May House Beautiful: '101 Designer Secrets'

palimpsestMay 9, 2012

You know how there is continual discussion about trends, and what is hot/not, in/out?

House Beautiful indirectly broaches this subject in their feature on Designer Secrets. This isn't so much about trends as it is things they like to do over and over, but the ideas or the thought processes behind some things that drive trends are there.

HB not only published designer ideas that were completely contradictory to each other, they listed them Adjacent to each other. :)

So, *Curtains should be hemmed so that they clear the floor up to 1" to hang in a straight unfussy way, is listed next to *Curtains should break about 1/2", anything less is like highwater pants.

*Line curtains in colors that match the face material is right next to *Line all your drapes in white to prevent a kaleidescope effect on the exterior of your house

And so on.

It just shows that it is a matter of opinion that even respected designers don't necessarily reach a consensus on.

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I just read some of the same "rules" in Southern Living. I live in a community where our homeowners association requires us to all have white lined curtains in our homes. Interestingly, it does seem design is headed back to the 1950's, especially with the 30 somethings.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:09PM
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I felt like I was reading 101 commandments of decorating - Thou shalt not...! I've broken more of those rules than I've followed ergo my house must be a disaster. Oh woe's me! (a little sarcasm there).It isn't just a matter of opinion but also of personal bias toward aesthetics as to why I've broken the rules. Although, I wonder how many of them do contradict each other?

Rule #40 - inadvertently followed. Rule #88 - if I did this in my sitting area there would be no leg room between the couch and coffee table.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I read that too and thought it so funny! What's in and out and trends is my favorite decorating topic but it appears no one really agrees much.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:26PM
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I just read this last night, what a hoot. Some of them are so dogmatic and smug sounding, I was amazed that they would want such statements published. Some of the comments would certainly give me pause if I was considering hiring a high end designer (not that I'm in a financial position or mindset to hire out design help), but I guess if you also believe that, say, curtains can only hang one way, ever, hiring a person with a similar view ensures you never have to leave your design safe zone.

I like that HB put the contradictory comments next to each other to show that there isn't one piece of decorating advice that's one size fits all (and maybe to give the designers a little tweak while they're at it?).


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:40AM
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I thought it was brilliant actually, to group the opposing tenets together. It shows just how varied these supposed carved-in-stone rules of decorating really are. Personally, I tend to ignore many of them when they go against something I feel works best (LOL). But, I do have to say that I'm enjoying my subscription to HB much more than I thought I would. I think their new editorial direction is both refreshing and innovative.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 10:26AM
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I thought grouping the opposing opinions was a good move too.

If you look at these Tips though, (not Rules), even though they are emphatically stated, the are just ideas. I think the emphasis is editorial.

Most of them are almost never "wrong": it's never wrong to have white linings on draperies or shades--you may not think it is Necessary, but doing one does not negate the other. It's never wrong to have all lighting on dimmers--it may make your wiring plan more difficult.

I don't like some of the ideas but I am not going to give you any examples :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:18AM
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I tore the pages to read again later. I also liked how they grouped opposing opinions together.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:49AM
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I recently read that by the time you see a 'trend' in a magazine, it is no longer a current trend. ;~) There is probably some amount of truth in that, especially in fashion these days.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:18PM
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Pal, are you sure you don't want to give examples of ideas you don't like? I'd like to hear them :).

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:23PM
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I'd like to hear his/hers (and anyone else's) ideas as well.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 12:36PM
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If I'm being honest, when I got the May HB and looked through it, I just thought, I am so over the designer decorated houses. I do enjoy the artistry though, but its more like looking at a work of art than an actual room that would inspire me for ideas for my home.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:46PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Yes just like fashion.

Biggest fashion no no is socks with thing I know, I'm seeing socks with sandals in all the mags. Go figure!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 4:22PM
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I will comment that most of the ones that give measurements that are very specific: mirrors 7" off the mantle; art 9" off the sofa, 2-1/2 inches in between; these are born out of the designer's experience. It's not a commandment, but it probably a typical measurement that they have found works for them

Same with some of the specific sizes of furniture, although I think that some of them can't always hold true: end tables and night tables should relate to the height of the sofa arm and the mattress height.

I agree with most of the comments about lighting, dimmers wherever possible, and about lampshades. However it is hard to paint the inside of a lampshade unless it is already opaque, and having custom made shades so that they have a pink lining is $$$. Who wants to pay $300 for a lampshade? Not many people.

Re: window treatments. The only one I DISagree with wholeheartedly is that the only time a white lining should be used is when the face fabric is white. There is nothing wrong with presenting a uniform white window interior to the street. It's not always necessary but it is Never incorrect.
I think length is a matter of taste and application. Dragging or puddled drapes are an outgrowth of two ideas.

1) textiles used to be very expensive, and drapery was often an important part of a household inventory and would be passed down in people's wills. The display of fabric that literally puddled on the floor showed how wealthy you were.

2) houses were very drafty and if the drapes laid on the floor they did not allow cold drafts to blow across your feet as much.

