The Worst Decorating Mistake You’re Most Likely Making


Hey Guys,

First of all, before I get into the topic of the worst decorating mistake you’re most likely making, I need to tell you how overwhelmed with gratitude I am after receiving the dozens of kind, kind messages on the blog and on email.

I really and truly wasn’t expecting that.


But, thank you too for those who have some great ideas for the blog!

I love a lot of your suggestions for making shorter posts or republishing old posts.


The only other thing in case some of you didn’t see it, is to please not give me any kind of medical advice.


{this next part rewritten on Sunday evening and does not apply to 99.999% of you. It’s written for the .001% who feel it necessary to shame and humiliate me for expressing my feelings.}


I know that you mean well, but some of the medical advice is triggering to me as two close friends were following a modified paleo diet and became ill and then died way too soon.


And I am about 10% away from being a vegan. So, when someone suggests that I NEED to eat a lot of meat, I could vomit.

I appreciate that you’re trying to help, but the kind of help I need is with the website. I apologize if I did not make that clear in the post. I thought I did, but apparently, some people misunderstood.

Of course, you can tell me about your experience but to suggest that you have a cure for something that you don’t even know what the malady is; I find odd. And this is not directed at any one person. I don’t know who said it; it was a few people. And I was not in the slightest bit angry at whoever said it. I just want to make it clear that this is not helpful for me.

But then, today, a couple of people felt it a good deed and healing to attack me personally for saying that I wish not to hear medical advice that I did not ask for.


The presumption is that attacking me is also part of the cure?

That’s forkedup!

Fortunately, 99.999% of you are nicer than nice, so no worries!

Alright. That’s all for today.

love and kisses,




Okay, fine. That’s a little too short because I didn’t discuss today’s topic:


The worst decorating mistake you’re probably making


And it’s not for designers, except that us designers see it ALL THE TIME by our clients or would-be clients.

What’s the mistake?

You start buying stuff without having a plan. And actually, I have done a post about that which you can read by clicking the link.

Why is this a mistake?

Well, it frequently leads to painting oneself in a corner. (lame pun intended) :]

You bought something because it seems to be what you need.

At the time.


And then, you have to work with it.


What can happen is that this purchase becomes a thorn in your paw as you discover that it’s not really the right thing. But now, it needs to be worked with it, because you own it.

No, it does not.


Oh, your husband will divorce you if you sell it or give it away?


Fine. Get a divorce. If that’s all it takes, then he’s an idiot.

He’s not an idiot?

Maybe not about some things, but people make mistakes and you know the saying that it’s not wise to put good money after bad.


A comment from Wednesday’s post


Krista Pettit – 

Dear Laurel, I want to start by saying I’m a loyal fan and completely addicted to your blog. I think I have read every post 10 times. I purchased your paint color guides and I’ve read those dozens of times as well…

Now on to my decorating dilemma.

I live in a 1979 Tudor?

home that we bought 3 summers ago. The entire place was brown when we bought it. Brown walls, brown ceilings, brown stained trim, brown cabinets. Didn’t realize how much brown until we started painting it all. In the main living room, I purchased no less than 40 paint samples before deciding on BM ivory white for the walls and simply white for the ceilings and trim. And THEN I discovered your blog and paint palettes. 🙁


So now I’m completely at a standstill with my decorating.


I love my paint choices. The house is so much brighter and updated. However, I am completely torn between two worlds and I have no idea how to move forward. On the one hand, I’ve always wanted white slipcovered sofas and chairs, neutral rugs, and lots of blue and white accessories.

My other love is deep rich colors like navy, dark green, and red, in velvets, silks and Persian rugs. I don’t know how to proceed. It feels like any purchase I make now sets me down a path with no return. We don’t have limitless amounts of money for decorating.

My dear sweet husband is very patient with my buying things and then returning them and having many empty rooms. I did just buy 8 panels of navy silk curtains from the Serena and lily sale you mentioned a couple of weeks ago. They were an amazing bargain. I think I got all 8 for $625!

I plan to add pleating and maybe trim to them. 4 went in our bedroom and 4 are in the dining room. But i don’t know what’s next. Please help me decide! Will one style be more enduring? Is there any way to combine the two without looking like a schizophrenic decorator? Much love!!



Oh my yes!!! And so happy for Krista to get those drapes for that bargain price!

But dear Krista. What is the problem?

Okay, fair enough. The cardinal sin of purchasing the drapes before knowing what else is happening was committed. But, as I see it, you dodged a bullet. And don’t beat yourself up either. Everyone does this. I know that I have– for myself, that is.


