The Granny Decor Mistakes You Might Be Making

Dear Laurel,

I recently found this post about hideously dated furniture. And then heard the term “Granny Decor.”

Is that like “Granny Chic?”

My grandmother had exquisite taste and so I don’t get the term, “Granny Decor.” It sounds pejorative.

Can you explain these terms a little better?

LC D. Wolf



Hi LC and everyone.

Those are all great questions and ideas.

I realize that there’s some confusion here.

My definition of Granny Decor is this:


Granny Decor is a style of home furnishings that is not classic. It is generally lacking in style, proportion, cohesion and reeks of all that is cute and precious.


Granny Chic is an ENTIRELY different animal. But, quite frankly, Granny Chic is simply a new marketing term for country cottage. Or, maybe country cottage with some bohemian thrown in. And, perhaps with a strong mid-century bent and bright, fun, happy colors. It is often full of whimsy.

A great example of Granny Chic decor is the beautiful, charming work of the design firm, Madcap Cottage.


Madcap Cottage is the interior design firm of John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon.


One Kings Lane MadcapHomeTour_Granny Chic - Granny DecorMadcap Cottage via One Kings Lane


BTW, You can find well over 300 cool and fun Madcap Cottage products at One King’s Lane. AND the promo code OKL20CARD will give you 20% off on them! They have some wonderful wallpapers and many of their items are vintage! Also, when they say that a pillow is vintage, they really mean that it is a custom pillow. Their pillows are not used!


So, then, What IS Granny Decor? And is it a pejorative term?


The definition of Granny Decor according to the Laurelcyclopedia ;] of interior decorating terms is as follows:

It’s a style of decor that is lacking in classical, timeless style and that either reeks of saccharin sweetness, or is phenomenally tacky, tasteless, banal, disproportionate, unbalanced and looks exceedingly tired and well— old.


Granny decor is NOT a function of the age of the person. However, some aspects of Granny Decor are vestiges from an earlier generation.


However, I have seen dozens of homes of YOUNG FOLKS who decorated, not in Granny Chic, but in Granny Bleak, we’ll call it.


Another aspect of Granny Decor is decor which is fake (aka: ERSATZ, Laurel’s favorite word) and thoroughly CHEAP LOOKING.

Before I go on…

I am well aware that the readers of this blog fall into all economic classes. So, I want to make it clear that I am not in any way trying to shame those who have little money to spend on home furnishings. I’ve been there too and understand the struggle, more than you’ll know.


However, in some recent blog posts, we have looked at some talented readers who created a beautiful family home without spending a lot of money.


You can find them here, here, here, here, here, here and here. (some of these are posts about furnishings too.)

In fact, sometimes Granny Decor is about home furnishings that are not only unnecessary, they are bringing down the entire space. So, that is what this is all about.


***And, this is super important.*** This is only STUFF. And, stuff is not nearly as important as people. Not even close. I am saying this because I know that some of you are going to have some of this stuff in your home. You might even like it. Or maybe you’ve stop seeing it.


Just know that I love you just the same, whether your home is beautifully decorated or filled with what I deem to be hideous dreck- bad design. haha. I have some things that aren’t so great in my home too. (although it’s getting better— slowly)


So, let’s get into the specifics of Granny Decor. And, please, do not pin any of these frightening images. Of course, you may pin the beautiful ones and the ones that I’ve made as a graphic.


  • art work that’s too small, ditsy, cheap, or cutesy.  Well, actually, anything that’s too small, ditsy, cheap or cutesy.

please pin me to pinterest


Crazy Cat Lady - Bad Granny Decor


Really? Just do some finger paintings. Anything would be better than this.

Plus, could they have made that wall any uglier?


I don’t understand this.




Sorry to shout, but I don’t know what it takes to get this to stop! Maybe if we all start shouting together. on the count of three.






Paris apartment of design dealers Laurence and Patrick Seguin features a wall of artworks - via Architectural Digest - photo: Simon Watson

Paris apartment of design dealers Laurence and Patrick Seguin features a wall of artworks – via Architectural Digest – photo: Simon Watson

This is a beautifully executed art wall.

