From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 16, 2017
I recently read a story about a man who bought a mid-century Chicago bungalow from the original owner, who apparently never moved into the home. For some undisclosed reason, it was left vacant more than 50 years. It was like the new owner had purchased a piece of history that was perfectly preserved in museum-like condition. The kitchen was never used, and still had the original manuals taped to the appliances. I was fascinated to find out that this state-of-the-art kitchen was almost entirely pink; it’s countertop was pink, the sink was pink and even the GE appliances were accented in pink.
Design trends have piqued my interest lately, so I’ve been studying the history of how our ideas have evolved throughout the 20th century., figuring that anything that be can learned about the present or future, is better explained by our past.
Much of our design trends came out of function, not style, and up until the 1920’s, designing one’s home was left for the rich and affluent. So how did we get to this point in history that many home interiors look so similar? Who influenced us with the modern farmhouse, white kitchens, white subway tile, marble counters and gray walls (specifically Benjamin Moore – Revere Pewter HC-172)?
I’m interested to know where the trends began and who started them.
Certainly that 1950 pink kitchen was influenced by Mamie Eisenhower. It was the first lady’s favorite color and well known to American women at the time. She was such a pink influencer, while her husband, Dwight D. Eisenhower was our president, that the press began calling the White House “the pink palace”. Without even having a social sharing platform like Pinterest, she was the reason so many homes around the country were filled with pink.
So who is influencing us today?
Maybe it comes from the California designers, or from Pinterest, or a it might come from plethora of magazines that promote the sale of new building products.
My Houzz.com account recently sent me a “push” notification with its 2017 predictions for paint colors, lighting, hardware and other home design ideas. Do they have their finger on the proverbial fashion pulse? I actually do love the Houzz Web site, because it allows you to store pictures and ideas of projects that you’re dreaming of doing in the future, but since they sell products and services, they might be just a little bias.
Having moved into our home in October 2015, we wanted to live in the space for at least a year before making any changes. The former owners had meticulously built the home in 1998, custom for themselves, and their three children. It is a wonderfully warm and inviting family home, but it is now 19 years old, and we are considering some changes. I would like to integrate more smart-home technology, so it will serve our lifestyle better, but we’re trying to avoid making changes that will soon be gone with the next trend. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t oppose the fashionable and trendy, but by the time we downsize, chances are high that the changes we make today will go over then like the pink of the 1950’s.
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The architect must be a prophet… a prophet in the true sense of the term… if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him an architect.”
Who knows how long the current trends will last, and if gray will be gone today or tomorrow, but according to Houze.com, Jewel tones are on their way in, and so are gold fixtures. Maybe even the pink kitchens will too.
Who is influencing us today? Will it be Melania Trump?
I think it might just be, each other.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 27 years, and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514.