I think puddled or slightly draggy drapes are fine if they are formal lined drapery. I think a single ply piece of fabric that drags on the floor looks like the curtain rod isn't hung right. I think simple panels should not drag, and that the modern "puddled" look is an outgrowth of Trading Spaces: buy it off the rack and insist it works _-it's the emperor's new clothes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 5:17PM
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Haven't seen the article in HB but I do like to read about trends. Two reasons, either to get ideas because occasionally there may be a new idea I hadn't considered and the second reason is that they are quite often amusing. Saying something that's being recycled from 10-30 years ago is now 'on trend' (and how I dislike that term) is, to me, amusing as I probably still have it in my home, if I like it. If top designers cannot agree with what's in/out why should anyone care?

There are some universally good ideas such as lining drapes but how can that be in or out? To me it's not so much a style as common sense. Prevents fading of expensive fabric, drapes hang better, and presents a uniform look to the street.

Listing contradictory ideas adjacent to each other is a great idea for a magazine because any pics they post cannot then be criticized as out of date. "*Anything* and *everything* is in style so see how current we are" they can claim. Isn't one of the main aims of shelter magazines to be up to date and stylish? I'm sure it's a struggle sometimes.

IMO the most interesting rooms/homes are often those where many of the 'rules/trends/styles' are disregarded. Sometimes actually done by designers.

Socks with sandals!!! Ugh!!! What a frumpy look.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:04PM
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Many designers have a fairly "signature" look that has very little to do with trends at all. And it doesn't mean every house they do for a client looks the same, just that there is an underlying method to how they work. One famous and regularly published designer said although he has moved several times, the general appearance of his living room has not really varied in 30 years--he just tweaks and reinvents the same look over and over.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:28PM
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First...the sock trend. Aussies have been doing this forever. Loved the guys coming to the class I was teaching with their shorts and black socks with sandles...years ago.

Haven't read the mag. But was on their site recently and for too long. The tips I was able to read are from their articles of past. They were very recognizable. Calling them trends is a bit out of date, but definitely got our attention.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:43PM
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As a 'mainly lurker' I have to jump in here in regards to the last comment about Aussies. I'm sorry, but it is certainly NOT a commonplace thing to see socks with sandles here! I'm not sure who these people are you are talking about but perhaps it was just some 'in' thing in a small group of students. Yuck, it's a horrible look.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Socks with sandals have never gone out of "style" here in the PNW :-)

and you always have to be ready for a flood

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Olychick- One thing I do NOT miss from my days living in Seattle! I could never figure out how people kept their socks from getting wet. I mean it rains on that side of the state...a lot! LOL

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 6:06PM
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It was an architectural firm, most were in their 30s+. I taught computer/engineering graphics. Was a really long time ago. Perhaps it was shorts with dress shoes and socks. They got me back when we took group photos and I had white legs to show for it. Not a dig at Aussies at all...had a great time with them, best food around and wonderful explorations there for 4 weeks.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 7:06PM
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Emagineer, no offence taken. Looking back on what I wrote, it sounds a bit snippy. My turn to apologise.
I can certainly affirm the shorts and dress shoes and socks. Usually the socks were long white ones....what were we thinking back then? Yikes! LOL There are still a few older gents who can't get past that even now....along with their comb overs.
Sorry Palimpsest for hi-jacking your thread.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 8:47PM
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the fact is--those rules are like the rules of warfare or investing or even cooking...
if it works, it's right...
whether you follow the existing rules or not...

often times it is breaking the rules or conventional design that really makes a house/room individual and striking...
but having the design savy and guts to make the decision is what sets creative talent apart from people who follow whatever fad is in their face...

I get so tired of looking at Houzz and reading people's comments about "where did you get that rug/buffett/coffee table/drape/faucet fixture"especially if it is pretty obviously a piece of furniture that is cintage or being repurposed/repainted
Tile and paint--that is usually worth knowing but again computer monitors often mislead about the actual color of what is on the what works for one person/room is not axiomatically going to work for you even if you really, really like what you see onscreen...

Sometimes judicious use of Google could solve that problem--but people want answers right away--
the definitive vs the more ambiguous...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Re: everything old again is new again... socks with shoes - for those of us "lucky" enough to remember the fabulous fifties, which I did love, socks with high heels is nothing new.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Designers tend to be much less concerned about following trends than the masses.

Some of them are more concerned with setting trends, which means that they can't be following the current ones.

And, some of them do their signature look for most of their careers. Some designers' signatures are very rigid and hardly vary from one client to the next while another designer's signature may actually be a "viewpoint" which is applied over a wide and changing range of styles.

Note that the article was Designer Tips and Secrets --Not trends. It was more about fall back positions or things that work for them over and over 7'' gap for the mirror over a mantle for example. That's not "this year I am doing a lot of...." That's a different article.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:23AM
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I liked the juxtaposition of the opposing tips in HB, too. I'm enough of an egotist that when I read a "must" I only care about it if it works for me.

One of the tips was for every room to have something black in it--I was tickled that I got "official" approval for my black bamboo table in my all-brown (too brown) living room--even though I still think the table would work better in the room if it was painted red or teal.

Then I had to laugh at myself b/c there isn't any black in my bedrooms or bathrooms (unless you count the shoes and underwear left on the floor), so I've got more "wrong" rooms than right ones according to that rule.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:31AM
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I don't agree with the black in every room rule. I happen to have some black in every room if you include picture frames or art (I have a black room, too) but I have seen plenty of rooms with no black that are just fine.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:48AM
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