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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What Were They Thinking--Interiors

No matter how stunning, you know the designer has gone
too far when you can no longer tell what the room is used for.
Here in this country (the United States) we have a moral and legal concept claiming, "A man's home is his castle." It's ironic that, in Europe, where most castles originated, that's not so much the case. Here, the occupants of the castle have long had the right to defend their abode with lethal force if they feel their lives are threatened. If, on the other hand, the castle is deemed by their neighbors as simply too weird or too ugly for the neighborhood, then lethal force is a much more problematical defense. That's where zoning laws come into play, and in general, the bigger and more costly the houses in a given neighborhood, the more restrictive the rules governing virtually every aspect of their existence. In London, for instance, new zoning laws are taking effect preventing the remodeling of historic homes into "Iceberg houses" (below) in which owners go underground to construct multi-level basements housing multi-car garages, swimming pools, bowling alleys, home theaters, gymnasiums, even climbing walls. In the process, foundations of nearby homes are sometimes damaged as well as other subterranean infrastructure. Yesterday I dealt with the communal aesthetics and property value aspect of designing and building strange looking "castles." Today, we move inside.
Iceberg houses--out of sight, out of mind? Not quite.
However, once one moves inside the castle, "what will the neighbors think" bears little weight and things can get pretty...weird. Strangely enough in perusing hundreds of photos of the really...really weird, I've come to realize that weirdness is room specific. That is, the private areas, bedrooms and bathrooms tend to be the most outlandish while kitchens and especially living rooms seem quite tame. And even in these two rooms, when unusual designs present themselves, they tend to be in relatively good taste and in some cases, strangely beautiful. They're not without personality but not the type you'd find in a loony bin.
The axiom, "What will the neighbors think?" extends from
outside into the living room, the least loony room in the house.
Kitchens can sometimes become quite radical, but for the most part, when kitchens become strange is when they begin to cease looking like kitchens. The word "sleek" keeps popping up in describing them. Kitchens are natural "clutter collectors." Sleek is the natural enemy of clutter, thus more often, when kitchens take on a strangely alien appearance, it's due to a lack of the expected clutter of cooking items lacking permanent storage, or left exposed for the sake of convenience.
When a kitchen no longer looks like a kitchen.
Having presented relatively moderate strangeness as seen in kitchens and living rooms, neither are immune to the really radical "What were they thinking?" label, especially when you turn a really bored interior decorator loose with a brush, some masking tape, and a bucket of godawful bright pigments and primer. In many cases, the effect is to go so far as to lose the actual identity and purpose of the room. The rooms below seem to have been done in the style of Late Abstract Expressionism (which, despite appearances, means they're fifty years out of date).
Strange to the point of disorienting.
Bedrooms become radical when it becomes obvious that their primary design motif has absolutely nothing to do with sleep. When they take on the purpose to impress, surprise, and seduce, they can best be termed "sexy." Moreover, one of the strongest components of "sexy" is beauty. Very rarely do you find a designer bedroom which, though sexy to the point of blatant eroticism, is not also sensually beautiful. The examples below take this element to the extreme. Even though I'm getting a bit old for the seductive aspect, I could sleep quite restfully in any of them (or rest quite sleepily).

I don't know why, but I've always dreamed of having
a round bed (better still, one that would slowly rotate).
Anything I've said about sexy bedrooms goes double for bathrooms, I suppose because there's the element of nudity involved in bathing. At the same time, ninety percent of all bathroom functions do not involve bathing (and are far from sexy). It would seem that the two rooms in which designers are most likely to go overboard, indulging in luxurious decadence, if not outright bad taste, are the two most private rooms in the house. Bad taste or not, I wouldn't mind a leisurely scrub in any of the vats of warm, soapy water seen below.

We've had one of these aquatic fixtures in our bathroom now for more than twenty years. I use it for an hour or more about every day.
Stairways are an open invitation to weirdness.

The weirdest of the weird, a tribute to the
artist M.C. Escher. I'm not sure exactly
what the room is used for.


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