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Of Styles and Trends: The Empty White Walls Minimalist Polemic

This happens even before walking into a new spec, or recently renovated home. You know the feel, you recognize the look and you know what to expect, right? Basically it’s about all, bare, white or pale empty walls, bare floors and sparse furnishings. It’s minimalism at its worst, and ugliest, maybe. Well, it’s definitely the ugliest for picture framers because the average home seems to now feature one quarter of the wall décor it had  twenty years ago. And by definition, this means that they're only doing one quarter of the work they did a generation earlier. Good folks once decorated their  homes to remind them of seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season always had, and still has, its moods and colours, but why is the all-white so popular? Surely it isn’t polar winter all year round? And while this has been ..    defining the zeitgeist of the interior online house design of the past few years, people are getting sick of it! Decorators and homeowners of the world now want something different, but they don’t really know what. And,if we go back a bit, this all-white trend isn’t absolutely, completely new. Throughout the ages and in many countries, this trend has been adopted before. The ancient Greeks, the modern Scandinavians, and the Japanese during most times, have had this, or a very similar, sparse, minimalist interior décor, albeit often broken by tapestries and textiles adorning the walls. But why did the all-white trend re-emerge? It is likely that several factors contributed to this re-emergence. One factor may have been the reaction of decorators and home owners going the diametrically opposite way to the busy, patterned décor at the beginning of this millennium. Some of you will remember, the mylar wall decorations, flocked patterns and other extravagant and highly decorative  designs. Of course there was nothing incorrect or improper with those designs, but people got bored, and swung the opposite way. A second factor perhaps was the reverberations of the Global Financial Crisis and continuing subdued economic growth in first-world countries. More and more people saw the bare-all-white (BAW) interiors becoming fashionable and thought them quite convenient. Money need not have been spent on photo frames, poster frames our picture frames, hangings tapestries and other household décor, adornments or embellishments.  Voila’, the new interior trend was very cost-effective, its saves a lot people money and helped ease strained household budgets.  A third possible factor is the uncertainty of spending money to choose a theme that might not work. If you take a look at the Pinterest design ideas pages you will not fail to notice the dazzling and bewildering array of suggestions and ideas. But which will work out to look nice, and which will not? Perhaps it’ safer to leave the barebones look alone, right? Yet another cause is the increased mobility of the young generation of renters. With the average landlord granting a mere 12 month’s  tenure, a renter is not that keen on splurging scarce money on picture frames, painting or other wall décor which may not suit a new apartment next year.  And what about laziness? Many of us are adapt quite easily to the bare, empty look of a new house or apartment. After all, searching online for the right furnishings, going to the stores to check them out, buying them and moving all the new furniture and picture in is a lot of work, not everyone enjoys it or has the time and patience to do it. On the other hand,  the BAW syndrome does tend to elicit negative remarks and comments on those who witness it. Typically those who suffer this look say that the owners or proprietors have no character, personality, or soul.  Yet, not everyone feels the same way about the same things. For instance for every person who laments the BAW frigidity, another might extol its freshness and cleanliness! Trends, swings, directions, fashions, modes, crazes, manias .. what are these? And while we’re on this topic,  here are some more aged styles trends and their possible alternatives, if you want them. Aged Style: The West Coast Minimalism Look. The main problem with it is that while it is ‘in’, it never really seems to make a house feel like a home where people actually may or can actually live in.  Alternative: Modern Glamour.  Try adding colours, patterns and textures to create a warmth which will defeat cold minimalism. Aged Style: The Industrial Kitchen Look.  Over-the-top, prominent and exposed  refrigerators, stoves and ovens to make a kitchen seem chic has stopped working. Alternative: Modern and Clean : Enhance table tops and working kitchen islands and de-emphasize or scale down on major appliances. Aged Style:  Accent Walls.  You know those. They are painted a lurid colour or have a loud wallpaper to say “wow, look at me. The problem with this style is that it always looked half finishes, like the house owner had run out of money, or something.  Alternative : Texture Wall. Ditch the wallpaper and try textures , such as silk or grass cloth, but subtly.   Aged Style: Colour Splashes:  White walls with bright colour pops is so yesterday, dated and done too many times over.  Alternative:  Introduce lots of colour in all walls and spaces. It will look new, fun and vibrant!  Aged Style: Warm Gold Rose.  This metallic highlight is quite popular, but too much so. It will quickly die and soon. The soft, pinkish hue also makes it difficult to harmonize with the rest of the room and accompanying décor. Alternative:   Cool Silvers. This brings a new, cool, clean, fresh feel to so-yesterday interiors. Try it and you will be pleasantly surprised.   Aged Style: Shabby Chic.  As over done as cheap pizza, everybody’s making it.  This look often feels discordant, especially in new apartments and homes.  French provincial farmhouse shabby chic in amidst a busy location just doesn’t seem to jell. Alternative: Transterior. See this post for details. Essentially it means bringing the outdoors, with water, stones and foliage framed prints, furnishing and décor.  Aged Style:  Purple Ultraviolet. Even if this was Pantone’s  chosen colour for a year this colour is so dazzling that owners looking too long and too often at this colour will tire quickly. Alternative: Blue-Greens and Yellows.  These unique colours, either singly or combined, will revitalize and rejuvenate hurtful and dated purple ultraviolet surroundings. Give them a try. Aged Style:  Conservative-Traditional. You might remember mum and dad’s house or even you grandparents’. Lots of restrictive, too private, small rooms. Dark polished timbers,  browns everywhere with  busy, frilly, detailed carpets, art, picture frames and furniture.  This style has gone the way of the Video tape and Fax machine, better left in the graveyard of things past.  Alternative: The more democratic open floor plan. Less rooms, lighter colours and timbers. Bigger windows, more glass, less exposed woods and timber. Clean smooth lines. No carpets. To summarize, and so far as picture frames and picture framing are concerned, the best foot forward picture framers can put is to offer their Customers both custom picture framing and Ready-Made picture frames and photo frames in whites, off-whites and natural timbers and finishes.

Comments

I don't think that the minimalist all-white walls means less picture frames or photo frames at all. I work as an interior decorator and I get much the same number of client requests to put art on walls. What's changed really is that people now want bigger art with minimal frames and really large stretched canvas art on their walls. True, many of those canvases land here in Australia already finished and so that means less work for local picture framers. To same extent framers here have only themselves to blame. Recently I was quoted $480 to have a 1.2 square canvas art stretched but you can buy roughly the same for about $80. However my clients still want custom picture frames and custom photo frame made up.
Henrietta L. - 29 Jul 2018 05:55 pm

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