Design Features: Yay Or Nay?

The feature photo that I chose for today’s blog is going to be exceptionally misleading since it prominently displays good design.

And in today’s blog, we want to look at (potentially…) bad design.

So if you expected the feature photo to represent the type of design features that we’ll view, evaluate, and discuss in today’s blog, then let me be the first to tell you just how disappointed you’re going to be.

Then again, if you’re a Debbie Downer, a cynic, a sadist, a critic, or just a lover of all things real estate, then maybe you’d enjoy viewing the following design features more!

In 2011 when I picked the shower tile for my ensuite bathroom, I went with something “bold.”  It was “unique.”  It was awesome.

Then in 2015, when I tore out all that tile during a renovation that was intended to increase the value of the condo and make it more marketable, I came to the following conclusion:

Those who aren’t in design shouldn’t choose designs.

Remind me to look for a photo of that bathroom.  “Bold” is an understatement…

Speaking of bathrooms, that’s a great place to start today.

Most bathrooms have tile floors.

Most bathrooms have tile showers.

But some bathrooms have tile walls, like this one:

But is that too much tile?

And what do you think about tiling both walls and the ceiling?

With the same tile too?

Here’s another angle:

Alright, so they’ve stopped the train here in the shower, where they have…..seemingly worse tile.

I don’t know if it’s the tiny square tiles, or the sheer volume of tile, or the tile ceiling, but this one is a nay for me.

How about fake brick?

That’s a classic design feature and it’s incorporated in many different styles of house or condo.

What do you think about this one?

Fake brick can work, but it depends on the type of brick or stone, how thick, the colour, and where you’re placing it.

It also depends on the style of the house or condo.

In this condo, which you can see from the concrete ceiling, I think the fake brick clashes with the soft loft style.

Nay for me.

Here’s one where the fake brick is a little more subtle, more uniform in colour and texture, and not nearly as large a feature:

Still not my jam.  I’m indifferent at best.

But I’ll call this a yay.

Now, that was a fake stone.

But people absolutely love fake brick!

A brick veneer that’s about a half-inch thick can feel too fake when you touch it.  It feels thin and hollow.  You just know it’s not brick.

Then sometimes, it looks awesome!

The truth is – this photo below shows brick that I can’t say is fake, but I have no clue why real brick would be in this spot:

I would need to see the whole kitchen to say “yay” or “nay” on this one, as I don’t know how the “hard loft” brick style would mesh with the stainless steel and modern cabinets, but it’s not a nay.

How about a fake brick accent wall?

A lot of people like these!

But what if the brick is painted white instead of the classic red?

This might work for me except it clashes with the concrete ceiling, which is more of a “soft loft” style, in opposition of red brick which is more “hard loft.”

I also don’t love the drywall as a third type of wall/ceiling.

This is a nay for me.

I’ve been in real estate for nearly two decades and a few months ago, I saw my first ever “live wall.”


Yep.  Check this out:

That greenery is live.

It’s awesome.

And while this doesn’t work in every house or condo, it works here.

Big yay for me.

I’m a fan of the traditional style in homes.

Wainscotting, crown moulding, and coffered ceilings.

But sometimes, the coffered ceilings are too deep.

And what if you also have a low ceiling, like this one:

I wanted to like this so badly, but there’s something off about it.


I mentioned concrete ceilings earlier.

These were a huge feature in the mid-to-late 2000’s when “soft lofts” were all the rage.

Developers loved it!  And why wouldn’t they?  It saved on materials and cost.

But can you have a loft feature and keep a traditional feel in the condo?

Check this out:

Call this a poor staging job if you want to, but a loft needs some funk.

The table, place settings, couch, accessories, and even the kitchen cabinets are too formal to “work” with a rough, unfinished vibe that the concrete ceiling provides.

Or so goes my opinion.

Nay on this one for me.

I’ve seen “nice” concrete ceilings that seamlessly blend into the background, and work with any space.

But then, I’ve seen concrete ceilings that really make you feel like you’re on a construction site…

Those long, deep lines are likely from the forms, wood or steel, that were holding the wet ready-mix in place to harden.

And what is the “rectangle” there?  It feels like the workers were about to draw their initials in the wet cement.

I would drywall over that ceiling.

Which means, of course, this is a nay for me.

I’ve mentioned before that I really like black window frames.

My house has them, and my colleague Chris installed a black door with black window frames and black shutters.  It looks sharp!

Grey is a tough colour to work with.

What about grey trim, grey mouldings, and grey doors?

I’m passing more than Tom Brady.

Nay for me.

When it comes to kitchen islands, I’m simple.

I like light.

I like primarily white with some grey undertones.  Maybe some swirls.  I don’t like “specks.”

Black is a tough colour to work with when it comes to counters.

Jet black can work, but I hate those counters with the gold specks.

What about black-and-white together, like this:

And this:

Yay for me…

….if not for the dark brown cabinets which are an odd choice alongside black counters and backsplash.

Also, how do you feel about a backsplash that’s the same as the counter?  Some people love this.  I’m indifferent.

What about tile walls?

Not in the kitchen, like a backsplash, but rather tile walls in the living, dining, or hallway?

Here’s one with a tile in the hall:

Maybe I’m boring.

But there’s “too much” happening here.

A white counter, dark brown floor, medium grey backsplash, and light grey wall tile.

At the risk of turning this blog post into a roast (and these pictures were picked at random from a folder I have…) this is a nay for me.

The last photo showed a very small wall with tile.

Here’s a much larger one:

I don’t hate this.

But is “don’t hate this” enough for a yay?

I’m going to abstain on this like a gutless politician in the senate does during a contentious vote…

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this flooring is called:

But I think it’s awesome!

Not in every house or condo, but in this one, yay for me.

What about mirrors?

You can use mirrors to make a space feel larger.

I grew up with mirrored bi-fold doors in my bedroom and I loved them.  So much, in fact, that when I renovated my second condo, I wanted mirrored bi-folds.  I had to get them custom made, which cost a pretty penny, but the larger problem was that the faced each other, and then I had that “infinity effect” that occurs when a mirror looks into a mirror, and it felt ridiculous…

In any event, a mirrored backsplash in a kitchen is cool (like my first condo) but what about an entire main floor with a mirrored wall, like this:

Ignore the furniture, which you probably don’t love.

Do you like the illusion of twice the space?

The colour palette, style, and overall choices are really, really clouding this.  But trust me when I say that a mirrored wall in the right condo can make for a huge yay.

Last, but not least, we’ve done “tree wallpaper” before.

Here’s one I used in a previous iteration of “Yay or Nay” last year:

I believe I had said that this was a nay for a kids’ bedroom but could be a yay elsewhere.

So then, how about V2 of “living in the woods,” and with a purple tone to boot:

I like it!

I just don’t like it with the concrete ceiling and exposed ductwork.

I say yay to this feature but it has to be used in the right spot.



Feel I’m being overly critical and/or have no design sense (or wardrobe style…) and am not qualified to provide feedback?

I’m all ears…

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