10 Rules to Design By

I’ve done this a lot. 

Decorate. Redecorate. Restyle. Refurbish. 

And I know you probably have too. 

So here’s my quick tidbits of advice about decorating and purchasing for your home. With a side of snark. (As always) Ask yourself these questions to see if a room needs to change/alter/be added to. 

1. Does it bring you joy?  

If it doesn’t make you happy then you need to change it. If you look at your space and something feels off then start moving things! Invest in some furniture sliders for carpet/wood/tile and use them so that you don’t have to kill your back. 

2. Is it in a group of 3/5/7? 

Odd numbers look better. They just do. If your item is too large to cluster than it need to stand alone. MAYBE a small accent next to it. So if you just can’t get a shelf or a tray to look right then start counting. 

See. Small accent:Geode. This works well since it’s a hard modern element next to a natural piece. 

3. Does it serve a purpose? 

Is that tray in your way? Or is it collecting your tiny coffee grounds? Is that candle ever going to be lit? No? Then move it to somewhere you’ll actually use it. My biggest pet peeve is mirrors everywhere. You’re not THAT vain. No one is. Use mirrors for what they’re supposed to be for. Checking your outfit, bringing light to a dark corner, or enlarging a small space. This also helps you from overclutteing your house. You get to decorate shelves. Not stuff them to the brim. If it doesn’t serve a purpose then it’s out. If that purpose is “it spurs a memory” then fine. But all your goods and things better keep you happy or serve a function. 

4. Can it be easily cleaned?

How much is your cleaning lady really charging you for all your chochtkeys. Really. If it does nothing but collect dust then toss it. Sell it. Whatever. If it brings you joy then keep it. But if it’s a random pineapple from an antique store with zero story behind it … pass it on. You don’t need that pineapple to remind you to “stand tall and be different”

5. Do you have enough photos in the space? 

Have you ever walked into a space or a home and thought “brrr. These people are stiff rigid and colder than Elsa” ?Guarantee you thought that because they didn’t have any personal photos. You’re not a hotel. You’re not a model home. You live here. Put your face in it. Put your memories around you. You will be happier and homey-er because of it. I even have photos in my bathroom. Really. 

6. How often does your spouse complain about it? 

No decor is worth a fight. Unless you just love it. I love my little brass duck. My husband always complained “I’m not a duck hunter. It makes no sense.” I would just reply, “I let you put dead stuff in my house. I win.” But now someone gave me a wooden duck I love even more. So bye bye brass ducky. Welcome home woody. Same can be said for the opposite. I always hated our garage space. But it was “his” so I let it go. Compromise people. It saves marriages. 

7. Do you have enough texture? 

I bet Donald Trump doesn’t have enough texture in his home. He’s too stiff. All the time. He needs a big fluffy blanket. Less sticks up the rear. In your own home you can accomplish this by mixing  everything. Mix woods, metals, stones, rattan, wicker, chicken wire, barn tin… (do I need to keep going?) add a wicker basket for pens next to your entirely iron desk. Throw a fur blanket on the back of the tailored leather chair. Warmth. That’s what you’re looking for. Soften up the rough edges so people don’t think “downtown abbey” when they walk in your house. 

8. Would you be mad if it was ruined?

If it’s a priceless antique passed down from grandma and you just have to keep it. Then store it somewhere safe. Top shelf. Behind glass. Don’t mess around. Your house needs to be LIVED in. Not danced around. If you have that “open concept” everyone dies for these days then use it the right way. No more fancy living room and family den. Buy your furniture with the same mindset. Don’t go spend billions on custom sofas if you’re going to cry over spills. Go to your local mass market store and start digging. A couch doesn’t make a room. The way you style it does!

9. What does it cost you? Pain and suffering? Time? Actual money? If it’s costing you too much then fix it. If you love it and just have to have it- pay for it. Two mindsets here. 

First let’s talk about cost of non-tangible things… People love plants and so do I. But I kill them. A lot. So I quit buying them. If someone gives me a plant. I will keep it alive as long as I can. (I have an aloe that’s 5 years strong) but other than that I only buy one tomato plant and one Boston fern a year. Plants cost money. My time watering and fertilizing. And they just don’t bring me much joy. Fake ones bring me joy. Always pretty. Never needing to be watered or replanted. So I fork over the money to get the nicer looking faux plants. So if you hate doing the thing your item forces you do to (dust, wind, water, or coddle) then bon voyage to mr. Mantle clock. Make room for better goodies. 

Now let’s discuss the cold hard cash side of things. Every once in a while I see something I HAVE TO HAVE. I’ve googled and found nothing like it online. Never seen anything like it anywhere else. I’ve tried to haggle the price down. And still expensive. But I keep thinking about it. So I just do it. I pay too much for an item. But I can just SEE it in my house and all the uses for it. Welcome home overpriced item. Pleasure doing business with you. Here’s my firstborn in exchange for your larger than life olive bucket. 

10. What’s its story? 

I love things with a story. A brass doorknob from my high school. A tin peacock from my honeymoon. A photo I drove to three Hobby Lobbys to find. So if it has a story then DISPLAY IT! Don’t stick memories away in a box. Fill a shadow box with your high school items and treasure them. Use them as your decor. Your home will be lots more interesting because of it. 

I think you get what I’m saying… but let me rephrase. Memories are cool. Put out your memories. But not everything has to have a huge history. Sometimes you won’t want to pay for the “real deal.” Some of my best storied items are the ones I found for 70%off at target. Discount shopping. It’s a story in itself. 

But if you’re on a fence about keeping an item, and it doesn’t have a story. Then it’s out. Sell that sucker. 
Happy decorating!




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