Tag Archives: home decorating


Thought I’d found the perfect rug/runner for the staircase for $100, free shipping. Realized the reason I loved it was that it resembled the end of a bolt I had in my office. Dug that out. It’s as wide as the stairs (5′) and 6.4 yards long. More than enough there to carpet the stairs, wall to wall, and I only want a runner. Also, it’s a slubby upholstery fabric with a light backing (like a plastic rug backing, but not as thick) — I have no idea how well it would wear, as a rug.

I could fold the sides into the middle and make a runner rug with a double thickness with the fabric I already have.

I just don’t know what to do. I’m in a style conundrum.

Do you like just one style of stuff in your home? Aren’t you lucky! My dad was a designer/engineer. I was raised to see/appreciate good design in everything, forks to forklifts. He liked modern, I don’t as much. I married an artist, also heavily into design, modern art, and how things look. Also, I was teased, a lot, as a kid, because I had no dress sense, so I decided that I didn’t know what was good or bad.

The result is at 60+ I’m trying for the first time in my life to really decorate a house and I don’t know if I want country, artsy, sleek, minimalist, modern, vintage, or industrial. So far? The modern couch (with a blue/black plaid throw from Pendleton on it) sits in the living room with a painted country jam cabinet I hauled out of a basement, rehabbed box bookcases bought for shows, and a modern coffee table, selected because it was in the attic and fit the very tight space.

There’s a large oak flat file coupled with an antique French baker’s table on the opposite wall. Most of the art on the wall is DH’s photos and there’s a mix of decorative stuff on top: the jam cabinet holds a cat sculpture, some silk flowers, a bird cage, a blue bird and a camera at the moment. the bookcase holds a “books” sign, some silk flowers and two large jars.

The couch is worn, but starkly modern. the throw is 1960s style plaid (not neon), the club chairs are about 1970s “modern” unadorned black fake leather.

The coffee table (also modern) holds a bellows from a very old wood enlarger. The lights are rehabbed theater cans, and there’s a wood casting mould on the wall too.

When the room is tidy, I quite like it. The main problem is the stuff, the things cluttering up the space ruin it, but I like it. I have ideas about new throws and one or more ottomans for the club chairs, but haven’t settled on anything yet.

My problem is that I don’t know why I like it enough to find more! I like the pieces. I love black painted steel stuff, so the mould, lights and the bellows on the table fit that, as does the wood stove and the screen for it. I like large plaids and thick/thin plaids, that takes care of the throw on the couch. But that’s it.

We had a modern house in Florida. We bought the couch for it. The club chairs were small, comfy chairs that are so simple they’ll go with almost anything, and they were cheap in an antique store. The flat file is a tool. The antique baker’s table was bought on sale and has become essentially a work platform. The jam cabinet was rescued from a friend’s basement of a house she was going to sell, they’d stored paint in it (and the mice lived in it) for years. It took a lot of work to destink it and clean it — and I love it.

All of it has simple lines. No ornate carvings, no sweeping curves or arches. The couch is the most sculptural piece of furniture in the room. I’d buy a cozier couch except we already own this one and I actually like the looks of it a lot, but it is NOT cozy. And cozy, warm and comfortable are the only things I know I want, except for simple lines.

I know people talk about styles so that they can talk about groups of things instead of one thing or the other, it’s a way of grouping. I get it. But I don’t know HOW to use what I know to go look for throws for the club chairs on ebay, for example.

“Blue plaid” doesn’t work, nor does “1960s plaid” (found one I loved listed this way, but not two). Neither does looking for more copies of the throw I have at the manufacturer’s site, it seems they no longer make it. So I tried other variations and found the same things I’d already seen.

I’m frustrated. I know what I like when I see it, but have no shorthand way to group those things together which anyone else will recognize. “Simple lines” is wonderful, but it brings too many results. “Blue thick plaids” does the same sort of thing. I can’t find rugs, throws, house designs, curtains, etc. which suit me. I look in home decorating sites or magazines and I find most pictures are either too stark or not to my taste at all. I put stickies in decorating books/magazines of the things I like, usually it’s a small percentage of what’s there.

Because I appreciate good design (as promoted by my Dad) I see and appreciate a great many things, which further muddies the waters quite a bit. I can (and do) look at a lot of things and think, “That’s nice design.” but that doesn’t mean I want to live with it. That last piece is vital, and it’s really very easy for me to forget. There are a great many things here I purchased because I thought they were well designed! (But not because I wanted to live with them.)

It’s supposed to be my taste, right? It should be easy. I suppose this is the result of decades of being told what I should appreciate (Dad), that my taste wasn’t any good (Abuser), and the resulting belief that I had no right to impose my taste on anyone.

I’m so confused!

(You can find further discussion about this here.)

3 More Rules: Practical, not Pretty M’Dear

These are more decorating and other “rules” that I’ve come to:

  • Do NOT buy an inset bed, that is a bed which sits down in the frame. It looks great, but. . . underbed storage is limited or inaccessible, it’s hard to get the bottom sheet on, and it can be harder to get into or out of. It looks great, but is not so great in practice.


The bed shown is the old Malm bed from Ikea. Ikea doesn’t sell them like this anymore — no surprise!

  • Do not buy white/beige flooring or carpeting. This one is pretty obvious, except. . . I really, really love the way a large expanse of white flooring looks. I learned this the hard way. If/when I buy carpeting the next time, it will be mottled, not a solid color, and as close to “mud” colored as I can get and still both match my decorating AND be something I don’t hate!
  • Make dirt/mud catchers. This is another learned lesson. The door mats in our home are all hard, raised rubber. We have a dirt driveway. Dirt gets tracked in — it needs somewhere to go. If you don’t trap it, it goes all over the house. So, I have a raised rubber mat, a “fatigue” mat outside our front door. I have a piece of it just as you get to the wall to wall carpeting too. In another month, or less, I’ll have pieces in front of any major walkways in or out of the house. I don’t need to be as diligent in spring/summer/fall (except off the dirt driveway) as I do in winter. Almost always, winter entry means MUD instead of just dirt.

I don’t want a traditional doormat, because it traps the dirt inside of it — and then that needs to be cleaned out! The fatigue mats have holes in them, the dirt falls through. Clean it up and you’re done. If the mat gets muddy, hose it off, clean it off, but no beating or vac required. Is it pretty? No. But like the bed, I’ve gotten to where pretty isn’t my first concern — less work or easier work is.