Home Decorate for How You Live This Holiday Season

Friday, December 2, 2011 by Mark

Hi Everyone!

We are now in the thick of it. I thought that in light of the stresses of the holiday season (Just read the paper), people also tend to let the decorating get away from them…not to say that they forget to do it, but they make their homes look like someone else lives there or try to copy something from a design magazine (Oh yeah…I fell for the gold dipped gourds from Martha Stewart’s magazine…and zillions of dollars later…you get the picture!).

The lesson of years past is to decorate simply, warmly and to keep your own personality showing…also, just because the decorations are 99% off at the after Christmas sales doesn’t make them “Perfect” for your home.

Make something or reuse items that you currently have around your home. Consider that a beautiful bowl of exotic fruit mixed with ornaments from the tree and some greenery looks warm, inviting and great as a table centerpiece and can be eaten later or during the holiday by you, your family and guests.

Most of all, remember the meaning of Christmas and that it’s the season to be with friends, family or to bring a meal to the elderly woman who lives downstairs AND stay to have a conversation.

I am posting an excerpt from my book, “What Would You Do With This Room?” from the chapter where I talk about my 10 commandments for great Interior Design…I hope that it helps and reminds us all to personalize and simplify!

Remember to laugh like a kid!


Design For How You Live

Design for how you live, not how you wished you lived. The design
you create should reflect the person you are and the life you lead. In order to
create this design; you will have to be true to yourself.

Designing for how you live will be an exercise in both psychology and philosophy. We will touch upon these topics in order to see the relationship each has to home design.

In psychology we are always seeking to find and accept our true selves.
This honesty allows us to confront the demons that hold us back and push us
forward, or make us behave in certain ways. Likewise, this honesty allows us to accept and appreciate our lives, thereby creating a nurturing environment for our loved ones.

In philosophy mankind is always asking the question, “What is truth?”
For us, truth is about knowing what you like and how you live, admitting it,
and allowing it to be a part of your life.

John Keats wrote in “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “Beauty is truth, truth
beauty.” The ancient Greeks believed that the definition of beauty was
symmetry, proportion and harmony. Know what it is that brings harmony to
you, and its beauty will be apparent.

In design we use these basics of psychology and philosophy. We must
be honest with ourselves, know our demons, our behaviors, and what makes
us happy. In doing so we create beauty.

“Design for how you live” can mean choosing fabrics and colors that
work for you, your kids, and your pets; it can mean choosing furniture and
accessories that are conducive to your habits—good and bad. Remember—
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”

Case History of the Messy Console

Maxine, like many of us, is a little messy. She had a console in her foyer
that was always covered with the remains of the day. Underneath and on top of the console was an array of shoes, umbrellas and keys–a real mess.

Maxine called me to say that her home needed redoing and she couldn’t

live with the mess anymore. Her top priority was to get rid of the console.

I knew Maxine, and, therefore knew that the console was not the issue,
and argued my point. Maxine turned a deaf ear. I designed her space sans the
console, and she loved it.

Weeks after the entire house was completed I returned. The console was
still gone, but in its place was an unceremonious pile of the same keys, mail,
lipsticks, boots, and shoes that were there before.

Before I could say a thing, I was quieted by Maxine’s knowing look and
conciliatory words, “I need something for my mess.”

I knew it would happen. Maxine knew she did not like the mess she would
create, but was mistaken when she felt that removing a piece of furniture could change her behavior.

In this case the solution was not to take away the console, but to provide a
piece of furniture that could be compatible with her habits. A cabinet with shelves and doors was the answer.
Maxine could have her mess, and hidden, too.

Lying to yourself is detrimental. Don’t do it. Did you love grandma’s
house circa 1971 with the bright orange and green flowered sofa and shag
carpeting? Did you dig the Hummel collection? Admit it by taking aspects of what you loved about it and working it into your space.

Case History of Grandma’s Afghan

Lori was in the middle of re-doing her family room. She had an old afghan
made by her grandmother, which she loved and used frequently, but felt would be out of place in the new, “done,” room. She had resigned herself to retiring the much-loved piece to a closet or chest in the interest of design.

I listened to Lori and said nothing. I thought the afghan would go
marvelously in the room. The style was old, the edges were frayed, and it’s love; well worn.

I designed a special stand for the afghan, and placed the stand partially
behind a big chair so that the afghan peeked out.

When I revealed the room to Lori, tears sprung to her eyes.
Incorporating a piece that client loves will make their space more
comfortable. This is good design. Not only is Lori’s family room beautiful, but also it brings her closer to her grandmother.

Don’t deny the things that make you, you in an effort to be hip or
modern or trendy or sophisticated. Don’t deny behaviors you wish were
different, but are so. Be realistic. Remember that in design, as in life, honesty is the best policy.

Case History of the Television in the Bedroom

Cindi had the best intentions for her bedroom, and these did not include a

“You don’t watch TV in the bedroom?” I asked.

“Of course I do,” she answered. “But I need to read more.”

Cindi’s guilty pleasure was being lulled to sleep by the sound of Conan
O’Brien’s voice.

“You want to deny yourself your guilty pleasure so that you can read
more?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“So where are all your books?” I wondered.

“I’ll buy some.”

Knowing that we were walking down the slippery slope of not being honest
with oneself, I steered Cindi in a new direction. I proposed that she allow the
television to exist in the design. In fact, I encouraged her to purchase a
ginormous flat panel television to mount directly in front of her glorious bed so that she could enjoy her guilty pleasure to the hilt.

She did it, and she loves it.

Had I not encouraged this decision, Cindi would have been miserable. By
including the television in the design, it addresses the client’s true needs and

There is design to accommodate all your desires, and look good at the
same time. Don’t allow these desires to be mere afterthoughts. In other
words, if you like grandma’s stuff, use it. If you watch a lot of TV in bed, have a television in the bedroom. If you feel guilty about that television,
incorporate reading lamps and keep a copy of War and Peace on the
nightstand, just in case.


✓Great design can live hand-in-hand with comfort.
✓Know and understand your habits (and that new
design won’t change them).
✓Consider upkeep when choosing materials and
✓Don’t forget kids and pets.
✓Think of your own comfort, physical size, and style.

—Excerpt, “What Would You Do With This Room? My 10 Foolproof Commandments to Great Interior Design”

Things Just Get Curiouser and Curiouser or Hey…Your Artwork is Wayyyyy too High
Holiday Cheer is Alive and Well on the Next Corner
Looking for Problems…Design Problems That Is

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“What Would You Do With This Room? My 10 Foolproof Commandments to Great Interior Design” by Mark Lewison

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