Pros, please share illustrated lessons?

kksmamaSeptember 19, 2013

We are so fortunate to have pros on this board who share solutions and ideas. To ask for more from them is forward - but I'll do it, anyway.

Could those of you with expertise please share? I have heard and can now repeat "match the style/period of your home" but I don't really know what that means. Can you share pictures that would educate us? Maybe of a backsplash fighting with a counter, or any misuse of materials/color/scale. We all want to see and copy great design, but perhaps would learn as much or more from an explanation of bad design. Tell us what NOT to do, please?

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Great idea KK!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 3:50PM
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Not going to publicly dis a clients taste. I never see a comment in a reveal like "what were you thinking?"
and I really don't have pics of the few that got away.

As to context- only the occasional job where the architecture dictates the style- more often the clients d├ęcor and home details do.
So it's fine to turn your raised ranch into a Tuscan villa, we're Americans and do what we want, besides the US is the home of Kitsch (hey want an Elvis room? :) Just be consistent.

Absolutely the single most useful thing I learned in design school-
never fall in love with your design- don't let a great idea ruin a design, use it another time

-step back and see the whole, get your nose out of the details now and then, especially finishes, just remember "God is in the details" (Mies)
-it's hard to get hurt with understatement- would you wear that combination to a formal occasion?
-understand what mathematicians mean by elegant
-from GW: only one clown
-Be cautious with elevations- will you ever really see that view (often-no)- they can tyrannize you
-symmetry originally meant balanced- bilateral symmetry means equal
-equal can bet boring- look for harmony
-bilateral symmetry is more important on uppers, the further you get away from the center the less it matters
-lining up objects in rooms- if you're doing the glass house in New Canaan by Johnson and do it that well then fine- if not, get over it.
-challenge all of your ideas regularly
-there are more kinds of contrast than light/dark-use them

Kitchen specific
-Avoid cabinets under 15" wide
-never leave less than 8" open at the top
-3" molding to the ceiling is wimpy
-more than 6" to an 8ft ceiling is overkill
-there are more choices than "crown" but be careful, understand molding design
-architecture is about space, give things room
-don't fill every inch of every wall
-give door casings at least 2" unless there is absolutely no choice, same for windows except to resolve backsplash finish (good reason to decide the splash eh)
-DO NOT line up uppers and lowers, it is amateurish and doesn't work
-don't place a bifold susan next to a range that sticks out
- fit the storage to the items and avoid stacking, drawers are nice but convenience comes first.
-for corners do the math before deciding something "takes up too much space", it usually doesn't
-avoid morgue tables
- avoid oversize runs of counter - horizontal surfaces without a dedicated purpose will attract things you don't want
-decide what goes on the counter ahead of time and locate it, find a place for the rest or it will migrate
-adding a 10 foot addition does not automatically improve a kitchen, just makes it bigger and costs more-plan it all ahead of time
-do you really need all that "stuff"

-There are no rules but follow the guidelines
-Everyone has some form of OCD- entertain it
-Fit the job to the client
-If a client doesn't do something I don't like I'm not doing my job properly"
-Don't scratch things that don't itch.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Yikes, jakuvall. I think my design includes a lot of your nevers. *gulp* I should have you look over my layout, if you are willing...

-Avoid cabinets under 15" wide
-3" molding to the ceiling is wimpy
-DO NOT line up uppers and lowers, it is amateurish and doesn't work
-don't place a bifold susan next to a range that sticks out

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:12PM
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Great list, thanks Jakuvall! What is a "morgue table"? Is it this island?

Contemporary Kitchen by Ottawa Architects & Designers Southam Design Inc

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Okay, I'm going to haul out the Design Around This threads (again). If you haven't seen them, they are an opportunity for folks to design around a theme--often a design style or specific era/style of home. The Real Estate REmodels thread should be particularly helpful since each poster was asked to design a kitchen for a real house from a real estate listing, and folks were asked to include exterior/interior pics to give context to the design. Other threads that were based on house styles/eras include 1920s, Queen Anne Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, and 1960s tract house. Design styles included rustic modern, French Country, "Tuscan", and Hollywood Regency. Lots of good examples (We did many other themes around other elements--animal prints, the color pink, golden oak cabinets--that don't fall in this category, but some of the designers still had a particular design/style/vintage home in mind for those. Palimpsest is particularly good about having the milieu in mind when designing his kitchens.)

I'm including a link to a specific thread. If you scroll down you will see a list of the topics we did with links to each. We've done a couple since then (bold patterned tile and beach houses), but I don't have my list of links handy. I will try to remember to update the thread with the complete list when I get home.

Here is a link that might be useful: About the Design Around This Threads

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 4:37PM
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Wow wow wow, jackuvall, I wonder how many people you've got staring at their new kitchens right now! I'm looking at my 3" crown and have decided it looks appropriately understated with my shaker cabinets, so this is the one where I didn't "take your advice" so you did a good job! The shy inch between the window casings and cabinets was forced, so I think I'm ok here.

Anyway, I love your post and it would be great to see other designers post similar generic lists here. Thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Thanks Cawaps. Those are interesting, but kinda a graduate course. I'm interested in learning what not to do, and pretty much need pictures.

I would love to find a counter fighting with a backsplash, I remember one awful green posted here but it may have been my monitor. And I'd love to see two or three "clowns" in a kitchen, whatever those are. Mostly I'd like to understand the logic/explanation for things that look good and those that don't. I know when something looks wonderful, or terrible, but the art of putting together "wonderful" seems quite mysterious. And I don't think I see terrible very often, but if I were taught I could then recognize it in my own house.

