By STEVE BREWER
Scripps Howard News Service
February 22, 2006
No matter how much you redecorate and refurbish, underneath you're stuck with the same old house, on its same flood-prone lot, next to those neighbors with the filthy habits. It's like that old saying: You can dress a pig in a silk gown, but you can't exchange that gown later, even if you've kept the receipt.
Real estate has become a cult, and redecorating its main ritual. "Resale value" is spoken in the hushed, reverent tones once reserved for "nirvana" or "salvation."
We've all got so much dough tied up in our houses we'll do most anything to boost our investments, up to and including renovation projects that change the whole floor plan.
The remodeling business is booming - $233 billion a year, up more than 50 percent from 1993 - and innumerable magazines and Web sites are devoted to "home fashion."
The problem with fashion is that trends go out just as quickly as they come in. What's hot today might be cold, cold, cold tomorrow (think "harvest gold"), and home fashion mistakes can be expensive to remedy.
It's much easier to fix a fashion faux pas when it comes to clothing. Take, for example, those ridiculous low-slung bellbottoms you wore in the 1970s. Wait, that's a bad example. Then take those laughable platform shoes. Um, that's no good, either. Forget it.
My point is this: Make a mistake in remodeling your home - such as a south-facing sunroom that's the same temperature as Hades - and you can't just stuff it in a bottom drawer and wait for styles to come around again.
A recent article at RealEstateJournal.com said some popular design trends might be on the way out already. Expensive matte stone countertops, those bowl-like sinks that sit on top of the bathroom vanity and kitchen cabinets with glass fronts all soon might be passe, the article said.
Those of you who adopted those styles are gnashing your teeth about now. But why stop there? Other home fashions undoubtedly are on the way out, too. For example:
Appliance colors. No matter which color you choose for your kitchen - white, black, almond, stainless steel - that will be the color that goes out of style. That's why we recommend transparent appliances. You can see what's in the fridge without opening the door. Fingerprint smudges can be a problem with clear appliances. And birds tend to fly into them. But, hey, you can't complain they're the wrong color.
Carpet is out. So is hardwood. So is tile. Packed mud is the only safe choice when it comes to flooring. Can't go wrong with Mother Earth.
Open kitchen shelves are out. So are cabinets with solid doors. The next hot look? Simply stack your canned goods in pyramids in the corners. Next to your dishes.
White paint? Out. Wood paneling? Out. The next trend in wall coverings is orange shag. If it was good enough for that van you drove in college, then it's good enough for your home.
Spa tubs are out. Japanese soaking tubs are out. Showers with multiple spray heads are out. What's in? Firehoses.
Roofs are so-o-o 2005. The home of the future will be open to the great outdoors. Think patio. Think park. Think parka.
Which "home fashion" will pay for itself at resale? The safest route might be to not remodel or redecorate at all. Keep your house just the way it was when you bought it. When it comes time to sell, you'll find some sucker who'll like it that way.
The previous owner did.
Contact him at ABQBrewer(at)aol.com