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Here's to never understanding the metal look in home decor

April 12, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

The New York Times, the only newspaper with the guts to tell us what to do, published a story last week by Rick Marin informing us that the metal look in the home is dead.

Chrome towel racks? Out. Nickel-plated sinks? History. Brushed stainless steel fridges, dishwashers and "professional" ranges? Gone, gone, gone.

The reason? The stupid masses got a hold of them.

Marin said he bought into the fad in the mid-'90s, but "(e)ven then, the look was pass enough for G.E. to produce a budget line, and for the trend to have trickled down to a design dilettante out to impress chicks. Now it's the default finish for Home Depot customers and D&D Building decorators alike, a shortcut to classy...

"But bucking a design trend isn't easy. We're well into a post-industrial society, and people still think it's cool to surround themselves with scraps from the Bethlehem Steel Mill."

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Not me, man. I am so on Marin's bandwagon you wouldn't believe it.

I've always thought metal kitchen appliances looked stupid. Like you'd just hauled some cousins of those old metal trash cans into the kitchen - trash cans that themselves have been replaced by plastic, whose sole benefit is that they don't make as much noise when they're rolling down the street in a high wind.

So it's not that I'm behind on the design curve, it's just that I'm behind on the money curve. By the time the prices come down on "trendy" enough for me to afford them, they are no longer trendy. For example, taking the place of metal is a colorization process called "powder coating." Which means that your refrigerator, too, can look just like an oil tank on "American Chopper."

Pretty soon they will start airbrushing appliances, and you will be scrambling your eggs on stoves painted with surreal, complicated scenes of aging hippies flying off into a brilliant beach sunset on winged coconuts.

Whatever takes the place of metal, you can be sure of one thing: It will cost more than metal.

This is why I so heartily applaud the new trend reported by Knight Ridder (no relation to Night Rider) of something called "garage makeovers."

The guys, it seems, are in revolt. They are moving out of their luxurious, wifenipotent houses into a place that seems more comfortable, somehow.

Today, men are taking to folding chairs en masse, in a place where they can smoke, drink beer, spit, play poker, watch sports, scratch themselves and be truly sociable.

The newspaper report tells of Mickey Wheeler, whose "garage decor includes license plates, car pictures, a few pinup pictures and a pool table. There's also a 1950s-vintage GE refrigerator for cooling watermelons and beer."

And you can bet that fridge ain't stainless.

Unfortunately, the stainless, i.e. trendy, set is paying attention. Already there is a company called "Garage Concepts," which charges upwards of $15,000 for a garage makeover, with stuff like solid cherry walls and "cabinet fronts that are "herringbone-patterned brushed aluminum" (uh-oh, don't tell Rick Marin).

OK look, if there's one thing a garage doesn't need, it's a concept. Once a garage has a concept, it stops being a garage and starts being something else. It makes no sense. You spend a million dollars on a beautiful, luxurious new home, but it's too beautiful and luxurious for comfort, so you move into the garage, which you proceed to spend 15 large on to make it more beautiful and luxurious.

Come on, guys, if you're going to do that, just STAY IN YOUR HOUSE.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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