Today I sat in a kitchen I've spent hours in on other occasions, and noticed for the first time a combination of partial and full overlay cabinets, all-door lowers, and knobs that weren't aligned level. In a high-end model home, I've noticed full overlay that didn't, and inefficient pullouts instead of drawers. Never would've "seen" any of that before.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:15PM
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removed because of lynn_r_ct

This post was edited by palimpsest on Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 21:57

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 8:16PM
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Fori is not pleased

Jak, I'm not sure what 8" open at the top means. What's it mean? :)

As far as using more than 3" of molding to the ceiling, that may be true for modern and old homes, but surely it would be incorrect in many low midcentury homes. That brings you back to the original point--make it kinda go with the house.

But I'm afraid there won't be many images posted here. We don't save the bad ones. And we don't want to poke fun at others. Unless there is an organ-shaped island in the kitchen, but it's all good natured.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Okay, here are some home-grown examples of what not to do.

1) Mixing neutrals without paying attention to undertones, a.k.a non-correlated neutrals. This seemed to happen a lot with golden oak cabinets--they are really hard to coordinate with. Here I pulled in some pinky beiges with orangey cabs and paint with yellow undertones.

2) High-contrast tile mosaics with busy granite. Tile mosaics are really in right now, and they can really work in some settings. But they are really tricky with busy granites. Some of these almost work, but something else would be better. Put this in the "too many clowns" category.

3) Style mis-match. Here I've paired, on the one hand, rustic cabs with a super-elegant, feminine tile. On the other, I paired sleek, glossy, uber-modern, Euro-cabinets with a talavera tile, which would be better suited for a Spanish colonial syle kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 10:59PM
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Great lessons there, Cawaps. That bottom tile - that could work with the other tile and paint, right? And maybe even with the oak, if some gray were used? I'm fascinated by the mixing of warm and cool neutrals, but it seems very hard to do!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 5:51AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The big one not mentioned here, which to me is what a kitchen is all about is function. I don't care how lovely a kitchen is...if it doesn't function, what good is it? You need to design the layout in such a way that it accommodates the uses for which it was intended.

Things like DW that can't open all the way because the island is too close, or drawers that won't open because it hits the hardware on the abutting cabinetry, or fridges where the door won't open enough to get the fruit drawer out because it's next to a wall, or cooktops with no working surface next to it, or a fridge with no off loading space. And my pet peeve...barrier islands where roller skates are required to work efficiently to get from one appliance to another. And to me a corner lazy susan is so valuable, that I hate to see a kitchen without one when a small adjustment would've made an easy accommodation.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 7:23AM
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Yes, I do think that on my item 3, that if you swapped the tile between the two pics they would work. Talavera with rustic birch and the glossy white cabs with the feminine mosaic.

Annie, I agree that function is key. We've all seen pics of kitchens with major flaws. Unfortunately we don't save them! I remember seeing an Ikea model kitchen where there was a dent where the cabinet hardware banged into the adjacent wall (or panel, or refrigerator) every time you opened it. I think it was a horizontal bar pull on an upper and the lack of a spacer. I thought, "Note to self..."

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Sophie Wheeler

It's difficult to post pics of "nots" unless you do as Cawaps has done and do a mood board for them. Don't get me wrong, there are PLENTY of "nots" alive and well on the internet. People post photos of all kinds of sins. But, the net has a way of people finding their photos with them labeled "nots", and then they get upset, or someone completely unrelated gets upset, and the whole thing goes downhill because everyone starts taking it personally.

If I post a "not" of oak cabinets with an oak floor that exactly matches, and a mid brown counter that almost matches, and a mud colored wall, and use that as a "not", what usually happens is that someone who has that combo in their own home gets pissy about "haters". People who frequent these boards want to create harmonious rooms, but may have enough objective ability to remove themselves from their own emotional attachments to develop the discernment to "see" .

This post is really asking about the universal principles of design behind why something is a do or a don't. (Grab a few books from the library.) You can state those principles, and show examples of how you can use each to create harmony, and how they can be misused in the hands of someone who goes overboard using them. Some students find English classes easy, and math class hard. Some have skills in the reverse. And some students will never be able to "see" why designs work and they don't. Principles can be taught. They can't always be understood by the specific student.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 11:08AM
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If you haven't seen them recently, I suggest everyone look at the "design around this" threads. Excellent resources.

Cawaps thanks for reminding us of these and posting the link.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 11:33AM
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removed because of lynn_r_ct

This post was edited by palimpsest on Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 21:59

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Totally guilty of the backsplash and counter being too many monkeys. Unfortunately I let a "designer" convince me it would work. My wife loves it so it's not a total miss, but I'd certainly never do this combination again.

I've thought about this a lot, and I strongly disagree with the conventional wisdom of picking backsplash after counters. More than a couple feet away from the counters and you're seeing more backsplash, percentage-wise. Backsplash is what your eye is naturally drawn to. Ever wonder why so many people are stuck in ABB hell?

As for offending people, I can totally see that concern. I happen to be in a position where I don't plan to be in this house long, so I consider this remodel a learning experience. And learn a lot I did! Keep the insults flying! ;-)

(Editing to hopefully fix picture orientation. GW really needs to address this!)

This post was edited by foodonastump on Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 13:36

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Exactly, Pal. Be sure you're not parking a new Jag in front of a Delata sharcropper's shack.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 12:02PM
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These really speak to me at the moment:

jakuvall: "it's hard to get hurt with understatement"

and palimpsest: "Maybe you don't need *any clowns"

We are planning a whole house now (I think it's getting roofing this week, but it is still an open shell inside.) Floors are colored concrete, windows are black. I'm visualizing slab cabinets of Douglas fir, simple pulls, a relatively solid-colored quartz counter, SS appliances, and seriously considering a neutral, large format tile backsplash.

