We work in a fast moving, highly visual industry. As such, everyone is searching for that “thing” that makes them memorable. The last thing you want is for your customers to think your plans, elevations or interiors look dated. We are all on Houzz, Pinterest, HGTV and trade magazines to learn about the latest trend. Before you know it, every builder or designer can’t get enough of that trend.
But this frenzy to incorporate the latest, coolest thing can turn out badly if it’s not totally thought through. It is the prudent thing to do before you put it in your model. It may look cool, but how does it function or how easy is it to clean? I could go on for hours listing trends that have been overdone, but I've narrowed it down to nine for the sake of relative brevity. Hope you enjoy!
There is certainly a one-upmanship going on with who can showcase the biggest, baddest kitchen island. In some instances, this has resulted in islands that are more akin to continents. The issue: 5’2” Susie Home Buyer can’t reach the center of the island to serve food or to clean the surface. Personally, having to get on my hands and knees on my island to clean it is downright demeaning!
The depth of the island should be no more than 5’ maximum. Trust me, that’s plenty of space and homeowners will appreciate the quick cleanup.
Poorly Placed Barn Doors
Barn doors are a fun statement feature in homes today. But using them in the wrong place can take the fun right out of them. Barn doors may offer visual privacy, but they are woefully ineffective at blocking noise. I don’t mind using them to hide the cluttered home office, but don’t count on them to block the sound coming from a noisy laundry room or give privacy to a bathroom. You can’t even lock a barn door, do I have to paint the picture of accidentally walking into an occupied bathroom?
The Wet Room
Ah yes, the shower “room” with the tub inside. Most of the trends in this blog are fine in moderation, but I have to be honest: I have never understood this one. I can’t imagine relaxing in my bathtub only to be interrupted by my husband when he wants to take a shower. Or the fact that I just got my tub wet without using it by taking a shower. Fellow designers and home builders I’ve spoken with tend to agree on this. If someone can explain this one, I’m all ears!
Open Shelves in Kitchens
I won’t deny that open shelves look great when staged. They show off the kitchen in model homes where people aren’t actually cooking, but I find them highly impractical for everyday use. Even for the home buyer that happens to have matching plates from Pottery Barn, it’s just one more area to dust. Beyond that, in a kitchen, cooking vaporizes greasy oils only to land on every nearby surface. That’s just unsanitary. Open shelves are great as an accent - away from the cooking area and only if there is adequate upper cabinets in the balance of the kitchen. This example from MasterCraft Builder Group below demonstrates thoughtful open shelving.
Too Tall TV’s
Placing the TV over the fireplace can be a big problem if the TV ends up too high on the wall. My neighbor did this and when we tried to watch the super bowl, I had to leave at halftime because the awkward viewing angle was killing my neck.
So, how high should the TV be mounted? Start by determining your eye level sitting down. The viewing angle to the TV should be no more than 30 degrees. Okay, I won’t make you do math. According to Dynamic Mounting, “As a general rule, a 42” TVs should be mounted about 56” from the floor to the TV center”.
Transom windows are a great tool to add light and interest to a room – just not every room! I love it in the dining room or in the study. But let’s leave it out of the bedroom – unless you don’t want anyone to sleep-in (even then, it’s just cruel). Adding window shades to these windows is cumbersome. Instead, adding windows on either side of the bed (Kay Green likes them 7’ apart) is a more elegant solution that allows window shades.
These faucets mounted behind the cooking surface sound great for filling up a giant pot with water so you don’t have to carry it across the room. But it really doesn’t solve the issue of hauling a heavy boiling hot pot of pasta to the sink to empty. And what happens if the facet starts to drip? Where does the water go? If this happens while you aren’t home, it will collect in the stove, the floor, or even the walls. Sure, you can argue that a pot filler is a luxury item, but I would argue that having another appliance to wipe grease off (like open shelving) is not very luxurious!
Furthermore, if you want to splurge in the kitchen, I would suggest a second sink before going with a pot filler. At least that will drain properly!
Too Many Minis
There is a recent lighting trend with clusters of mini pendant fixtures. Done well, they create a very elegant and ethereal look. My favorite example of this is the Converse Shoe headquarters in Boston. Obviously, budget was less of a concern here.
But often, what’s not considered is how these lights mount. The ceiling can start to look unsightly, covered in holes and pimples if you are not careful. Or they come with a big ugly mounting plate that doesn’t match the ceiling color, ruining the effect. Perhaps the obsession with “Statement Lighting” needs to be reined in a bit. Lita Dirks sums it up perfectly: “If every single light in a space is a ‘statement’, then you really aren’t making a statement at all.”
Wine Displays Without Ventilation
Wine is such a power draw with Boomers and Millennials. However, putting your wine behind glass can be a very expensive mistake if someone actually intends to drink the wine on display. Keep in mind, heat is the enemy of wine. Displaying wine under lights and behind glass will undoubtedly cook the wine if you don’t have a way to cool that space.
I know the idea is to create the illusion of an expensive built-in wine cooler, but too often the cooling feature is forgotten or cut from the budget. If you’re not going to add an air condition vent or individual cooling, you’re better off omitting the glass or using a metal gate.
Trends in Moderation
At the end of the day, trends sell homes and are a powerful tool to bring in the home buyers, so we shouldn’t shy away from implementing them - but a little goes a long way. I believe the lesson here is to stop and think through the installation, application and functionality of the current “thing” before slapping ship-lap on every wall. Oops, forgot that one!