My latest piece of advice :)

palimpsestNovember 27, 2012

I have found myself giving this piece of advice several times lately:

Just because you love it /it's beautiful, that's not a good enough reason to use it.

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My doors?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:37PM
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I hadn't read your thread, but now that I have, yeah, that might be a good example. The unchangeable white muntins inside the glass affect the rest of the doors (the exterior ones, anyway).

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:40PM
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I can't afford things I love. Hey, maybe that's good?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:41PM
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So you're saying I can't use George Clooney?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:50PM
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Of course, you can, jakabedy. I believe palimpest was referring to inanimate objects. ;-)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:25AM
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Of course you know this is in direct contradiction to the standard advice, "If you love it it will work in your home." That works if there is some consistency in the things you love and only an occasional oddball. But a room or house full of oddballs with nothing that relates them other than the owner is like Thanksgiving at my in-laws. And it isn't pretty.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:37AM
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I agree with Pal's statement. Ignoring it is what leads to chaos in decorating. Budgetary or visually.

Or more work than is justified.

Example is that my current dining room light fixture had a broken socket. It is a very simple antique brass fixture. I thought for a while about replacing with a crystal chandy.....but in the end decided that 1.5 minutes twice a year of dusting was all the love that I had to give to my light fixture. I simply don't have the time to enjoy disassembling and washing a crystal chandelier once or twice a year. So I had the current fixture repaired.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:00AM
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The latest time I used this piece of advice was with someone who wanted to do:

A wall color
An accent wall color
A trim color
An accent trim color
A ceiling color

All in an open plan LR and kitchen that is 13" x 25. That already has three wood finishes excluding furniture.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I don't know; if the bigger picture is to have a well designed, beautiful space, then yes, I do agree.
But if that is not the priority and seeing things that make you happy are most important, than filling the rooms with things you love is fine.

Most people want a balance and the word love is used indiscriminately, it's fickle, but we all have things we cherish and there are ways to make those work too.

I prefer somewhat unique rooms that are creative yet also beautiful. By following the crowd to closely, conformity sets in.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:27AM
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Oh you are talking about paint as well. I see what you mean. There is a Farrow & Ball dirty sort of teal color that I would LOVE for an accent wall at the end in my living area. I have touches of this shade as an accent throughout the house. The problem is that I have an open plan with a multi tone kitchen at the other end. I know it would not work. This paint shade haunts me and I occasionally revisit the idea only to come to the same conclusion.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:50AM
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I "love" the work of Carlo Bugatti and Ettore Sottsass. And I am pretty good at making things work. But I don't think that these necessary belong in the same room, or even in the same typical-size house.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:34AM
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Sometimes I look at rooms in design magazines that have phenomenal amounts of details that I would never add to a room. I would not even know where to find the artisans and craftspeople to fabricate them. Then I play around with the question of whether the detail actually adds something essential to the success of the overall design or just to extra bill padding for the designer. Sometimes I come to the conclusion that I'm either ignorant regarding why that detail was added or the designer wanted to pad the commission. One area of note where this thought process goes into overdrive is when certain additions to crown molding trim seem randomly applied. Pal's example of the client who wanted multiple trim colors reminded me. One example is a room with crown molding, under which a narrow strip of faux tortoise shell is painted. Perhaps the client said he loved tortoise shell--so, hey, let's add it there! I'm quite sure it cost a fortune to paint that around the bottom of the crown of an entire library, yet I'm not convinced that it added anything to the room. On the other hamd, it probably didn't detract, either, whereas some items that get added just because they are beautiful or desirable on their own can ruin the overall design. I am afraid I feel this way about the very traditional rooms of Bunny Williams or Gerri Bremermann to which MCM pieces get added.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:35AM
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"But a room or house full of oddballs with nothing that relates them other than the owner is like Thanksgiving at my in-laws."

OMG I needed a spew alert on that one! Do we have the same in-laws?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:29AM
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I don't think so, chicagoans but it might have been fun if we did! Have to say all attending were nice people but it did make for an 'interesting' afternoon.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:38AM
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"but we all have things we cherish and there are ways to make those work too"

I am not talking about getting rid of something that has personal resonance, just because it "doesn't go", by some preconceived notion of what is "correct" design. Really, quite the opposite, if you look into it.

The clients who I have the most difficulty pinning down in regards to this piece of advice have generally grown up in a particular type of household, and that tends to be one where nothing was really around long enough to have much personal resonance. They are the offspring of serial redecorators.

The two that I think of the most had mothers who pored over magazines like 1001 Decorating Tips and spent one weekend a month pushing furniture around from one end of the living room to the other and then back again.

