Friday, May 1, 2015

Fads Come and Go

Thinking of remodeling your kitchen?  Maybe remodeling the kitchen of a rental?  If so, I'm sure you've poured over numerous magazines, websites and TV shows to find a kitchen that is exactly what you want.

But before you go whipping out that credit card, let's talk about fads.  Anyone old enough to remember when The Brady Bunch wasn't in reruns will remember orange shag carpet, wallpaper covered in mushrooms, pine kitchen cabinets, orange laminate counter tops and cheap faux wood paneling everywhere.  Those were the fads of the 1970's.  Then we thought it was hip, fresh and rip it all out and start from scratch.  Many a house has sat on the market for 3 times as long as neighboring houses simply because it had those items. Below is a picture of one of those kitchens.

Here's a picture of a 1970's kitchen that was considered to be rather high end "back in the day". Notice the abundance of wallpaper?  The orange laminate counter tops?  That brick veneer and huge yellow vent hood really make this kitchen!

You may say, "but those fads were ugly"!  Yes, they were.  But even 5 years from now, you may think the more current fads are tired and ugly as well.  It's always best when remodeling to go with classic.  Things that have stood the test of time and weathered all the other fads.  You can always throw in some pieces that are are faddish but the big money should be on items that you won't tire of in 5 or even 10 years.

Forbes magazine interviewed John Petrie, 2013 President of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and owner of MH Custom Cabinetry.  In the interview, Mr. Petrie was asked to list the current trends to avoid when remodeling your kitchen.  Some of the items on his list really shocked me, while others didn't shock me at all.

He recommended staying away from trash compactors (I didn't even know folks still bought these) and appliance garages (I have always hated these).  Those items didn't surprise me.  What really shocked me was to see farmhouse sinks (or apron sinks) and dark hardwood floors on his list.  I love both of those!  Below is a picture of what I would call a dream kitchen.  Not so much says Mr. Petrie.

He stated that in 2011 & 2012 everyone wanted these but in 2013, he hadn't sold a single farmhouse sink.

Other items on the way out, according to Mr. Petrie, are pot racks and range hoods as focal points and colorful appliances.  Again, I love all those items too.  He states that stainless appliances are still the rage, but I have read in numerous other outlets that their popularity is waning rather quickly.

So what to do?  According to Forbes, the average cost for a high end kitchen is $53,931. That's a lot of cash.  It's especially a lot of cash if you go with a fad that will wear on your nerves within a few years.

The most important question to ask yourself before you touch anything is, "Exactly who is this remodel for"?  If it's for your own enjoyment, meaning you are truly in your forever home, then you can approach the remodel a bit differently than you would if you had plans of selling the house down the road.  However, I cannot stress enough the importance of remembering that while you may live in the house for the rest of your life, it still won't prevent you from tiring of the look.  So unless you have the cash laying around to spend on remodeling your kitchen - again - I recommend going for a more polished and classic look.

Another thing to remember is location.  Here in the south, we tend to be about 5-10 years behind the rest of the country not only in adopting the latest fads, but also in letting them go. Example:  disco officially died in 1980....we really didn't have disco's until a couple of years before it "died" and we kept our disco's until the late 80's.  My point to this is, if hardwoods in your kitchen is all the rage in your area, it may have become a thing of the past in another area. They may be into tile.  Keep this in mind when browsing all the magazines.  Most of them are written with New York or California in mind.

So how can you remodel and achieve a blend of classic with fad?  It's pretty simple actually. The most expensive things to rip out and replace will usually be your cabinetry, flooring and counter tops.  I would recommend sticking to classic with those items.  Appliances, faucets, hardware, lighting and backsplashes can be easily changed out at a much lower cost.  If you want to include the latest fad, then I'd include it in those areas.

Tip.  Most designers will come to your home and give you some tips on what's hot in your area for a small fee.  They can also suggest finishes that would fit into your budget.  I know the big box stores offer free consultations, but you should remember these two things before you go that route.  (1) they are hardly ever trained/educated designers and (2) their job is to get you to buy the things that their store sells.

Another item on the "going out of style" list is (thankfully) the kitchen desk.  That is such a horrible waste of space in your kitchen....a desk in the kitchen...who honestly thought that was ever a great idea?  They ultimately turn into dump sites.  No one ever actually sits there and enjoys that space.  They become a place to throw the mail, keys and anything else that you have in your hand and simply don't want to put where it belongs.

Look at all that space that could be storage and/or extra counter space.  I see a floor to ceiling pantry there.  

Before you head to the bank for that loan, do a lot of research on what's hot and what's warm....or even cold. 

As always, enjoy your space!