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Black Windows, Corian Countertops, Avocado Appliances

June 9, 2021

Black windows are crisp, even edgy. Corian countertops with integral sinks are nearly miraculous in their seamlessness. I even remember the pop of seeing “Avocado” colored appliances destroy the Arctic White of the kitchen appliance world, along with “Goldenrod” and “Coppertone”.

But those gimmicks (along several dozen million Palladian windows) are now visually soundbites of their eras. Media in the House-selling Hype Machine creates herding trends that relentlessly push the hip cool of being on the edge of what captures the power and giddy empowerment of home ownership. The cliches of the last decades have all jumped the shark and revealed the cynical trend porn used to market product. I think those fads will soon to be followed by today’s obsession with black windows.

Why do we need fads to validate one of our most fundamental interests, creating our homes? The terrorizing risk of the largest investment and debt we all face is overwhelming. Dependability in that investment is often necessary, or the liability overwhelms the joy of home ownership.

We look at buying a car in a similar way. If we thought about the full (huge) cost we would never be able to save all that cash and put it into a machine that degrades from the moment you own it. Instead, we think about the monthly payment of a lease or a car loan and judge how that small piece of the automobile’s outsized price tag fits in our budget – even though the total cost of the paying off the loan is far greater than the insanely high cost of a new car.

Black Windows distract us from the huge risk of owning a home. We can float down the river of trend, fad and hype and be washed into acceptance of our extreme risk, distracted by the eye candy of the moment. As an architect I am happy to fulfill my clients’ desires, and integrate the popular soundbites of the home hype machine into what we help them create.

But I also show the alternatives, because despite the Group Think of Bubbles, Houzz and Real Estate Brokers, what is snappy today is funky tomorrow. An anonymous broker pulled me aside at a showing last month and confided “I have already had buyers reject the Black Window Thing – it’s already dated.”

What never goes out of fashion is our fondest hopes and the reality of whatever land and community that our homes live in. The gist of making your place can be found in trends. I have an exquisite 32 year old Corian sink/countertop vanity in my home, and I love it. But the “look” of images that are now offered on millions of screens is just a shorthand for the hopes of our essential human desire to have our own place.

The basic need to be sheltered is only matched by the giddy empowerment of having a “cool” place. A good designer can see both realities and provide perspective and options. No one wants a home that becomes a landfill of avocado, black and Palladian junk.

Our homes are too important.

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