They typically cleared out everything in the living room and dining room about every five years, and got rid of it all: furniture, carpet, drapes, pictures, accessories, and even dishes, because they had a "new idea". I've seen pictures of some of these clients from their youth where the living room went from Mid Century Modern kitsch with a vinyl padded bar and spaghetti pendant lights and Danish modern furniture, to "Bicentennial" with wood paneling and drum and soldier wallpaper and braided rugs and Ethan Allen phony colonial furniture, to 80s disco modern with a pit sofa and mirrored wall. Everything literally got cleared out and the new theme was installed.

I don't actually consider this in good taste, but that is a matter of opinion.

What has resulted is that their own houses have a lot of incomplete thoughts, and design ideas indulged in and abandoned mid stream before some other idea takes hold.

Not that these clients have bad taste necessarily, but they just want too many things all at the same time and all in the same house.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:39AM
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A bit tangential, but I thought of this thread when I read this:

Here is a link that might be useful: idealizing the unobtainable

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:54AM
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This conversation, like most, easily turns into a philosophical debate. In this world, decor tastes are all over the board and one person's "yuck!" is another person's "gorgeous!". Even browsing Architectural Digest, my heart often stops beating over something so repulsive that I cannot imagine wanting it, photographing it or ever sharing it with others. People view things differently and act according to their uniqueness. Consider backsplashes as one small example. Some are downright hideous and yet the owner loves it. What am I trying to say? ....just about anything goes in this crazy the $800K house in the neighborbood that was painted shades of lavender and decorated like a mythical house. Some people wretched when they saw it and others exclaimed, "How adorable!" Who is truly qualified to make judgements for others, including those with a doctorate in home design.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Oh, I think that within cultural contexts, there is definitely recognized "good taste" and "bad taste". And I think there are people who are recognized has having or being authorities on taste.

But I think it's a mistake to think that it is necessary to exhibit good taste all the time. I don't think Architectural Digest has as its mission statement only to feature properties in good taste. I think their mission statement is to show what people who have lots of money are doing, good and bad. Actually Paige Rense, the former editor of AD is on record for promoting a certain amount of "vulgarity" in every issue.

But all good taste all the time is boring.

The thing that I have noticed though, about the people to whom I have been giving the advice to narrow their scope is that they are Never happy with the way things look when they just add and add things just because they like them. Also, they actually don't really have a personal taste that is well defined at all--anything and everything is subject to external influences. This leaves them more confused than anything else.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Pal, I think you really hit on it, they do not have well defined taste. I know now that when I have the urge to just keep adding, I haven't gotten the basics right. I followed that mantra " if you love it you will make it work" for a while, until I saw that it didn't! I have been through a lot of accessories over the years for that very reason. I wish I had all the money back I spent on them over the years, because they are gone now.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Interesting thread...

My least favorite clients were always people who couldn't make the psychological or emotional step from what they had grown up with but didn't like, and what they said at the outset that they longed for. So they balked at key elements of a design scheme because they didn't look familiar and safe enough, and put back the things that created the atmosphere they wanted to escape. Decisions like that often watered the whole thing down to the point where they didn't get quite what they wanted, nor did they leave the thing they disliked behind.

The worst was a complete English basement finishing job that included a wall of cabinetry and video/audio equipment, an office, a bathroom, a wet bar, a pool table, a game table, and all the attendant lighting and furnishing to make a family and entertaining space.

We were inches from completion when the client panicked and changed the order for the wall-to-wall carpeting from the very attractive camel-toned textured wool sisal to a cheaper, less well-made, bland white berber like what her parents had, with flecks of every color in the room scheme in it.

It ruined the space completely, partly because it was unattractive by itself, partly because it deprived the whole space of the element of warmth and natural material underfoot, but mostly because the mix of flecks of navy and a red that was not the sophisticated red of the scheme gave the whole floor a vaguely dirty lavender haze. Just awful.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Quote Pal: "They actually don't really have a personal taste that is well defined at all--anything and everything is subject to external influences. This leaves them more confused than anything else."

I have to really work on this problem, which gives me decorating paralysis! The only thing I am sure of (most of the time) is what I DON'T WANT/LIKE. Just can't make up my mind or come to a decision on what I DO WANT/LIKE.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 4:21PM
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This is another wrinkle on the "do what you love" debate.

It occurs to me that no one ever says that in fashion, do they? We don't encourage people to keep wearing their powder blue eye shadow, do we?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 5:52PM
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I think that along with the general confusion about self-developed likes and dislikes, there may also be a lack discernment between things.

I have used this example before, but once when I was talking about French Panoramic wallpaper, or that style of wallpaper, a friend of mine said "Oh my mother had that and she got tired of it after a couple of years and took it down." I asked her a number of questions about this, the age of the house and such and finally I said "I don't think that you had panoramic wallpaper, it sounds like you had a mural of some sort" and she was kinda like "Oh same thing"

When I showed her French Panoramic wallpaper:

She said "Well it wasn't so detailed and complicated, but essentially..."

