I always cringe at those real estate listings for older homes that read, "Completely renovated," "freshly modernized," or even "restored from top to bottom." What this usually means is that the seller has slapped up a truckload of goodies from the local home improvement emporium — maybe some vinyl windows, a kitchen full of particleboard cabinets, and a quick coat of paint — and walked away whistling. This, for some people, constitutes a "complete renovation."

While it’s sometimes hard to distinguish faddish design choices from timeless ones in the context of one’s own time, it’s easy enough to pick out the future offenders that are disfiguring perfectly good houses right now. Leading the pack are vinyl replacement windows — those bright-white, clumsily proportioned abominations that afflict so many houses these days, whether modern or traditional.

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