For more gorgeous art walls, templates and ideas click here.


Let’s move on with more Granny Decor Don’ts


  • plate-glass over table tops
  • lace doilies – at least, in the living room.

Not to mention that the photo in the contemporary steel frame and the placement of the table is all kind of random and not working at all.


But, Laurel… How are you supposed to protect the table?


Thank you. That’s a very well thought-out and lucid question. The answer is that if you have something abrasive going on the table, THAT is what needs some felt under it. Nothing says Grandma or Granny more than things like glass on the table or plastic slipcovers.

Remember Aunt Gert?


  • cheap curtains – either lace and/or polyester
  • Ruffles


and more ruffles and saccharin pastels. icky-poo.

Ugh. Not only is it neon white, polyester lace. It’s neon white, polyester lace against stained wood with the wood showing. Absolutely grotesque.

This is like a woman who forgot to shave her legs, AND her slip is showing.

But… Does anyone actually wear a slip these days? A few years ago, I walked into a Victoria’s Secret looking for a slip and the sale’s lady looked at me as if I had said, “Do you carry napalm?”


Ruffles and a shell theme. No.

And valances alone, usually say Granny unless very tailored.

Of course, never any heavy swags; only if you’re really super formal.

Most people aren’t these days. Not even the royals!


Above, Miles Redd uses florals and a bit of ruffle judiciously. Although, I’m still on the fence about this ruffle too. But I don’t think it says Grandma. It’s just a little too feminine for me. But, at least, it’s classy and sophisticated.


  • More ruffles on bedding

and rouching– for DAYS…………

Eegads! It’s like the worst bridesmaid dress you’ve ever seen!

All that’s missing are Granny’s eye glasses and her copy of Reader’s Digest.


At least there’s a hardwood floor.

no flood-length drapes— please! And, of course, the rod should be hung higher.

One tip I’d like to suggest is that if you moved into a home and I don’t care if it’s 20 years ago and you are STILL living with the same horrid window treatments the previous owner put in— And they don’t do anything except scare burglars away, please take them down.

I promise. It’ll change your life in positive ways.

They’re actually trying to sell this place. What’s with the dried fake leaves over the doorway? So weird. Even Gran thinks so.


cheap ill-fitting slipcovers


Actually, this is more like crash-pad decor. But, we’ll let it go for now.

Ben Pentreath - Charlie McCormick - old parsonage kitchen yellow walls - cabinet


But, remember the floral slipcover in Ben Pentreath’s kitchen? It’s a proper English tea-drinking-Granny-floral-slipcover but the acidic yellow wall color is what makes it work. And Laurel’s orange Michael Kors handbag. haha. I still use it and love it! It’s holding up very well!


  • shiny polyester – anything. Please try not to have any of that.



  • wall-to-wall broadloom in the living areas (many examples throughout these images)


hbu-dated-decor-wall-to-wall-now - Maura Mcevoy - photo

Maura Mcevoy – photo

If you need to do wall-to-wall carpeting, IMO, it should preferably be tailored and woven, like this Berber carpeting, above.

  • cheap t’chakas. You know what I’m talking about.
  • mismatched photo frames and tables filled with family photos. (Make a family gallery wall in a more private part of the house.)
  • muddy dusty pastel color scheme. (It’s all very one-note. zzzzzz…)
  • crochet granny throw (although, used correctly, they can be fun)

Roseanne-Living-Room- Granny Decor

This is from the set of the show, Roseanne. It sure ticks a lot of boxes. It’s Granny Decor on acid! And, here we go again! The window casing should NEVER show when hanging drapes. Granny needs to hire a professional window treatment installer!

For more info about how to hang drapes and everything else you’d like to know click here.

And for difficult windows, please check this out.

And, Roman Shades


  • all tables, chests, cabinets, etc. are dark brown. It all gets very heavy and difficult to live with unless the walls are also a hunky color. But they usually aren’t in Granny Decor.

via One Kings Lane Madcap Home Tour_Turquoise interior mahogany china cabinet - Granny chic decor

I love painting the inside of china cabinets. This is another beauty from Madcap Cottage.

