HOME Editor’s Note: Bucking the trends

Photograph by Ben Rollins
Photograph by Ben Rollins

During my writing career, these are things I’ve scorned in print: midcentury modern furniture, brass chandeliers, barrel shades, mauve grasscloth. During the last three years, these are things I’ve installed in my home: midcentury modern artwork, an antique brass chandelier with a barrel shade, and grasscloth (albeit navy blue). If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s not to stress too deeply about trends in home decorating—and to watch what you say in print, but that’s another matter.

Nowhere are trends more universal than in the kitchen. You can look at most of them and tell when they were built. The ’80s? Painted tile and a pine hutch. The ’90s? Granite counters and stained wood. The ’00s? White marble and subway tile, the look that refuses to die. In any other room of the house, you can experiment with different styles—a few pillows here, a new lamp there, and suddenly the space feels fresher. But that backsplash isn’t going anywhere soon. It’s not like you can just paste on a few decals—after all, this isn’t the 1970s.

Europeans have embraced the portable kitchen. Their fixtures aren’t built into walls, so it’s a lot easier for them to switch things out, or to take their counters along when they move. But I doubt that concept will catch on here. We Southerners are deeply attached to our houses and want our appliances to stay that way too.

Can we agree that every kitchen doesn’t have to be “of the moment”? We’ll all be happier cooks if we stop fretting over those dark cabinets and shiny brass hinges. And if you’re lucky enough to be renovating, do what makes you happy—imaginary resale buyers be damned. If you love sunny colors, don’t settle for gray just because it’s on trend.

Designing a kitchen needs to be more like building an art collection than selecting draperies. No one expects everyone to love work by the same artists, but I think we can all agree that balloon shades have had their moment.

That’s why this issue’s kitchen sourcebook is about finding your personal style. What makes you smile while brewing your morning coffee? Do what you love, and you won’t mind when trends shift again.

Three decades ago, I picked out classic blue-and-white everyday dishes for our first home. They’ve outlasted four ovens, three refrigerators, and countless faucets. They still make me smile—though I’ve got to admit, they’re a bit busy for Instagram.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.