I have been thinking a lot lately about whether it would be possible, today, to create a truly *timeless* kitchen and bathroom. That is: Focusing on the past 70 years, when our *modern* American way of life began after World War II: Make a list of all the pieces in a kitchen and then a bathroom that could put together so that, when you saw the finished room, you could not peg it, or any of the pieces in it, to a decade or window *when everybody did that.* Alas, I could not get very far in my little interior design parlor game. I wracked my brain and could think of only two products, so far, that met my rigorous criteria for remaining in pretty much continual use in residential homes… but without getting so *hot* that they ultimately crashed and burned into a sad pile of once-trendy *hideous* *dated* ashes.
My fascination with the timeless comes, I think, as the flip side of my conniption fit whenever someone spits out the word *dated* to describe a home feature that is perfectly functional but no longer popular. Oh, how I hate that word.
While dictionaries may recognize “dated” as meaning “unfashionable”, my issue with the word is that probably 99% of what’s in your home is *dated*. That is, show me a kitchen or a bathroom installed during any decade in the 20th or early 21st century, and I can give you a *date* for it. Continuing on: Tear out a *hideous* [sic / also hate] *dated* kitchen, and replace it with what’s fabulous today — and you will have a kitchen *dated* 2012… Which some homeowner about 20 or 25 years from now will think is *hideous* and spit on and call *dated* and rip out and replace with a fabulous 2022 kitchen… and the beat goes on.
I thought and thought and you know what I think: It’s virtually impossible to put together an entire kitchen or bathroom that cannot be *dated* — and therefore, won’t become “unfashionable”.
So, that leads back to the design ethic of this blog, which is kinda sorta: If you’re gonna have a *dated* kitchen, which is inevitable (I *think*), you might as well have it *dated* to the *date* of the house, which is usually extremely very difficult to hide, especially if there are other similarly *dated* houses all around it.
So what products are modern-era timeless, in my book?
The first two I identified were Elkay drainboard sinks and 4″ ceramic bathroom tiles. At certain points in time, both the Elkay sinks and 4″ ceramic bathroom tiles have been very fashionable… but I don’t think they were ever particularly un-fashionable — and never *hideous* (unless you are very rude).
Timeless kitchen sink:
The first product I’ll declare as timeless — and this one, even pre-WWII: Elkay stainless steel sink tops — which I believe have been in pretty continuous use since the 1920s… and 4″ ceramic bath tiles, also in continuous popular use since at least then.
Timeless bathroom tile colors:
Tile colors with relatively timeless appeal: “Spa” (Daltile) very light blue aka heron blue or robin’s egg blue… rose beige… bone… almond… light grey. White or self- trim. Decorative liner tile is less timeless; a solid liner tile, timeless.
Timeless bathroom vanity:
Update 2017: A modern-era timeless bathroom vanity looks approximately like this [story here]: