Ripped and culled from your submissions, here they are: the official nominees in the first category of the sixth annual Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. That would be Favorite Houston Design Cliché. Thanks to all of you who contributed! These awards wouldn’t happen without you.
Here’s the cool thing about voting: You can do so up to 4 times in this category (and in each of the others too) — by leaving a comment in the post, by sending us an email, expressing your preference on Twitter or Facebook. Each will count as a vote — as long as you follow the voting guidelines. Oh, and don’t just tell us which choice you’re voting for, tell us why!
Here are the nominees for favorite design cliché around hereabouts:
1. Subdivision waterfalls. “One only need to drive south on 288 or FM521 to see that things are getting really out of hand on the entry mountain / fountain front. Rodeo Palms springs to mind as one of the worst offenders. Must there be one of these increasingly ostentatious entry waterfall things in front of every new subdivision? ‘Oh darling! Just look at that pretentious waterfall thing by the highway! I simply MUST live way out here!'”
2. The Texas Hill Country look. “There is an unsettling amount of new development coming in the outer fringes of Houston that is billed as ‘Texas Hill Country’ inspired — see the Rock Creek and Towne Lake developments in Cypress, for example. Yes, Texas’s Hill Country is a beautiful place. But can we leave it there? There aren’t any real hills around here, for one thing — And no stone, either. Houston has its own style and its own natural beauty — from the coastal plains, to the oak savannah, to the piney woods. We have a cool mix of ‘vernacular’ here, too. How about we work with some of that?“
3. Juliet balconies. “They’re just like real balconies — except there’s no place to stand on them. Sure, railings mounted on the outside of your townhouse or apartment are necessary to prevent folks from falling out of your upper-story French doors. But what’s the point of having doors instead of windows up there in the first place? You can’t step out of them, and you can’t screen out bugs if you leave them open. They do help you safely clear out the air in a jiffy when you burn a pie, though. And they lend a home the unfathomable air of their namesake’s doomed romance.“
4. The typical Inner Loop townhouse plan. “Start with a 3-story stucco exterior. The first floor gets the garage, an office/third bedroom, and a full bathroom. The second floor will be the living-dining-kitchen open area with a powder room tucked in there somewhere. The third floor will have the master bedroom with en suite bathroom with a plastic whirlpool tub plus the second bedroom with its own bath. Round that out with a tiny patch of grass or rocks on the side and a 2nd or 3rd floor balcony measuring maybe 2 ft. by 4 ft. and, voila! You’ve got yourself a $300K townhome. Did I miss anything?”
6. Polystone-al architecture.“It first started showing up as a patch of limestone on what was otherwise another mind-numbing page from a builder’s form book. Usually over the front entryway, a panel of limestone siding is used to break up the brick siding. But it’s evolved into a kind of ‘put a bird on it‘ form of home design. Take another boring new house in the burbs and put some slate here, some limestone there, a keystone here, some stucco there, and you have a polystone-al home. The look is starting to creep into some recent midrise apartment complexes too. The mishmash of different stone, brick, and stucco combinations create an ambiguous style that looks a little bit Hill Country, a little traditional southern, a bit New England-y, and everywhere else in between.”
7. Inflatable lawn art. “They’re a constant from mid-October to New Years in some Houston neighborhoods — first inflatable Halloween decorations (the next door neighbor had a giant black cat whose head swiveled back and forth), then inflatable football players (of course, the suckitude of the Texans this year has minimized that particular abomination), and finally Christmas in all its inflatable glory.“
8. Dead-animal decor. “I’ve seen listings with hunting trophies in a child’s bedroom, the dining room, and in one case, right above the toilet (a head over the head, get it?). With real-estate agents always advising you to de-personalize, there must be something special about taxidermy in Houston that exempts it from this advice. Is it now considered art?”
There you have it. Which one of these stellar nominees deserves the title of Favorite Houston Design Cliché for 2013? Let the voting begin!
- How To Vote in the 2013 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2013 [Swamplot]
Images: Johnna Johnson (Rodeo Palms waterfall); Caldwell Companies (Heritage Lodge at Towne Lake); HAR (Juliet balcony at 2220 Morse St., stone-and-brick facade at 11710 Leonessa Dr., animal study at 7819 Bryonwood Dr.); Sandcastle Homes (Stratford); NuHabitat (closet at 1921 Spann St.); Jay Lee (lawn Santa)