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The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Posted by palimpsest (My Page) on
Fri, May 24, 13 at 17:46

I have noticed in many threads that dated seems to be automatically equated with ugly.

I don't think this is necessarily true, I think they are two different qualities.

I often also feel that the most dated element of the kitchen is called out as the culprit, but that is not necessarily the case, it's the partial updates that are incompatible with the original kitchen that are uglier, or the combination is ugly because the dated element is trying to be "compensated" for somehow.

Finally, when it comes to updates and not full remodels, the owner of the kitchen is almost uniformly encouraged to transform the kitchen into something that may be "current" but is often blandly generic, something belonging in any issue of 1001 quick fixes, or some big box store.

I think this repeats the cycle, because when it is no longer current, it becomes "ugly" again.

I think this could warrant discussion if anyone is interested.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I'll bite. I moved into my house 22 years ago, and due to finances, could never do a complete renovation that it needed until now.

The kitchen had wood paneling on some walls, and the POs put contact paper on the other walls and above and below the wall cabinets. The POs also refaced the cabinets with cream laminate and put in white counter tops. They also put a wall cabinet over a counter top with no lower cabinets next to the fridge and had a florescent light fixtures.

Over the years, I made these incremental improvements.

Took off the contact paper and paneling, fixed the plaster and painted.

Took out the light fixtures and put in new ones with a ceiling fan.

Took off the wall cabinets above the fridge and the weird on the same wall that didn't have a base cabinet. I then put in a solid maple hutch.

Took down the pendant cabinets that were over the peninsula, and hung a pot rack.

Took off the doors from some cabinets to make things easier to get to.

All of these changes made the kitchen more functional for me. Now that I have the funds to renovate, I know exactly what works for me, what style I like, and what is worth spending money on. I don't mind spending money on good cabinets, but don't see the need for a $4K cook top.

I want to go with a look that fits my 60s Brady Bunch house, but still has my personality. I cook quite a bit, so functionality is my first priority. However, I have very artsy fartsy tastes, so I will be paying very close attention to finishes and color.

I do think there are perfectly functional kitchens getting gutted out there, that just had an unfortunate choices made regarding the finishes.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Only the kitchen you started with fits the post theme, LoPay. From there it's all personalized.

I can't post a picture for fear it might end up hurting someone's feelings, but a nearby kitchen certainly illustrates this. Attractive medium-dark 1980s or 90s wood cabinetry with golden lights and pretty grain when the light hits it, better than builder's grade, with lighter speckled brown granite that matches nicely.

Unfortunately, agreeing with well meaning advice, the happy newlywed buyers decided to start bringing this "grandma's house" up to date by replacing the inoffensive cream 4x4 ceramic tile backsplash with something from a big box store: They chose a taupe-gray stone mosaic, which they set with a reddish brown glass to tie into the rest. The backsplash mosaic, the store version of which could be attractive in a very different setting, now not only clashes with cabinets and counter, but with itself.

And with the new dark, cool-brown "hand-scraped" engineered floor they laid in the kitchen only (existing beige plush carpet elsewhere) to replace the out of style tile floor. With an adaptor edge to keep people from tripping over the additional thickness. Every element is quite nice in itself, the entirety a low-speed train wreck--on which they get many kind compliments of course.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

function is number one but also includes by definition the way the space 'works" in the home and the lifestyle...not just the specs and layout of the space. Many times, once the glaring reality of what is there and where the owner wants to take the plan is figured, a gut job ensues because of many issues. Once the project has that scope the stickershock becomes the regressive player leading to inhibited choices and cutbacks or compromises....that's when lackluster or bland/sterile sets in. Things are expensive.....people have to do research/budget scrutiny/have a vision/be willing to do some work as well. Many times a good kitchen designer will be the best route for some people,but designers
are not a guarantee of anything. People have to know how to "read" what is being suggested and challenge and ask about it.I think the "good" renovations these days are fabulous in their originality/quality of materials/style and enhancement to the home and life of the occupants.But the reno's with mistakes/too many compromises/lack of detail are unfortunate because of the capital outlay involved with any renovation.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Often though, when no changes are made to the layout, the cabinet finish or style is singled out as the culprit.

White paint and updated, but often inappropriate hardware follows. Then a trendy, but often too busy and unpleasant backsplash is added. And from what I have seen in looking at a lot of real estate--is that people don't paint very well.

There is a tendency to ignore or overcompensate for what remains of the "dated" in the partially updated kitchen rather than to work With the elements that are kept, and I think when this happens, the various elements do each other no favors.

When a gut remodel is done, I think a less expensive, better looking kitchen could often be obtained if people weren't funneled toward the "must haves" of granite, hardware as the "jewelry" of the kitchen, and the fully tiled or stone-tiled backsplash complete with accents.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Exactly Herb. I did all of those improvements my self and thought out what else would have to get tampered with, and the best sequence. I paid cash for every thing, and did most of the labor. I am now at a point where nothing else can be done. BTW I am keeping my current tile floor for this renovation, because that is easy to replace later when I can pay cash.

However, I am going to work with an interior designer who will oversee ordering cabinets and counter tops, instillation, create the layout, and chose finishes. This will be the only renovation that I ever do. We are near retirement, and doing other renovations on the house so that our final years here will have less maintenance.

I have a budget, and I am pretty sure that I won't go over budget by more than 2K. I did a lot of shopping and reading to get my budget before we figured out what to borrow. We had zero point zero debt, but we got a great fixed rate loan.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

We are redoing our 1970's kitchen, keeping the same footprint (I am used to using this after 45 years!) and just upgrading cheap cupboards, adding 18'' to our peninsula with drawers underneath for spices, etc. Yes, I do want granite countertop to replace the original formica, as well as undercounter lighting. Floor is palomino colored ceramic tile my husband installed years ago and I still love it. Sink will be new S/S with new faucet (yay!) and new dishwasher.

For our house (and neighborhood), this will work great for us, it's within budget, and I am thrilled.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Pal, I wonder whether "dated=ugly" depends on the date (and whether that question reveals my age), or maybe just the builder's tastes?

I find kitchens from the 60s and earlier to be sort of cool (perhaps because they predate me?) and those of the late 70s - 80s to be sort of awful. In my head I'm thinking of CA builder's kitchens with wood veneer cabinets that have that white melamine strip instead of hardware, and white tile counter tops, or (save us) horrible dark green marble tile floors and brass in bathrooms everywhere... Is there a way one can be true to those dated aesthetics and make them not ugly?


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Dated is often ugly. But it is usually combinations that are ugly, not necessarily the individual elements.

Also (not that it helps the current owner), the dated things that are ugly were often Always ugly and in rather poor taste.

The ugly wallpaper borders that people are taking down now were Never very attractive, and they weren't ending up in Architectural Digest at the time they were put up either. They were the lowest common denominator when it came to taste--and if people hadn't been trend chasing they may have noticed how ugly they were at the time.

My feeling is that people are doomed to repeat history. They are combining things that they don't see the potential ugliness (of the whole combination) in, because they are looking at the trendiness of it


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

It has a great deal to do with HGTV. Who pays for these shows? Lowes Home Improvement. Moen faucets, Shaw flooring, and so forth -- they're the advertisers. They want people to buy, and so they've pushed the idea, "Oh, that's so dated! We'll have to change that right away!"