Also, please check out the china cabinet I designed and had made for a client a few years ago.


  • dated lamps and other lighting fixtures, as well, with ersatz finishes mimicking what, I don’t know.


bad granny decor lamp


it goes on and on… That is a very bizarre finish on that lamp. It looks like Lawrence of Arabia after six months of riding a horse through the parched desert. Why would anyone want that in their home?

Who dreams up this stuff?

Actually, I found most of these things on one entire website devoted to Granny tacky.

Their tagline is A HOME LIKE NO OTHER.

No shite!

I can assure you that they are never going to be in Laurel’s Rolodex!

But, there are dozens of fabulous vendors on Etsy and Chairish in the newest edition of Laurel’s Rolodex which came out in November.

Note to current rolodex owners, if you can’t find yours, it was sent to you at the email address you purchased it with. Please first do a search of your email before contacting me. You can put in SENDOWL. I very much appreciate that. Any link, even if it’s three years old will give you the updated rolodex for you to download. The change is on my end.


For some good ideas for cheap lamps that don’t look it, click here.


There’s still more Granny Decor Faux pas to go!


  • cheap, ditsy wallpaper and horrors – a wallpaper border

Oh, so bad… Looks like Granny is sharing digs with her grandson.

granny decor - bad floral wallpaper - realtor

Actually, this isn’t the worst wallpaper. It’s just not right for here. And that window!


@ f o r t a n d f i e l d - Anthropologie floral shower curtain

@ f o r t a n d f i e l d  on instagram

Anthropologie floral shower curtain

Above is a beautiful use of a floral in a bathroom shower curtain. I love the juxtaposition of the flowers against all of the white. It looks fresh and stylish. And loving all of the brass too!


  • vertical blinds

They should never have existed in the first place. There is nothing more hideous. Well, almost nothing. They’re not explicitly Granny, however.

More like Grandpa.



Hideous Granny Decor

just a little reminder to pin to Pinterest.


Well, I hope that you enjoyed that. I think that the main take-away regarding Granny Decor is that they make it because people buy it. If people stop buying it, they won’t make it. Right? There are alternatives.

Speaking of…

Please check out this week’s hot sales. There are so many fabulous sales going on and beautiful new pieces to see in the widgets. And, some of the sales are ending very soon!



160 Responses

  1. Oh darn about the glass on furniture! I have a guest bedroom where I’m using an antique dresser as a bedside table because that was the only place it would fit (the joys of moving every two years with the military). I was planning to get a piece of glass to place on that dresser so guests could put their stuff on it without ruining the top. Any other ideas for keeping the dresser nice in a guest bedroom?

    1. Hi Laura,

      Well, what are your guests putting on the dresser that would ruin it? If it’s something wet like a drink, coasters. And of course, you can put an extra coat of butchers wax to protect the wood.

  2. An acquaintance of mine was so very proud of her newly-decorated bathroom and showed me photographs of a flower-bombed fabric toilet tank and lid covers, complete with deep lace-covered ruffles and matching ruffled window curtains, shower curtains and coordinating wallpaper.

    Luckily, I stopped myself from saying, “So let’s see the After pictures”–because she was showing me the After pictures!

  3. I inherited quite a few antiques of all kinds (including doilies!) so I’m guilty of a few of these- but I just wanted to say the idea of painting the inside of the cabinet is brilliant. I have a couple of china cabinets of quartersawn oak with curved glass- I know they’re not valuable at all but they have great sentimental value to me- thanks for a way to update them.

  4. Laurel –
    Of course I don’t know your personally, but I love you! Your blog is the only one that makes me laugh out loud — literally! Keep doing what you do — giving great advice and dishing out tough love!

  5. Everyone is different and one’s personal decorating style should reflect that difference. I prefer authentic Victorian style, dark colours, and warmth. I love my ancestors’ period antiques, if I had to live in a sterile environment, a virtual doctor’s waiting room I’d go mad. If our homes reflect our mindset, consider a blank, albeit, orderly mind, how dull. Trendy decor has bred artless, uncultured blah.

