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What color is a classic? My 1999 choices are ...

It was bound to happen. While I was researching a story on brand new homes, a builder told me the newest trend in kitchens is all white appliances. Next, we will return to kitchens with white walls, white countertops and mottled red linoleum floors, like the ones I remember from my childhood in the 1940s. Back then, kitchens were white and bathrooms were white. No decisions were necessary, except to call the painter every five years or so and request another coat of white paint.

Decorators, not to mention interior designers and color specialists, were unknown. The heartbreak of picking a passe countertop material didn't keep anyone awake, and today's bewildering choices in security systems, electronic switchboards and window types simply didn't exist.

I don't know if the international color cartel had yet been established, but I don't think so. That's the global design group that now meets every few years to decide which will be the next hot colors for cars, clothes, fabrics, appliances, and all kinds of other consumer items. That way, everyone on earth is subliminally conditioned to feel their serviceable consumer items are outdated because they are the "wrong" colors.

The challenge to today's builders, decorators and consumers is to guess which home building materials, fabrics, carpets, plumbing fixtures and appliances will look reasonably OK as long as possible. At today's prices, no one wants a new home to look dated anytime soon. Perhaps that's why architectural "oldies but goodies," like classical columns, sweeping central staircases, paned windows and serious chandeliers are back in fashion.

Of course, the cycles of what's "in" and what's "out" have been spinning for thousands of years. Our brains enjoy savoring new twists on old themes. Besides, each new generation has to separate itself from the previous generation, preferably with shocking or outrageous design themes.

But just for fun, I decided to make my own personal list of colors and designs I've never yet grown tired of, my personal classic. I'm pretty conservative; no doubt your own list will differ, and I'd be interested to hear your choices.

Here are some of my favorites: white plumbing fixtures and appliances; white, black, navy blue and dark green cars; shingled houses and shingled or tiled roofs; red terra cotta tiled floors; black and white marble tiled floors; white tiled bathrooms with tiny black, dark green, aqua or medium blue tiles here and there; white towels; white table cloths and napkins; braided hair; women's hair in a bun with little wisps of hair artfully escaping around the face (I've never dared to try this myself); dark green or dark red front doors.

In fabric, my choices for "keepers" are velvet in very deep, plain colors (not burned out in random patterns), paisleys from India or Provence, certain flowered and striped cotton chintzes, striped cotton ticking and animal prints.

Barnes covers home and garden stories for the Town Crier.

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