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

EAM44, if you check the library for decorating books and magazines from the 70s and 80s, you'll find there was also very, very good design in homes of those people who purchased it. Of course, not all of it will be recognized as such.For instance, these days even fine wood paneling tends to be regarded as regrettable and painted or removed. I's out of style. Plus, some fine design was just too adventurous and/or organic for the more conservative period that followed. (And no, I'm NOT thinking of splintery old barn siding used for kitchen cabinet doors here. :)

As far as kitchens go, though, in those days even people who could afford it didn't tend to drop the equivalent of $40K on a kitchen, much less others pull the money out of retirement savings. The culture was different, and of course technology was not yet providing the middle class with the option of stone counters.

In any case, to "be true to" that era, go find the good stuff and take your inspiration from that.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

It doesn't take long for a kitchen to look dated. Even some designed five or so years ago are beginning to look dated. No drawers? Dated. 12" tile? Dated. Backsplash mural? Dated. You know what's coming next--white Shaker cabinets? Dated. Crystal chandeliers over the island? Dated. Two-toned kitchens? Dated. Every single backsplash tile, from subways to glass to travertine to mosaics, has been called dated by GWers. I think tiled backsplashes themselves are on the verge of becoming dated.

I think the over-appointed kitchen will soon be dated. People forget that it's a greasy, messy, wet workspace first and put impractical materials into the kitchen. Many people who do partial updates take the most showy elements of those $100,000 kitchens they see on HGTV or Houzz and add them to their old cabinets, which usually weren't such good cabinets in the first place. That's where the ugliness comes in. They end up with two levels of materials in one room. And so often I see them being encouraged to do so by the "experts"--members of the GW Kitchens forum, aka perfect strangers, who are only so happy to suggest $100 a square foot backsplash tile to go with their new marble counters.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I think there is an aging process that things go through. Perhaps less so today when cars so look alike, but when I was growing up, it was very easy to look at a car and know what year it was, or at least close. So you bought the car and it looked great and everyone was delighted. Then it started to age, friends got newer cars, the style started to look "dated" and then tired and then downright "you still driving that old heap?" Except for the wise few who kept it in good shape and hung on to it. After about 20 or 30 years, it started to look cool and classic and retro and rare and valuable as an antique. And what was hot, then not, became hot again. (I see this a lot at car shows where the aging baby boomer today is finally delighted to own that Oldsmobile 442 or the '64 Mustang he lusted after as a teen.)

I've seen the same thing in furnishings. I really hated the oak sideboard my grandmother had. I thought it was dark and dull and too chunky and unattractive. Of course at the time I had no idea it was craftsman and that the style would become so hot again....but not until after it was long gone from our possession.

I really hated that blond modern furniture my mother had when I was growing up. It never made sense to me. Of course now what we considered dated 50s crap is suddenly reborn as MCM and in big demand.

Of course this is not true for all pieces. There is variation. Everyone so saved National Geographics as "they will be valuable some day" that you literally can't give them away. Corvettes were always going to be classics and a high proportion of them remain in pristine condition. Some pieces were too fundamentally ugly even at the time to ever deserve revival, and some pieces even at the time were too beautiful to ever go out of style. Some pieces are good enough in design that a revival fits nicely in contemporary design.

I think the age of the buyer has a lot to do with it. I know some love those drum shade lamps, but I can't get over seeing them when I was growing up, reeking of tobacco smoke and the fabric drying out so the edging was starting to peel and being so delighted when we finally got rid of them. A younger person would have no such association.

I remember growing up and listening to the oldies on the radio. It was a real shock to me the first time I realized that I was now old enough to remember what is now considered an "oldie" from the first time around. I guess music is the same way...it goes from hip and modern to old to great revival...but some of it never goes out of style and some of it never will get revived. (Anyone remember, take me to your ladder, I'll see your leader later?)


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Sure, but will a shaker door Ever be Ugly?

Will a two tone kitchen ever automatically be Ugly?

Will a white tile be Ugly?

I also think there are different regional-societal perspectives because I put in Shaker doors almost 20 years ago, several houses ago and it was already one of the older doorstyles offered by the company I used.

There are two large condo complexes, one from 1964 and one from the 70s and 80s (sequential development) that All have two tone kitchens with dark lowers and white uppers.

But some people think the shaker door and the two tone kitchens are 2000s phenomena. They are not. People were just too busy chasing the trend to notice that these other options existed.

As for the crystal chandelier/elaborate formal pendant in the kitchen, I think this is appropriate in a limited sort of house or kitchen and looks hideous from the moment it's hung in most kitchens it goes in. Not because the fixture itself is always hideous, it's that it is a trend that has Nothing to do with what the rest of the house or kitchen are.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

How about kitchens that are not very dated but are very old? I like the kitchen in Leave it to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the kitchen that Monica's boyfriend played by Tom Selleck, had in Friends. When the design transcends time we don't refer to them as "dated". We say vintage, or "classic".


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Nothing is ugly when it's a new trend. It's only in retrospect. I remember when oak came in in the late 70s. Real wood!! Boy, was I impressed! So yes, I do think some of today's trends will be considered ugly. I mentioned the chandeliers because I think the more ornate something is, the sooner it will become dated.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I disagree with your first sentence, but I still get your point.

A lot of trendy things are ugly. Especially when used in a manner inconsistent with the trend. Plenty of ugly in trendy.


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also

I will also put forth that to say "nothing is ugly when it's a new trend" is an example of The Emperor's New Clothes, the fable where two conniving tailors convince the Emperor that they have tailored for him a wonderful new garment, and he parades around naked, because he doesn't want to seem too stupid to understand what they have done. And of course since the Emperor thinks he is wearing clothes, the kingdom agrees until a child points out he is naked.

Lots of trendy things are tasteless and ugly from the get go, and people are being encouraged to combine them in their new kitchens simply because they are new...in this very forum.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I have a list of what I know I don't want: shaker cabinets, anything raise panel, yards of granite, too many recessed lights, subway tile, stacked glass tiles, apron front sink, dark cabinets.

I hope to pull off a simple look with careful attention to details. I've been thinking what materials and finishes would have been used in the late 60s, and are they still appealing today. Like mahogany cabinets and flush mounted ceiling lights.

FWIW, I was slightly embarrassed showing somebody an idea pic from the HGTV website.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I have to agree with your last statement. That the kitchens come out rather generic.

White
Espresso something
far-from-unique granites
stainless steel.

I guess I'm happy with my extremely eclectic, cobbled together kitchen. I'm using quality materials from several different decades in ways that please my eye. If I don't like it, I have the power (and strength) to rip it out and re-do it.
Nothing generic here.

Nice kitchens are definitely happening. They're just happening like most trends: all at the same time with the same stuff.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I have been following this thread with interest. I always enjoy reading Palimpsest's ideas. This current thread is very nebulous to me. Probably because I am not in the design field, so it's hard to grasp exactly dated=ugly. I would love if we could add some visuals to this thread, although I realize that has the potential to offend someone.

The thing that I like most about my kitchen is the vastly improved functionality of it. I chose finishes for myself and not necessarily resale. I suspect that maybe kitchens etc do become "dated" after 20 years. Although why is that? Is it because industry is telling us that it is in order to drive us to purchase the new look? We plan on staying here, barring any unforeseen events, for at least 20 more years, so at the very least, I will have enjoyed my space that long.