  6. Laurel,
    hilarious as usual!!! And my grandma’s name was Elsie as well! And HER neighbor (in the Bronx) had an entire living room of furniture upholstered in clear plastic over the fabric. Not laminated fabric, it was upholstered on top. Weirdest and most uncomfortable thing EVER.
    Thank you for all of your wonderful blog work, you are a joy!

  7. I forgot to say I loved the slip showing analogy! I loved this entire post! It was cathartic, and neatly summarized the interior design horrors I was subjected to during my childhood in the 1970-80’s. Most everyone younger, rich or poor, was guilty of what you illuminate here. A precious few of the grandmas of my childhood were “stuck” in Victorian, or Arts and Crafts era furnishings and I regarded their homes as oases of sanity.

  8. Yes, some of us still wear a silk slip (or a cotton lawn chemise) under our dresses. It’s far more comfortable and flattering than Spanx, and lasts through more wearings. You can sweat all over a slip/chemise and save your nice gown from damage. That being said, it seems the only place to find them these days is from silk clothing catalogs, or paying a local sewist to make you some from silk satin, specify bias cut.

  9. Haha! This was great, Laurel! Lordie, whoever started the floodwater curtain thing? Did they just run out of fabric? I don’t get why anyone would invent such a thing. And vertical blinds…don’t even get me started! You forgot stenciled borders…(and I have to admit to falling victim to a stenciling phase in my youth) but at least they are easier to get rid of than wallpaper!

  10. Oh my! I thought for sure I wouldn’t have any of these decorating mistakes in my home. However, after reading it I ran down to my finished basement and removed the custom glass top from my round game table. Such an improvement and I never realized how dated that was until this post! I may have some lamps and a few valances that need to go too! Thank you for calling these horrors to our attention! Sometimes when you live with something long enough, you don’t realize the error of your ways!

    1. Hi Pattie,

      You know when something is new and you can’t stop staring at it? Well, when it’s been there for a while, you stop seeing it. At least, that’s how it is for me.

  11. Laurel, I love your blog. A recent find of a pot of gold. I am finding it very useful in so many ways. I saw the title of this and laughed out loud! My first thought was “Granny!” This must be about me. LoL, 15 grandkids! I have to say I only checked one box on the list! What a relief. My MB has wall to wall new carpet. The rest of the house is wood flooring. I guess I can still call myself Granny proudly 🙂

  12. Hi Laurel! Busted! I am guilty of hanging pictures in a cascade mainly because it’s so dang hard to get them to hang evenly side by side. I will rectify my error! This post had me laughing and cringing. I also grew up in the midwest and I would say that among all my relative’s homes, probably all these don’ts show up somewhere. Remember early American? Blech! Thanks for your blog, it’s the best!

  13. This was fun! I had the ducks with bows growing up. Speaking of borders & Royals: The other day I read someone say that maybe the wallpaper border will find a way to come back. Then I saw a collection of photos of Prince Charles, Diana & baby William. The room was light blue & pink, & the border went along every edge of the wall! It looked crazy & almost right, in that over done, maximalist way that Royals & celebrities can pull off. I wondered how old that paper must be, was it new for them in the 80’s, was it older than that. The pink & blue was really, Something. — Do you think there is a way that the wallpaper border will come back? Should it? Because wallpaper itself seems to be back “In.”

  14. Hello Laurel, Perhaps we need to make a further distinction between granny decor and just plain schlock. To think that there is at least one entire site devoted to selling this stuff! It’s too bad the we no longer have Paul Fussell to provide appropriate commentary.

  15. Great post as usual! My house is anything but granny (even though I am a granny), but I must admit I do have some dirty little secrets! I’ve had to get custom glass for my night tables after spilling nail polish remover on the top. Where else are you supposed to remove nail polish if not in bed? And, although I hate to admit this, I’ve had to put some clear plastic covers on my velvet DR chairs because my 3 cats love velvet, and I’ll be damned if every time I need to use them (which is very often because my kids live within 2 km. of me) I have to remove all that hair. The cats do not like plastic, so we’re good to go when need be! There…I’ve said it! I’ve been found out! But in my mind, it’s all out of necessity!

