What Are Your Nominations for Favorite Houston Design Cliché?

And now it begins: the nominating process for the 2010 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate, highlighting the best and most of the Houston landscape over the past calendar year. To make this year’s awards the best they can be, we need your help!

Our first category: Favorite Houston Design Cliché. Last year this award was won by “Lakes of” Subdivisions, with “Lick and Stick Stone” coming in a close second place. The year before that, the winner was “Tuscanization.” What Houston building, shopping center, streetscape, home, interior, neighborhood, or yard cliché deserves recognition this year? Your suggestions for this award may be inspired from stories on Swamplot or from your own keen eye.

Nominations for this category are now open! Enter your nomination in a comment to this post only or — more privately — to the Swamplot tip line, with the subject line “Nomination: Favorite Houston Design Cliche.” Nominations will be accepted for one full week, after which the best-presented choices will be opened for voting.

Readers are allowed to submit as many nominations as they like in this category, but your choices will have a better chance of succeeding if you use the opportunity to make your point in a clever and convincing way. When the actual awards are open for voting next week, each selected nomination will be introduced with some edited bastardization of the arguments readers made in the nomination — so be eloquent and persuasive! If you can send photos in support of your nomination, that’s great — illustrations will likely help make your case to voters. Send submissions to the Swamplot tip line, but be sure to identify them and indicate what they’re for.

Comments to this post will be counted as nominations only. Nominations may be seconded, expanded, or improved. Even simple “me too” posts will help an entry find a place on the actual ballot, but they won’t be counted as votes for the winner. The actual voting in this category will begin next week. Are you ready? Have at it!

35 Comment

  • I have two nominations:
    1. Fake Ceiling Beams – They just add weight to a ceiling while providing no structural support, but make people think they’re wealthy because they have them.
    2. Crazy amounts of different stone/textures/and colors of lick and stick that are used on the front of new homes (not sure how you would word this) – I predict one day there will be companies all over town that remove this stuff as their primary business.

  • I would say the lipstick-on-a-pig of “brick/stone on the front of the house with ugly white siding on the back.”

  • I nominate:
    Drugstores sitting on a massive parking lots, no more than 20% of which is ever used at any one time. To qualify, the front door of said drugstore must be located at least 50 ft. via unshaded cement traffic lanes from the nearest sidewalk. Double points if the drugstore is inside the loop.

  • Some people can only afford pigs… Can only afford half a house worth of lipstick. Don’t judge, hater.

  • Donnie, I would call that “Stone Veneer and Hardi Rear.”

    My own nomination is for the 5,000 square foot stucco on a 6,000 square foot lot built – custom – for its family of 3. I deem it “57 Channels and Nothin’ On.”

  • I nominate the “Oh Hell, We Ran Outta Money, Half Finished Townhouse”. Think of the examples around the city. Whether it be a particle board shell, a foundation with pipes sticking out or a cleared lot with a pretty artist rendering, someone else is going to have to clean it up!

  • how about all the new office buildings flaunting their “green” design credentials?

    as if throwing down a “green” building 30 miles from the center of town will have any sizeable impact on the carbon footprint that results from a 1,000 workers driving 20 miles to work to withstand a constant 72 degree bubble. i’ll highlight the suburban office towers here as at least in theory workers traveling downtown at least have an option to use mass transportation.

  • @Pax, that’s called the “F-U-closure.” @Joel, maybe “Glass House?”

  • http://www.caceresliving.com

    It’s got it all. Manned gates. Homes with fancy Spanishy names. 118 homes/townhomes based off of an Andalusian fantasy in our very own Houston, Texas! Heck, there are even rooftop patios with fireplaces for our lovely summer nights.

  • The stone waterfall retrofit on a pool. Because nothing says resort style living like a bunch of rocks glued together with water dripping down.

  • @joel, I second that nomination. Anything shilled as green or LEED certified. Which is just about every house/building/etc. now.

  • It’s time to step up to the plate and create a SLUMLORD OF THE YEAR CATEGORY. Your nomination must include photos and HCAD documentation.

  • I nominate that big vacant lot in the Rice Village where Nit Noi used to be.

  • I nominate those ubiquitous “mixed use” developments that are all the rage right now: for example the “West Ave” at Kirby and Westheimer.

    I assume they are meant to replicate the kind of urban layout that one finds in older cities where residential and retail spaces coexist in the same building. But BOY, they fail spectacularly. Not to mention that they are- like all new apartment buildings in Houston it seems- hideous architecturally/aesthetically speaking.

  • I’m with Donnie and mek ju. FACAAAAAAAADE!!!

  • My building won’t fit. Let’s tear down that tree.

  • Car Washes. They just keep popping up everywhere. Who knew there were that many dirty cars?

  • Anything with “historic” attached. It usually means the house is priced $100,000 over its actual value if it’s been restored or means the buyer will have to spend $100,000 in order to restore it. And in many cases they will have to restore it in order to live in it.