But, it’s really in one’s best interests to develop a cohesive decorating plan.


It’s not that it can’t be deviated from. It’s that it allows for a framework so that one can make choices far more easily.


Let’s look at what Krista has, because to me, the answer is not so difficult.


  • She de-browned the ersatz 1979 “Tudor” and now it has a fresh clean palette of whites.
  • She has four windows with navy silk panels.
  • She loves white slipcovered sofas (me too!) with lots of blue and white accessories
  • And she also loves rich navy, reds, greens and Orientals.


Can all of that work together???

Yes, Absolutely. In fact, it hearkens quite well to the post from a week ago about the dated Tuscan Home.

Do you recall where I talked about running a thread of the color but not in the same concentration throughout the house?

So, how does that apply in this case?

For example, the dining room could be navy and white. Krista could go for a tone on tone navy scheme in that room.

Or, she could go for a dark blue and white wallpaper.

Not this one because it’s mega bucks from DeGournay, but here are the navy silk drapes in this lovely room by Windsor Smith.

There are numerous possibilities.


If there is a rug, I would probably stick to sea grass if on a budget because a good Oriental will be more expensive. Or,  layer a smaller Oriental over the seagrass.


However, I love a classic Oriental rug with white furniture.


worst decorating mistake is not here. Lovely living room

worst decorating mistake is not here. Lovely living room with an Oriental rug

Two images from Spike Lee’s old townhouse.


This is a process, but what I would do is start with a neutral scheme. Then blue will be the secondary color in the palette, but it could also be green or red.

That will need to be part of the plan.

After the second color is chosen, I would then choose one more as a third color and the fourth one maybe not at all, or just as a small accent. Or, there might be a fabric that has all of the colors.

Remember this lovely from F. Schumacher?


You could even make one room predominantly blue.

I googled the navy silk drapes and got an image from a couple of years ago at Serena and Lily. Here, they used a dark blue on the wall. But the walls could also be white or gray.

I love this blue on blue room accented with a crisp white. I don’t know the original source, so if anyone does, please let me know.

The Home I Create

These aren’t the same drapes, but I could see Krista’s drapes working in a room something like this.


Shea McGee did navy trimmed drapes in a dining room with white upholstered chairs and white Chinese Chippendale chairs.


These are similar or maybe even the same chairs from Jonathan Adler

Studio McGee accented this blue and white room with green and brown and lots of different whites.

If you go to the site via the link, you’ll see the entire project and how effectively they used a neutral as well as this jewel-toned color palette in one home quite effectively.

Love that over-scale mirror. It looks so familiar and I tried to find it. Does anyone know where it’s from?


Don’t forget to check out this week’s sale’s page if that interests you. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is in full-swing. Please be sure to check out my carefully curated faves in the link. Oh, and all of Serena and Lily lighting is on sale up to 30% off!


68 Responses

  1. Laurel,

    I love your site.

    My most disliked design “trend” is designers who turn the bindings of books to the back of the bookcase and arrange them by color or cover the books in beige paper so that no one would ever know what the book is. It is obvious that the books are never read. Drives me crazy. I love books in a home.

    Elizabeth Martin

  2. Hi Laurel,

    I’ve spent the past (nearly) two years redecorating a home I bought 12 years ago. Oh how I wish I had read this when I started! I faced the same conflict as your reader–wanting to go lighter but still loving my old, dark things. Below are some tips/lessons learned in case they help others.

    –I have absolutely no training in decorating and a very poor sense of space. Yet I would frequently buy things without knowing whether they were the right size. I’m not talking about whether they were too big to fit through the door, but whether the chandelier would be proportional to the table, the side table the right height for the couch, etc. etc. Google became my dear friend. There are all sorts of tips and tutorials about “rules of thumb,” from how high to hang art to how much space to allow among pieces in a furniture grouping. Once I started following these rules, I starting making A LOT fewer mistakes and needing to return a lot less stuff. Plus, my rooms started actually making sense. Now, I won’t buy anything without taking measurements and looking for a rule of thumb as to proportions.

    –Getting a paint consultation was essential. I think I ended up spending over $12K for labor and supplies to paint my 3,200 sq. ft. house top to bottom. Relatively speaking, a couple hundred dollars was well spent on a consult to make sure all that money in labor and supplies didn’t go to waste. I now LOVE LOVE LOVE my colors, which flow from room to room, and which I could never have picked on my own.

