Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Of Fads and Other Such Silliness, Part I

Fads.  I think they've been around as long as there have been people.  Fads happen in most aspects of our cultural life:  in clothing/shoes, hair styles, home decorating, garden design, architecture, art, music, etc...  Some fads seem to be a function of change for the sake of change - the younger generation wants to do something different than their parents did, so they create a fad that goes in a different direction.  Some fads seem to come about because someone of notoriety does something a certain way and others feel they have to follow (Justin Beeber's hairstyles are an example of this).  I also believe that some fads are created by industries in order to sell new products.  

According to the "fad" entry on Wikipedia,  "The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone."  Also according to Wikipedia, a "fad" is not to be confused with a "trend" which can often lead to more permanence.   Today I'm here to talk about  - perhaps even complain about - some fads or trends that I've seen in home decorating throughout my last few months of doing just that.  

Hubby and I have spent a lot of time watching home decorating shows on TV over the last few years.  There are many such shows on HGTV.  In addition to the decorating shows, there are shows like House Hunters where each episode features a new family in search of a home - and they usually evaluate and pick from 3 options in the course of the 30 min show.  During their inspections of the options, a lot is said about their interests/needs/tastes in home decorating.  Hubs and I have definitely noticed some "trends" in what many buyers seem to be looking for and wanting in a new home.  This has been confirmed by what we've seen on some decorating shows as well.  

One trend is that many people seem to be shunning carpet in favor of hardwood flooring.  Hardwood floors were popular "back in the day" before carpet and sweepers were both inexpensive and good quality.  Then there seem to be a trend away from wood floors as being "old fashioned", and carpet became the desirable option for those wanting to get away from what their parents had.  It seems to me that in the '60s and '70s in Middle America, there was a huge trend away from hardwood floors and toward carpet.  I know that my family fell into this trend.  Grandma's house, built in the 1920s, had hardwood floors, but Mom wanted wall to wall carpet in her new house in the '60s.  She even bought large rugs that could be cut to fit around bathroom fixtures so that the bathroom could have wall-to-wall carpeting.   All of the homes I was in during my childhood that were built from the '50s on had wall-to-wall carpet.  (With the possible exception of kitchens, although our house had it in the kitchen as well.)  Now, when we watch House Hunters, many new home owners moan when they see carpet and immediately declare THAT will have to go and be replaced with hardwood.  Some indicate a need for a low-allergy environment, or for cleanliness, and others just seem to be speaking the language of the trend.  During our remodeling process, a friend seemed surprised that we were not taking advantage of this opportunity to put in hardwood instead of replacing old carpet with new carpet.  My answer was short and simple:  "I'm not going to spend my life chasing dust bunnies!"   Hubby and I had hardwood floors in the bedrooms of an apartment that we lived in in the '80's, and it was most labor-intensive floor I've ever lived with!  I could dust the floor and 5 minutes later there would be another dust bunny that I had "missed".   Keeping those floors clean was a Sisyphean struggle!  I certainly don't mind running a sweeper over carpet once a week or so, but as far as I'm concerned, wood floors are just too high-maintenance.  Then there is the issue of walking with bare feet - which I do most of the time - carpet = warm, cozy, cushy and nice for the feets - wood = hard, cold, splintery.  NO THANKS!  I love my new carpet, and I plan to hang on to it as long as I can.  I'm sure there are situations where it is more practical not to have carpet, but to me this "trend" is impractical for most homes.  For those of you who have wood floors and love them:  I'm happy for you, and I certainly mean no disrespect.  Please call me to socialize if you have time between dustings!

Trend #2:  The kitchen MUST have stainless steel appliances  in order to be "in".  Ok, seriously, stainless steel appliances?  I'm not sure where this "fad" came from, (and I'm calling it a fad because I think it is going to fade when the novelty wears off), but I have a feeling it has something to do with all the cooking shows on TV, and people seeing that professional chefs have stainless steel appliances - therefore, if you want to have a professional looking kitchen, that's the way to go.  Also, they're more expensive, so they must be "better", right?  Here is another high-maintenance item: fingerprints, scratches, and then there is that sound when you scrape your fingernail on it!!  ARGH!!!  We inherited a stainless steel sink in the kitchen of our new house.  It is a nightmare to keep clean - much more labor-intensive than the old ceramic sink at the old house.  As with the dust-bunnies, the sink always has water spots.  No matter how long and hard I work, there are ALWAYS water spots!!!  

Trend #3:  Vessel sinks on bathroom vanities.  Talk about impractical!  I can see them perhaps in a fancy powder room that is only used very occasionally by a guest, but to have them in a bathroom that is used by the family for everyday tooth-brushing, etc... Totally impractical.   I make a prediction that within 5 years these will be "out" and people who buy houses with them in will be removing them or complaining about them.  I'm not sure where this trend came from - perhaps some wealthy mansion in Europe started it?  Well, you mark my words - by 2017, these will be "so last year".  

Ok, for those of you who are not mad at me and want to keep reading, stay tuned to the next entry for more of my whining and complaining about fads and trends that I've seen recently!