Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thanks MSN

MSN is my homepage at the office, and every once in a while the slideshow they have lands on a decorating article, that I can't help to break the rules and click on. This morning, that slideshow had the title: The Biggest Decorating Mistakes ... a snip from House Beautiful with the undercaption: What do designers see in people's houses that always drive them nuts? Here are the top seven decorating don'ts.

These things always make me think about whether or not I make "common" decorating mistakes - so, let's see what they had to say, shall we??

1. Overzealous Decorative Painting Decorative painting can be a beautiful addition to a space, but knowing when to stop is key. "Brilliant painting is elegant and polished, but go too far and you end up with vulgarity," says designer Mary Douglas Drysdale.

Well, Mary Douglas Drysdale - I have to agree, but I once was an overzealous decorative painter, odd finishes, too! I once had a hallway that the bottom half was torn brown paper bags that I wallpaper pasted in a random pattern and then used walnut stain to cover to give a leather look. Not bad, but when I did a fresco painted wall with crumbling corners with bricks and moss peeking through - that was too much. Oh how I had no clue back then. I'd never even think about doing that now.

On another note, the painting at CDLV is just two walls away from being COMPLETELY FINISHED! Yay! I can hear you all cheering! Pretty soon I can come out from under the veil and show you what's been happening around here! You're gonna love it - as I promise there are no decorative paint finishes. (On the wall, anyway!)

2. Overhead Lighting "There's nothing worse than bright overhead lights that make you feel like you're onstage," says designer Barclay Butera. He recommends using dimmers and soft white bulbs in every room, including bathrooms. "Lighting shouldn't wash down on you: It's harsh and unflattering," he says.

Although I agree, I have to tell you (from personal experience) it's hard to get a room clean when you have no overhead light. My living room is like hunting for beetles in the dark. No, I don't have a bug problem, it's only a metaphor.

3. Candles Clustered Together Designer Albert Hadley, who decorated this New York apartment with designer Harry Heissmann, believes "a more balanced aesthetic" is achieved when candlesticks are spread out around a room. "Candlelight, like open fires, has a certain allure — one of warmth and romance. To me, it's most alluring when the light is spread around the room," he says. "In other words, separate the candlesticks!"

I wonder if he's talking to me!?!?!? Did you see my living room in the Buffalo News Mr. Hadley? I'm so sorry! As a note, the mantle isn't set up like this ... but I do like the look of candle sticks together, it's pretty - and a source of heat when I'd rather have a zebra hide rug than pay the electric bill, so I'll keep making that mistake.

4. Furniture Pushed Up Against the Walls Don't create a living room seating arrangement that makes conversation difficult. "I am often dumbstruck by the way people arrange their living room furniture. So much wide-open space, pieces plastered against walls, chairs too far apart," says designer Whitney Stewart. She believes the answer is simplicity. "The guiding principle should be to create intimacy. How can you have a good conversation when you have to shout across the room? I imagine the sofa talking to the chairs, the chairs talking to one another," she says.

I can't do this, darned rooms don't have any walls to push furniture against. However, the moment I do move to a house that has free walls, I can tell you my furniture will be pushed against the walls like little soldiers so I can do backflips in the living room! (Ok, not really) But I do agree. Nothing worse than walking into a place where the furniture hugs the walls, I mean there could be a dead body in the room - just don't have furniture against the walls! It's that serious!

5. Out-of-Proportion Lamps "Lamps that are completely disproportionate sizes on either ends of a sofa — that makes me crazy," says designer David Kleinberg. "Don't try to get too creative. Keep it simple," he says.

Scott buys the weirdest lamps. Seriously - we have dancing tuna fish lamps! Where the heck he found them I'll never know. He's so into things that are sometimes downright ugly - don't know what that says about me, I must of picked him! - but we have a few lamps that would be out of scale no matter where you put them, (unless of course, I opened up a strip club for tuna.)Thankfully, the walls of my basement are not as picky as Mr. Kleinberg.

6. Karate-Chopped Pillows Don't make your living room pillow arrangement too formal with fussed-over pillows. Designer Steven Sclaroff can't live with karate-chopped pillows. "That look would never occur in pillow nature," he says.

I do it. I admit it! But really, I like it! I can't help myself. Also, Pillow Nature? What the heck is he talking about? I'd like to think that in the land of linen and down, where pillow forms are free to roam and graze the many fields of lavender febreeze, that they prefer to have such an architectural 'V' in their form. So, if you agree with me please leave a  comment so I don't feel like I'm along here! P.S., More of those clustered candlesticks again! Maybe I ought to re-think this designer thing, huh?

7. A Single Light Source The key to good lighting is layering it at different heights. "Don't rely on only one kind of light source. Mix a variety of overhead and floor or table lamps," says designer Alan Tanksley. "Warm 'pools' of light draw people in and create intimacy."
Agreed. However, I understand that when you live in an old house (and I do) that's lucky to have one outlet per room, and no overhead lighting, sometimes you're stuck with what you got. Case in point, my guest bedroom. Some people give their guests water and fresh towels, I give them a flashlight and say, "Good Luck, there might be beetles in there, too!!!"