    –I live in the Midwest. I don’t think I know one person who actually owns a white, slipcovered sofa. And as I thought about it, I think that’s because it may read a little too “beachy” for our area. While I love a lot of blue and white rooms, many of them seem like they are geared towards people who live on the ocean. It just doesn’t seem authentic for me to have a bunch of nautical decor in my home where the closest lake is 40 miles away. And so, while I like the look, I skipped the pure white slipcovers. I repurposed some old club chairs with gray slip covers with an ever lighter grey (reads off-white) piping. My dining chairs are slipcovered in a taupey/off-white. I continued to use rich fabrics elsewhere, like nubby chenille and velvet, just in lighter colors. My family room and kitchen area have a lot of oatmeal-colored fabric instead of bright white. This is a softer look to me and one I could more easily embrace than pure white.

    –The best tip I picked up from a designer who did our paint consultation was to create contrast. I had a tendency to do a lot of the same color in a room and everything was matchy-matchy. Now I have more of a mix of textures, colors and styles. While my walls and furniture are lighter, I stained my floors a very dark walnut and switched out most of my lighting to black wrought iron. My favorite spot in my house is now my living room/entry (which used to be my least favorite). And it’s because it has a real mix of beautiful things. There’s an oriental rug and grand piano, which read formal, but there’s also a flea market garden stool, a vintage-looking “church bench” (from Arhaus) and a RH wardrobe in distressed grey paint that fills in for my lack of front closet. I love them together as they create a comfortable, interesting mix.

    –Unless you have an endless supply of tolerance for returning large, bulky items, find a lighting store with really good sales people. I spent an afternoon in one near me and bought new fixtures for my whole first floor and some for the second. While it set me back almost $8K, I am thrilled every time I look at them. They all coordinate without “matching” and, best of all, they all are the right scale to my rooms. I brought all my measurements with me and my sales person patiently walked me through several hours of purchasing. I picked things that I never would have found or chosen on my own and avoided so many costly mistakes. I also found unique things, like hand-forged sconces to flank my fireplace. They’re more like pieces of art than just lighting. And, because I did all my shopping in one fell swoop, I got “contractor’s pricing” which was a significant discount off list. After spending countless hours just trying to find one fixture on the internet for our table, I know that this was money well spent.

    –Having an “inspiration room” picture done by a designer was really helpful. i didn’t try to recreate it exactly, but I was heavily influenced by a single picture. This kept me from going off in crazy directions and provided great guidance on how to pull together the accessories, etc. that make a room really sing.

    Warm regards,


  3. Hi Laurel! I love love love your sense of humor and posts, but have to admit I have stopped reading them and so apparently I missed something important. I’m sorry:( So first things first, I hope you are feeling better. I have not gone back to read what I missed, but I see in this post that you had asked for suggestions for your website. I think shorter posts would great. I stop reading your posts because I found that, although fantastic, almost if not all, of your posts are quite lengthy! I practically had to schedule you on my calendar just to read your posts. Just joking 😉 Other than that, you’re the bomb.
    Feel better and wishing you great health.

  4. Since I’m doing condo living, all I can say is measure, measure, measure your rooms and start figuring out what is going to fit where. And if it doesn’t fit, you are going to have to live without it. I am living without a sofa because there simply isn’t room. A couple of armchairs will have to suffice.

  5. Laurel, sending you sister love! And especially, sending you back all that good karma we receive from your blog. Float, baby, float in a sea of our affection. Baci, Bianca.

      1. Thank you, Laurel, for your kind words and the link to my Pinterest boards. They are not only a resource but a source of joy for me. Hard to believe with everything on your plate you remember this humble fan. Love you and your work. Let your affiliates and business partners know we are not going anywhere. Short or long, whatever you choose to write, I will be reading and feel lucky to have you share your talent and humour with us. Bianca

  6. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Love your blog. I’d like to see more about making the dread 60’s rancher work. I loved the posts you did on this before. We’re stuck with the big picture window.

    Also, relevant to today’s post: Perhaps you could write about the must have items even people with no decorating budget have to decide immediately when they more to a new place: window treatments for light control and privacy. Paint colors fall into this category too, which is why people freak out about them–your information is super helpful.

    Your more budget decorating posts are also spot on. I will never have 30k to sink into a living room all at once.

    1. Hi Jane,

      A lot of my real-life clients didn’t have that much to spend all at once either. And these are the clients who called me after some decorator said that she didn’t take any jobs under 100k and that was 15 years ago! I bet in 2009 she would’ve taken any job!

      As for the must-have items. Here’s the rub. One doesn’t need much in order to survive if we take it down to the most basic of human needs.