  16. Excellent post Laurel. As a baby boomer (like Donna below) I too have lived through it all though the closest I think I’ve come to using a doily is a decorative table runner on my DRm table and/or framing three of them that my Great Grandmother had done and displaying them in a hallway. As for vertical blinds they never appealed to me as felt they were more for an office or industrial space. With respect to the ruffled bedspreads, as a hobby sewer they were probably my first attempt at sewing interior decor as made four of them (in chintz) as Xmas gifts for my three sisters whom I shared a bedroom with. Recall that one of the toss cushions was even round and hand-smocked … lol! (Back then; many stores carried high-end chintz and velvet so both were easily accessible and reasonably priced unlike that of today.) All said; before closing may I ask what is your take on using polyester-blend, tailored sheers? Personally I still love them but am wondering if they are also considered outdated/granny. (Thank you!)

    1. Hi Brenda,

      I’ve done sheers maybe a half-dozen times and I always did 100% linen sheers. Really pretty! But some of the poly sheers these days aren’t too bad– especially if they are a blend with linen or cotton.

  17. I think my grandmother was the first person I knew to point out ersatz furniture. That furniture from the “Roseanne” set used to be passed off as “country” style furniture in the 1970s/1980s.

    My grandmother once remarked that she had grown up in the Virginia countryside, and nothing like that furniture had ever existed there. Their furniture had fine delicate lines.

  18. “All that’s missing are Granny’s eye glasses and her copy of Reader’s Digest.”

    I chuckled through the whole post but I almost spit coffee all over my desk when I got to this one.

    Thanks for a laugh this morning Laurel!

  19. There is something very cool you can do with doilies! Some people are attaching several doilies together and creating table runners with them. It shows off the artistry in a way that is more current. Sometimes it looks like a bunch of snowflakes all together.

  20. Thanks for a very humorous yet educational post. I am guilty of having glass on a desk and file cabinet in my home office. What are your thoughts about that?

    1. Oh Wendy. Honestly, for as judgmental and opinionated as I appear to be, I’m really far more interested in people than I am in what they have in their homes. xoxo

  21. Hi Laurel,

    I’m a big fan of your blog!

    I plead guilty. I have had lace curtains and vertical blinds. But that was before I knew any better.

    You forgot floral sofas. Mine is in the living room. I’m too cheap to get rid of it or have it reupholstered so it stays. But I don’t hate it.

    I had a lamp in that same room that had been my Mom’s. It was a ceramic lamp of a peasant girl. The colors went with everything in the room. But, that, with the sofa, “dated” the room. But, it was my Mom’s lamp. I did replace the lamp with a more up to date one, but I felt bad.

    I mean, she treasured that lamp. What do you do?

  22. Just when I thought I couldn’t love you more, you wrote such a wonderful start up to this story! You do such an amazing job of being inclusive AND relatable!

  23. I read this late, late last night and crept into my living room to look for Granny touches. Found just a few to fix.

    Someone dear to me makes doilies, but I’ve been dodging their offers. I just… cannot.

    Regarding faux greenery/flowers: when are they Granny and when are they good?

    Thanks so much for the post; it is triggering Midwestern memories. And I knew many who decorated well with little money – just takes an eye for design and an independent spirit!!

  24. Of course, I agree with 99% of your post. Being a baby boomer I’ve lived through it all. I still have a few of these things that are too difficult or expensive to change. I hate to give up my Scottish cream cotton curtains in a bedroom and the crocheted afghans my husband’s grandma made. Some things are beyond style and even taste. But a curse on the company that sold vertical blinds to my mom.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Sentimental value trumps EVERYTHING– no matter what! I really believe that. “A home is about the people that live in it, not about the things that live in the home.”

  25. Hi Laurel,
    I’m a recent convert to your blog (and paint guides, thanks very much for those!). I so look forward to Sunday morning when your blog arrives. What I particularly like is that you take the time to put so many links in to your previous ones – I always end up with about 12 tabs open to peruse during the week, and I learn so much (this week: why two of my lamps look so dorky; window treatments; roman shades; 21 decorating mistakes, etc., etc.,etc.).

