As the new year approaches we all face the ritual of resolutions, personal and professional. In the interest of an improve 2019, here are my favorite, if somewhat random, mantras and bon mots to make your design life chicer, or at the very least easier.
THE REAL PET SMART.
Ideally, the dog should match the carpet and the cat should match the upholstery or bedding, depending on how loose you are with the no-paws-on-the-furniture enforcement (bet you guessed I’m an enforcer). But here’s a corollary: Even if you have the perfect color-coordinated golden retriever, forgo sisal and jute rugs. These natural fibers smell an awful lot like grass and are an invitation for pets to mark their territory (and by the way, the natural fibers are near-impossible to clean). End the trends. If the sentence starts, “I’m obsessed with…” then step away from it, whatever it is. Like that bad-boy senior you had a mad crush in high school, he/it is not good relationship material in either life or your home. RIP, bin pulls, shag rugs, bead board, crystals (on lampshades, chandeliers and on display as objets d’art), and so on.
Wool is the fiber of a lifetime. Can’t kill it. Can’t stain it. Can’t wear it out. When it comes to carpeting and rugs opt for wool. For upholstery the same holds true for Mohair, durable, crease proof, even flame retardant. The message here is when home decorating, head to the barn.
THINK SHEEP AND GOATS.
Pass on the pricey paint. Farrow and Ball and Donald Kaufman are premium paint brands that run more than 100 dollars a gallon—and lead you to believe they have greater saturation than plebian brands. I say ha. Besides who cares? Most of my customers are opting for lighter shades where density is a moot point. And anyway, Ben Moore is my long-term boyfriend. The company’s color palette is bountiful and diverse, ranging from the understated to the bold. Ben has yet to disappoint me.
WALLPAPER IS NOT COMING BACK.
Wallpaper is back but in measured doses: Accent wall, entry vestibule, mudroom. People are still not opting for a wallpapered kitchen (WHY did we ever do that?) or full on two-story entry hall.
RAISE THE ROOF.
Whenever and wherever possible, opt for higher ceilings. Nine feet is good. Ten feet is better. I know that’s not an easy opt-in an existing structure, but if you’re adding on or colonizing an existing garage, go for it. Please note, higher ceilings oft call for more molding, ceiling details, and more design. But that’s a whole other story.
CONSIDER THE CASING.
Matching door frames, doors and window casings is a real thing. If you’re lucky enough to have a French blue library or den, go all in with French blue trims and casings. It is, of course, a lot of look; however, rooms look too cut up with contrasting trims. Even shiplap looks good drenched in deeper hues.
DON’T GO CHASING WATERFALLS.
It started with waterfall stair carpet. Then it was waterfall sinks, and naturally, waterfall faucets. Now it’s waterfall islands where the stone cascades over the top and down the sides. It’s a custom look, and the cost is monumental. However, for the right house and homeowner—I’m in.
One pantry is worth a thousand upper cabinets. Well maybe only
a hundred, but all the same…it doesn’t have to be a fancy situation with custom cabinetry, pullouts and swivels. Rather I prefer a good-looking door (I’ve used everything from an old screen porch door to a refurbished barn door) with carpenter-built interior shelves.
AS MICHELLE OBAMA SAYS, GO LOW—
maintenance, that is. I spend so much time obsessing over my decorative accessories and basic cleaning (which I enjoy way too much), that there is just no extra time or tolerance for high maintenance. Cases in point: glossy dark walls, which show every smudge and are hard to clean without ruining the finish; viscose or linen rugs, which are death to all liquids; soapstone counters, which require a regular rubdown with mineral oil…and on and on.
PLAN EARLY AND OFTEN.
Start doodling, drawing, thinking and plotting that interior or home renovation. Like pregnancy, it’s interminable. And resources are scarce. There are only so many workrooms, electricians or skilled carpenters. And reassess: That pattern you were obsessed with last month might feel a bit cringe-y this month.
AND BE OPEN TO CHANGING YOUR MIND.
And be open to changing your mind. You might just fall back in love with the thing you were hoping to replace. That happened to my friend Susan who was in a hurry to slipcover a pair of wing chairs from two houses ago that didn’t match the new decor. Susan asked me for alternative fabric options. I ignored her. I loved the chairs as they were, covered in a beautiful, faded ethnic Cowtan and Tout fabric. As time went by Susan came to like that they were a little off. It gave the room personality—or so she told herself. And you know what? She was right.
Lyn Peterson, designer, author, mother of four and all round busy body is president of Motif Designs, Mamaroneck, NY.