I know kitchens are supposed to fit the house, but being a person who loves to cook, I find it hard to grasp the concept of building an uber kitchen that is never used. I have a good friend who has one of these kitchens. I love her dearly, but her beautiful center island is used mainly for pizza boxes. Each to their own I suppose!

Getting back on subject, it's the functionality that I love the most. And much of that I owe to research done on this Garden Web site. However, I do have nightmares of moving to an entirely "dated" darkish wood kitchen lacking function with a wooden backsplash, with few to no windows.

So, is it a matter of personal taste or can it be a truly objective opinion? I am linking a photo below that I would have a very difficult time living in due to the finishes only. But maybe that's just me. So is it dated or generic or ugly or just someone else's taste?

Here is a link that might be useful: Pine kitchen


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Your "I don't want" list is very interesting, LoPay or what it might indicate. One isn't a sampling, of course,

Really, for every over-reactor who decides outdated is "ugly" is a crowd of others for whom it first became tediously ordinary as the trend was taking its dive, then dowdily outdated as the trend became something to joke about, then "if that were mine, first thing I'd do is rip that stuff out" when the long-gone trend occupies the same design slough as the ones that came before and since.

Then, of course, 40-50+ years later, versions of the better trends that survived long enough to become fairly rare will once again be newly exciting. With changes, of course. We'll see a big subway trend come around yet again, but not until long after most of this wave has hit the landfill. Wonder what its settings will look like? Another but notably different version of the 1930s will undoubtedly be among them. Not from nostalgia, though, since no one who actually remembers its first kitchens will be around to see it.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

"The thing that I like most about my kitchen is the vastly improved functionality of it. I chose finishes for myself"

That is good design. Good function. In a way that is pleasing to your own eye, not someone else's idea of what's good looking or ugly.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I find the automatic correlation of dated=ugly, and trendy=not ugly hard to grasp, too. It's one of the reasons I wanted to discuss it in a thread.

Of the pine kitchen. "Is it dated, generic, ugly, or just someone else's taste".

I think it is a bit of three out of four: I do not think it is generic.

Is it dated? It does not look very new because of the black paneled freestanding refrigerator, and the black built in microwave, or the decorative touches including the ivy on top of the cabinets. The solid surface countertop doesn't look that current in pattern or decorative edge.

Is it someone else's taste? It's definitely not mine. I think staggered cabinets work on a very limited basis, and were originally developed by builders so they could use certain limited sizes and stagger them rather than having to use specific sizes and placing an even cornice line across the top --and then they convinced people it was interesting. Personally I hate this in most kitchens.

Is it ugly?
Are the cabinets inherently ugly? Not really.
Are the countertops inherently ugly by themselves? Not really
Are the floors ugly by themselves? Not really.

But overall these three main elements are a poor combination really. The near mismatch of floor to cabinets is not strong design. The cool grey countertop that skews slightly periwinkle when combined with the cabinets is also not strong design. So there are three elements None of which have anything that unattractive about them alone, combined in a rather unsuccessful way.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Doonie you did the right thing. You made it what will work for you, and didn't sink your retirement money into real estate. If somebody wants to buy your house bad enough they won't care what the kitchen looks like. The house next to me had updates done before it went on the market, and the new owners stilled renovated after they moved in.

That kitchen in the photo at the link is vertigo inducing. The peach blinds are way too much. OTH it might be useful for somebody who has a cabin in the woods or a ranch, if they ever run out if firewood.

Sorry for the sarcasm.


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Dated, sure, but

Is this kitchen dated? I think so, since it is original to a 40+ year old house. Is it generic? Not really. Is it someone else's taste? Well, you either like MCM or you don't but this is an MCM house. Is it ugly just because it's dated? I don't think so, because it would be perfectly appropriate to put in a more functional version of this kitchen with better, more modern materials in its place that looked essentially the same.
 photo delancey7_zps0e382de5.jpg
 photo delancey6_zpsa5119322.jpg


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Nineteen Eighty

 photo HB1980kitchen-1.jpg


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Nineteen Seventy-Nine

 photo HB1979kitchen-2.jpg


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Early 1970s

 photo HB1970skitchen-2.jpg


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Nineteen Fifty Nine

 photo HB1959-1.jpg


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Nineteen Ninety Five

 photo HB1995kitchen3.jpg


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Nineteen Ninety Four

Island Lighting
 photo HB1994kitchen.jpg


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Palimpsest - the first kitchen dated yes, ugly no. Some people may find it boring, I think it rocks! About the only thing I object to is the MW over the stove.

BTW who would argue about being able to take a swim before breakfast ;>.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I don't mind dated. I don't even mind ugly if it's functional and doesn't smell bad.

On the subject of dated and NOT ugly, Palimpsest, do you have any more photos of that early '70s kitchen? Of course it needs different lighting and more drawers, but I think it's worthy of emulation!

Obviously it's new and staged in the photo and it probably doesn't look so nice these days if it's even still around, but I like it. I think I would be willing to live with a lot of extra high upper cabinets (also known as "cabinets for the spouse") if I had enough drawer space...


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

There is certainly a mentality that new trumps old in every case. When my kitchen was posted on Houzz, many people commented on the expense, primarily to say "but for that money, you could have had all new everything!" To which I tried to point out...but why? Why is it always necessary to obliterate what is there?

I think it's often easier, which is the real answer. But this attitude of "newer is better" causes a huge amount of genericism...the designs are all the same (the "Another finished white kitchen" post syndrome.) No offense to anyone intended here...the point of all this work and expense is to be happy with what you have, and many people truly want what everyone else has. But when everyone else changes what they want, it's back to the drawing board for you!

That instinct would cause most people to demolish the lovely kitchens that Pal just posted, even though they are tasteful, just because they aren't like everyone else's anymore...even if they WERE like everyone else's at some point.

And the recurring "how do I keep my kitchen from looking dated" post will also keep turning up like a bad penny. And all the advice will be to just do what you like, because you can run, but you can't hide...it will become dated no matter what you install!


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Very interesting topic, Mr Pal. Dated=Ugly... GrandMother always said: "Ugly is as ugly does." *grin* All of the subsequent photos you used were beautiful and a pleasure to the ones who bought/designed them. Were they my heart's desire & delight?

The kitchen is my home territory. It needs to be easy come, easy go, easy clean, easy bake. Baking, cooking, canning, dehydrating are labour intensive & messy endeavours.

Wall paper in a kitchen...please, no thank you. Upholstered couches, chairs & inviting cushions most certainly invite grease stains & assorted cooking cooties. Curtains & draperies...quick be quick with the fire extinguisher LOL. And who came up with the idea of W/W carpet in the kitchen...ick-factor overload. Chandeliers, pendant lights, swag lights, chicken pox lights are too curiosity invoking for fluffs of flour which seem to float effortlessly away from kneading hands.

Being on pointe & avant garde IS important to many people. Kitchens seem to attract a LOT of attention when anything "dated" is discussed. My idea of "dated" is no indoor plumbing, no electricity, no gas. Ugly is me hunched over an outdoor fire pit, dripping sweat, with my apron & skirt hiked up to my knees to keep it out of harms way. And, I'm not much nicer lugging water back by the buckets.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I feel like it's smart to go a little generic with the "permanent" parts of your kitchen. Like, we're probably going to use white subway tile for our backsplash instead of yellow or green.