  26. Thank you so much Laurel for this post. I was literally shaking on the sofa laughing so hard at the “granny decor” photos and your witty comments. My husband looked at me from across the room like I was losing it. My abs hurt in a good way. 🤣 Have not laughed this hard in a long time. By the way I love the image of the china cabinet painted on the inside. Brilliant idea!

  27. If you published an actual illustrated Laurelcyclopedia of Interior Design Terms I would definitely buy it.

  28. So funny that you posted this because just a couple of days ago Sarah Bartholomew posted a room on IG that had some chairs that screamed granny to me. Plus she covered the chandelier shades in the same fabric. It was a beautiful room otherwise but it caught me off guard, because I thought it looks so out of date!
    And I have to say those Miles Redd curtains are definitely too granny to me!

  29. Holly Laurel!
    I am scared! Ha ha ha
    I inherited from my both grannies and from my husband’s grannies toooooo, that makes a lot of stuff… I am really afraid of falling because I love everything we have, including the doilies 🤣, some of them are really beautifully made…
    I am following you blog and taking notes of everything but I wouldn’t like to get rid of these pieces and don’t have much money left for new furniture… And have you found a way of using doilies successfully?
    Thank you so much!
    Love your combo info+humor!

    1. Hi Carolina,

      You know. My dear friend Elaine who died four years ago was the “granny type,” doilies and all. I loved visiting her home though, because it was a reflection of her.

      I just wish that I had some of my grandmother’s perfume bottles. I have such a fond memory of seeing them sitting on her pretty mirrored tray.

    2. People are attaching the doilies together and making table runners out of them. You can find lots of examples online. It’s the best use of them I’ve seen.

  30. Laurel,

    I do hope you and the rest of the readers Know that Many-Many-MANY Folks in the MID WEST’s HOUSES look JUST like those examples….!!!

    That Said, I MUST say that Some of the ‘High End’ house interiors are a Hot mess Too! I’ve seen ‘Haute’ stripes, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink and MORE in the Same Room. Stirpes, dots, Plaid, floral, I wanted to be ill. AND it was Considered UP Scale!! NOW after seeing This–I will just Laugh…Great Article Laurel !!

    1. Oh Honey,

      I know!!! I’m from the midwest. Born in Chicago. Raised in Evansville, IN. Visited relatives in St. Louis. And also lived in Madison and Milwaukee, WI and visited the latter, dozens of times after I moved away. I’ve seen it all!

      And true. I live in what is supposed to be one of the most affluent areas in the country. (but on the wrong side of the tracks. haha) and sometimes for a laugh, I’ll look at the real estate section. It’s beyond Horrifying. AND, I live in the shadow of New York City!

  31. Your blogs are always so entertaining! Now, I think I should go and box up some things to drop off at the thrift store for some other “granny!” 🙂

  32. If Roseann hired me to do a makeover on her living room, I would keep the granny square throw and change everything else! What a fun room comes to mind using the colors and pattern inspired by it. Simple Amish Shaker chic ….

    1. If I had, had a little more time and energy, I would’ve found a cool room with a crochet throw like that. I’m sure that there’s at least one out there.

  33. Hello Laurel, really great post! Loved your hilarious commentary!

    My mother in law has what I would call very English mixed with Granny decor. She is English, so florals, a bit of clutter, many antiques…and border wallpaper on the chair rail, with a small scale floral beneath it on the lower wall! But then she mixes it with white upper walls, and bright upholstery fabric…I’m actually so fond of her thoughtfully decorated house, even though she does have flood length drapes, and even though there are lots of design mistakes! I guess there must be a continuum of Granny decor, she’d be right in the middle…Granny-Trad.

    Just wondering, can living room side tables ever look right with a few picture frames on them? I like how it makes a home feel personal, as opposed to it being staged strictly with beautiful objects and perfectly hung artwork.

  34. The curtains in the Miles Redd room ruin the entire look. Tell
    him to get rid of them! They’re not judicious; they’re UGLY!

  35. I think I know what catalog company many of the Granny pictures are from because for several years I received their catalogs. Why, I don’t know.

    I would look through it and wonder why people would spend their hard-earned money on decor that was so awful. It actually made me feel a little sad because I know that for the same amount of money they could have purchased something better.

