Finders, fixers.


5 home design pet peeves

There are plenty of bad design choices out there. All you have to do is gawk at a site like Bad MLS Photos or even just walk around Quincy — someone down the street from us has these garish, bright purple porch stairs that’ll blind your sense of good taste.

Even seemingly fine choices made in decades past are often, by now, unmitigated disasters — like our original mustard-yellow 1974 kitchen with faux-wood paneling and probably-carcinogenic vinyl flooring.

But I’m not talking about those widely agreed-upon design gaffes today. What follows are some home features that many people might not notice or care that much about. Some may even like them. But they drive me I-N-S-A-N-E!

Let’s get started:

1. Mismatched siding

mismatched siding

This house is in our neighborhood. Forget for a minute the blinding baby blue paint and odd void of windows upstairs, and look at the siding: Narrow up top, wide on the bottom. There are plenty more examples of this in our area, and each one makes me twitch a little bit.

2. Blocked-up fireplaces

blocked up fireplace

Is there anything more depressing than a beautiful old fireplace that’s been filled up with cement or bricks, all the way up the chimney flue, and rendered absolutely useless?

This historic house in Fitchburg, Mass., is otherwise beautiful and full of cool details — it even has a trap door from the Underground Railroad era! — but someone, at some point, filled in this lovely fireplace like it was another unused in-ground swimming pool. Now it’s just a 3-D picture of a fireplace, taunting your inner pyromaniac.

A working fireplace or wood stove was, and still is, No. 1 on my housing must-have list. This is a total dealbreaker for me.

3. First-floor bedrooms 

This is fine if you’re an empty nester, or young and living with roommates. I lived in the first-floor “office” in our first rental house after college, and it was kind of cool having the downstairs to yourself at night.

But being separated from my kids all night would be the end of me. What if there was a fire? What if someone got in? What if they climbed out? I’d be like one of those shepherd dogs who paces around in obvious agitation until everyone is safely in the same area.

4. Radiator covers

radiator covers - home design peeves

This one may get me in trouble, because it’s a constant battle between myself and the missus. She has long wanted to get custom-made covers for our big steam radiators — nicer than the one above, admittedly — but I think they unnecessarily cover up a nice feature of an old home, and smack of a 1950s “grandma house.” Next thing you know, we’ll have a clear sheet of plastic on the couch and a mothball air freshener.

5. The garage focal point

home for sale with big garage

Photo: DR Horton

This is something you see in newer housing developments, especially in the rest of the country where The Almighty Car rules supreme.

The big-ass garage is the most prominent part of the house — the first and largest thing you see from the street. The rest of the home looks like an afterthought, like the house was built specifically for Mr. Car, and his humble driver lives in the attached au pair suite.

It always makes me groan when the couple on House Hunters inevitably picks this type of house because it’s got stainless steel appliances or whatever other asinine reason.

Really? The garage? Whatever happened to front walks and farmer’s porches? The garage is useful, sure. So is your underwear, but it’s not the focal point of your whole wardrobe. It’s where you store your junk!

pet peeves

Jon Gorey • October 27, 2015

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  1. Hosting Deutschland July 4, 2016 - 3:04 pm

    Small Kitchens with no upper cabinets and just open shelves. I’ve seen remodels of small kitchens where the upper cabinets are removed for open shelves and a wall of cabinets are knocked out for a more open look. Where would anyone put their stuff? Unless it’s a super large kitchen with a big pantry and plenty of lower cabinets, those open shelves are going to get cluttered which is an even bigger design pet peeve. And only stark white of course.

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