Hopefully we'll hit "classic" instead of "trendy."

Then we can do whatever we want with paint colors. With wall hangings and "knick-knacks." To make it cool or trendy or personal.

My hope is in 25 years the cabinets and the backsplash and the flooring and the countertops will still look "classic" even if the walls have been repainted and the appliances replaced.

Shaker-style inset cabinets are trendy now (as has been discussed recently) But they were trendy in 1919 when my house was built too, so I feel pretty safe. I don't think I'm picking them because they're trendy now, but because they fit the style of the house.

I don't want anyone to visit my house if I sell it some day and say "what a dated kitchen!" but I also don't want anyone to say "oooh an updated kitchen!"

My goal is to get you to think "is this kitchen original?" which of course it wouldn't be. But just a moment of doubt means I've succeeded.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

As I've said before, I think it's in the eye of the beholder. In my simple little early 70's house, I'll be so thrilled to get rid of the avocado green oven hood, cheap laminate countertops, cheap cabinetry, etc. and although I do think it will be rather dark, my DH matters in decisions, and his opinion counts too; we are going with medium oak cabinetry (his choice), dark granite counters (his choice). My choice will be white subway b/s with a band of Mexican colorful tiles similar to what Sexy Mexy did to give some color, along with a lamp that has oranges, blues, etc. This house is what it is, never will be fancy, but oh, so comfortable! Dated? Yes, I'm sure it is 80's style, but who cares?

My choices include designing the living room, am having so much fun with that!


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I generally agree with Pal's original post. I've seen a few "before" kitchens posted here lately that are perfectly lovely and pristine vintage kitchens that the poster derided as dated.(In some of those cases, the GWebbers endorsed the original kitchen over a superficial redo that probably would have resulted in a blandly generic kitchen, or worse, one with clashing or unharmonious stlyles.)

Of the pics Pal posted, I really like the first MCM kitchen, the 1979 kitchen (super narrow, though!), and the 1994 kitchen (except the lighting fixtures). The early 1970s kitchen was clearly edgy when it was installed--orange was trendy, but not THAT trendy--and would probably appeal to just as small a minority today as it would have then. But it isn't ugly, just too hip for me and most people in any era. Well the lights are kind of obtrusive, but some modern MR16 tracks would fix that up without, I think, undermining the 70s coolness.

The 1980 is the one that I like least. EAM44 said something in an earlier post about how it's easier to be objective about things that were before our time (I'm paraphrasing). I came of age in the 80s and find it really hard to be objective about the design of that era. I think, though, that my negative reaction to that pic is driven less by the design and more by the overabundance of accessories: Baskets! Plants! Hanging pots! A ceramic chicken! Hey, let's stage the kitchen with some extra baking pans and loaves of bread! Add all that to the otherwise tolerable pattern of the tile, and it's just overload for me.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I think there's a class element as well. A beautiful designer kitchen can hold up over time where a more affordable kitchen will likely have generic and widespread finishes, big box elements, that will date precisely because they were so widely available and therefore affordable, and because we tend to shy away from so called 'lower class' things.

I realize people can pull off great kitchens on a budget and that there are plenty of super expensive, super ugly kitchens out there, but I think dated often means 'too widely used.'

Personally I love modern style. but can't put a super modern kitchen in my house.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I would suggest that if the beholder considers the kitchen ugly, then it's equated with dated. Fascinating from the posted photos to see that a "dated" kitchen can become trendy 20 or 30 years later. Few ideas are original; most are recycled.

Years ago, my MIL told me they built a 3 bedroom home in the 60s because the architect told them that resale value would be better. So they scrunched 3 boys into one large bedroom, with the lone girl in a room by herself. When they sold their home in the 80s, of course 4 bedroom homes were in vogue.

If you're planning to be in your home for a long time, just get what you want. It's impossible to predict the likes of the next home buyer.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Interesting photos Palimpsest! Personally, I would be able to work in all of the kitchens, except the orange 70's kitchen just because of the workspace. It looks like the counters all have uppers directly above them, so functionally it would be irritating to me for prep work. As far as the color, it is intense, but it is still an attractive space.

The ninety-five kitchen would drive me batty because of the lack of counter space and the plethora of white tile with grout lines. The oven wall has too much variation for me and unsettles me.

I guess, in the end, I really don't mind dated. For me dated is separate from ugly as this thread has brought me to consider it. Efficiency and functionality rank right up there with ascetically pleasing. Then again, I am not on the design edge of things.

My old kitchen was attractive to me with hickory cabinets, slate flooring (we had replaced the original wood flooring), and granite tile counter tops. We ended up gutting it because of it's complete lack of functionality. OTR microwave that was blocked from the sink by a barrier island and a dishwasher at a right angle to the sink which left a 2 foot clearance when it was open for loading dishes. The granite tile was unevenly fitted so it would rub holes in my shirts as I stood at the cast iron enamel sink to do dishes. The cast iron enamel sink was chipped easily, I guess due to builder grade quality or lack there of. And a tiny pantry closet of wire shelving for storage. To look at, I could live with it, but to cook in was a complete reoccurring irritation.

Here's a photo of my old kitchen (build 1999), which is probably dated now, and also poorly functional (in addition it's cluttered and not really photo ready, but an example nevertheless).
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And I loved our breakfast nook
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The other part of Palimpsest's equation is the "generic". I am still not exactly clear on that. Does it mean most frequently seen? Or does it mean tedious? The synonyms are general - common - universal. The Merriam Webster definition is "having no particularly distinctive quality or application". So, I would suppose that a generic kitchen would vary based on geography. For instance, although we see lots of beautiful white kitchens on GW, there are very few where I live. Most are wood toned with "generic" granites. Generic can take on a negative connotation, but it doesn't necessarily have to be so. For instance, in the US, we use a certain type of electrical wiring. Generic plugs. And it's a darned good thing we do! There are drugs that become generic, thus lowering costs. That is a good thing too.

Interesting things to think about Palimpsest! Thank you for starting this thread.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

That is a good point. But I am not sure why the two become so intertwined as to be synonymous in some people's minds-- because that is where the mistake is.

Although not all the kitchens above are my taste, nor do I like every aspect of most of them, they are clearly not current and yet they are not ugly either. The other thing that is apparent is that all the "newer" trends: marble taking over a part of the granite market, nearly all-white kitchens, the elaborate lighting over the island, the windowed backsplash. --None of these new trends are "new" design elements. They are just more popular right now than before.

But people have been doing these things all along to some degree.

Another twist on the dated (automatically) = ugly idea is the

I don't like it so it's (automatically) = ugly.

This just is not true. There are plenty of ordinary to quite beautiful things that I don't like all that much. But one Should be able to acknowledge the beauty or utility of something you don't like. And so many people just Won't. It's like "I don't like it so it's ugly and useless and No One Else should like it either."

(I should also say that there are some things that I know are "ugly" and like quite a bit nonetheless.)