Sometimes I second-guess myself on whether this is all too understated, with no 'wow' factor, but then I remember that I don't wear much jewelry, either! I enjoy vicariously experiencing the search for the perfect stone with lots of "movement" or the decision among the many mosaic or handmade tiles available, though. I just question how long I'd personally be satisfied with looking at something so visually dominant. So I'm happy to see some support for the understated, no clown look! But yes, that is after all the functional aspects are covered-- back to staring at that corner by the fridge now...

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 12:20PM
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I agree with most of what Jakuval wrote, except I must disagree strongly about 3" crown molding. I specifically wanted no more than 3" molding, and wouldn't have it any other way. For me, bigger moldings are too fussy. It's a kitchen, not a den or library. For me, 3" is exactly the right height. That's just my taste. I remember seeing pics of Colin Cowie's chic elegant New York kitchen, and he had no crown molding at all.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 3:15PM
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That's pretty funny holly. Where I went to junior high, many years ago, pretty much looked just like that. Luxury cars in front of shacks! Even at 11 years old I thought it was ridiculous!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 3:23PM
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removed because of lynn_r_ct

This post was edited by palimpsest on Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 22:00

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 5:00PM
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As always, thank you Palimpsest.

Years ago, I saw a kitchen on this web site. The homeowner was quite proud of her simple modern black kitchen. The kitchen was pretty well done if you just looked at the kitchen.

This was in a spec colonial revival home with 6 panel white fiberglass/cheap interior doors with blinding white paint. First, the black cabinets simply clashed with the blinding white doors and windows. Even if she just toned the color down from black to dark wood color, the kitchen would have worked better.

My eyes could not get past the interior doors to really enjoy the kitchen.

The kitchen just did not work for me when that pantry door and snap-on mullioned windows were smack in the middle of the kitchen. I would have preferred slightly more transitional or traditional looking kitchen in that home. If she really wanted it modern, taking it to a more extreme modern level would have worked better. That would mean that she is flaunting her defiance by acknowledging that the styles are contradictions.

There is an art to how one pulls it all together. That is why some folks can make big bucks doing this well.

If you keep to the general style of the house by giving it a nod in design style, then it is much safer than defying the original style of the house.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 6:01PM
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3" molding stack-stirred it up with that.
foodanstump- made my day -VBG

I'm doing one now, at my suggestion, insets in a small room with cabinets to the 114" ceiling. It is the proper solution in this case. There are no doors taller than 36" though.
I've done 1", a lot of 1-1/2" mostly contemporary (ish) open top or to soffit where there is control. (no rules remember)
NOTE I'm not advocating big protruding 5" crowns, certainly not with 8ft ceilings. I use stacks with tame starters.

IF the comment makes people take a look at ceiling level, can they compensate with a 3" stack, judge what happens to the proportions of the cabinets doors, then good. Just pay attention to the entirety.

akchicago- True no molding but looks to be over an inch reveal, still I wouldn't do it don't like the cabinet door height. Different strokes.

foli-8" open- don't leave a tiny little 3" opening above the molding

kksmama-morgue table- more like 27 x 90, flat, on level, square, no breaks, toe tags in the top drawer.

as to learning-Saw a news bit on the tube where researchers claimed to be teaching creativity- interesting.

In school we studied what worked. Pretty much all of the "mistakes" pointed out to us were in our own projects.

We were shown what worked in art history and the history of architecture and design. Good place to get a handle on the "ABC's" The upside is you don't have to memorize 200 paintings by sight.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 6:04PM
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Hollysprings, I didn't even know there was such a thing as "universal principles of design" Is "rule of thirds" one of those (learned it here on GW, last month)?
You are right, of course, that different subjects come easier to different people. But basic math is taught to everyone, and most adults firmly grasp addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. If anyone ever tried to teach me basic principles of design I sure don't recall it! Perhaps I was a fish, and the lesson was bowling?

Here is a link that might be useful: remedial instruction in design principles

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 6:11PM
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Wow... This thread is a hoot. I can't even imagine walking into someone's home and being so "sickened" by their hollow interior doors to care one way or the other.

Luckily there are forums like this where people who are remodeling kitchen/bath/bedroom etc. can receive advise to make the remodel the best for THEM. If someone has offered suggestions and the OP has choosen something other than what YOU may have done, then drop it, that is what obviously made them happy. No good done by slamming someone's BS as being too busy or clownish, after it is on the wall. You don't live there and if they live in a fiftie's ranch and want a little bling over their brand new soaker tub, so be it (I want one too).

I think there are two issues that seem to be missing in this discussion. I don't know how many families walk into a newly purchased previously owned home with the money to renovate the entire house the way they would like it in their dreams. IMHO, you decide your personal priorities and spend what may be years and a boatload of money to get it the way you would like, if you can. If I love to cook and our family lives in the kitchen and that was what I wanted to do first, shame on you for remarking on my hollow interior doors. Honestly, if that is how shallow you are, I don't want you here, unless of course you are willing to write out a check for all those "design principles" I have violated.

IMHO - Too much attention is given to matching the design of the house to the interior of the home. There are fewer homes that are very design specific - i.e. victorian, craftsman, etc. In New England at least, when you buy a home in the middle class price range, there is no "design style". Most of the homes since the 50's have been built as inexpensively as possible. When you close the door you have no clue as to what style home you are in. If a traditional kitchen is what is calling your name, do it. No reason not to desgn your kitchen/bath/bedroom whatever the way your want. And leave those hollow doors right where they are. The'll be antiques one day!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 8:03PM
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And that's exactly why a thread trying to discuss design in any sort of theoretical or learning context can never get off the ground in this forum.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 8:28PM
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I missed the part about being sickened by hollow doors. Where is that?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 8:39PM
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Seriously? I loved jakuvall's post. She was able to give some general suggestions as to what design choices can HELP to make YOUR kitchen shine. It was done without arrogance.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 9:35PM
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I wasn't trying to stir up controversy with this thread, and now better understand the caution and diplomacy of the pros here. Remodels are a tricky intersection of money and emotion, with time pressure added.
I really appreciate the generosity of those who share their expertise with others. Please know that your gifts are appreciated, I learn new things here every day!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 9:52PM
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Jak, Pal, and any other you have any recommendations for books that discuss basic design principles for the lay person.....along the lines of Decorating for Dummies? Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 11:36PM
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This post was edited by romy718 on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 2:30

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:48AM
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Wow, lynn_r_ct, spot-on parody of what Hollysprings was talking about (Sep 21, 13 at 11:08). Touche!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 2:19AM
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robo (z6a)

I say ignore the very sensitive, they must be a minority, and keep on describing. It is very interesting at least for me, and I'm definitely living with a builder basic kitchen! Which does not match my house at ALL. I'm an adult so I can take or leave advice that doesn't apply to me.