      I do like taking ugly plain 60s ranch ducklings and making them far more chic.

  7. As like some other readers, this is such a timely post for me. I have been trying to decide between the same colors as Krista – I adore blue & white, but also love other jewel tones (and I really want some piece in velvet). Have you had a velvet chair/sofa before? Does it get hot?

    I am attempting to make a plan for our front room (the kids won’t let me call it a living room) and aiming for not too froo froo chinoiserie. I have some beautiful Asian bookcases (one I am using as a China hutch) that I bought while we were living in Okinawa. When I see some of the beautiful pieces you link to, I want to kick myself that I did not buy more while living over there because the prices were sooo much cheaper. But alas, I had even less of an idea about decorating than I do now and so I settled on bookcases. Beautiful and practical.

    It seems I have seen a few posts on incorporating chinoiserie decor, but I would welcome more 😉

    Thank you for your candor and sometimes snarkiness in your writing. I love it! Also I too can’t stomach the idea of a Paleo diet, but love the prescription of regularly partaking of eclairs 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Angela,

      Thanks so much for the feedback. Truth be told, I maybe have one or two eclairs a year. I just want to know that I CAN! Ya know?

      And I did for many years have a linen velvet sofa where we watched TV in our den and it got a lot of use.

      The fabric always felt very comfortable to me.

      Not much twisting of the ol’ arm to write about Chinoiserie. I tuck it in whenever possible. In fact, I think almost any room (unless it’s a log cabin or something like that) could use something Asian. But come to think of it, Tory Burch has a log “cabin.” I call it a “shack.” haha in the Adirondacks and I could definitely see some blue and white porcelain there.

  8. Hey Laurel!!! You are freakin’ awesome!!! I love your humor, spunk and most of all your honesty!! What I just don’t get is people complaining about you telling us some basics going on with your health???!! If ya don’t like it move on people, NO ONE is forcing you to read what ya don’t like!!! So stinkin’ simple people!!!
    I also want to thank you for this article, it sounds so like me, the colors, like two different things, yet they do work together. So glad to read your advice as empty nest-ers for the final time, my husband and I are buying a patio home and he has told me to do what I want!! Yippe!!! So I read your blog almost daily to learn everything I can!! No matter how little you write that day or not, I am a loyal fan and believer in you!!!! Love your blog and YOU!!!! Take care!!

    1. Hi Patti,

      Thank you so much. I don’t think they minded me saying what I did in the first place but objected to my request not to be given medical advice.

      That is different than saying, “Hey, it could be such and such a malady.” That is fine. But a few people were shoving a diet down my throat that I deem to be dangerous, not to mention disgusting. And one woman actually called me up on the phone with some nonsense about being electro-sensitive! Geee… the time I feel the best is when I’m typing away here!!!

      Hey, maybe it’s the water!

      I realize that there’s no harm meant; just the opposite. But when I kindly requested for this to stop, that’s when I got stomped on.

      So, that means that their need to proselytize something that I’m not interested in, is far more important than my wishes not to hear it.

      That’s effed up.

      Well, probably more than enough said on that front. I so appreciate the support!

      And so glad that the blog is helpful for you! That’s the most important thing!


  9. Hi Laurel, I’ve a clarifying question for you about BM ivory white from your paint collection where you suggest that you wouldn’t use it with most blues. Do you mean as trim with blue walls? If Krista painted her home BM Ivory White, how will the blue and white decor that she wants work with Ivory White? It looks like most of the white in the blue and white images are whiter than Ivory White. I bring it up because I painted several rooms Ivory White and then read the part in your collection about not using it with blue, so I thought I’d ask for clarity. Thanks, Kelly

    1. Hi Kelly,

      It depends entirely on the light in the room(s) and the shade of blue. The darker blues should be absolutely fine with ivory white as well as the warmer blues like quiet moments. But a clear blue or a clear yellow, might not look so great. The point is to err on the side of caution and test first. I learned that one the hard way over two decades ago.

      Ivory white is a wonderful off-white. It looks absolutely fine most of the time. But if I didn’t put in a note of caution, I would be remiss.

      The other point is that it’s fine to mix whites as long as they coordinate.

      Hope that helps!

  10. Man, Laurel – I have totally been “in love” with your humor and decorating advice for some time – but now – have TOTAL admiration of your “balls” with the RE-write. LOVE it and YOU!

