Decor becomes 'PC'-- personally correct

DESIGN LINE

February 28, 1993|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Contributing Writer

While it may not equal in ferocity the reaction against "politically correct" thinking, a growing number of people have .. begun to challenge "stylistically correct" ways of designing a home.

Do you doubt that there's such a thing as "stylistically correct" decor? If so, you probably don't look at decorating magazines. They're full of set-piece arrangements that reflect the latest dictates of interior fashion designers.

Lots of us, whether we admit it or not, are strongly influenced by what's supposed to be "in." In many instances, choices of colors, textures and furnishings are painstakingly made in accordance with some unknown arbiter's idea of what looks "right."

But when all the prescribed steps are followed, how come the result is often a disappointment? Why do we feel dissatisfied after trying so hard to be stylistically correct?

The reason, of course, is that our own personal tastes seldom coincide with what we're told to like. But rather than liberating themselves from fashion, many people react to the dissatisfaction it brings by turning to some other expert. Those with ample budgets may call in a professional designer, while others will seek safety in the formulas devised by manufacturers a means of selling their products.

Some brave individualists, on the other hand, never pay much attention to trends in the first place. Instead, they trust their own eye and have confidence in their judgment. A few of the most exciting and comfortable spaces I've ever visited were designed by amateurs who knew how to give spatial expression to their unique personalities and preferences.

I've kept this photograph in my files for a long time because it offers such a great example of a kitchen that doesn't follow formulas or fashion. Just look at that self-standing white refrigerator, not even built into the wall! And it's smack up against the Garland stove and range! This is a layout that defies most principles of contemporary space-planning for kitchens.

And yet it functions wonderfully well. The creator of this setting made sure of that, because she is Sheila Lukins, a noted chef and cookbook author. She wasn't about to make a personal design statement at the expense of function.

Her kitchen's vintage look was also intentionally assembled as homage to the famous old apartment building on Central Park where she lives.

Now let's look at a few of the details that make this space what it is. The huge butcher-block table is accompanied by Bauhaus-style metal, wood and cane chairs. A collection of antique cookie jars rests on a shelf above the stove, which abuts a row of white metal cabinets. And everything rests upon the checkerboard of black and mint green tiles from Armstrong Floors.

While a taste-maker may well consider this kitchen to be hopelessly out of date, the truly stylistically correct response would be: "Who cares?"

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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