My house is only 60 years old and could best be described as 'postwar plain' but in 1995 the previous owners stuck a screamingly 80's kitchen in it. During our reno I'm going to try for more plain and at least vaguely postwar. Nothing too fancy. Dh and I both like very modern kitchens but I feel our house isn't either old enough that it would be a cool contrast like in a parisian loft or new enough that it would fit in. I do love our house but architecturally distinguished it definitely ain't.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:06AM
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um--what is going on here? I see posts removed and sense some tension.
Can we agree to disagree?

I made the decision for OTR microwave---even though it has been blasted here on GW. But my kitchen is small, my budget was tight and it worked for me. Is it the funky hood I dreamed of? No. But I am ok with. Life is sometimes a compromise.

I think we are all grown ups here. I can read about someone's opinion, or design suggestions and make up my own mind about what works for me in my house and at my budget.

I assume most others can as well.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:09AM
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I agree with heidihausfrau, and I liked the removed post.
I know my house isnt 'designer perfection' but it is also not a show home nor does it desire to be one.
I do aspire to a greater understanding of design and I like the feeling of harmony and cohesion that comes to my house when I hit the balance correctly. I admire and appreciate the professionals on this forum that are willing to share their expertise with clueless individuals like myself.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:40AM
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Could you explain this one: "-DO NOT line up uppers and lowers, it is amateurish and doesn't work "

Also the bit about the clowns. I'm new here to GW and have no idea what these are!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:42AM
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Attention to scale. Can we address that? I believe that is relevant to some of the design issues we encounter in this thread and in design in general. It is relevant to the backsplash/patterned stone countertop discussions, the size of upper cabinets vs. lower cabinets, etc.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:43AM
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I am only posting once more to show that I didn't get banned by the moderators for having a flame-out, or just coincidentally disappear one day(as seems to happen).

The last time I was involved with a thread where someone like lynn_r_ct got self-righteous and indignant about something that was said in a post, I decided the next time it happened it would be the final push away from Gardenweb. Unfortunately, like a smoker who quits, I may have a relapse but in some ways I hope this time it's for good.

It's been fun most of the time, but it only takes a few people like this, out of many, to show me that the climate is changing, and more people are just interested in the self-validation that doing what THEY love because it's THEIR house, is always perfect. (Those posters always capitalize, so I did, too.)

Thanks, lynn_r_ct for the final shove. I'll find more time in my day now that I am not reading and posting on Gardenweb.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:58AM
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There are books but, honestly, any adjunct class on the history of architecture at a local college or university would be better. It's much easier to understand what's being talked about when there are slides vs old/no illustrations in a book.

Shelter magazines survive on giving do/don't tips and "here's how to understand x" stories. Or the ABCs of kitchen renovation. There is a lot of basic info out there.

The thing with kitchen design is that it's not rocket science but it is interior architecture because we expect "fitted" kitchens -- with cabinets built in.

So, from a conceptual standpoint, kitchens sit in an intersection of architecture, decoration and color theory with a technical underlayer of ergonomics (function) and the trades -- carpentry, electrical, and ventilation, fabrication, tile setting.

In general, homes in most parts of the country constructed before WWII tend (not always) to have a specific architectural style. So you get a cape, tudor, colonial etc. After WWII there were provisions made for veterans to own homes and builders began to put up houses, particularly in areas and states where there were large tracts of land available. That has continued and it's also why many homes today don't have a specific style. And then you have the regional building traditions during the 20th century -- colonial in New England, the arts & crafts bungalows in the midwest and pacific northwest, the 50s and 60s ranch, and mid-century modern homes in so Cal -- each of those can have a special design vocabulary.

So everyone starts from a different place. Taste varies wildly around here, as we know.

The two most valuable things design school taught me was to do architectural drawings and to conceptualize every project. Those two specific skills allow a designer to figure out what any room -- kitchen, bath, bedroom -- will/should look like before the project starts. It permits the project to be rendered and specified in advance via plans.

So, in theory, a kitchen reno shouldn't be an incremental process of choosing elements as the job progresses, leaving various decisions aside until the are must-dos. It should be a complete plan from the beginning.

That's the job of the pro, be it architect or designer. With a KD, usually (not always) they are specifying cabinets which drive the plan and everything else fits into that. That's accepted because cabinets are so often the most expensive component.
Some KDs can draw plans and function more broadly; some cannot (as we've seen).

A home owner can't be expected to have the same knowledge as an architect, designer or a KD. But we learn incrementally and as all of us know, once you've gone through the process of a kitchen reno, you get it. It's like a crash course. You know the drill -- sometimes, sadly, better than an architect, designer or KD and of course, sometimes not.

Advise and exchanges on a forum like this provides enough information for the owner to begin to grasp the spectrum of what it takes by getting answers to specific questions. Or by second guessing someone they have hired.

