Bad Taste - The Root of Design Evil
The battle of good over evil; a never ending war which consumes the world. Whether the essence of wicked (in general terms) actually exists is open to debate but, in a design context, it’s certainly prevalent. And it’s a force to be reckoned with; each time we arrange an exorcism by paintbrush, evil energy returns in another guise at another address, in another room, in another town. Not that we’re complaining; makeover manevolence keeps us busy, both sides of the pond.
It’s a tough job, though, outrunning bad design, but we remain permanently prepared for battle, no matter how dense the burning fire. We’re not simply designers, you see, we’re global bad taste busters, sent earthbound to make the world a prettier place. We’re like Spiderman to the Green Goblin, The Fantastic Four to Victor Doom or, well, Superman to Lex Luthor. Praise the Lord!
But hold your horses. What if we could stop the dastardly villain - in his various guises - from manifesting in the first place? Might our time worn maxim; ‘prevention is better than cure’, be the way forward? Fact of the matter is, because we regularly see the same offences, we’re able to offer an identikit guide to the world’s troublesome, typical design crimes. It therefore follows that, suitably informed, you can avoid entering homes like these (lest you become infected by the missing style gene) or recognize in yourself the personal failings, thereby affording the opportunity to confess all and make change. Before it‘s too late. Tammy Fae Bakker eat your heart out. Hallelujah! It’s time to ’name and shame’…
First Time Floppers
Many of us move into first homes, only to furnish the empty spaces with haphazard, mismatched hand-me-downs. ‘Compulsory recycling’ such as this is often a measure of economics - and makes great sense - but before the next step is taken (and so that evil doesn‘t grip hold) an element of ‘fine tuning’ is required. As you settle in and acquire extra resources, weed out the things you don’t love, and replace them slowly with things you do. This practise doesn’t always pan out, however, (come on lazy bones; we’re watching) the result being that many folk continue to languish in dated, impersonal spaces, even when resources allow for changes to be made.
Glance into a problem home and you’ll see a veneer of decorating evil; an old sofa, for example, with a throw casually ’draped’ across offensive fabric and lumpy upholstery. Shelves will bulge with an assembly of mismatched (but not in a good way) crockery, poor lighting (problem homes seldom have pairs of table lamps) and all manner of discard bequeathed by unloading in-laws.
Mid 50’s, typically, and rattling around in a dated, empty house, these lovely folk exist in a time warp, often pushed (emotionally and literally) into the corners of their previous lives, terrified to reclaim space in case doing so somehow confirms that the kids have indeed moved on. We particularly enjoy working for this contingent; they deserve a spot of assistance. They‘ve put their hearts and souls into their kids lives but they‘re scared of change. But change can be good - even cathartic - and, effected properly, it can help parents move on. Break out and reclaim life, say we. The revolution starts here.
Baywatch and Star Wars posters tacked loosely to bedroom walls. Kitchens that were fitted when Noah was building his ark - often with lowered frosted Plexi glass ceilings. These spaces are a reminder that cash, throughout the years, was spent raising the kids, which is of course lovely. Now the kids have moved on, however, there should (potentially) be more money for a refit, n’est pas? What? Hold it. School fees to pay? Shoot; we forgot about that aspect. Okay, fair comment, but how much cash does it cost to peel away a bikini clad Pammy Anderson from a time warp bedroom wall? We rest our case.
Design is a language; fact. It spells out who you are at home and communicates this to those around you. A dining room, for example, with an over scale modern table, Victorian striped wallpaper and uncomfortable seating exposes and shares your lack of home management skills with others. We find specifications such as these frustrating, knowing, as we do, how easy it is (with even just a little forward planning) to get it right. Here’s a lesson; imagine wearing a ski hat, black rubber waders, a cocktail dress and a bed jacket. Quite the sartorial vision, huh? Okay, so each garment might work individually (on the slopes, while fishing, at a party or while snoozing) but all at one time, out of context? What a thoroughly messy mash up. And a look, at all times, best avoided.
Glance around and you’ll observe an evil fashion faux pas at every turn; clashing patterns, heavily themed schematics, ergonomically unsound furniture and suspicious ornamentation. Yup, the whole look positively screams ‘ill conceived’ with every vignette being more disturbing than the one by which it’s preceded.
Our title says it all. We’ve viewed and spewed over a million and one overloaded homes although in the case of this category, overloaded refers not just to accessories, chat Chaka’s and collections but to finishes and visual clutter such as patterned paper, swirly carpets and overpowering paint colours. If truth be known we relish these homes; we enjoy helping our paymasters adopt a more minimal approach, even if that means presiding over the cull of a hundred strong flock of ceramic owls or a china frog army that has over run the space.
Surfaces, at every turn, will be cluttered with ‘stuff’. There‘ll be an army of gesticulating Lladro ladies jostling for living room shelf space and, in the shag carpeted bathroom, the loo roll will be wearing a knitted skirt with a perky wee Barbi doll protruding from its cardboard tummy. We never quite ‘understood’ the toilet roll doll and now, as the fervour for all things retro gathers momentum, we live in fear that her star may once again be in the ascendant. Please no. Not ever.
These gaffs suffer from ‘delusions of blandeur’ and, as we go about our business, we observe street loads of ‘em; beige box homes with little or no personal flair. As remedy, we advise users to think about décor in the same way they might a diet; too much cream, for example, and there’s the risk of becoming shapeless and amorphic. The same applies in residential design where soulless decorating can make space visually sag. By all means paint everything beige at sales time to temp swift purchase but, if staying put, inject at least little personality. You know it makes sense.
Excessive use of espresso timber and beige wall to wall Berber. Scan further and you’ll see lightly textured wallpaper with no particular pattern, and ‘inoffensive’ (we’ll be the judge of that) faux mahogany ‘antique’ side tables that are generally too small to hold a thimble, let alone a teacup, a remote control and a copy of Readers Digest. Oh, and there’ll be beige velour upholstery fabric everywhere.
We should conclude that the aforementioned problems are simply the tip of the style free iceberg. We’ve not even touched on avocado bathroom suites or popcorn ceilings. Decorating evil prevails, you see, in many arena’s and, if truth be known, even talking about it is having a somewhat debilitating Kryptonite effect on our superpowers. So, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off for a style boost battery charge. Yup, it’s time to drape ourselves in cashmere, sip a little Bolly and do the flick through a hundred and one Architectural Digest back issues. Ah, joy; we can almost feel our equilibrium rebalancing. Two super heroes, remedial powers restored, off into designer battle, once again. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s…