Fads that give us the heebie-jeebies.

October 10, 2022

Beware architectural flourishes and finishes such as two storey flagstone fireplaces or kitchen extensions that look like airport hangars. It’s tempting to fall for showy decorating fads. Here, we identify the worst interior status symbol missteps, (something you can afford, that someone else can’t) —from overkill chef’s kitchens to pretentious tray ceilings —and offer graceful alternatives.

Discover the other “luxe” architectural fads that give us the heebie-jeebies—and what we’d choose instead because our homes matter for therapeutic reasons.

Among the meretricious trends that designers see spiralling out of control according to the Wall Street Journal in a recent article are “those “chef-style” faucets whose spouts are wrapped in a coil of chrome. Originally designed for commercial kitchens, they’re overkill in a residence, where they give “a Frankenstein lab’ vibe’.

Remember, bad decor is a symptom of our desperate bid for the world’s esteem. But you will find more peace if you fill your home with things that mean something to you.

Michael P. H. Clifford for Architectural Digest.

Snooty Cook Quarters

Chef’s kitchens have gone overboard with cabinetry that resembles freight containers and benches, vast as salt flats. And for what? Unpacking takeaway. Real cooks know that skill is not proportional to how many cubic metres of storage your kitchen has. Read more, ‘The Top Interior Design Trends For 2022.’

To give a cooking space a homier feel, try installing a wooden dining table in lieu of an island—a move that evokes, a well-loved room, not a sterile laboratory.



Why does every surface need to be treated like a runway at an airport with LED strip lighting outlining bookshelves, tray ceilings and even sofas in high-end estates? The technology has run amok. Instead, use rechargeable LED lamps, that throw warm pools of light. The fact is, it’s the shadow that creates interest and depth in a room. Read more, ’10 Renovation Trends You’ll Be Seeing alot of in 2022.’

Michael P. H. Clifford for Architectural Digest

Crowded Showers

Want to know a common bathroom bête noire? A designer’s nightmare is having a valve for each showering fixture—the hand-held, the body spray, the main showerhead, the rain head…the list goes on. This excess has been dubbed “wall acne.” A one-valve system will get you just as clean. Read more, ‘Exploring The Home of Tomorrow: Top 10 Design Trends.’

Weighty Frames

In the near future, stocky black window surrounds—a hallmark of the farmhouse architecture will date a home as one built during Covid. If you’re set on black frames, make them classic and understated.

Think about diamond-grill panes in a modern French-country-style house. It’s the difference between thick heavy black eyeliner versus fine, discreet eyeliner.

Justin Coit for Architectural Digest

Egg-Shaped Soakers

Most designers would like to see supposedly elegant ovoid bathtubs thrown out with the bathwater, noting that the rounded bottoms leave no way to ground yourself. You end up white-knuckling the sides or you float around like an amoeba. A flat base tub is essential to bathing comfort.

Michael P. H. Clifford for Architectural Digest.

Cheesy Ceilings

We loathe tray ceilings, a common tactic that developers deploy to imbue newly built white boxes with “character.” The effect—as if the centre of the ceiling has been pushed upward like one big coffer leaving a thick frame of drywall—rarely relates to the overall architecture. Many are too ornate for the rooms they’re in, and when set in a 2.4-metre ceiling, feel “claustrophobic. Read more, ‘Your Guide To Living Well In The Next Decade: 35 Insider Predictions.’

You can achieve more idiosyncratic overhead enchantment with wood beams.


Chefery Al Fresco

Another thing designers avoid is those fully tricked-out patio kitchens, complete with fridges and ice makers. Unless you live in a climate where cooking outside 365 days a year is possible, why would you spend upwards of $250,000 putting in something that belongs in a catering kitchen to feed 300? These extravagances are seldom handsome.

All you really need to properly entertain outdoors? A humble charcoal grill and proximity to your indoor cook space for drink runs.

Jeff Holt.

Airport Hangar Kitchen Extensions

It’s a kitchen extension, not an airport hangar. Time to ditch the bifold doors, says the Wall Street Journal in a recent trends report. “Whilst a light-enhancing, space-enhancing, effortlessly flowing kitchen that opens onto the garden ticks a whole lot of boxes, it’s fair to say that things became a bit too exposed in the cabin fever height of lockdown when we were all forced to share the ‘openness’ with whoever we were living with at the time. Privacy and quiet time, please.”

Open floor concept living is on its way out in 2022. The last few years of pandemic life have reshaped how people use their homes. Spending so much time at home has created the natural gravitation towards more privacy and designated spaces.

And we admit while it is appealing to build a house that blurs the distinction between outside and in, that usually requires massive sliding doors — which also precludes the strict threshold boundaries in order to keep the domestic sphere free of everyday grit. But you can make your home and its garden a unified field: with rows of tall triple-hung windows that extend to the floor or a bank of French windows. Read more, ‘These 21 Design Trends Have Stood The Test of Time.’

Michael P. H. Clifford for Architectural Digest.

La-di-da Velvet 

We’ve indulged in velvet sofa idleness long enough. While velvet’s buttery smooth appeal on the upholstery to soft furnishings has been in fashion for a while, let’s drop the bougie act and get authentic with tactile textiles that don’t have to be stroked down every time we use them. Instead, think of lived-in textures with layers that embrace a slow living aesthetic of slubbly linens, soft waffle cottons, moleskin, wool, hemp, rattan, and jute. Modern lives are demanding enough, we don’t need our homes to be high maintenance too.

Bottom line? 

Many do not regard architectural flourishes and finishes such as sweeping ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ staircases as aesthetic assets. Bad decor is a symptom of our desperate bid for the world’s esteem. But you will find more peace, and security if you fill your home with things that mean something to you.

Our homes matter for therapeutic reasons. They can be an apothecary for the soul.

Yet in order for them to act as one, we have to learn to consider our homes through a more personal, emotionally rich lense with things that matter to us. If you fill your home with things that are logical and lovely, it makes a good recipe for decorating, if not life at large. If an item or renovation has personal meaning beyond its secretly snobbish design attraction, then it’s alright by us.


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