people really do sell their houses before the houses are worn out. I think "salable" should be important, as in up to code, inc. an oven, heater, windows, etc., necessary for a CO, but beyond that one could forego the nth thousand realized at sale for a lot of happy time in a personalized and lovely space in the meantime--but I'm not overextended. That is, I think a missing component to this is the change of housing being not more than a third of one's income to often being well over half, these decisions toward resale bang for buck truly are driven by the necessity to stave off financial ruin.

What's also unfortunate is that people get seduced by conflicting platitudes. Renting, and using the difference in the cost of homeownership and the rent to invest wisely, will have one better off in the long run unless one lucks into the top of a bubble of an overpriced market at the time of sale. But people get caught up in the idea of building equity instead of "wasting" rent, not figuring into it how little of their payment actually gets kept as opposed to paying interest. You have to stay put awhile to start building equity. People get caught up in the tax deduction for the interest, but most folks don't have enough of the right kind of income for that to be a real offset. For most folks, the deduction is a pretty small fraction of what they're paying in interest.

So, financial reality is squeezing them, aspiration is squeezing them, and every time they move they start paying all interest again. Speculation (buying low, selling high), can help. Some people who do it well can get rich, and others who just time their moves well can make it work for them, but plenty of people just sink under the weight of this "investment". Even without crooked bankers and irresponsible secondary mortgage markets.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 4:53PM
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Yes, what p111og said. There is such a false notion in this country that you have to own your own home. That renting is wasteful and that people won't deem you "successful" if you rent. That your house is not just a place to live, it's your money-making machine. And the feeling of many that they are somehow "entitled" to own a home, even if they can't really afford to own one. There is so much pressure to own in this society, and to own at a certain level.

When I was growing up, people rented for quite a long time after finishing school, then bought modest starter homes and gradually traded up if they were so inclined. Now you watch HGTV and see kids right out of school insisting not only on purchasing their own home immediately, but also that home must have granite and stainless in a so-called state of the art kitchen. Which you know they just can't afford. Part of it is that many are not old enough to have seen a seriously down real estate market, but it's not just younger people who have bought into all of this.

But back to the original subject, I'm in my early 50's and just bought my first house last year. I moved around quite a bit and didn't feel like getting into the buying/selling thing for each move. We looked for about 4 years before finding something we loved and knew we'd want to stay in. At the closing, when I was talking to our RE agent about all the color I wanted to do in our kitchen and baths, she warned me not to do color-- I should go neutral for resale. Resale? Sheesh, I'd just bought the place. It's a vicious circle.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:06PM
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Yes, there's a great deal of truth in these last few posts (although I certainly don't think it can be said of anyone alive in the US today that they haven't see a seriously down real estate market). I rented for years although I could easily have afforded to buy, just because mortgages, marriage, and bracelets all give me the same trapped feeling, but I took even more heck over not owning than I did over not marrying. "Gosh, no matter how little I made, I always managed to own something," or (during the frenzy), "Aren't you sorry you didn't buy your place? You'd better buy something now, because it will only continue to go up," and so on.

As for the resale bogey, it's kind of ironic--just read the "don't want trends" thread for a good example of how totally they've got people paralyzed about that.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 8:59PM
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I took even more heck over not owning than I did over not marrying.

Tell me about it. During the boom people thought I was a complete moron for renting. After the downturn I suddenly turned into a savant.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:14PM
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I was told I was stupid for not having a mortgage on a condo I owned.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I think a little part of the problem is that the modern, sleek, minimalist, interesting home design tends to be used in urban apartments and condominiums. Higher-end ones, to be sure. But for many people, there is a difference between a multi-family dwelling and a single-family house. The latter is supposed to be more substantial, more valuable, more permanent than the latter. So it is harder, for many, to be different, daring, untraditional in a ''house''.

Another issue, I believe, has to do with the character of the housing stock in different parts of the country. I'll apologize in advance, as I will sound quite elitist in what follows. But, offensive as it may be, here goes. People are more likely to desire, pursue, and achieve avant-garde, highly designed, unusual homes in areas where, on average, people are more educated, wealthier, and more surrounded by art, culture, international influences, and other inspiration.

In the US, that tends to mean certain geographical areas - primarily some large cities on the East and West Coast, plus some other spots. By and large, the housing stock in those places is kinda old, not old like Europe old, but old like 60 to 100+ years old. Think Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, even in the more upscale parts of Los Angeles much of the housing dates from 1920-1940.

