Monday, April 4, 2016

And You Thought the Academy Awards Were WHITE...


Years ago, when I first dreamed of building a house of my own, I often dropped into newsstands and book stores to pick up copies of magazines like Country Life, British Home & Garden, Period Home, BBC Homes & Antiques and many others, seeking inspiration. I knew I would never have the means to build what I really wanted, but I hoped that by reading, training my eye and getting a “feel” for what was appropriate, I could come fairly close to envisioning my dream.

Over the years, I have amassed quite a library of books on English architecture and traditional home design. I also managed to horde a lot of those old magazines, which are still well-preserved in my basement.

I’m glad I kept them. Now let me explain.

One of the delights of the Internet Age (yet sadly for magazine publishers) is that there is so much information and visual inspiration available for homeowners to freely access. I find myself constantly referencing ideas and resources from home improvement and interior design sites and blogs, as well as design and furnishing websites like Houzz.

…Which brings me to my current “pet peeve.”

I’ve looked at and saved a lot of photos while browsing on Houzz – mostly traditional interiors, but especially kitchens, home office and basement remodels – which cover some of the projects I have been involved with of late. As expected, it’s not always easy to find an interior that doesn’t feature the white-painted woodwork that is featured on almost every home improvement TV show today. But as bad as the situation might be on www.houzz.com, it’s even worse on www.houzz.co.uk – where almost every single photo in my feed is WHITE. White woodwork. White walls. White cabinets. White fixtures. White tiles. White furniture. White rooms, period. White-white-white-white white. It’s worse than the Academy Awards.

I even posted somewhat sarcastic question on the UK site forum, asking if there had been a ban imposed on using colors other than white. Interestingly enough, one reply blamed the Americans for this; I suppose they could be right.

I get it. If your flat was looking dingy and dull, and you wanted to indulge your dreams of summers in Ibiza, I am fully in sympathy.


My own house probably needs at least one room with white walls - though I am determined that my woodwork will never see paint.

But this ridiculous infatuation with all that is WHITE—or the practical exclusion of anything that is not—is both mystifying and disheartening.

Which is precisely why I am relieved that I can still retrieve those old magazines from the basement and starting looking again for some inspiration. After 20 years or more, I’m sure the pendulum will swing back the other way to once again embrace bold colors, high detail and rich wood tones.

Not so sure about that flowered chintz, though…

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