Tuesday 3 May 2016

More Decor Crimes

A little too rustic

collecting and displaying objects that no longer have a use (bakelite telephones – it used to be copper warming pans)
fitted carpets printed with fleur-de-lys (in forest green, terracotta or midnight blue – looks like a pub)

nesting tables
motorized drinks cabinet
cork-tiled walls

upcycling (It often means “give distressed paint finish” or just “paint grey”.)
cutting the legs off a kitchen table to turn it into a coffee table
table made by cutting out the sides of an old water tank (a bit too industrial)
cutting a Georgian table in half to use as two console tables
the “table lamp made of an old lobster pot” school (It's nothing new.)

plaster mouldings in a modernist flat
flowery cottage wallpaper in a modernist flat or house
multi-coloured pebble effect lino combined with the above

spotlights above paintings (especially of the banker’s desk-lamp type)
glazing pictures with non-reflective glass

balcony railings all lined with bamboo slat screens
home fragrance reed diffusers – those little jars of sticks that are suddenly everywhere
admiring the patina on an old soil pipe (and turning it into a sun lounger)

pale green sculpted carpet (the beige cardigan of décor)
moulded tiles in imitation of green sculpted carpet
Turning your disused fireplace into a wine cellar (with a wine rack)

putting a plant pot directly on a Georgian marquetry table – for years
lampshades made of brass and glass panels (sometimes pink, brown or etched with a design), sometimes in a vague flower shape. (Available on Amazon of course.)

wrist rest in the shape of a stuffed dachshund (now we don’t need them as draught excluders any more thanks to central heating).

pulling up all the fitted carpets and stripping and sealing the floorboards – and then not putting down any rugs so that the place looks rather stark and everybody’s footsteps are deafening

louvred glass windows in a Victorian terrace
pelmet with Venetian blinds
garden sculpture brought inside, and shoved into a corner
a ye olde brass fireplace with fake coals in an Art Deco fire surround
a Regency fireplace in a Span house
Daggers and rapiers hung on the wall – in a Span house. A long way from the Scottish baronial hall bristling with weapons and suits of armour.
antique pieces used for a different purpose, or put in a different setting (It can work – a hot water can used as a vase or holder for wooden spoons – but sometimes it doesn’t, eg the classical capital on the mantelpiece.)

A High Gothic vault on a Romanesque cathedral.
High Gothic – so twee. And those sculpted leaves and flowers must be hell to dust.
church conversions – especially the kind where they build an entirely new pod-house inside

A restaurant in a modern block with a distressed brick interior finish and other “warehouse” accoutrements.

Those bamboo-slat blinds that everybody had in the 70s – they fell to bits and ceased to work immediately. If you’d ever figured out how they worked in the first place, that is.

Café lighting that is so dark that older patrons can’t read by it (I’m talking to you, Barbican and British Library. We aren’t all medieval manuscripts. And why are exhibitions of metalwork and stone objects as dimly lit as a show of fabric, watercolours and ancient frescos?)

A Modern Victorian terrace with East End charm (theartofbespoke.com A nice Victorian terrace house has been given a vast glass extension on the back, and the entire interior has been turned into a trendy, hard-edged “living space” with roof lights.)

Tenants move into a gleaming modernist tower block – and put up flowery net curtains. That go grimy.

Every door in your house – including cupboard doors – has long iron hinges like a stable door. (Very Voysey – but would he have put them in the living room?)

Insane “rustic” interiors where everything from the walls to the furniture is made of recycled wood. Designer suggests you “get some oak” to make a headboard and put “weaved rugs” on the floor.

Terrace house in Congleton on Homes under the Hammer done over with a pebble dash exterior, fake leaded lights, fibreglass olde beams everywhere, textured Artex, wooden plank doors and rusticated staircase (like a Tyrolean restaurant!). Interior painted apricot. Sadly the buyers “ripped” everything out.

Per the Daily Mail, avoid mixer taps, leather sofas, coloured loo paper and decanter tags.
Charlie Luxton makes TV programmes on architecture and design, hates big rooms with low ceilings and loads of downlighters and “Breakfast bars with those padded stools on sticks”.

Alex Polizzi hates "half-arsed theming".