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

The American Institute of Architects announced the 2013 AIA/HUD Secretary Housing winners. This kitchen is very minimalist, but it fits with the rest of the home, and although it is not my taste, I do think it's beautiful. However, I think I might have functionality issues with it, as it is not clear to me where things are stored or the relationship between the sink and the stovetop for dumping pasta water. Will it become dated? What elements do you see in it? Would it be safe to call it a 2013 kitchen? Or is it so unique, ie nongeneric, that it does not fit in a clear category?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I agree with your statement of people's mindset against something. "But one Should be able to acknowledge the beauty or utility of something you don't like. And so many people just Won't. It's like "I don't like it so it's ugly and useless and No One Else should like it either." "

I wonder why that is? It makes for a very narrow world vision. And even more importantly suppresses the joie de vivre!

I attached the a link to the other 2013 winners. Very interesting architecture.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2013 winners


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

The thing that strikes me about the kitchens in those photos are that they are extremely upmarket. They feature design and materials that have held up well over time. I've never seen anything like them in my area, but I'll admit to coming from a builder-grade-tract-house background.

Generally, the only difference here between starter homes, and move-up neighbourhoods, is square footage - the kitchens rarely have any higher end features (appliances, cabinet quality, counter-top materials, etc.). So, for homes built in any year, there is a total generic same-same-same look across much of the market strata. One must head upwards to the custom home level to find any different "looks". Sometimes these expensive homes feature fabulous kitchens, which might some day be included in your photo library, or they might just become examples of the the kind of kitchens we love to hate here on GW - the triumph of form over function.

Anyway, with the builder grade kitchens I generally see, they become "dated/ugly" for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is just that something new has come along and is featured in newer homes (even if it is still builder grade). But often, it doesn't take all that many years before the cheapo generic materials used start to look dirty, damaged, or they simply fall apart (my old kitchen cabinetry!) In my books, nothing is uglier or more dated than deteriorating poor quality materials.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I object to the idea of "class" dictating a kitchen.

I also think we're using "generic" in relation to the kitchens we see here, since we can't speak geographically. Perhaps locally, every are has its own "generic"?

I think you nailed it on the head, cooksnews. And many have made this point, too: quality materials make the difference in many cases. Then looking at functionality and the relationship to the house. IMHO.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Unfortunately I think you have to bring up the correlation of social class and taste, somewhat.

For example, from the 1950s-1970s, vinyl flooring was used in very high end residential projects and made appearances in design magazines all the way up to Architectural Digest.

Now that it has really fallen out of favor, there are very few simple, sophisticated designs to be found in the American residential market, and many of the designs are downright hideous. They must be selling them, or they wouldn't make them. So they are being bought by the downmarket consumer.

I don't think the manufacturers make ugly products for the low end of the market to Punish the people at that end of the market for not spending more. I think they are making what sells.

Of course there is much that is appalling at the upper reaches and custom end of the market as well, so taste is not directly correlated to socioeconomic class. But there must be a correlation to some degree. If not, you would be able to buy a simple white sophisticated sheet vinyl in a number of variations from a number of manufacturers at various price points within their offerings, and quite simply, you really can't.

There are a number of offerings that are fine, but there are endless offerings of rather unconvincing stone looks in caramel-y brown and earthy green, and pages of wood look with yellow undertones. I just looked and at least the major manufacturers seem to have eliminated most of the really depressing ones.

One might think that at the least expensive end of the market things might start to get plainer and plainer, but for the most part that is not the case. In the general interior design market, for example, it is rather easy to find a shiny, flouncy black or maroon satin bedspread, not all that easy to find a simple one in a basic tailored style and color.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Thanks for the interesting link, Doonie. I've seen that first kitchen you posted many times over the decades. Totally classic. The second, with its oversized-hat attention grabber, not so much; without it, though, also classic.

Robotropolis puts part of the "dating" dynamic very succinctly, "I think dated often means 'too widely used.'"

Certainly, these days any time something shows up in a big box store in my town it means it's also showing up in all the thousands of other cities and towns across this nation alone, already well on its way to super-saturated status on the web, in middle-class magazines, etc.

Dated does not equate to ugly (except in the minds of unthoughtful people disposed to such things). Dated equates to ennui: "discontent arising from satiety."


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I think generic does vary.

The generic kitchen of my geographic location is not the same generic kitchen where my sister lives nor the same generic kitchen of Gardenweb.

But in those contexts, there is a Strong push toward Conformity, and sometimes conformity is not so attractive.

If you are Gutting a kitchen and starting over, it can be rather easy to conform, because you can simply duplicate each element from the kitchen to which you must conform, and be done with it.

But if you are updating a kitchen and leaving major elements in place, conforming to the list of options for replacing the rest often creates an esthetic disconnect between the old and new, and that gets ignored. There are some awful pre-update kitchens where the best elements are eradicated simply because they are the oldest, and replaced with today's version of tomorrow's what were they thinking? I've seen strong recommendations to keep some pretty bad former updated elements simply because they are the newer ones.

There are 19,775 cabinet knobs and pulls on the Hardware Hut website. Yet how often do people recommend the exact pull they used, (and get angry at you if you don't want to use it)? Same with paint colors (even actual shades of white). Some things like granite are more limited in the choices one can make, but there are more than the dozen or so we see over and over.

And there is quite a bit of pressure to Choose what someone else has already chosen. It's easier to do so from the choosers standpoint, of course, but the pressure often comes from the individual(s) making the suggestion.

And to question the utility of something in ones Own kitchen despite the fact that it works for other people often results in being told that "If you don't want advice, don't ask for it" and all kinds of other charges of being unappreciative. I raised a question about dish drawers, lifting out the entire stack etc, and might it not be easier to have waist high cabinet-style dish storage, and you would have thought I was asking for a legislative ban on dish drawers because I didn't think they would be the best option for me, since I put clean dishes at the bottom of the stack. I was also essentially told that doing so was pointless and that I have way too much time on my hands if I can spend an extra 60 seconds each time I empty the DW doing so.

"I don't get dark floors in white kitchens" is another thread that has gotten a couple comments along the lines of "What, are you just trying to insult people and ask it in the form of a question?" I interpreted this as someone trying to find out more about the trend, and maybe explore why they themselves didn't like it. They're Allowed to not like it aren't they?

So I think the conformity not only comes from the remodeler trying to make the choices easier (and to some degree to fit in), but also from the advisor who wants to reinforce their Own decisions by pressuring others to agree with them wholeheartedly.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

My current kitchen is most certainly dated. I believe it is the original 1926 cabinets, etc. We even have the original ice box with outside delivery hatch. It is not ugly, at least in my opinion. The cabinets are shaker, currently painted white (who knows what colors they have been over the years--the interiors of the laundry cabinets are a dreadful pink). The sink is huge and very shallow made of cast iron; it is unfortunately in not very good condition. One wall has a built-in Hoosier with a cool pull out countertop. The very small amount of countertop space is yellow square tile with enormous grout lines. This tile is also the backsplash. The flooring is the wood flooring as in the rest of the house. Aesthetically the tile countertop and backsplash are not my favorites, but otherwise I like the looks of the kitchen quite a bit.

There are some real functional problems; however, that I hope we will be able to remedy some day with a remodel. The range and refrigerator are right next to each other with no counter space on either side. There are three doors into the kitchen space. There's a total of about five feet of counter space. The drawers are all quite small and difficult to pull out. And so on.

