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High Country Real Estate: Article VII

By Bill Aceto

Sometimes words (and their meaning/concepts) are so closely related, it is difficult to discern the difference. A great quote to demonstrate this is from the humor writer, Cynthia Heimel, when she wrote, “We must eschew anything trivial. We must embrace all that is frivolous.” At first glance, this might seem like a contradictory statement; at least until you truly think about the difference between the trivial and the frivolous.

So, now, let’s try the same exercise with the words design and décor. There are plenty of people who would say they are the same things. But, at least in terms of real estate, they are not necessarily as close as they may seem. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s clearly delineate: design is part of the property (architecture, fixtures, cabinets, paint), décor is the stuff inside the design (furniture, rugs, pictures, objet d’art).

A note about both design and decor: what is trendy changes. 

It takes a few years for a trend to begin, get a toe hold with decorators and influencers, become THE thing, then…move into “dated’ and “passe,” before sliding, with a whimper, into obscurity.

Well, until it’s on point again in twenty years.

It can be incredibly difficult to keep your home (design and décor) in style. It’s even harder to do without spending a lot of money. 

The easiest way to handle the continual change, though not always the most fashion forward, is keep the design classic and change the décor as it suits your desire and bank account.

It is much easier to change your comforter, your towels, your decorative touches, than it is to undo a design change…say, taking away a wall, changing out countertops, or replacing a tub with a double shower.

The style gods have spoken and the writing is on the wall for…well, writing on the wall. It is not a difficult décor change to peel vinyl lettering from a wall. But, there are also whispers that the farmhouse sink is beginning its fall out of fashion favor; the fix for that design element is not quite as simple. Or inexpensive. (If you have a farmhouse sink, don’t panic! It’s just a whisper and it can take years for these trends to become completely…untrendy? De-trendy? Off point?)

But the point is, the writing on the wall was a décor choice and can easily be undone. The farmhouse sink may have been an alteration to the design of the home; it’s not impossible to change, but it’s not quite as easy as peeling vinyl lettering from a wall.

A good rule of thumb is to change décor as frequently as you’d like, but use care when making design changes. To get the most from a change, try to make sure it’s a classic change (eg: removing carpet and installing hardwood floors) and not just a trend that will have to be “fixed” a few years down the line. Rugs can be updated, all tile countertops have to be replaced.

Exceptions to the change décor not design rule: paint (yes, painting is a pain and it’s not cheap but it is one of the easiest ways to update a home’s design), light fixtures (relatively easy replacement that is not cost prohibitive with a decent budget) and cabinet/door/switchplate hardware (these small changes can have big results).

Of course, your home is your haven, and if you have the resources and energy to change design elements every few years, good for you! Make it what you want, whenever you want. But if easy on trend is what you want…design should stay classic and décor can be as bleeding edge as you are willing to embrace. 

It really is the best of both worlds.