By Anessa Cohen


In the 1980s, people became infected with what I call the “yin and yang” fetish. Everything was translated into black and white. Clothes had to be combinations of black and white, with a slight touch of color such as a dab of red or pink. It showed up in real estate, too. Every kitchen and bathroom that was redone during that time featured that theme. It was all white with accents of black and maybe a touch of red, or it was white with black countertops, or it was another combination of white cabinets or bathroom fixtures with black accents, whether countertops, floors, or other fixtures. In the other rooms of the house, it was considered passé to paint your walls any color but white, unless it was a child’s bedroom.

Some people gave a nod to this trend by doing a kitchen or a bathroom in black and white, but others took it the whole nine yards, painting the living and dining room white and then getting white or black furniture with small accents of red, or even taking the same scheme and shooting it through the entire house. It got to a point that if you entered a house and did not see a white kitchen and white walls, it was a sign that the house had not been updated in style. The more extreme whole-house version of this trend made you feel as if you woke up in a black-and-white movie that you could not escape.

Well, life goes on, and new fads in home design become popular. Now, when I show those white kitchens left over from that time period, I hear: “I could never live in this kitchen; it must be changed immediately.”

So I wonder, “What made the people in the 1980s fall head over heels in love with those white-and-black kitchens and bathrooms, which don’t appeal to today’s generation? And since their tastes in style are so different, what am I going to do with all the leftover white-and-black kitchens and bathrooms from that time period?”

On the one hand, white is a universal color that blends with everything and can certainly be spruced up with any other color to change its look. OK, everyone agrees with this idea, but then what do we do with all those black countertops, floors, and accents? Some features are small, but some are so large that you cannot really change them without redoing the entire kitchen.

There is no ready answer for those who cannot afford to change a kitchen or bathroom other than to try to jazz it up with festive colors and start putting money aside in a jar, a little at a time, until you can afford that new wonderful kitchen and maybe even some fabulous new baths — money in the jar permitting.

But here is my new question. If it takes a long time to save that money, when the time comes that the money saved is enough to rip out that kitchen and maybe even those bathrooms, what if the little elf in kitchen- and bathroom-design fantasyland decides it is time to change color schemes and wants white-and-black kitchens to become the must-have all over again? Does this mean you are ahead of the game and should use the money in the jar for a trip to Hawaii?

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to


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