I think the challenge will be to decide how much to try to preserve, how much to reproduce and how faithfully, and how much to simply diverge from what is currently here. The current space is by definition dated, yet much of it is actually current in terms of style at this point, whether because it was timeless to begin with or because what goes around comes around.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

A bit more on my dated kitchen. I suppose the "generic" fix would be to rip out the tile countertop, backsplash and cast iron sink and replace them with granite, glass mosaic tile and a stainless steel sink? None of those are necessarily bad things but they are also not particularly appropriate to this house, IMO. I suppose that's the sort of "generic" fix that is objectionable?


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If the tile countertop is in poor condition and you wanted to replace it with something more functional than grouted tile, I suppose the better option would be to choose a quartz countertop with an overall plain, single-color appearance in a color that was "tile-like" of the period with a simple eased edge. There are a number of pastel colored quartzes.

Solid surface with the same sort of vibe would be another option.

I think that newer, more practical materials can be used in period-compatible ways.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Crl, you really are fortunate that so much of what's been done for the past 20 years is a throwback to your era. A real win-win in terms of affordable, readily available choices.

Generic is what's designed for and marketed to everyone, designed to be as acceptable as possible to everyone, wherever they live and whatever they live in, to reap the greatest benefits of mass production. That's not to say it doesn't look good, often gorgeous, but...it's generic.

To know what generic is, just look around you, at cabinet brochures, model kitchens at Home Depot, magazines in supermarkets, new subdivisions anywhere in the country--they're all pushing the same merchandise, with almost no variation between Carlsbad, New Mexico and Rochester, New York.

How about:
Hardwood floors, medium to dark.
Slab stone counter in lighter colors.
Relatively simple backsplash, mosaic or stacked stone.
Shaker cabinets in white or wood finish.
Professional-look stainless steel range.
Stainless steel cladding on other appliances.
Three-door refrigerator.
Stainless or mass-produced wood vent cover.
Apron-front or undermount sink with high-arch faucet. Painted drywall in a color that does not match the cabinets but is similar in value (but light/medium blue or green if cabinets are wood).
Simple, rigid window treatment, little to no pattern.
An island.
Frequently disconnected runs of counter.


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I've read the whole thread and am going to respond to your original idea. I bought a house 3 years ago that was only 10 years old. It felt way older. I bought if for the gorgeous yard, decks, and reservoir it sits on. That being said, I didn't love the original kitchen. This house actually has a kitchen in the basement that is bigger and possibly better. At the same time, I couldn't imagine changing it out for something totally different. This house has magnificent walnut trees and lots of nature between the house and the reservoir. I seriously debated painting the wood trim and wood doors, but just felt that it worked in this house. I realized it wasn't "in style." Ironically, I changed it to fit me more and made it look older. This is the "before."


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Is there an after? (looks nice as is)
: )


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

This is the backsplash I chose. I changed out the hardware. Simple fixes. Just more my taste.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

The other thing that felt dated was the floors. There was carpet, then a curved tile into the kitchen. The curve felt dated. They had the curved tile at the front door entry as well. It's hard to see, but this is how it was when we first saw the house.


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We put these floors throughout most of the main floor, including the kitchen. I did paint out the black TV cabinet from a heavy red oak.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

oh no, I have about 7 of the items on Rosie's list. I will say that shaker doors, subway tile, hardwood floors are things I have loved (felt comfortable around) since I was a kid. I would never care if they were in or out.

Joanlast, nice job with the kitchen.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Seriously, as long as you can make margaritas... it's all good:-)
BTW most of the things on Rosie's list are what I'm working on for my condo in FL. I'll have to post pics soon of the kitchen I want to renovate. It's livable and I've enjoyed it for the year I've owned it. But, it has to go.... ALL of it.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Now this is my condo that I am going to renovate. I do believe dated equals ugly in this case. That ceiling has to go....


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

We are not going to do an aesthetic update on our 1926 kitchen because we prefer to wait until we can afford to and are willing to (currently have a three year old which limits my tolerance for disruption on the scale of a kitchen remode) do a full remodel that addresses the function problems. I suspect the kitchen will end up looking much the same though. If I were doing it today I think I would choose a soapstone counter and some kind of ceramic tile for the backsplash. I think those choices would be appropriate to the house. But the overall effect might be dated shortly, perhaps even dated by the time we have the work done. . . . . Not sure I care much as we don't intend to sell anytime soon.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

JoanLast, I actually kind of like your ceiling, maybe because it is the most interesting thing in a very bland kitchen.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Palimpsest, I very much appreciate this thread and the thought you have put into it. We all know the difference between fabulous and hideous, but it's a healthy exercise to ponder the more subtle differences between ugly, generic and dated. Most of us have no design training yet we are immersed in deign decisions that bear significant consequences in terms of cost, functionality, project creep and marital stability.

To take a moment and pause from backsplash shopping to try to put your finger on what makes something good, or great, or awesome is very helpful. It's even more helpful with some words of wisdom and thought-provoking photos that you have provided. I do think that even us amateurs can develop and eye and a vocabulary over time, but it really helps to be exposed to a range of ideas and to try to articulate what makes something work or not. I usually feel like I am approaching basic competency just after a project reaches completion, which is the constant plight of the DIY homeowner, isn't it?

Anyway, I really don't have anything substantive to add, other than to agree with you and say thanks.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Hmm... a double post that sandwiched no's double post.
Deleting...

This post was edited by EAM44 on Mon, May 27, 13 at 10:44


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

There are several arguments or questions:
1. Are there absolutes in what constitutes "attractive" or whatever you may want to call the opposite of "ugly"? Palimpsest seems to assume that there are features that are inherently "attractive." I don't know. Maybe that's the common denominator of what we would like about kitchens over the years?
2. Mismatched "renovations" that taken together are incongruent and therefore "ugly." That makes the most sense to me, especially if it's impractical and crappily done.
3. Dated=ugly and by implication that new=attractive? Most certainly not although dated already has a negative connotation. What about vintage or antique? And then, there's obviously the time frame and the generational aspect. For young people the 60s or 70s are already old enough to be vintage or "antique." For me, it's still old. Think about fashion. I wouldn't wear what I wore 30 years ago. My daughter is upset that I didn't keep these clothes.
4. Form vs function. Maybe attractive is what deep down is functional in kitchen design?
5. In my opinion, ugly is low quality and shoddily done. I don't mean inexpensive. Rather, I've recently looked at houses well over 1 mio, and am shocked by the poor workmanship and that most of it is not built to last for more than 2 years but is rather geared toward looking good on the surface.
6. Related to these points; Most Americans (sorry) are looking for BIG houses with bling and not for long-term quality. That's why a 10-year old kitchen feels "dated", an people redo perfectly fine kitchens, replacing them with something that's less functional for their needs, and also frequently, less durable. I mean, how many people really need a 6-burner commercial range, double ovens, pizza ovens, etc. when people eat out more often or buy more and more ready-made food?