    Before the internet it was more difficult to be educated on good design, but now we can all access examples of attractive, classic rooms through blogs such as yours.

    However, don’t get me started on the current HGTV servings of cookie cutter design. 🙁

    1. I linked to the online company in the post, but it could be a different catalog company. I’m sure that there’s more than one. As for HGTV. I beat you to it a long time ago. In fact, it was this post that helped my blog turn a very big corner back in 2014.

      I should definitely do some research and update the post one of these days. I rarely watch HGTV. Like maybe once or twice a year. Every time I turn it on, it’s as if nothing has changed.

    2. Well, there have always been house decorating magazines and books, and those were available everywhere before the Internet. I think what the Internet has done is allowed stuff like this blog a chance to go in depth and have a growing body of information in one place.

  36. Hi Laurel,
    All of your examples made me chuckle. And they make me wonder, what things are we doing currently that will be referred to as Granny Chic in 50 years?
    I hope you have a great week!

  37. Hahaha!! A wonderful Sunday morning laugh. My granny had plastic lace doilies because they “didn’t need ironing” and the kitchen table was laden with plastic fruit. Remember the green rubber grapes? Also paint by number cherubs and one of those weird 3-D sacred bleeding hearted Jesus things where his eyes followed you around the room. Creepy!

  38. The pictures made me want to laugh and hurl at the same time. Sadly, I may have been guilty of a few back in the 80s and 90s…wallpaper borders, swag and jabot window treatments? Yes and yes. Thanks for a hilarious post. I still can’t unsee a few of the pictures!

    1. Sorry for the pain, Mary. lol I guess I should put a warning at the top of the post that the particularly sensitive need to know what’s coming. haha

  39. Hilarious! Two items on your list provoked some more thought. Europeans manage lace curtains very nicely; of course they are not neon white synthetics and they are usually hung as flat panels. Secondly, a master can break design rules under certain circumstances. The Amara Blog Award winner, the Dutch based “April and May,” posted a minimalist room with art works hung in an ascending rhythm from right to left (January 29, 2019). For the overwhelming majority of cases though, you are spot on.

      1. A word on European lace curtains: here in France there are some lovely examples of flat panels in coarse lace. Equally there are some truly revolting ones with “kitchen” designs involving jars and coffee pots, or cherubs wielding mini watering cans, with a bit of colour added here and there for “interest”.
        Goes to show that almost anything can be beautiful or loathsome, depending on how it’s done!
        I’ve got a suggestion for what will be granny decor 50 years hence: those very expensive kitchens slathered in mouldings and glazed paintwork, accessorized with Austrian blinds — rustic meets Versailles?

  40. Now I know what to call the style that my mother-in-law loves. She’s the one that puts the plastic Walmart bags inside the floral valances. And has the geese with bows. Her daughters and other daughter-in-law follow in her footsteps. I never understood how you could purposely make a house look so bad. My grandmother (who never let us call her granny) had great taste and always had custom window treatments and the most elegant furniture.

    1. Hi Susie,

      It is amazing how many grannies don’t fall into the “granny cliché.” And yet, younger women do. They don’t perceive it as looking bad. But, I imagine it’s because they haven’t been exposed to much of anything else.

      Geeezzz… It is nearly 25 years ago and I helped my step-dad design a building he was having built for his business.

      YES! A building. That’s how awful the builder’s design concept was. But, anyway, there was a small vestibule when you walked in and I created a little seating area choosing two Napoleon Chairs from Pottery Barn in a painted in a deep teal stain. Well, one of the employees remarked to my mother that she didn’t “get” these chairs. My mother sweetly told her that they were “avant garde.” hahahahaha!!!

  41. I guess I missed that part Laurel. It seems that everything I touch costs a bit of money but not over the top by any means. No harm meant.

  42. I read this with trepidation although I’m aware of most of the rules and trends (and some current rules ARE trends) that I’ve disobeyed over the years. (I LOVED all the ruffly bedroom photos from that site, I was roaring! Must go there immediately.)

