I love (most) interior designers. The good ones take an aesthetically unlivable space, lacking any cohesive style, functionality, and personality, and transform it into something breathtaking yet livable. And while I would prefer the average person have (or learn) the savvy to do it themselves, I prefer your home reflect someone else’s good taste rather than your own questionable taste (assuming, of course, that this is the case.) But there is a point where designers take it too far, falling into the traps and clichés of their industry. The following are talking points to avoid falling for them yourself.
*Diversity- simply put, you don’t want your house looking like the latest catalogue of Pottery Barn, West Elm, Room & Board, etc. Mainstream furniture chains provide important pieces for any home, but they should be just that: a piece here, a piece there. Round out your rooms with finds from boutiques, antique shops, hand-me-downs, even Craigslist.
*Humor- a well-rounded life embodies humor and the same should apply to a well- rounded style life. Achieving this, however, is somewhat elusive. You can’t really look for funny pieces; you have to kind of happen upon them. That said, a funny book nestled inconspicuously among a more serious coffee table stack is the easiest way to get a laugh. Back in New York City, I bought a vintage Ivana Trump book entitled ‘Free To Love’, the cover a glamour shot of the author and a testament to 80s excess and cheesiness. Visitors to my home are never quite sure whether or not the book is meant as a joke. That is the funny part.
*Mis-match- matching is the scourge of designers everywhere. When your fabrics, wood tones and accessories all correspond, the home ends up feeling formal, uninspired and dated. Good design has to embody an element of spontaneity and effortless chic. Obviously designing a room or serious of rooms is hardly without effort, but it should still appear that way. The impression of countless hours spent getting the wall paint to perfectly match the pillow borders and those borders to then match the curtains is, as good design goes, the wrong one.
*Stuff- my biggest beef with many designers is their commitment to populating every space, every corner, every surface with stuff. HGTV, the Home & Garden network, has a very popular room remodel show, ‘Divine Design’ with well-known interior designer Candice Olsen, whose love of décor accents and accessories borders on the hysterical. After her rooms are completed, I always imagine the inhabitants removing at least a third of the stuff, allowing the eye some breathing room. Not every chair needs a corresponding side table, not every couch needs pillows, not every square inch of space needs to be filled. Bring an editing eye to your projects and live with less until you’re sure you need more.