IMO, conceptualization and detailed development divides pro and not-pro approaches. For my apartment kitchen, before we removed a knob, there was a painting plan, appliance schedule, fixture schedule, counters and backsplash tile. Everything was chosen, ordered and it had all been shopped to get the best prices. Plus there was a color rendering done to scale (actual size). I knew exactly what it would look like before the job began -- and most important -- the contractor knew what it should look like down to every paint color and finish. He also had a specifications book. The rendering and the finished kitchen looked so much alike it was difficult to tell the two apart.

However, everything is a matter of option and taste. And I think it's impossible to teach taste -- what goes with what -- which is what the OP seems to be asking about. No one wants to be told that what they like is "wrong." And feelings get hurt easily so it isn't practical for someone to post a photo for critique.

The shortcut is being on a forum which is a form of crowd sourcing any topic. You'll get conventional wisdom and conventional taste. That's the cost of the DIY. Basically, anything someone wants goes.

So the corollary I've learned is that free pro "advice" is not always heard or well received. How many times can you tell someone -- in all good faith and based on your experience -- that what they want to do, or worse what they've picked, is not a good idea, or won't work, or is hideous, or the use is wrong. Jeff Lewis makes a living doing that on TV but IRL it's a zero sum game.

Meanwhile, the basic interior design textbook, for the last 30 years at least, is Sherrill Whiton and Stanley Abercrombie's "Interior Design & Decoration," Prentice Hall. It's on Amazon.

There's also "Authentic Decor, The Domestic Interior 1620-1920" by Peter Thornton.

But again, any class on architecture, art history, or interior design will begin a process of educating oneself about visuals in a different way. And the great thing is that it can be a wonderfully enjoyable lifetime pursuit which, I'm happy to say, it has been for me.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 10:39

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:04AM
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Yup. On days when one feels emotional or defensive the internet isn't a good place to be in general, and a thread on mistakes should be specifically avoided.

No thread can be all things to all people, and my intention for this one was that amateurs like me could learn from pros who can both use and explain "principles of design". They exist (news to me!), even if we don't like them, choose to ignore them, or resent the fact that others have more expertise and money with which to apply them. "Math" and "Grammar" and "Speed Limits" all exist, too. D#*nit.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:14AM
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Oh man, I enjoy Pal's posts so much and now he's been pushed away by somebody who had no business being in this thread anyway (note "pros").

To Pal (if he reads this) and the other pro's, there are many of us non-pros that read and learn and appreciate all the time and effort you provide to people who are trying to wade their way through design.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:21AM
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robo (z6a)

Someday I'll get my Sarasota modern vacation home with terrazzo floors, beamed ceilings, and that coastal mcm kitchen....*sigh* a girl can dream.

Thanks for the post rococogurl, that's good advice on taking a course.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Well, I removed my 2:30 am post last night stating that I was disappointed to see Palimpsest's posts were removed. I had never read them, wanted to read them & I thought the whole purpose of the forum was to gain knowledge & advice from others. Now, I'm really disappointed. I think this forum is so lucky to have professionals that participate. We just lost one.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:38AM
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I'm sorry to see you go, Pal. And I have hollow core doors. You bring an honest and educated perspective to all discussions, and I think we all could use more of your advice.

I hope you understand that every forum has its own self-appointed forum police. Nobody gave them a badge. You won't even know you're breaking one of their rules till you break it, and then they'll come riding over with their siren wailing. I ran across one recently for posting an off-hand remark about the cost of red stove knobs. Got called a troll by someone new to the forum who knows nothing of my history of posting. It's discouraging, but there's no avoiding it. I don't think it's due to a changing climate either as I've been a member of a forum for many years and it always happens. But like you said, it's only a few. If you enjoy helping others, don't let them stop you.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:46AM
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I agree with Romy. I didn't see any of the removed posts! I don't think posts should be removed--unless they are spam, or call someone names,etc. don't know what happened, but to loose someone who freely gives such good advice is sad.

Don't leave us, Pal!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:54AM
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Thank you rococogurl.
I do want to hear that things I'm considering are wrong but I don't want to just take anyone's word for it - I want to know why. I realize that some excellent designers wouldn't be able to explain. I'm deeply sorry that Palimpsest may choose not to continue here. His post on another GWers backsplash thread was hugely helpful to me. Hollysprings gave a terrific lesson on contrast in May. I realize that many amateurs do not want or need this type of instruction, either because they have sufficient talent to get beautiful results without it, or because they are uninterested in beauty beyond function.
I thought a narrowly defined thread could be helpful to others like me, and that those who didn't enjoy it could ignore it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hollysprings on contrast

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:22AM
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I read the posts before Pal deleted them - and they included important points, without pointing a finger at anyone.

I'm sick that Palimpsest is bowing out and have benefitted from this poster's specific feedback to my specific project.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Will histrionics work? Come back Pal, I'm having a curtain crisis!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Well, that's just a darn shame. I, too, felt Pal's posts were helpful. If you don't want to hear that your high-end kitchen is out of sync with the rest of your house, then for goodness sakes - stay away from threads that are directed at pointing out mistakes people make. And don't ever try to sell, because you'll hear the same thing from a realtor. Sometimes we need an objective, experienced third party to show us where we've strayed, or to help keep us on the right path. I have personally learned a ton from GW contributors and avoided a number of mistakes in my kitchen reno thanks to others who will willing to share theirs. Even so, I have a couple of goofs so here goes:

1) An upper cabinet door swings into a hanging pendant over the peninsula. Yep - I feel like a real do-do for this one. (see pic)
2) The pantry doors hit the wall when opening.

Argh. Even when you think you've got everything perfect, there are little things that slip by.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:26AM
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I'm not a pro, so just thanks to Kksmama for starting a particularly informative thread and to all the pros who contributed. I need a place where I'll find it to store Jakuvall's list. Those are not rules, as indicated, just guidelines that work more a lot often than not--but I think it'd be hard to go too wrong if one were checking against a list like that.

