Why Do Most People Obsess Over Traditional Design?
This questions has perplexed me for most of my career. I never could understand why most people would not even try a more modern approach to their projects. When I was in architecture school and for a while afterward, I hated traditional design. I didn’t understand the allure because it seemed so stuffy and boring to me. When I looked at a traditional home from the outside, I would already assume the home to be filled with doilies on or under everything and the smell of old people and moth balls permeated the air. I was usually right in that assumption. However, when I worked for some very high-end designers, I gained an appreciation for traditional design, but I also learned that all of the trim used to decorate exteriors and interiors were also used to conceal. I was blown away when I realized all of that trim detailing helped conceal seams, joints, gaps and mistakes. Yes, you read that correctly. People who are obsessed with trim detailing are probably not aware that this was part of their purpose. This doesn’t mean that I hate it, I actually find it to be a very elegant way to solve a problem. This also doesn’t mean the more embellished a design is, the more mistakes they were trying to hide. I find that early period designs such as, Colonial, Greek Revival and Tudor styles to be very elegant and quite charming....... for their time.
Craftsmanship And Other Myths
In my experience, I have found that some clients feel more comfortable in a more traditional setting. Sometimes it’s because it is the fairy tale design they had dreamed of for most of their lives and now that they have the means to attain it, their vision never matured with them. It’s like they are stuck in a loop of a time period that either doesn’t exist anymore, or never existed at all. People tend to romanticize these periods thinking that “things were better then”. Others feel that the craftsmanship was better and is now lost, or that the materials used lasted longer and were more “real”. The reality was that the cost of labor was less expensive then and the materials used to build structures were the least expensive or the most readily available at that time. There were just as many bad builders then as there are now or maybe even more since there was less oversight, less regulation, fewer codes to follow and even fewer people to enforce them. I have been witness to demolitions of older homes and seeing how shoddy their construction really was and how under-engineered their structure was. Many times what people considered a structure to be “settling” was actually a structure so poorly engineered that it sagged dramatically over time.
Image Is Everything
Many people feel that traditional styling gives their home or building a more sophisticated look. They have this misperception that giving it the look of an earlier period will give their building the appearance of opulence and wealth. But unless the building is actually of that period, recreating it now makes the building look disingenuous and sort of ridiculous. When people choose to build a new home or building with a traditional style in mind, I feel that they are missing an opportunity to avoid being predictable. One of the main reasons people choose to start a project may be to project a desired image of themselves and their lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with wanting to project an image. It’s a part of our life and culture as a society. If you own a business, image is key to landing the right clients that will move your company forward. Equally, your home is a symbol of your success. It shows the world how hard you have worked and how you choose to reward yourself. So, then why waste that opportunity on a design that misrepresents you? Why present yourself to the world with forms and stylings that have been seen again and again for well over a hundred years or more? Instead, choose a design which is as bold, innovative and sophisticated as you are!
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
One reason to step out of your comfort zone is because the style of your project and the spaces within will ultimately affect its value. For example, older home sales are experiencing problems because the younger buyers are looking for a more modern look like “open plans”. This is something that older homes lack and tend to be compartmentalized and closed off from the adjoining spaces. Recently, a story was featured on Realtor.com explaining this phenomenon:
Another reason to consider a bold approach to your project is that in modern design there are many more clever ways to achieve the desired effect, as opposed to traditional design where you have to follow the rigid standards of that style, which becomes predictable and boring. Modern design is not rigid, it is very fluid and organic. It bends and bows to your will. But I think the best reason of all is that simplified designs that look clean and sleek are difficult to achieve because the mistakes can’t be hidden behind trim and molding. It forces the builder to build with care and correctly because mistakes are glaringly obvious. However, if your image is what is more important to you, then nothing shows off wealth and sophistication like a modern, chic and sleek design. Also, there are degrees of modern ranging from: a transition of old and new to stark and minimal. You are bound to find what suites your personality in the varying degrees of this design style.