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

There are several arguments or questions:
1. Are there absolutes in what constitutes "attractive" or whatever you may want to call the opposite of "ugly"? Palimpsest seems to assume that there are features that are inherently "attractive." I don't know. Maybe that's the common denominator of what we would like about kitchens over the years?
2. Mismatched "renovations" that taken together are incongruent and therefore "ugly." That makes the most sense to me, especially if it's impractical and crappily done.
3. Dated=ugly and by implication that new=attractive? Most certainly not although dated already has a negative connotation. What about vintage or antique? And then, there's obviously the time frame and the generational aspect. For young people the 60s or 70s are already old enough to be vintage or "antique." For me, it's still old. Think about fashion. I wouldn't wear what I wore 30 years ago. My daughter is upset that I didn't keep these clothes.
4. Form vs function. Maybe attractive is what deep down is functional in kitchen design?
5. In my opinion, ugly is low quality and shoddily done. I don't mean inexpensive. Rather, I've recently looked at houses well over 1 mio, and am shocked by the poor workmanship and that most of it is not built to last for more than 2 years but is rather geared toward looking good on the surface.
6. Related to these points; Most Americans (sorry) are looking for BIG houses with bling and not for long-term quality. That's why a 10-year old kitchen feels "dated", an people redo perfectly fine kitchens, replacing them with something that's less functional for their needs, and also frequently, less durable. I mean, how many people really need a 6-burner commercial range, double ovens, pizza ovens, etc. when people eat out more often or buy more and more ready-made food?


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I have learned so much from the brilliant people on this forum (like Pal, and others of you) - it's what keeps me coming back.

But I also get feedback from GWers who are ignorant, mean, and have a decidedly lemming-like mentality: "conform, agree with me, do all the work for me on three possible looks before I make any choices so I can benefit from your taste and knowledge of materials, but don't, by any means, offer an opposing view of my aesthetic or my process." I must say I do get a little kick out of the fact that they're building spaces that will be both dated and ugly. Still, it's never fun to interact with the ill-bred.

I am a little shocked to hear that those of you I look up to, even you, Pal, have gotten similar push back. I like your dish drawer observation, hadn't thought of it before, always put the clean dishes on the bottom, and am pretty sure I don't want a dish drawer now. So thanks. I also saw the white kitchens/dark floors thread and didn't even click on it because I already know the vitriol that lies within. Ugh.

Building on cawaps distillation of the thought and all of your input, I wonder again whether having been a child at the time made it difficult for me to look at two of Pal's admittedly dated but not ugly images: "early seventies", with the "eighties" a close second. Perhaps there was just too much stuff in my line of site as a kid, too many busy patterns, too many accessories, to allow me to enjoy those looks now.

Just for fun, an ancient kitchen from Thessaly, Greece, featured in Gourmet magazine that is truly dated and beautiful to my eye.


PHOTO: DE AGOSTINI/GETTY IMAGES


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Joan, I think your condo kitchen for the most part is just "plain". Those ceilings are one of those things that seems like it is a good idea but then just ends up not working too well. But that's not the hardest fix in the world.

Nosoccer

There are really things that (within cultures) are pretty much universally recognized as esthetically pleasing. Look at things that have been appreciated for hundreds of years. Or look at things that have been commercially available essentially unchanged for a decades or a century.
For example, there are wood millwork profiles that were installed in my house in 1840 that I can still get at the local Home Depot. The essential shape of it must please people.

3. My argument is that it is NOT the case that dated=ugly and therefore new=attractive, but that Many people seem to operate within this context.

I agree with the last point that volume seems more important than quality. I've seen in real life projects, I've seen in on "Million $ Rooms" (which I can't watch) and I've seen in these forums where major skimping has to be done somewhere to make up for the sheer amount of material that is needed.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Joan, I think your condo kitchen for the most part is just "plain". Those ceilings are one of those things that seems like it is a good idea but then just ends up not working too well. But that's not the hardest fix in the world.

Nosoccer

There are really things that (within cultures) are pretty much universally recognized as esthetically pleasing. Look at things that have been appreciated for hundreds of years. Or look at things that have been commercially available essentially unchanged for a decades or a century.
For example, there are wood millwork profiles that were installed in my house in 1840 that I can still get at the local Home Depot. The essential shape of it must please people.

3. My argument is that it is NOT the case that dated=ugly and therefore new=attractive, but that Many people seem to operate within this context.

I agree with the last point that volume seems more important than quality. I've seen in real life projects, I've seen in on "Million $ Rooms" (which I can't watch) and I've seen in these forums where major skimping has to be done somewhere to make up for the sheer amount of material that is needed.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I totally agree with Doonie that something can be beautiful, yet still "not to my taste". For example, I detest marble. It looks old (and not in a good way) and cold, and I dislike everything about it. Yet other people are willing to do anything to install marble. I feel the same way about dark hardwood floors; I live in the land of red clay, so a medium-tone with a touch of red it in is so much more practical for me.

The thing is, All too many people today aren't digesting ideas and evaluating what they personally like. Rather, they're accepting the HGTV trinity: Must have hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops. Any quality or layout seems to be acceptable so long as these three items are included.

NoSoccer, I think you have a very good point when you say that people mistake "more" for "better".


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I totally agree with Doonie that something can be beautiful, yet still "not to my taste". For example, I detest marble. It looks old (and not in a good way) and cold, and I dislike everything about it. Yet other people are willing to do anything to install marble. I feel the same way about dark hardwood floors; I live in the land of red clay, so a medium-tone with a touch of red it in is so much more practical for me.

The thing is, All too many people today aren't digesting ideas and evaluating what they personally like. Rather, they're accepting the HGTV trinity: Must have hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops. Any quality or layout seems to be acceptable so long as these three items are included.

NoSoccer, I think you have a very good point when you say that people mistake "more" for "better".


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

@pal.
I didn't mean to say that you said ugly=dated. I was just trying to organize the different strands of arguments that you had raised.
Yes, there are universally pleasing features; however, I'm not sure that they can be brought down to the very specific level of moulding. That being said, an analysis of what was considered attractive in a kitchen AT the original time and then seeing if these elements endure OVER would help identify these "universally" attractive features.

Another question/point: I'm assuming that "Generic" can apply to kitchen at any price level.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I agree with the "enduring" aspect--if something is appreciated over time, or at least reappears time after time with not much change, then we can kind of put that in the cultural attractiveness column. But I think that culturally pleasing can potentially go from a big picture to a small element like a piece of molding.

Generic can apply to a kitchen at any price level. It seems that on some levels, a certain amount of things get done to meet the expectations of other people.

Some houses and kitchens are clearly designed to Impress other people, and on the other hand some houses and kitchens are designed to meet the potential Needs of other people. Look at all the people who Avoid doing anything that may be construed as "too taste specific" and Intentionally Do specific things (granite when it may not be their favorite, for example) because they May need to sell their house to some non-specific buyer they know nothing about.

In this age, there is a kernel of practicality in Not putting in a purple lacquer kitchen because you may need to move unexpectedly in a few years. However this thought can be carried to the extreme where you have to put in the kitchen that is the "correct" kitchen for your demographic and does not look essentially different than anyone else's.


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Etc.

I have posted the top two photos ad nauseum so I apologize, but sometimes you have to use what you've got.

A lot of people would look at this kitchen, which is dated, and because it is dated tack on "ugly" to it. The updates would be, generically, hardwood, granite, a tile backsplash probably with some kind of feature, and ORB or brushed nickel hardware. Any individual item from the list would probably be fine if carefully selected, but the whole "package" would look odd in this house, imo.