Pal, I read any thread I think you may be contributing to, and of course all those you start, so please just take a nice walk and have a tall drink. You know, for wide open forums that attract literally hoards of people, don't you think we actually add up to wonderfully giving and civil mobs? As mobs go? :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:08PM
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Although I can't find it now, somewhere in buehl's "sticky" it warns to have a thick skin because people will post what they feel. I'm here for advice, not a mutual adoration society. Doesn't mean I have to like everyone's advice, or follow it.

Pal, WHEN you come back, feel free to use the picture of my expensive backsplash as an example of "tortured finishes" any time you'd like. No, I didn't love reading that, but you were right and I hope someone can learn from my mistake.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:08PM
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Thanks mama.

I agree a designer should be able to say why -- that's the value. But most of the time no one asks.

I wish I could recall "what makes you say that?" or "can you explain the details," or "why this vs that," in response to something I posted. I honestly can't.

What does come to mind is no response -- even to a question. There also can be denial, defensiveness or at worst a snipey comment about a suggestion, or even facts. It should be possible to have a discussion and disagreement without an argument.

Sometimes I'll suggest something someone doesn't want. Like a change of faucet with a certain sink because it's clearly obvious to me that the faucet chosen isn't a good match from an application standpoint or it isn't visually great. Posters aren't shy about saying they don't want/like something, or what they must have. There is almost never a follow up question of why the suggestion is being made -- just dismissal.

Of course there are folks who appreciate expertise and Pal made a super contribution with "design around this" threads, which let everyone in on the fun. And it should be fun -- that's the only reason to hang around. Without the satisfaction of sharing knowledge it's easy to understand why Pal might need a break -- hopefully just for a while.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:56PM
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I should dig up my original kitchen planning threads from back in the day. I was guilty of wanting a sleek ultra modern my 1990 suburban builders grade home. I recall that I was very tactfully told that I was being an idiot....haha. But after a few moments of discomfort, I listened to the advice and ended up with something much more cohesive and pleasing and yes, FITTING, to the style of the house. I was greatly appreciative of those that steered me away from a costly mistake. Some of the suggestions I got, I took, some I didn't. But how awesome is it that people who have been down the same road 1-100 times are willing to take the time to give these suggestions.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Amen. I'm not here to be told what people think I want to hear. I am well out of my expertise and trying to DYI. I highly value people who are willing to take time out of their lives to give me HONEST feedback. Even when it isn't what I want to hear. Even when there is disagreement, which is actually also helpful.

Especially because I've gone in circles and still am flailing around without a cogent vision for this darn kitchen...

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Ugh. I read this thread last night and found it very enlightening, including Pal's deleted posts. I am truly disappointed that it turned ugly.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 2:41PM
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I have been lurking around this forum for quite awhile reading and learning and learning some more. I'm still in the idea gathering phase and while I haven't yet asked for specific advice I am so grateful that there are pros and others here willing to help the "design challenged" folk such as myself. Heck, I'm grateful that by reading through all these posts I have learned that I am design challenged!
So many thanks in advance... to everyone with the fresh eyes or the skills that I don't have..... taking the time to share their knowledge and experience. And to echo kellienoelle, How awesome is that?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Palimpsest... don't go. :(

Heaven knows I've gone from this initial dreamboard 2 years ago:

Hack ack *hairball*..

To this, now going to be installed soon:

And a layout that I think will be wonderful which I'd never have come up with on my own. Ever.

And this is thanks to GW, the pros and the regular folks. Watching and reading and asking and listening. People do have to move on from here understandably but to lose someone like Palimpsest is a big loss for current and future renovators.

This post was edited by deedles on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 17:41

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 3:47PM
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It truly amazes me what people are willing to tolerate and excuse when freebies are involved.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 4:09PM
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Double post

This post was edited by sherri58 on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 16:51

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 4:47PM
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Oh, no, did we just witness the end of an era?? Goodbye, pal. :( You've taught me so much and have been so generous with your time and experience. But I hope the draw of GW brings you back.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 5:14PM
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It truly amazes me what people are willing to tolerate and excuse when freebies are involved.

Exactly what do you mean?

Great posts, Roc.

I enjoy reading threads where I can learn, but am not as involved with GW as I used to be since those threads are getting few and far between.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 6:20PM
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Pal. Seriously? If you are so sensitive to my remarks that you are willing to retroactively remove your posts and blame it on ME (middle school), then perhaps there was nothing there of use. All I said was that ideas and "guidelines" can be offered without arrogance like Jakuvall.

I will slink away like the snake certain posters, seem to think I am so Pal, it is okay to come out from hiding. I will continue to be a lurker, there is so much to learn. I love this forum and don't want to miss a thing - the befores, the afters, and the whys.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:09PM
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This is one post I will not read - so you are wasting your time if you think calling me out is necessary or will accomplish anything. Just continue on with your discussion as you see fit, which was always an option for you from the beginning.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:25PM
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No, no, this is a big tent, room for everyone. We just all of us need to remember it's a soiree, not a rugby game.

As in, "What an interesting idea. Thank you." :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:30PM
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There are a lot of gems in this thread (some of which were removed.) I hate to see that. Another example of communication gone awry in this virtual world, where it probably would not have in real life. I'm actually impressed at how rarely things get snarky here, given how diverse our tastes are.

I find it instructional to look at what works and what doesn't in designs and especially to think about the why. Although I'm probably in blissful ignorance of some of my own brilliant ideas that don't work!