What her mom had was this: a traditional Thibaut mid-century (but still in production) mural.

Only when I put the two side-by-side, did she really "see" a difference. Each has its place, and really in the big scheme of things there is something that is a bit over the top and maybe a bit vulgar about the Zuber Panoramic. (Although this is the type of "too much" that I fully embrace.)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:11PM
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To some extent, doing what you love is not bad advice, but that is different from doing Everything you love, just because you love it.

I have a (male) friend who has a particular affection for Chanel costume jewelry and women's accessories. He likes the way they look and he has the opportunity to buy Chanel at significantly below retail. So he has a cabinet full of Chanel boxes with women's costume jewelry, belts, and small leather (and other material) accessories.

Since he can't (or really Doesn't, I suppose he Could) wear the Chanel accessories and just possesses them, and occasionally takes them out of the boxes to Look at them, it's really just an indulgence. (No, he doesn't fetishize them in anyway). However, it's a matter of degree. It would not be completely healthy to indulge every whim of this sort though, right?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:26PM
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I can't tell you how many new construction spec homes I saw about 8 years ago where the builder and/or his wife put all the tile, lights, finishes and fixtures that they liked in one house, even though many of them were different styles and/or inappropriate to the home.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:02PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

...doing what you love is not bad advice, but that is different from doing Everything you love...

Exactly and very frustrating as there are so many things that I love and want to do, but I have only so many rooms....and I try to respect the individual element by placing it where it belongs rather than cramming it in because I have it. What I've never accomplished is the art of swapping things out so I get to enjoy my favorites at different times in different ways....which would be nice as you do notice stuff more after a change....once you've seen it for awhile, it tends to disappear from one's focus.

Part of this is a matter of developing taste over time....certainly what I loved when I first got married is not what I love now....

Part of it for me is that my taste is so eclectic. There are pieces I love from so many different styles, but there are so many specific eras that become too much if the whole room is done in some art deco pieces are wonderful, but I couldn't live in an art deco room. Trying to blend pieces from different eras with coordinating colors is my poor attempt at dealing with this issue.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Mtn, I thought about that in relationship to clothes: it's so easy to "love" something that is unflattering, yet wear it regardless. Maybe the wearer is clueless, maybe, they know what they look like and don't care because they love the item. The whole I shall wear purple thing. Some would say, why wait until I'm old?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:26PM
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To some extent, doing what you love is not bad advice, but that is different from doing Everything you love, just because you love it.

Totally agree!

I like the link that writersblock posted and have found that when I felt I couldn't afford anything in home decor there were many things I thought I *really* wanted. Just glad I never maxed my Visa to get those items! However when I actually had the money there were a lot fewer things I *really* wanted. So I guess it was a case of "idealizing the unobtainable" for me. When I now find something I think I want I always ask myself whether or not, in the future, I will really regret not getting it. Sometimes that helps me make the correct decision.

Development of personal taste is an interesting subject. I don't think my DM really knew what her personal style was so always had a decorator tell her what to buy. Consequently there were 4 completely different styles I remember our LR being decorated in and very little with personal resonance. I didn't particularly like any of the styles so my favorite is based on what I saw as a child in homes I liked which were all decorated in vintage/antique and nothing newer than 1930's style. Hence I don't like anything much newer than that, or at least things that go with that era. I also treasure all of the personal items that belonged to my GM - my DM never displayed those items but I do. Fortunately they go with my vintage/antique style.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Pal, I'm right there with you on the over-the-top French wallpaper!

I'm always willing to go farther with something that is exquisitely made and beautiful in it's own right.

Where a lot of people go wrong is in choosing a cheap, badly rendered approximation of something beautiful and authentic, rather than choosing something in their price range that is honestly what it is.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:40PM
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Annie totally summed up what I was thinking.

And we just don't have that kind of house.

I love the '40's-'50's era of kitchens, and would just love an old candy colored icebox and matching enamel stove, but it would just look silly and out of place in our mid-'70's Ranch. We have a fairly traditional kitchen, painted in a pale Jadeite green, so I indulge the urge with a red Kitchenaid mixer and a few vintage accessories. Anything more than that would be wrong.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Sometime in 2013, for the first time in almost 20 years, I will Not be living in something built in the 1830s. I am going to have to shift in many ways to go to 1963.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Pal, I would really miss your wonderful windows.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 2:38PM
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There are many things I will miss about not living in an 1840ish house.

But, as much as I love Greek Revival and late Classical architecture, no amount of architectural detail or 19th c. d�cor will make my 1963 house look like anything but a modernist house. As far as the structure goes, I am going to have to embrace 1963, because it has such a strong identity that it would never look like a "real" anything else. This doesn't mean I will be channeling 1963 interior design or getting rid of any period furniture or decorative elements, that's different. This house has two walls of glass though, there is a new window style to embrace.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 4:33PM
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