The 7 Things Your Mother Never Told You About Decorating . . . then again…Maybe She Did!

Who am I to argue with the fact that “Mother Knows Best.” Me, the girl who couldn’t get or keep any food in for 19 months after my own mother died. Still – there is likely a thing or two about design that perhaps mother didn’t tell you that – if known – may save you a little time, hassle, aggravation, dollars – or any mixture thereof.

1. Don’t buy suites. That means you. End tables and coffee tables need not be matchy-matchy. Chairs need not ‘match’ the sofa silhouette. Beyond a dining room or bedroom (and even there you can step out and step up) – that ‘room in a bag’ look is most usually a downmarket look. If you want a look that rivals something in a design magazine – let there be conversation between your case goods, not duplication.

*If you currently have the matchy-matchy thing happening somewhere in a room in your home, and you want to fix that problem now….start breaking up the marriage…of furniture that is. Separate matched pieces by relocating 1 ‘twin’ into an alternate space. Works like a charm…now you’ll see the furniture shape you love in two locations rather than one.

2. You get what you pay for. Well, maybe your mother did say this. If she did – she was a smarty pants. Cheapest is not always the smartest way to go in home furnishings or design. Cheapest will always be the most cheaply made, cheaply designed, cheaply executed and cheaply built. The cheapest craftspeople don’t always do the greatest job. There are things that get dropped out ‘in the backroom’ in order to land something at the cheapest price. If you’re in a college dorm room, that’s one thing. But if you’re creating a home – there are many times when it’s wise to save for the best you can afford. The better sofa in the family room or other high-use area will will wear longer, look better for far longer and your comfort factor will rise exponentially too. Buying the cheapest in design is often a case of “throwing good money after bad” – now that sounds like something a mother would have said too!

3. Never kiss on the first date. Yes, that’s correct girls. Keep them wanting. Don’t feel like you have to give it all away on the first date. Rooms & Homes don’t need to come together in 1 fell swoop. As a designer, I’m the one who will often say to a rarin’-to-go client – ‘How about slowing down a bit.’ Better to finish 1 room completely than spritz budget dollars and energy in 10 different directions. “Rush-to-the-finish-spirtzers” often run the risk of running out of steam (budget, focus or both) and then no one room ever crosses the finish line. Design is a slow, hurry-up-and-wait process. Embrace it for what it is. And remember: Good things come to those who wait. (Oooh…did your mother say that one too?? Mine did…often . . because I was always impatient.)

4. ‘But You Look Good In Florals’. Yeah, well you might, but your sofa doesn’t. What large scale florals (or any large scale print) do to your hips…imagine that on an 84″ wide piece of stuffed furniture. It’ll suck up more visual space in a room than you can imagine and you’ll tire of it faster than you can say, “Does this sofa make me look fat?”

5. Sit like a lady. Yes, I like this one, particularly if you’re wearing a skirt. Chairs are marvelous. Think of the chairs in a space as being little works for art -yes, think comfort, but also think shape, think pattern (yes, you may put your florals or larger prints on these), show a little leg on some, demurely skirt some of the others, go bold and deep in some places, and ever so darling elsewhere. Sit like a lady. It’ll feel great.

6. A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Yes, so we all know. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that the Mr. of the house shouldn’t have his appetite indulged when it comes to design. He may not want to spend much time with you – or you and your designer – searching for each last piece. But let his voice be heard in the design process…it’s his castle too. My #1 rule when working with a couple is that in the common spaces, it has to feel great to both partners. In his office or your study – well, all bets are off. (All’s fair in love – and in your own designated corner of the house). If you like girlie things and frill – have at it in your own space. But don’t make him feast on it in the shared areas of the house. Men are people too. I love men. I love my men. (Hubby and son). Steven absolutely hates the girlie purple toile chair in my studio office. (Yum!) I don’t much prefer the giant pencil in his office. (Take that!) But in the rest of our home, it’s true-blue to the two of us. I know you love your men too. A way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach – but there’s a sensitive, artistic core in that fella too and as a normal human, he does indeed respond to environment and design. Let him be a full partner in design – or as much partner as he wishes.

7.Always comb your hair before you go out – you never know who you’ll run into.” This has nothing to do with design – nor can I think of a thread – but who can argue with it.