Some of this reminds me of fashion (another subject I'm no expert in). While I could not personally put together an outfit mixing stripes and plaids, if I declared that a design "rule," someone else would come along, pull it off, and throw in polka dots to boot! Some would find the combo "fresh, liberating, stimulating," while others would find it "jarring, over-stimulating," and someone would surely think "clown vomit." Oh well, if all 3 could articulate the "why," it could still be an interesting and informative discussion.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:47PM
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I'm feeling pretty bad right now; I read the start of this thread days ago, and just checked in again. I missed the posts deleted by Palimpsest, but I've been reading here for years, and frankly I can't recall any posts by Palimpsest that were not educational or helpful. I have never seen arrogance.

In fact, Palimpsest's posts are among those I watch for the most, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

I come here to learn, and to benefit from the talents shared freely here. I understand that differing opinions will be presented; that's part of the learning process, and it's why I spend time here!

Palimpsest, I hope you will eventually reconsider. I'd really miss your presence and contributions here. I need you. My house is a wreck. Please.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:50PM
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(Pulling myself together) back to the topic of architecture dictating style...

This topic always perks up my ears, since my current house is a frankly weird blend of mid-century/southwestern/spanish revival on a budget. A blend of some really nice expensive features, mixed in with some questionable choices that were apparently made when nobody had any money (or brain cells) left. I am sure the folks who built it in the 60's had a ball, but it's had us scratching our heads for 8 years now.

I like this thread because it does discuss the reality that acknowledging a home's style can, at times, be helpful, to the poor tortured souls living within, who are pulling their hair out trying to choose light fixtures that won't look goofy. Believe me, I've tried ignoring "who" this house is, and I lost the fistfight. So we're entering another round of sparring.

On the other hand, I think this thread has also been very accepting of the fact that, ultimately, we all find the materials and styles that we enjoy living with...the solutions that fit our families, and our budgets, and the way we live inside the walls.

Please carry on. I love these conversations, great food for thought. Sincere thanks to everyone contributing.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 8:08PM
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I would also like to hear the answer to this Q from cevamal that got lost in the shuffle:

"Could you explain this one: '-DO NOT line up uppers and lowers, it is amateurish and doesn't work."

Does this mean that you don't have a 15" door above a 15" drawer stack or what? Is there something visually wrong about that, or do you just mean don't be a slave to it?

"Also the bit about the clowns. I'm new here to GW and have no idea what these are!"

Cevamal, the way I understand that is that the "clowns" are individual items that draw a lot of attention. So an extreme kitcheny example would be a very busy stone alongside a high contrast backsplash and a crystal chandelier. Pick one. It is not meant to imply that any of the individual elements are "clownish" on their own. That's the way I think it's meant, anyway.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:19PM
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Sorry to hear palimsest, understand though, I left for several years.
Lining up- primarily don't be slavish is correct. Doing so ends up forcing small. Cabinet sizes and an excess of doors.
However even when it is easy to do think twice, no don't think that is what caused the problem to begin with. Someone thought up a rule, they made it up, line em up.
Look instead, and look at alternatives. Changing the siize relationship can often be more interesting, dynamic. At the same time it frees you to consider ffunction first.
Not at a computer so a verbal example- -54" run-L to R- uppers 3" message center opens to aisle, 18" wall, 27" micro, 3" filler then the fridge panel. Base- first instinct?
24" DB and a 30" DB. Turns out it looks better (in 3D and IRL) putting a 33" -3DB then an 18" -4 DB. Depending on function those can be shifted. Recently had two very similar and both clients preferred the look of the "not aligned".

Always look and challenge. Design is a process of back and forth (with a nod to rococogurls comment) of course you do have to decide and not continue to waffle. That is what the word means- to design-ate.

I'll try to get to the other lost question,scale, later.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:56PM
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I agree with lori_inthenw.

I understood the reference to "clown" more as in class clown, an individual who draws a lot of attention (and sometimes because they're frankly sort of interesting.) So, I took this to mean that a cobalt blue farm sink could be a clown, or a lushly colored range, or a strikingly bold mosaic behind a range...and so forth.

I don't interpret clown in a negative sense at all, in the above posts.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Ah, the example of class clown really clicked something into place for me, let's see if I got it?
A gathering of people, or elements, can be pleasing and feel right when there is a dominant focus (the leader or speaker in a group) or when there are a few somewhat equally attention getting personalities playing off of each other in a harmonious way (a panel discussion, or cocktail party) .
A fight or clash results when forceful elements/people do not fit well together - like a party when one boor makes a provocative political statement and another fights back by slamming his religion.
And perhaps a thought that Pal shared about things being "equal" rather than having a star or splurge in a kitchen is also like a party or a family portrait: everyone should be dressed to a similar level of quality and formality. Maybe some kitchens don't have a "star" (like the bride in a picture of a wedding party) and some parties don't have a guest of honor?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 7:38AM
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Here is, so far as I know, the original "clown" discussion.

Here is a link that might be useful: too many clowns

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Thanks so much, chesters_house! I missed that wonderful thread entirely (gonna go back and re-read it, as it strikes a chord with a tile issue I'm considering.) Here is florantha's good quote in that thread:

"During my overlong thinking process regarding our kitchen addition, I developed a concept called "how many clowns in a room?" What I mean here is how many strong presences can an interior decor tolerate. One clown is great entertainment, too many clowns and I go sit in another room; no clowns and I'm unsatisfied."

One of the great strengths of this forum is that it is (as Rosie said) a big tent. I've learned there are many ways to end up with a well-designed kitchen...not just one way, and the incredible variety in the finished kitchen blog bears that out. I've seen kitchens here that were perfectly finished (in my opinion) by just the right final addition of a strong element. I love those rooms, they always make me smile!

I've also seen stunning kitchens that were cohesive collections of many well-considered elements that worked well together, without one element stealing the show. Flawless serenity. Ahhhhh.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:01AM
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It's interesting that the clown theory has become a well-accepted GW design principle, but the original poster disagreed with that advice.