From msn.com: What to avoid when selling your house
Exterior in a wacky colour.
“Updating” the fireplace (especially in a style or period that’s wrong for the house).
Blue walls and green woodwork – or any other clashing colour combo. (Davida Hogan, home stager at Edited Style, suggests painting woodwork the same colour as the walls.)
Cooker with unshiftable grime.
Grubby light switches, grubby anything.
Trend overload (those clashing colours again – keep it neutral).
Hard-to-clean surfaces (wooden worktops).
Small bathroom tiles – they make the space seem cramped.
Dull wooden floors.

From hgtv.com
Toilet rugs (that fit round the toilet base)
too many photos on every surface
spaghetti junctions of cables
“Decorating too much in the same print is overwhelming and tacky.”
décor styles that don’t match period or area (Don’t go Hawaiian in Runcorn, or Cotswolds in Hackney)
dated kitchen cabinets
sitting room over-full of formal furniture
clutter (build in some storage)
matchy matchy
fads like lava lamps and beanbag chairs (except they’re the antiques of the future)
cramming in oversized furniture
too many patterns (paisley, floral etc)
one tiny rug floating in the centre of the tile or stripped floor
plastic couch covers
furniture pushed back to the walls
too many neutrals
too many knick-knacks (edit, then rotate your display)
too many cushions

too many lawn ornaments (especially concrete toads in hats)
too-short grass
plants that clash with the architecture

Le Corbusier wanted his tower blocks to be surrounded by park-like grounds a la Capability Brown. In practice this became unused stretches of grass, often fenced off so that tenants couldn’t walk there, sit there, play there or do anything but look at it. Even when not fenced off, people are shy about sunbathing or sitting out and prefer to go the park.

A field full of identical McMansions too close together and all facing the same way – even when they’re perfect copies of an 18th century gentleman’s house. Especially when. New estates with buildings that are too big to be so close together, on tiny plots, at odd angles to each other. Especially with fake chimneys, and very tiny rustic details. And an ornate porch on the windowless side of a house, leading only to a tiny iron staircase to the road. 

Scattered houses at odd angles to each other might happen organically if each was on a small-holding and they were built at different times. But here there’s no historical reason for the plan and it just looks wrong, somehow. Terrace houses on a street line a road that’s going somewhere. But we can’t build those because they look so... working class.

In late Victorian times, and the early 20th century, the middle classes were very scathing about “villas”. New, too-small, too close together, but pretentious with it.

Buildllc.com wants to see the back of these architectural features:
decorative shutters too small to cover the windows
mansard roof on a two-storey house (They’re meant to go on the top of a vast chateau with several storeys.)
purely decorative stick-on quoins in a different colour

New-build houses are like rabbit hutches, have low ceilings, thin walls, small rooms and “zero charm”, says a survey quoted in the Daily Mail June 2015.

Brick veneers – panels of fake bricks. We aren’t fooled.

A door apparently out of a submarine – on a restrained 50s office block.

Brutalist shopping arcades that are so dark they need electric lighting all day. The overhead lights quickly become filthy and full of dead insects. And they’re too dim. (The one in Royal Oak has been disguised as a classical terrace and turned into an extension of Waitrose, sort of.)

Adding “fresh new colours” to a Brutalist building. Cladding same in coloured panels, especially in shades of blue.

Tiny windows imitating tiny Tudor cottage windows: they were that size because there was no plate glass, or in many cases any glass at all and they were “glazed” with horn or parchment. Please, we have plate glass now!

“Victorian” lamp posts in 60s shopping malls. They were put up in the nostalgic 70s and 80s when we really wanted a quaint ye olde market. It was still a 60s shopping mall – but now with inappropriate lighting. Did they think we wouldn’t notice?

Lucy on Homes under the Hammer says a done-up house has a “hotel vibe”. She meant it as a compliment.

Those very dim overhead bulbs are “filament bulbs”: ugly, cold, and too dim to read by. Popular in cafés.

Industrial is so ovah now you can get a desk tidy made of a jamjar glued to a plank. And Why Not – use an old paperback as a business card holder? (You can now get a mass-produced jamjar with a handle to use as a coffee mug, too.)

More here, and links to the rest.


  1. Depressing and hilarious at the same time. Those bamboo blinds.
    And, as long suspected, we will never be able to sell our house.

  2. The brutalist mall in Southwark Street is now a Waitrose with (gasp!) windows onto the street that let in some (gulp!) natural daylight!!!!