Unlike clothing, your home is built to last and styles should reflect that reality.
A trap for the unwary renovator is being seduced by what Robin Boyd defined as the mesmerism of “fashion” and remaking your home into a showcase of the latest, most up-to-datest in design, detailing and decor.
If your house looks like the cover of a “trend” magazine, you’ve possibly already dropped into this expensive pit with big-ticket items that will, in a few years, make your renovation instantly datable.
Black-granite benches, Euro appliances and endless downlighting? Early ’90s. Corrugated-iron Colorbond cladding on the coastal property with the curved roof? Turn of the century. Red-glass splashbacks, chandeliers and marble-touched bathrooms in the white-on-white apartment? Mid-noughties.
Same with the statement mixer taps and the egg-shaped baths that nobody ever uses. And according to the taste pundits, nothing is more dating right now than over-the-top “architectural” handles on cupboards that went out a couple of years ago. Wouldn’t you know it – we’re back to “handlelessness”.
Architecture and interior design, at their best, should ideally aim well beyond a use-by date, and not rely on innovation for fashion’s sake. They should opt instead for something approaching functional longevity with a perennially fresh personality.
“Let’s face it,” says Architect Ramon Pleysier, a principal of Pleysier Perkins, “building is expensive. It’s a serious undertaking. It makes sense to get it right the first time and prevent the need for costly future makeovers.” So how do you do that? How do you achieve the frame for life; not just technology and aesthetics?
From the get-go, according to Pleysier, keep it all simple. “The key,” Pleysier says, “is simplicity. Before anything else, first principles: orientation, light, space and functionality are timeless qualities that are immune to the trends of fashion.”
Think before you build. And respond to the surroundings and context of a site. Then, keep the idea for a design clear and strong and let the idea be consistent throughout.
Too many novel incorporations can become domestic fashion death at the turn of the trend. According to Pleysier, “it is important not to pack too many ideas into one space”.
They agree that kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms and the most common fashion victims. With modern bathrooms, Vidal says, too many ideas in a small space spells disaster.
But the dazzle of the new “wow factor” is always out there and architects have to work collaboratively with clients who are now tending to approach residential architecture as if it were a fashion consumable.
Clothing fashion operates on fleeting trends that lose cachet as soon as there is saturation of uptake. Architecture and interiors are about longevity and, according to one contemporary manifesto, “should not be subject to aesthetic and intellectual fashion”.
If, however, a good architect sees a client heading for the latest design fashion trap, they have strategies of gentle persuasion. Pleysier says a “potentially datable idea can often be reinterpreted into something amazing”.
Don’t focus on trying to outdo your neighbour. Instead, aspire to a design that solves all the requirements of the brief and respects the surroundings and a beautiful and unique result is usually the result.
Story compiled from domain.com.au