I’m a little bit scared. I was pretty sure that I lived in urban Northeast Ohio, an area devoid of farms unless you went a little south or far west. (Not sure about east, since I rarely venture east of University Circle).
But all of a sudden, I’m seeing farmhouses. White, “clapboard” farmhouses, heavy on a vibe that Dorothy Gale herself would recognize pre-Wizard of Oz craziness.
Single-level mid-century ranch homes are sprouting second stories and new facades. Cape Cod homes with gabled fronts are being Hee Haw’d into submission. Western Reserve bungalows, those homes giving many cities their character? Gone under vertical white slats, black roofs also with vertical lines, and “barn” garage doors.
The worst desecration is happening to my favorite home style: the iconic center hall colonials. Their exteriors are not being assaulted as much — most are just being painted all-white. The true abomination is happening inside: Walls are being torn down to create “open space” concept homes. Walk into the front door and you are confronted with the living room, dining room and kitchen counter all in one visual sweep. If you are lucky, barn doors have been added to the occasional side room or bathroom, just for the heck of it. Because sliding barn doors are so energy and sound efficient (not really).
Lots and lots of people love farmhouses and open concept. I’m just not a fan. For one, I don’t care to sit watching TV with the dishwasher and dirty dishes in the sink in my sight line. And frankly, rooms provide separation from other family members for the occasional “me” time, something that became more popular during times of quarantine.
Thankfully, that wall-destroying trend is waning. According to Houzz's 2021 Home Design Predictions, open-concept layouts will fall out of favor in the coming years, probably because of the aforementioned coronavirus lockdowns. Open floor plan, Houzz says, no longer suits the needs of many families.
Alas, the all-white modern farmhouse is still overwhelmingly popular, with magazines ad nauseum suggesting an all-white, monochromatic palette indoors and out. Want to add some spice? They suggest a black front door and black window trim. Yep, that certainly does make it stand out from the white-with-black-trim house next door.
I always said my retirement plan was to invest in tattoo-removal laser companies and companies specializing in restoring interior walls. I’m still thinking that is a good plan. But now I have a third business: Adding color to the world. Let’s ease off from the white and black outside palette and white and gray interiors. While we are at it, let’s ban light fixtures with bare “Edison” bulbs that look like they’ve been salvaged from a barn.
We need to put splashes of vibrancy back in our lives. Blues. Greens. Yellows. Bricks (gasp). I’ll even give a thumbs up for white-washed bricks because red bricks do seem fuddy-duddy.
Most importantly, for the love of Bob Villa, we need to stop transforming houses with character into Stepford homes.
Contact this reporter, who lives in a classic and unadulterated center hall brick colonial, at email@example.com or 440-871-5797.