    Anything “historic” at this point has not only become a cliche but also has become the new “chi-chi” word. To be “historic” is to be “chi-chi.” No matter how dumpy something really is, if it’s “historic” suddenly it’s the rage. The builders no doubt will have fun with it. “Historic Tuscan.”

  • miss_msry
    It’s time to step up to the plate and create a SLUMLORD OF THE YEAR CATEGORY. Your nomination must include photos and HCAD documentation.

    Feel free to send information.

  • Much like “lick & stick stone” this is a singular design element. It seems to know no boundaries on where it is applied. The infamous oval leaded glass door with the bright shiny brass trim. They are so ugly and cheap looking yet show up on any and every style, age and price range property imaginable.

  • This may be more 2009 than 2010, but I second mixed-use with the one in First Colony being especially ridiculous. There is nothing either practical or prestigious about living in an apartment above a Lane Bryant. Also so much stink is made about Tuscan Tacky being a big trend in new residential construction but what about the Suburbiterranean look that is so prevalent in just about every new commercial structure being built these days? It seems like everywhere you look there’s more SHOPPING coming soon!

  • SUBURBAN-TERRANEAN! Brilliant work, jwh. I believe our friend has honed in a term that most closely describes the Tuscan/Mediterranean/Spanish/Tudor/New England/French-inspired homes that proliferate our suburbs and blighted River Oaks lots. Why choose just one architectural style when you could have them all? The Suburban-terranean home is a true crowd (but maybe not neighborhood) pleaser.

  • Anything and everything stucco.

  • Can I nominate outdoor fire pits? They seem a pretty worthless amenity, especially during the 9 months of the year when we huddle indoors with the AC running nonstop at 70 degrees or lower. When it does finally get cold enough to merit an actual fire, we have traditional fireplaces (also arguably unneccessary in Houston). At least with a traditional fireplace we can enjoy the heat and get our pyro-fix without getting eaten alive mosquitoes or inhaling smoke every time the wind changes direction.

    Come to think of it, I’ve never actually seen a group of people enjoyable sitting around a fire pit for any length of time, though the picture on the box suggests otherwise.

  • 1)All of the new houses out here in Memorial with “limestone” facades, porches with porch swings and college flags flapping in the breeze. Oh, and a leaded glass front door with a Texas star on it.
    2)”Best Use of Chinese Drywall” (see #1)

  • i nominate the 8-up or 10-up townhome development, built around a concrete common driveway with 1 or 2 drains. the driveway is always just a leeeettle too small for everyone’s comfort and a tight squueze for the 1-2 Hummer/Sequoia/White Pickup owners.

  • Seconding Sally01, I would like to nominate the millions of artsy-craftsy Lone Stars stuck to the exterior of local houses, welded into fences, topping weather-vanes and incorporated into thousands of local front doors.

    What inspires such a need to express Pride in one’s state by tacking distressed stars onto everything? Please, Stop doing that. It’s not like we are going to forget we live in Texas.

  • Stone Veneer and Hardi Rear, definitely. This may be better than tuscanization.

  • (1) I’d like to nominate the act of tearing down an old or otherwise historic building or structure, to be replaced by a supersized reproduction of the same. (2) I’d also like to nominate the funding of an anti-preservation ordinance “grassroots” movement by the very same parties the preservation ordinance was targeting.

  • I nominate the driveway paver. What better way to say not quite brick and not quite cement than a brick made out of cement. As a Houstonian, I love brick – it is beautiful, ages gracefully, and actually comes from the clays upon which the city was built. Of course, as a driver in the city I also have a certain affection for cement. But it is not a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup moment when you combine the two. These fake bricks are somehow deemed not only appropriate but luxurious as driveway veneer in the poshest neighborhoods. Simply look under your neighbor’s Maserati (4-door with the automatic transmission) for that favorite Houston design cliche, the driveway paver.

  • The remodel of the 1959 modern shopping plaza, where the Container Store is located, into “Houston Spanish”… Throw some stucco and tile roofs on it and it is GORGEOUS!!! Keep it in Katy!

  • I third or fourth mixed-use developments.

    @24, my parents have an outdoor fireplace, and it sees a lot of use. My three brothers and I like to sit outside and smoke cigars around the fire during the winter. And the mosquitoes aren’t a problem this time of year.

  • Stone Veener, Hardi Rear fo sho! (as if no
    one sees…)

  • Stone Veneer Hardi Rear.

    I especially like it when they try to put stone and stucco on the front, but they miscalculated the width of the brick on the sides so the sides are visable from the front, classy…….

  • The huge overdone mailbox monstrosities that are in front of every new house that gets built. It’s like your little mailbox has its own castle.

    I love the fact that they usually have a curved top which mimics the shape of a USPS approved mailbox. I also love the fact that the brickmason will often remove the little red “flag” from the mailbox and install it in one of the mortar courses on the outside of the new masonry structure. What happened to any notion of scale??

    They look bad enough when you consider them separate and apart from their surroundings, but they seem especially weird and silly when you drive through a new neighborhood and see them all standing silent sentry on the curb just waiting to perform their solemn duty of…holding…our…mail.