    1. Thank you Terry. It never fails that whenever I reveal something personal about myself, while most people are fabulous, there are always a few who use it to say whatever they feel like, no matter how hurtful. However, I don’t have to sit here and read that crap, so I call my server to have them block their IP address. That’s about as clear a message as I can get to them because these folks always feel entitled to say whatever comes foaming out of their hand. And telling them outright only makes it worse.

      My late BFF was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. She did not want to learn anything about her disease, nor did she want anyone else telling her anything either.

      Would any alternative therapies have made a difference to the tragic outcome? Probably not, but the point is, I respected her wishes because I love her. Present tense, because that love will never die; I think about her every day.

      Do you know the definition of a true friend? They support you in everything you do, even when you do something really, really stupid. And that goes both ways!

      1. Wow! Only wish you were “MY” real friend! I could use that type of LOVE between friends! YOU – are truly amazing – and bet your close friends and family say the same thing! May your Health issues improve and your heart continue to beat w/ love.

  11. I have been acting as decorator for my mom, and have been stuck with a purchase she made with a “professional decorator” before she trusted me to do the job for her. This lady works on commission, so she basically helps clients shop and they pay her a fee based on the price of the item(s) purchased. I tried to talk my mom out of buying a particular sofa but her “pro decorator” was okay with it, so she proceeded. Guess what, Laurel? She ended up disliking it and we were stuck with it. It was her first purchase, made without a plan, and we had to make everything else work around it. I tried to convince her to sell it and start over, but she did not go for that. I did my best, but that sofa was a thorn in my side. She is now unexpectedly moving states and is only taking furniture with her that she really loves, including some vintage swivel chairs and ottomans I encouraged her to purchase and get reupholstered. Guess what’s not moving with her? Yep, that stupid sofa. She now trusts me as her decorator, so I will be the one advising on the new sofa purchase.

    1. Well, there it is… Too bad that the decorator just went ahead like that without a plan. That’s like building a house without a blue print!

  12. Hi Laurel,
    I missed the comment period on your last post, so I will give you my blog ideas here. I gave up blogging myself about a year ago for many reasons (my sewing blog got nowhere near the traffic yours does, but it was still hard to keep up on). You are very generous with your guidance and I would love to continue reading your blog! You must spend an inordinate amount of time answering comments — maybe that’s a must for you or maybe that’s somewhere that you could cut back? I’d be game to read the guest posts, and I’m sure you’d screen your subs well. As far as topics, I love your style, but I’m not a born designer (nor a trained one), so would love to see some examples of good design and your thoughts on why they work (basic elements of design for us dummies). I am sorry you are having health problems, and wish you well.

    1. Hi Susie,

      Thanks so much! I turned the comments off of that post because I was away, supposedly having a break. I’m always tempted to post images showing why something doesn’t work, but it’s dangerous because the room might belong to someone who will find out and their feelings would be hurt.

      I always say, “hey, come over to my place. You’ll find plenty wrong to complain about!” lol

  13. Hi Laurel,

    As a southerner (Georgia), I absolutely love it that you use “ya’ll” occasionally! Sincerely wishing for your good health.


    1. Hi Gail,

      Thanks so much!

      This is funny, but I grew up in southern Indiana which I imagine must seem like the north, but being adjacent to Kentucky, its southern influence was unmistakable. I grew up with people all around me saying “y’all” on a daily basis and so it’s really part of my formative years.

      One of my favorite restaurants called the Homestead was where I was force-fed the most delicious fried chicken, corn fritters with maple syrup and mashed with gravy and warm rolls in case there wasn’t enough of the rest. lol

    2. Oops! I meant to say “y’all”. (In case anyone doesn’t know – it’s a contraction of “you all”.)

  14. Hi Laurel,
    I want to add my thanks for all you so generously share with us, as well as my wishes for abundant health!
    I was thinking along the same lines as Jill above. Taking a reader’s home photos, and offering your perspective. I’m a long-time reader and particularly enjoyed that blog about the lady who feared she had erred with her choice of too busy Roman shades in her family room. Your “solution” was pure genius and one that has inspired me to not panic when I’m faced with a difficult decorating decision. I might not come up with a perfect solution, but you are teaching me how to think about the over-all picture.
    I’m narrowing down my paint choices for our new home based on your two paint color guides. I love both and feel empowered to make my choices. And today’s blog was a reminder to stay with a PLAN!

    1. Hi Brenda,

      Thank you, thank you for your kind comment. It warms my heart to know that the posts are helpful. It’s my aim, of course. But I know what my own struggles are and I see the same mistakes made by numerous clients.

      It’s not like buying clothes where one can go out and get a pair of jeans and know that they’ll look great with everything. Rooms are far more complex and that’s why it’s not easy.