So, how easy is it to gut out a 140 year-old Boston brownstone, a 90 year-old San Francisco Russian Hill Victorian, a 100 year-old Portland four-square, a 80 year-old L.A. Hollywood Spanish-style, and put in a forward-looking interior such as shown in some of the above pictures? Not that easy, there's a lot of barriers, not the least of which is being ''true to the house''. Easier when building new houses, but how many new houses get built every decade on Russian Hill or in Cambridge or name your high-education, high-affluence, high-culture area of those cities?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 12:21AM
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I agree to an extent.

There is only one suburb here that is known for its concentration of Modernist houses, and the smattering of other modernist houses that exist also occur in certain suburban zip codes.

In the small town where I grew up, there was, at one time, a large corporate influence (Read 'college educated executives from out of town'.) So, during a booming post war period, my town got a brutalist bank (complete with Warren Platner and Saarinen furniture in the lobby), a country club designed by a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright (admittedly a weak and not very practical imitation), and an organic-modern extended care facility.

From the get-go, no one there has ever really understood these buildings. The last time I was in the country club, the peacock clock was gone, the mahogany boxed and soffitted ceiling with shoji light fixtures had been covered with drywall and fitted with brass and glass fixtures that belong in a Greek Diner, there was a large colonial brass chandelier in the main dining room, and the Wright-esque built in sofas and knock off Saarinen Executive dining chairs had been replaced with Banquet room style furniture.

It went from being an aging 1960s time capsule (and not the best example of one) to an absolute monstrosity. The dining room has the shape of an over turned boat hull with a ribbon of windows all around, and its now tricked out colonial-traditional style despite this. Everyone loves it.

Likewise the organic modern nursing facility is tricked out with wallpaper and borders and strange victorianesque seating groups, and the bank has corporate Queen Anne all over the place. They basically took three dated and not outstanding public spaces and made them *really* hideous through a lack of understanding.

But 100+ year old houses get gutted here every day and turned into something contemporary on the inside, and a rehab that is "true to the house" is much rarer unless it's some kind of full-on restoration.

Contemporary, however, differs from modernism and most of these are a mixed bag of design vocabulary built to meet certain criteria (often implying traditional detailing to some degree) since they are spec houses. There is one re-developer that seems to be rehabbing in a more purely modernist way.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 4:48PM
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Well great! After days of reading this post, I finally figure out that SGTG is referencing a kitchen set in an actual movie! Just in case anyone else is as clueless as I am, here's some pics:

I left out the one with the massive 'fridge because it also features Jack Nicholson in his traipsing through in his underpants. Eew. If you want to see that one (or the rest of the kitchen and house), go to the site I borrowed these from.

Here is a link that might be useful: The rest of the pix

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 5:23PM
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Well, John, at least in L.A. there's California rebirth. :) Between fires and floods, some of the tony houses get a foundation up redo every 15 years (why do they let people live at the base of Las Flores Canyon?). :)

One can also start with (and save from gussifying folks who love the location but hate the architecture) one of the good lot of MCM's, Neutras, Lautners, a few Wrights, and at least one Koenig, plus a plethora of anonymous brutalist-lite atrocities. Mind you, I'd rather live in a Williams, or even a Greene and Greene, but then I'm more of a romantic.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 5:40PM
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It's a pretty kitchen, but did she have a maid? Those counters seem to go on forever!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 5:47PM
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off topic...
Have seen references to the power of the "Something's Got to Give" kitchen over the two years I've been reading the GW Kitchens Forum, usually in glowing terms. Seeing these photos again reminds me that I never really fell in love with that kitchen in the movie and always thought it represented "those" people who were unlike me. The best thing in the room to me was the art on the wall and in the dining room it was the display cabinets, mostly because I like displays of china and I like sit-down dinners.

Seems to me the movie kitchen was designed with islands to allow long shots of people who would seem to be purposefully occupied and conversing despite the size of the room and the color coordination with the white clothes, white pebble woman. I don't think I could be very happy in it, esp if I were a single woman.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 11:23PM
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The Something's Got to Give house is huge! I haven't seen the movie, but that's a lot of house for one woman...does she give a lot of parties?

Mcmjilly already posted a link, but I thought I'd post a few pictures from Baby Boom (same actress, same writer, from 1987). This is much more my style...and I just can't imagine Jack Nicholson being as wonderful as Sam Shepherd :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Baby Boom House

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 10:17AM
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and I just can't imagine Jack Nicholson being as wonderful as Sam Shepherd :)

He wasn't. In "Something's Gotta Give", the character played by Jack Nicholson was an overgrown playboy, arrogant jerk, who looked at women as nothing more than arm candy and playthings. And I won't say anything more about that in case you ever want to watch the movie.

I have seen SGG many, many times, and I am still in love with that whole house. Inside and out. *sigh*

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 5:56PM
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Shelayne- I doubt I'll watch SGG, but Baby Boom is one of my favorites...and Sam Shepherd is wonderful :)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 6:22PM
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