Design Advice You’ll Love

All three of my sisters are artistically talented. Whether it be dance, songwriting, makeup, fashion, decorating–I get so much encouragement and inspiration from them! Honestly, they should be the ones blogging. But since they’re not, from time to time I’ll pass along some of the things I learn from them. My sister Emma is in the middle of building the modern English country cottage of her dreams, and it’s been so fun to watch from a distance. She is a natural at interior decorating and design, and I’ve learned a lot from her over the years, so today I want to share three of her unforgettable design mantras!

1. “I want it to feel lived in.”

This might be my favorite thing she says. As I was showing her the painted tile in my powder bathroom several months after I’d finished the project, I was apprehensive about what she’d think because they weren’t holding up perfectly. They had a bit of a worn look to them from all the foot traffic and also because I never put a sealant on them. I was still trying to decide if I should start over and seal them off. But she told me she loved how they looked a little worn. “It looks lived in!” she said. Her response changed my whole outlook, and now I think the painted tile looks less like a paint-your-tile DIY and more like charming old-world floors. 

2. “I don’t want anything to be the star of the show.”

When Emma first said this, as she was considering different light fixtures for her dining room, her words stopped me in my tracks. I thought it was so profound that I think I even asked her where she learned that. “I’m sure I read it somewhere,” she said. 

I think it’s such a wise approach, especially when you’re making more permanent choices for your home. For example, instead of having the chandelier or backsplash or wallpaper command the attention of a room, make design choices that compliment the other things going on in a space and have everything blend and work together. Save the “stars of the show” for decorations and things because otherwise you run the risk of those “stars” quickly falling into an outdated abyss.

3. “Baskets! Plants in a basket. Toys in a basket. Bread/fruit in a basket. Baskets = homey.”

Ok, so you don’t have to put literally everything in a basket ; my sister just sent me this photo meme of a fridge with baskets inside of it–ha ha!

We don’t recommend taking it that far, but it would be a rare case indeed for someone to own too many baskets. They really do add an orderly texture and depth pretty much anywhere you can think of. I have some on the bookshelves in our offices, on the seat of our fireplace, near the couch, and on and on. I’m thinking about getting some metal baskets I saw at The Dollar Store the other day for my pantry–they don’t have to be high-end to be attractive! 

So, yes, I love these little mantras of Emma’s. She’s got me asking myself if there are “stars of the show” in my house that command too much attention and helps me remember that while creating a home is an art–it shouldn’t feel like an art museum. Our homes are where we live and can and should be a beautiful reflection of that, which requires embracing the quirks and imperfections and the life that’s happening inside.

That, and embracing all the baskets, of course!

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