  15. Coming from you, the professional designer, the widgets are very helpful in helping me create a curated vision for my home.
    Any blog changes you implement will have your voice – and I look forward to all you do.
    Wishing you abundant good health …

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes Sandra. I guess that’s the name of the game.


      Difficult to achieve I imagine for most of us.

  16. Wow. One of my favorite posts to date. I am a newer interior designer and am redecorating my first home, for the first time. Since decorating professionally, I am finding this a difficult (yet super exhilarating) task! My “problem” was exactly that of the reader… I have all white walls, I’m obsessed with blue and white and airy, yet am also in love with the saturated colorful rugs and red/yellow/green. This helped me hone in and make a plan! Love!

  17. Hi, Laurel! I adore your blog and look forward to reading it. I really hope you find a solution to your medical issues and feel great soon. I’d like to throw out an idea for an occasional blog topic. Perhaps readers could send in pics from their own homes (maybe in response to a specific prompt such as use of blue and white, favorite collections, or gallery walls, etc.) You could feature some, highlight what they did right and/or offer suggestions for improvement. I realize you might be deluged with photos, but perhaps you could limit the number you will accept? Since I’m not a blogger, I don’t know if this is possible or feasible, but it could be fun. In any case, thanks for a wonder blog!

    1. Hi Jill,

      That’s a fine idea and happens sometimes. I can’t promise that I’ll blog about a particular issue, because if it’s something rare, then it’s not feasible.

  18. Gracious, Laurel! I am so glad that you are seeking the necessary diagnostic treatment that you need and I send my most sincere and heartfelt wishes for a swift diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. I hope it involves rest by the beach, catching up on some rainy day reading, and a bountiful array of sweet confections.

    This post was excellent- it is a lesson that I have learned the hard way. I now approach my home with a strategic plan and vision and wait until I find and can afford the right additions rather than settling for what is accessible and, dare I say it, cheap. It is an exercise in patience that really irks my nerves.

    If you are in need of a blog topic, I would love to hear your thoughts on bay window treatments. I have a bay window in my kitchen and I’m contemplating whether or not to add a window seat and cafe curtains, or perhaps Roman shades? The rods for the cafe curtains seem a little scary. Do you have a go to source for those?

    Xoxo, and take care,
    Your devoted and hopelessly inept reader

    1. Hi Aimee,

      Thank you so much! I do believe my issues stem from a lack of chocolate eclairs in my diet. lol

      The doctor says that I am low in salt, gluten, fat, cholesterol, dairy, sugar and chocolate. Eclairs are the least painless ways to get all of these vital nutrients essential for good health. Plus a vital nutrient only available in a few foods. Bliss.

      Studies have shown that 2-3 eclairs every week are the miracle cure for many ailments.

      I don’t do cafe rods often, but have gotten some nice ones at Rejuvenation.

  19. Hi Laurel,

    I am a newer reader, and I am loving both the content and the “voice” in your blogs. I very much appreciate your sense of humor. My husband and I are building a new home. We have had the assistance of a decorator in selecting finishes so hopefully the home will ave good “bones”. Other than the gazillion Pinterest boards I am working on, do you have suggestions on how to get started furnishing and decorating our new home? Perhaps you have already addressed this in a previous blog post.

    Best wishes for improved health,


    1. Hi Amy,

      Well, I would look at your boards to see patterns. Is it color, style, light, dark? From there, I would focus on a range of colors.

      And then, there needs to be a jumping off point. It could be anything. A rug. A fabric. A piece of art. Even the view out the window.

      And thanks for your kind wishes.

  20. I couldn’t agree more about having a plan! Ten years ago, when I was already “over the hill” a shopkeeper mentioned to me how young people could benefit so much by finding a decorator with whom they could build a long-term relationship. It could avoid so many costly mistakes along the way. I found someone who not only advised on making the best use of what I already had, but also found me some secondhand treasures that would have been completely out of my budget if they were brand new. He is so skilled at seeing where dollars spent will have the greatest impact. Love your blog!

    1. Thanks so much Linda! It’s true. A good designer should be able to save their clients money, in the long-run and also give them a home that they’ll love.

