Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bye, Bye Chandeliers? Death of the Louis Chair?

This is an article that a friend sent me this morning after I was whinging to her the other day, that the houses featured in many of our Aussie magazines these days just don't have the "soul" that they used to. This was written by Stephen Lacey for the Life & Style section of the Sydney Morning Herald...Thanks evai!


There are lots of things that seemed like a good idea at the time: bubble skirts, Betamax, the Ting Tings, George W. Bush. It's only with the benefit of hindsight that you realise . . . what the hell was I thinking?

Same goes for the stuff we put in, on and around our homes. I mean, who still believes aluminium cladding is a great feature?

We've assembled a list of recent design trends that, quite frankly, have already had their day. So if you're about to give your house a makeover in 2009, these might be the things to avoid.

But what if it's already too late? Well, in these times of environmental awareness it would be irresponsible of us to urge you to empty the entire house into landfill. But you might want to consider hiding some stuff in a very big cupboard and remember that everything comes back into fashion if you just wait long enough.

Glamour gets the hammer

Following the biggest stockmarket crash in living memory and with so many people doing it tough, the credo "greed is good" is certainly not the case. In fact, conspicuous consumption has never looked so crass.

The upshot will be an end to the over-the-top luxury aesthetic that has dominated interiors since the retirement of minimalism several years ago.

This means, no more shiny black and chrome surfaces, no more gilded lamp bases and ornate mirrors, no more rooms filled with fake 18th-century Louis chairs and (drum roll) - no more chandeliers.

Heck, the whole chandelier thing got so silly that people were even hanging them in their toilets. And they were rarely the real deal anyway, with most being manufactured yesterday from cheap glass and plastics (let's face it, if you're going to have one it should be old, crystal and preferably French).

So, if you own a chandelier - or several dozen of them - please do us all a favour and have a licensed electrician take it down, then store it for at least a century. Or put it in the dog kennel.

The other big look-at-me glamour item that we should be seeing less of is wallpaper; specifically in highly textured damask, or gleaming metallic silver and gold.

And when it comes to patterns on wallpaper and fabrics, surely 2009 will herald the end of those overwrought baroque motifs. It's reached the point where you can't pick up a cup and saucer or greeting card, let alone a scatter cushion, without having your senses bombarded with swirls and curls.

"The pattern filtered through over several years and now it's everywhere, so you know it's time to go," says designer Ruth Levine.

And while on the subject of conspicuous consumption, Levine adds it's time to say adios to the kind of senseless, unnecessary space found in McMansions.

"These places have formal living and dining rooms that are never ever used," she says. "In fact, some of these homes have more space than anybody could possibly walk through, it's disproportionate to human scale."

Things of stone and wood (and concrete)

Last year, it seemed any wall that wasn't draped in headache-inducing wallpaper was smothered in some form of timber panelling. All manner of timbers were used from walnut to oak. The idea, so designers told us, was to "warm things up". (Haven't they heard of reverse-cycle air-conditioning?)

What we ended up with was usually a cross between a Swedish sauna and one of those crusty old gentlemen's clubs, where blokes sit around in tweed jackets, smoke pipes and talk about the war.

If you did tread that particular design path, the great thing is you can easily rip all that timber panelling down and it makes terrific firewood - which really should warm things up.

Another wall cladding material that has been popular recently (but is going under the sledgehammer in 2009) is stacked stone. Whether created by solid rock or a thin veneer, the result is invariably the same: it looks like you live in the Flinstones' house (or at the very least a quarry).

Sure, these stone walls might have a certain groovy, 1960s appeal but not everything about the '60s was worth repeating - I mean, would you really want to watch reruns of The Flying Nun or have Tiny Tim on your iPod?

And let's hope and pray that '09 sees the demise of the ubiquitous polished concrete floor. Inspired by that whole industrial aesthetic, folks seemed to have forgotten that factories are noisy, smelly places, populated by grubby blokes in overalls who have posters of naked women on their lunchroom walls. Why not go the whole hog and install an assembly line and metal lathe in your living room?

Ditto when it comes to stainless steel kitchen bench tops and splashbacks. Not only are they hard and cold, they're also reminiscent of a mortuary.


Of all the trends in recent years that are headed for the chopping block, the most overdue is the "constellation" ceiling. That's where home owners see the need to punctuate their ceilings with so many halogen lights that it becomes a starry, starry night up there.

Not only is this a bog-ugly way to light your room, casting Frankenstein shadows on anybody who ventures beneath, it's also a shocking waste of power.

Even a dimmed MR16 Halogen can draw up to 55 watts (with a lot of the energy transformed into heat, rather than light).

Compare this with a new-generation LED, which draws just nine watts and lasts up to 50,000 hours, and you can understand why this year halogens should go the same way as the dinosaurs.

Plastic not so fantastic

Plastic is made from petroleum products - the same petroleum products used by idiots who drive massive, look-at-me Hummers and ruin the environment.

This is obviously not a good thing. Which is why designers, including Levine, are predicting we'll see less use of plastic around the home this year.

"It's cold, it's shiny and it's easily scratched," Levine says. "And unlike say, timber, when plastic is scratched it's ruined."

Hmm, Designers, Decorators, Fellow Bloggers, what do you think??

(Images via and


evai said...

I'm sad about the polished concrete floor. I've always wanted one but now that he says it's not cool I guess I can't have it. I have always beena a fasion victim though.

The Enchanted Closet said...

I agree with so much of this, but not about the demise of chandeliers. I will always love them.

paper aeroplane said...

Me too! ;)

jills said...

I read the SMH article too and knew it would stir up the Sydneysiders. Agree with most things - not reverse cycle airconditioning though, and hey, the chandeliers should have been Czech, shouldn't they? Initially a few I saw had great wit, such as the 2 on the deck of the tiny 8 cabin, French decorated Nile sailing boat we sailed on, but like most fads they are loved to death. Having said that, we're way over antlered at the moment aren't we!

burnsj3 said...

There are some good looking chairs around :)