This kitchen is dated, particularly the window treatments which are mid 80s. But if it had the original white shutters and the original white with black graphic flowered wallpaper (think Marimekko) this kitchen would look less dated as installed in 1969, than it does now.

The ergonomics are not great by current standards, but that is a different story:
 photo KitchenBaywindow.jpg
 photo kitchensinklightonwatermark.jpg

But look at these two kitchens, which are of the same era:

Technically this first one is even the same style, colonial revival:
 photo 1970s-decor2.jpg

And here is the transitional kitchen from the same exact period:
 photo HB1970kitchen-2.jpg

I think there are more kitchens of the 2010s versions of pictures 3 and 4 being installed than the kitchen in the first two pictures. But if people don't recognize it, they are going to be contributing to the viscious cycle.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Pal, I'm not sure I'm following your point about the last set of pix.

"there are more kitchens of the 2010s versions of pictures 3 and 4 being installed than the kitchen in the first two pictures."

Picture 4, in particular, is not a look that was ever mainstream, and it is not, in any sense of the word, conservative. It looks as if an excessively patriotic Bolivian decided to express herself by recrating the Bolivian flag through linoleum. The cabinets, appliance color, and counter were all pretty mainstream, but the floor and wallpaper put this kitchen on the lunatic fringe, even when it was new.

I hardly ever see anything being done now that I would consider lunatic fringe. I rarely see anything that really shows the personality of the owner. Will those kitchens be dated? Yes. But I think it more likely that they will be viewed as bland than that they will be viewed as "what were they thinking" kitchens (well maybe a bit of the "what were they thinking" in the same way we look back at avocado and harvest gold appliances, but not in the "what were they thinking when they put in a floor that looks like the Bolivian flag" sense).

Maybe it is my "now" bias, but todays trends seem very conservative (except maybe tile mosaics). And conservative doesn't date as quickly or with as much vitriol as flamboyant does. I can see subway tiles being dismissed in 20 years as "bathroom tile ". I can see hardwood floors being spurned after 20 years of experience with them in a wet environment in favor of tile or even vinyl. But I don't see people screaming "my eyes! my eyes" and clawing at their face the way I want to do with pic #4.

Now picture 3, on the other hand, was pretty conventional when it was installed, following the gold/orange color trends of the time. The kitschy wallpaper, while overwhelming and, to my eyes, ugly, was a very mainstream choice at the time. So see your point a bit there.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Generic=having no particularly distinctive quality or application.

The question is whether the first kitchen was more "generic" than the second or third kitchen. Which, of course, could put our discussion upside down by suggesting that generic would be more timeless and "individual" would be dated faster. Perhaps rather than generic, we should use the concept of "what's in right now"

Of course, the distinctive quality of the first kitchen could be elements of longevity: white and no surfaces that try to look like something else (faux).


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

I saw a lot of kitchens like #3, and have even seen a couple of #4s, although 4s as you said were not mainstream.

I agree with you that we have pulled WAY back from this kind of Esthetic, but not really from the Ideas behind either of these kitchens.

#1/2 acknowledges the colonial revival with it's "board" doors and brass pulls and tole light fixture. The original floor was Amtico weathered brick or colonial brick layed parquet style, in white. The table is colonial revival in distressed pine with thick midcentury captains chairs.

#3 kitchen, also colonial revival takes most of these elements to the level of cliche. Brick is applied in non-structural fashion, scallops are applied to the range hood and the window sills rather than any cabinetry piece. The colors are based on the (now disproven) colonial Williamsburg colors, and the wallcovering is not something that looks colonial at all, it is composed of pictures or vignettes OF pictures that are of colonial things.

Kitchen 1/2 suggests, kitchen 3 rams "COLONIAL" right down your throat. You can't miss the point.

Kitchen 4 while never mainstream in its sum total has a lot of popular elements all combined. We have foil wallpaper, we have bright primary colors, we have a suggestion of trelliage, we have harvest gold, we have walnut. All of these thing are very 1970, and in this case they are all together.

We have pulled way back from this sort of palette, but the insistence of getting each "important" element all in place is the same.

So the white kitchen generally must have it's white subway tile, often with its feature area, and if it has an island it generally must have it's feature lighting, and it must have it's "hardware as the jewelry of the kitchen" Often all metal finishes must match. The floor should be wood, and dark, but not "too" dark.

The transitional kitchen must have granite, and a stone backsplash with feaure tiles in metal or glass. The floor is porcelain that has to coordinate with both the granite and the stone of the backsplash.

There isn't anything wrong with any of these things but there is a strict formula, and a great deal of pressure, self-iinflicted or otherwise to Fit It All In.

Deviate from white subway tile, or the granite with movement (if that's what's called for); from stainless appliances, or from a full backsplash altogether, and it will often get treated as if you've taken leave of your senses.

So my point between 1/2 and 3 ,4 is that while 1/2 is a kitchen of it's era, it was never trying to emcompass Every Last Element that made it 1969 colonial revival, 3 and 4 were desparately trying to fit it all in. And I think a lot of kitchens now are going to suffer the same fate because they are trying to fit it all in. They are either white or brown, not harvest gold or psychedelic but it's the same thing in a different era.


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not generic in that sense.

Actually the white kitchen looked like nothing anyone in the area had ever really seen before. It had an island, it was pretty much all white (and lacquered, too) , (instead of harvest gold or avocado) it had white or stainless appliances and there was nothing "kitcheny" about the wallpaper.

It was really not a generic of the time or location.

We look at it through a filter of liking white kitchens right now, and perhaps being overexposed to them, and that is what might make one think it is more generic than the others.

However, kitchen #3, the colonial on crack, was Much more the Generic kitchen of the time and place the white one occupied.


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RE: The dated=ugly dichotomy & the generic fix.

Oh, I remember #3 very well. Talk about nostalgia, even though I never had it myself. This kitchen was everywhere, but at 18 and newly pregnant in a recession I took an abrupt swing from sleek 1970 modern to #1/2, cozy traditional. Good thing. We could afford to rent a lilttle old bungalow in the city, but newer, 3-bedroom suburban homes with #3 in olive green or orange, or olive green and orange, or orange and brown were beyond our means. Even the orange counter was not unusual, although I believe most went for green or brown.

I so agree with Cawaps about this being a conservative design era. (Just look at #3. People put that paper up and orange laminate on the counter knowing they could change it.) Society as a whole swung more conservative beginning with the Reagan era and that blended into an era that continues today in which new kitchens have become far too expensive to get too adventurous with. (SUCH a shame!)

Joan! That terrific ceiling detail is begging to be a wonderful "skylight" with a glorious sky scene. Maybe even with sea gulls or a white egret? Or be different with a night sky with some cloud reflecting the glow of city lights before the eye moves on to the stars? It is in Florida, after all. I really like what you did with your main kitchen, BTW. That backsplash is just what it needed.

As for my "list," people who really like the eras they're remodeling in are really fortunate. They get to work within fine, broad ranges of quality and other factors of available materials.

Just try decorating out of the current era. I couldn't find a quality but standard light/medium soft true green upholstery fabric in all of Los Angeles one year. Literally. There was no such thing as the Internet, and I drove vast distances for days to find fabric for one lousy chair. I was too inexperienced to expect this but was eventually told that those who were, i.e. designers, would have bought up all variations long before they disappeared for their personal stashes.


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