  21. Dear Laurel, I didn’t really expect any post from you this week! So good to hear you are feeling better (or, at least not worse). And again, a timely post…

    I used to think that decorating my home (or room, or apartment) mainly meant having to find the least obnoxious way to use the furniture I already had. Most of it inherited stuff that I often not even liked very much, or things from ‘the swedish store’. Bought there because the prices are OK and you can buy most of the things you need in one trip (a real bonus for fidgety partners). But then, of course, that totally does not go with the pieces you already have… Or, you live in a small, rented place and the main objective is just to tame the chaos and find a place for all your stuff. Or, you are overwhelmed with work, family, life in general, and you know the house will not be your ‘forever home’ – and you just choose to go with bland everwhere, so you don’t have to put energy in choosing or arguing.

    Maybe decorating ones house (or room, or apartment) should be seen more as a rite of passage, one of the necessary steps towards true adulthood: figuring out what is ‘really me’, and how much one does or doesn’t do just because one feels obliged to, in whatever real or perceived way. It entails diving fairly deep and asking yourself some uncomfortable questions. It entails getting rid of things – sometimes liberating, sometimes with regrets afterwards. And since most of us are limited in some way (space, energy, finances), it also means consciously choosing your priorities.

    Because we are now building a new house, that means I get to choose EVERYTHING. Exhilarating and suffocatingly scary at the same time! What if I mess up? What if I use scarce fundings on things that are total duds? What if, as you describe above, I choose something that necessitates loads of other changes? What if the sky falls down and turns everything blue? What if, what if, what if…?

    My solution is twofold. First, I try to take a mental step back. I found our other houses, and they turned out OK. I found this farm, and it has turned out OK. I designed the house, and it has turned out OK – even more than OK, if I say so myself ;). So past experience should teach me that it will be OK, and that I should not indulge in fretting needlessly.

    As regards the other part, I go for my own interpretation of the William Morris-saying (‘Do not have anything in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’). Apart from the basic practical questions, the main question when choosing anything is for me now: does it ‘sing’ to me? Probably this is what Marie Kondo means by the ‘sparking joy’-question?

    Taking all this into account, being an interior decorator/designer presents more difficulties than the obvious ones. My guess is that you often enough feel like a therapist… Now you can also be seen as a kind of ‘midwife to a persons true spirit, as embodied in their environment’. No wonder you need a rest every now and then :)!

    By the way: LOVE the orange coffee table! It sings to me, very loudly!!

    1. Hi Michele,

      Thanks for the lovely comment. Unfortunately Serena and Lily discontinued that orange coffee table. But as I said earlier, I would google it because you never know. Someone might be selling theirs.

  22. I have an idea for a blog subject. Perhaps you’ve already done it. The one thing I feel overwhelmed by is deciding size and scale. What size outdoor lamps by my front door? Size of armchairs next to my sofa. Dining room chandelier. I get stuck.

    1. Hi Andrea,

      I have done some of that, definitely. Scale is not an easy thing to get right. What I do if I’m not sure is research to see what others have done and then often discuss with the vendor/manufacturer.

  23. I WANT THAT!! … anyone have the source for the orange coffee table? I’m in love.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I like that coffee table too, but sadly they only stocked it for about a year or so. It also came in white but they 86d that one too. I would peruse Craig’s List, or perhaps google “Serena and Lily orange coffee table for sale.” something like that. You might get lucky!

  24. Well, Laurel, when you’re right, you’re right. I would love the opportunity to deliver a sound spanking to every “decorator” who said that if you love something, of course it’ll go with everything else! I would add a second caveat–unless you’re husband has flawless taste, take your decorator furniture shopping. I was so pleased hubby agreed we needed a new sofa, I took him with me to pick it out. The sofa is roughly the size and color of a battleship, and it has exaggerated, rounded arms. I hate it more every day and am planning it’s demise. Shhhh.

    Hope you feel better,


    1. Hi Madonna,

      I am curious about your plans. My suggestion if you deem it useful is to find an aggressive 3-yr-old. Chain him to the sofa. Hand him a box of sharpies… LOL

  25. Hi Laurel,

    I’m sure you’ve had a jillion emails to wish you well after recent health issues. Just wanted to join the throng and offer my support.

    You make our lives (and homes) brighter with your funny and informative posts. They are always great fun to read.

    I’m not a doctor but have a deep interest in natural approaches to health. It sounds like your issues could be thyroid related. All your symptoms correlate to thyroid imbalance.

    I’m a huge fan of the health writer, Anthony William. Medical Medium is a most informative book. His newest book is on healing the thyroid through healthy eating and supplements.

    Hope this helps!
    Best Wishes,

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thank you so much and for the info. Your way of offering help is the appropriate way. I get nervous when I read about diets, however. I enjoy a wide variety of foods but eat very, very little meat. Some have suggested that paleo diet which makes me wanna projectile vomit all over my screen.

