Accentuate the Negative


Electrical outlets, heating vents, exposed pipes and architectural blunders are a fact of life for many homeowners, particularly those with older homes. The addition of heating ducts in an otherwise original Craftsman can challenge even the most experienced designer. Exposed pipes and plumbing in some of San Diego’s 1920s-era cottages can be an eyesore if handled incorrectly. Here’s what to do (and not do).

Many seemingly abhorrent problems in early homes may, in fact, contribute to its charm. Unfortunately, all too often the homeowner, in a quest for perfection, tries to hide the “blemish” by blending it into the surrounding space (painting heating vents to match the walls, for instance) or covering it up (using curtains to hide old plumbing fixtures beneath a sink, for example).

Because the mind likes to quickly categorize and move on, this solution only adds to the problem. By camouflaging the area, the eye lingers to give the mind extra time to process the information. Instead of trying to hide the perceived problem or flaw, expose it. In other words, accentuate the negative.

The marketplace is rich with restoration items. Install authentic and replica grills, grates, hardware and plumbing fixtures from almost any period. Switch out rusted and dimpled exposed pipes with period replicas.

Customize existing grills or have plumbing designed to look like the original. A made-over plumbing creation can be a wow factor when juxtaposed against black-and-gold subway tile in a 1920s beach cottage. 

Make a statement by choosing colors and patterns that best suit the architecture of your home. To add an element of interest to your overall room design, use an accent color or faux paint texture on an existing niche (or create a niche by removing a built-in cabinet or medicine chest).

Christian Delp, Professional Designer/Managing Partner Pacific Crest Interiors
9340 Dowdy Drive
San Diego, CA 92126

Categories: Home Design