One thing I've seen is some people don't think of their cabinets or flooring as a clown. They may have a heavily grained wood, which IS a pattern, or an ornate cabinet door style, or a floor tile with pattern. People post for help without showing those other elements, as if only the counter and backsplash need to coordinate. Without knowing a thing about the rest of the room, people will give advice telling them it's perfect.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Rococogurl---thank you for the books you suggested! I really enjoy design but have no artistic bent whatsoever. Just knowing the basics of scale,color etc. would help.

Lori--totally agree that the written word can be easily misconstrued. I hope Pal will come back. I think most of us enjoyed and valued his experience and take on things.

I was on GW quite a bit at the end of 2011 into 2012 when we were redoing the kitchen...then I didn't participate for quite a few months in 2012-2013 (busy getting ready for son's wedding) and came back several months ago. From my experience, I think 99.9% of us mind our manners here. I was royally reamed out a few months ago for a thread I started......I had intentionally in the Subject put a word in quotation marks which automatically changes the this case less harsh and more colloquial than the real word....most people got it and came to my defense....but one reader became very offended and vowed not to return to GW. I apologized, even though it was clear she did not understand the gist of the thread, and it did upset me, but I was not going to let one person spoil my fun.

When people post pics and want advice/help, I don't think they normally get offended if people "slam" their ideas because from what I can see it is usually done in a very nice way. I appreciate the honesty and like the fact that so many sets of eyes are weighing in and seeing what I may not see.

I think we can all politely agree to disagree when necessary.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:43AM
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"One thing I've seen is some people don't think of their cabinets or flooring as a clown. They may have a heavily grained wood, which IS a pattern, or an ornate cabinet door style, or a floor tile with pattern."

I totally agree with this. My saltillo floor, with hot yellow-orange-reds, and bold mortar lines, is a clown, to me. Sometime in the 80's our cabinets were painted a saturated country, to my eyes, our kitchen is currently a clown fistfight. But with the right changes to cabinets/counters, the floor will be an asset.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Now I want to know what joanie's offending word was!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 3:06PM
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joaniepoanie was actually in the Home Decorating forum. Someone had started a thread about design trends we love and I flipped it and started a thread about design trends we "hate." Purposely put "hate" in quotes to take it down a few notches as hate is a strong word. One person thought the whole thread was mean-spirited and I/we were making fun of people's decor choices by saying we didnt like gray walls, or faux paint, etc...that was never my intent at all...just to let people voice their dislikes of current trends we see everywhere and are maybe tired of. Everyone could site things in their own houses that others had said they "hated"---it was actually pretty funny and most of us were not at all offended if 10 people "hated" our gray walls or SS appliances or white cabinets.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 3:48PM
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I remember that thread now. Lots of undercover officers in HD! You have to be very careful and almost apologetic when you give advice.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Thanks for the clarifications! Those were both kind of my guess but I couldn't be sure.

I just checked my design and the cabinets don't line up, so "phew!" :D

At this point I have no clowns. We're looking at fairly neutral wood floors, white cabs, white appliances, and soapstone counters. I'm thinking the backsplash will be the place to bring in the clown but I can't even begin to think about it yet. I absolutely do not have an eye for this stuff, all I can think about is the fantastic storage space and wide expanses of counters!

It's unfortunate this thread has gotten so heated, it's been a wonderful source of information. I have hollow core doors. So what? It's an 80s split foyer, it's never going to be the pinnacle of class. That's part of the challenge of doing the kitchen, not "over designing" it for the house. I want a kitchen that I love and works the way I want and need it to without it looking completely out of place in both the house and the neighborhood.

If I'm doing something stupid I want you to tell me! Yes, it stung to have my design torn apart and be told I "couldn't" have the one thing I'd always dreamed of: a cooktop in the island. But instead of storming off I took a long hard look at my design, thought through the REASONS why it was a bad idea, and eventually agreed.

Now I have a design I'm even happier about and utmost confidence in it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 9:40PM
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I'm very sorry that Pal has left. To me, Pal's posts were always interesting, thought-provoking, and educational (not that I always understood everything that he was saying, since I don't have a creative bone in my body).

A belated "thank you!" to Pal and hopefully *not* too late "thank you!" to all the Pro's and experienced folk here for their contributions to GW!


    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 10:06PM
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This post was edited by peony4 on Tue, Sep 24, 13 at 0:18

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:06AM
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This is really sad! Pal was great and so generous with his advice and knowledge. The comments from lynne_r_ct were frankly not helpful and did not add to this thread.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 2:10AM
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Well, Pal's not exactly dead yet, which a visitor might well assume from some of the comments. We all get tired of things. Hopefully after a short break, whatever's intriguing or irritating him at the moment will bring him back for a little light cerebral exercise with his friends here.

"Clown fistfight," Mudhouse? Can't beat that for getting the image across. It struck me as an effective way to keep visitors out of the kitchen. :)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 6:58AM
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Pal, I will always be grateful for your manifold contributions to this forum. I will always think of you warmly.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:08AM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the clarification, Jakuval. I don't like little gaps above cabinets. Never had a flat enough ceiling to pull it off nor a big enough house to spare the space.

Guess I missed the discussion and now it's a little spacey but I'm relieved the clown isn't referring to the clown puke floor y'all convinced me not to get way back when. I think I asked "Is this floor tacky?" and I was assured that yes, it was.

But once something is installed, we do try to be more diplomatic.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:48PM
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I am one of the design challenged persons here and have always found Pal's posts very helpful and easy to understand. In fact when this thread started, I quickly read through what was written and thought if I weren't in such a hurry I would clip Pal's entries. So today, having more time, I came back to clip them and am so very disappointed to find the entries deleted and Pal leaving GW. This is a most discouraging turn of events!!

Please all you pros on GW -- please please stay and help flounders like me out. You are much appreciated and valued. We need you.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 2:26PM
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