      And I’m not having any digestive issues. The thyroid is a very real possibility. They ran more blood tests last week, but they never find anything amiss. I’ll call tomorrow.

  26. Glad to read you are feeling better Laurel. Prayers to you and hoping you get to the bottom of this! Prayers, hugs and Love! xo

  27. I’m so glad you’re feeling better, Laurel. I I hope taking better care of yourself is all you need to do. Many of us are dealing with major, new, daily stress nowadays (since November), an undercurrent rattling our brains and hearts even when we aren’t focusing on it. It can take a toll even on happy, busy, secure, successful lives. I go for long walks in nearby parks (and call DC on issues I care about).

    You pack a lot of wisdom into your post so I think short ones can be as effective and staggering as long ones. I think you’ll figure it out. I also doubt you will ever run out of things to tell us that we need to know.

    Your post today couldn’t have been more timely for me as we are embarking on reupholstery and curtain projects and possibly a new armchair and coffee table for our tiny apartment. Yesterday we went shopping all over creation, and could have made some bad, fast decisions. But I think we didn’t. We sent our sofa slipcover off for repairs, since I sensibly ordered extra fabric 12 years ago, knowing how I struggle to find fabrics I like that cats won’t damage. It will be interesting to see how we manage with an uncovered, whitish sofa for a few weeks, between us and the cats. If it works, I’ll order a washable cream-colored slipcover. I love that look but thought it wouldn’t work with five colorful cats. And it’s hard to go wrong otherwise with off-white, right?

    I was staggered by the estimates we got for reupholstering our $%&*# orange-and-purple paisley armchair/scratching post. We could almost buy a new chair for that, and perhaps we should. That chair should have taught me not to buy on clearance unless I’m madly in love. . . but there I was last night, hunting for bargains online. It was only after reading your post this morning that I realized I’m making that mistake again . . . I will be thinking long and hard about what would be the best choices, for now and in future. I will know them when I see them and I won’t settle in the meantime. Thanks!

    1. Hi Elle,

      Thanks so much for the sweet message. Yeah… reupholstery is expensive (at least in the northeast!) and I recommend doing it only if one loves the piece. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

      1. Perhaps you could write about cat resitant furniture, especially upholstery. Mine is good with velvet and ugly leather, but otherwise her name is “Destructo-Cat”–and yes, I have tried every kind of training method and scratching post. She does use the scratching posts, but still scratches furniture. Obviously, I am reluctant to invest in better furniture.

  28. Hi Laurel, I’m so glad you’re feeling better. This post was very helpful to me, as I tend to be one of those people who loves many looks and can’t decide which to “commit” to! By the way, can you check and make sure that I didn’t accidentally opt out of anything last week? I want everything you’re writing! Your blog has given me tons of confidence in my decorating and I don’t want to miss a thing!

  29. Great post! I love the modern open and light filled spaces.

    For those of us transitioning from darker rooms to brighter-the Studio McGee room would look equally luscious in a robins’s egg blue with a hint of grey or green.

  30. Hi Laura, I’ve recently found your blog and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This is a question, not a comment.
    My question is this: besides pottery barn, RH and homegoods , it’s hard to find what I need in a brick and mortar store. I’m constantly online looking for things. How does one combine colors from various manufacturers? I’m helping my daughter with her nursery and we’re staying neutral with blush. I’ve found things at PB and RH. I’m hoping the blushes are all warm, not bubble gum. Thank goodness for return policies. Rugs are next to impossible to ‘ match’ online because returning is difficult ! I’m thinking neutral instead of blush so we don’t go off the rails. BTW, Walls are BM winter Sky.


    1. Hi Andrea,

      Most companies will give out samples which I highly recommend before ordering. But please check out Serena and Lily for the nursery. That is how that company started out and their things are darling without being too cutesy.

  31. Hi Laurel

    This was a very helpful post for me too. I have a gray. white, sand and blue theme in my home. Its a small cottage close to the beach and just begged for this color scheme. When we bought this house inch of it was painted brown. I am almost finished with the painting. I just have to do the kitchen walls and cabinets. I am adding other colors to kick it up a knotch with yellow, green and maybe a touch of red or orange. I tend to keep my furniture pieces in neutral colors and add the other colors with throws, pillows and ac.cessories, It helps me to see the aboce pictures and the widget. I also want to thank you again for helping me with the foyer table. I did what you suggested and it worked perfectly. I am still needing something on the wall behind it, but I will be taking some prints to get framed, Hope you’re feeling better! Mary B

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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