So there you have it - I make mistakes. Apparently common mistakes that would drive these designers nuts. And the whole time I write this (with a smile, I might add) I think, I'd never have any of them over anyway. Enjoy your weekend!


  1. LOL...Artie! Did you get the brown paper bag idea from Lynette Jennings? I remember she did it on her show on Discovery channel...back when pretty much the only DIY home dec shows were her and Christopher Lowell! I though it looked pretty cool...
    PS...bath almost done...I'll send pics soon!

  2. It looks like I might be okay: I have lighting from various sources, my candles are all single and the pillows have been stood on by the cats, but not karate chopped. I have very few bare walls to push furniture against. And I thought decorative painting went out of style 20 years ago.

    No, if I'm going to make decorating mistakes, I definitely prefer making "uncommon" ones!

  3. Great article Artie...and I agree with you on the candles...I like them grouped and if it's a mistake to do so, then I plan to keep making that one.


  4. Funny... thanks for the giggle.

  5. Well, I still like my candles grouped. They seem lonely and disconnected when separated! I do agree with most of those though..especially the lamps that don't "fit" the furniture. Gotta love it when someone has big bulky furniture and pencil sized lamps (NOT)...and, sad to say, Artie- I do NOT Vee my pillows...I know, I know, by the time I catch that craze it will be gone! Great post- Hugs- Diana

  6. Agree with most of these....but I LIKE grouped candles! maybe SEVERAL groups around the room...and I'm sorry Artie, but I have to agree about the karate chopped pillows...HATE it!! it has always bugged me to see pillows 'styled' that way. Funny post and interesting to see what 'mistakes' I might have been making!
    As ever,

  7. Artie, first of all I ahve a friend whose home I adore and one of the first things I noticed (and loved) was her GROUPING of candlesticks n her mantle!!! LOL! I do agree about lamps and size/proportion. I hate seeing TEENY, tiny lamps on bedside tables that look so small and out of place. The pillow thing: I do it too! And love it too!!!!! So there, Mr. Scarloff:):) Your are hysterical with the flashlight and beetles thing!!!! Thanks for making me laugh. I am sitting here exhausted form working on FALL decorating all day and making 4 arrangements, so I appreciate the good laugh. XO, Pinky

  8. I've read this article before, and I thought the exact same thing about the 'pillow nature' statement! I love the look of accent cushions when they've been plumped and gently chopped. I also think that candles should be displayed in groups. I think decorating should please the homeowner, and since I'm not expecting any of these designers to pop by for coffee any time soon, I'm not going to lose any sleep over my so-called 'decorating mistakes'. LOL!
    Great post, Artie!

  9. bwahahahahaha, a strip club for tuna.
    This was very interesting but seriously, there are no pillows in nature, and sometimes you don't have options when it comes to walls or outlets like you said.

  10. This is really funny. I think we were all guilty of at these at one point or another. I think it zeros in on individual pet peeves more than anything. Pillow nature is amusing though.

    I'm not a fan of the pillow chop. I remember seeing one of the real estate brokers on Million Dollar Listing preparing his homes' open houses by walking around obsessively chopping the pillows. All I see is big dog ears.

    Every room needs an element of humor. SHOW US YOUR DANCING TUNA LAMPS!

  11. Here's to coloring outside the lines and making the mistakes our own way! Good for you! I am a new follower...the "voice" in your blog calls to me!

  12. From what I read on the web , I make lots of mistakes... But maybe that's why I'm not a designer! Maybe also it's why my house is not a picture perfect house but a house where people dare sitting, chatting, walking with their shoes on, living! Anyway, I always think that if I was very famous, everybody would just copy my style and think it's a style in the first place...

  13. Hee, hee hee. I'm almost positive I have two sets of the same candlestick holders as you show in the 2nd picture. When I get around to editing my Xmas Mantel Decor I'll send them your way or maybe Mr. Hadley would appreciate them? Ya think. :)
    Cute, cute post Artieben! -Brenda-

  14. there are 3 hunky candlesticks on my coffee table right now.. My bowling alley living/dining room has one option for furniture.. the couch is against the wall. It's either that it's like the couch stops you when you come in.. I know so many rules.. but sometimes, it's better when "you" come out in your room. as for pillows. if you don't put some oomph (aka chop) into down pillows they sag around and look wistful.. thanks for the laughs Artie.. LOL
    xo marlis

  15. ....about the candles...perhaps he was suggesting that there be several groups of candles around the room... rather than one space with candles only...not single candles in different places...your home is lovely...and your blog is fun...can't get much better than that...

  16. I absolutely love your blog! It truly makes my day!

  17. oh this was fun! I, too, want- no demand;) to see the tuna lamps.... pretty please?!!!

    I hate the "chop" on pillows... I totally understood with the "would never occur in nature"!! :) I think the chop sends the message "DON'T sit on my perfectly puffed pillows"- makes people uncomfortable.

    My two pet peeves (oh, you didn't ask?! ) unlit wicks on candles... light those wicks people! and white outlet/switch covers on painted (even light colors) walls! Whewww... now I feel better!!