    I’m thrilled that I didn’t do TOO badly, but my lace (Scottish-loomed, 19th-century repro, mostly cotton) curtains fall only to the window sills. I wish they were longer but I don’t know what else to do: there’s a large, wide steam radiator (with a deep wooden cover) under one window in every room, so floor-length curtains are out. And lace gives us privacy and light at the same time. I’ve been advised to switch to sheers, but they are either icky polyester or flimsy cotton net that’s too see-through.

    I recently realized that my style is BEYOND “Grandma” I’m onto “Great-Grandma.” If the Edwardian family that lived in our building came back as ghosts (and they do) they wouldn’t be startled by anything in our apartment except my poor housekeeping, so many cats, and our computers. Everything else would seem familiar! And I’m fine with it; it feels “old” but maybe not too “dated” since I’ve gone a bit nuts with (non-flowery) fabrics, colors, and rugs, plus we have so many books and paintings that it’s too “eccentric” to be truly “Grandma.”

    One Grandma element you left out: sponged walls.! I have ’em in my living room. I’d love to have matte, solid walls, but painters have told me to keep them like this. The walls are bumpy-textured, uneven, and some say unstable because there are layers of wallpaper under many layers of paint. Sponging hides that. They say I can’t have wallpaper. Removing everything would be a messy, expensive job (and we’d be living here during it). So my question is: can you think of anything else I can do? Thank you!

    1. Hi PB,

      I’ve seen photos of your home and it is quite charming. And, the decor is appropriate for the age of the home.

      Re: your walls. Can you find out if skim-coating is an option?

  43. Hilarious and informative as usual Laurel😉. Definately takes me back to the 70’s and 80’s in a 🤢 sort of way😂! We built a house in the country back in the day around “Dorothy ruffled curtains” although I never did purchase and hang them😂😂, By the time I had the money I was already tired of the idea:)

    Definately not a fan of this Miles Redd room although I typically do like his style, just feels a bit dated.

    I am feeling a bit guilty as charged about hanging art on the diagonal😳. I currently have 3 watercolor bird painting hung that way only because there is a switch plate in the way. In a weird sort of way I think it works. Stop it! Just stop it right? 😂😂

  44. Dear Laurel,

    Vinyl nail caps for cats were invented by an American veterinarian more than 20 years ago. Cats’ nails shed about every six weeks, so you do have to reapply as they fall off. Young kittens shouldn’t have nail caps, but I believe you can start putting them on at around 6 months. Soft Paws has a variety of sizes and colors, and all cats can wear them. It’s a far more humane answer to the curtain climbing, furniture scratching, fighting with the other members of their cat family and clawing visiting toddlers who have picked them up by the tail.

    It’s a pretty quick process to put them on, doesn’t hurt the animal at all, allows them to still stretch and strengthen their front legs on a proper surface–a scratching post! It also takes some of the frustration out of living with beloved pets. Oh, they have them for dogs, too, especially for heavy dogs who might damage wood floors.

    I use a different color for each of our three fur babies. When I see the color of the nail cap, I know which kitty needs a new Soft Paw. None of my cats seems to mind at all having them put on or wearing them. Check out!

    On a different topic, I found it an interesting and frustrating juxtaposition regarding Roseanne. The decor certainly didn’t match the Conners’ rapid-fire sarcasm, wit or obvious intelligence.

    1. Hi Madonna,

      Thank you so much for all of the great cat claw info! That is of great service to many who have beloved pets who are wrecking the furniture!

  45. Hey Laurel…

    Loved this post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into homes for sale…and I’ve seen many of these granny decor items. When I ask them to remove the wallpaper borders or change their bedding to something white and crisp – their either dig their heels in or look at me like I have 3 heads. Don’t get me started on vertical blinds – they seem to be ubiquitous! I once did a presentation in a realtor’s office and I was going over the top 20 things that date your listing…vertical blinds was one of them. A few realtors couldn’t believe that these things were outdated treatments. Oh brother!

    Thankfully I mostly Stage new construction homes these days – no granny decor in sight!

    1. Hi Linda,

      I know that people can get super-testy when it comes to selling their home. The reality is that once they’ve made the decision to sell, as I said in this post, “it’s not your home any more.”

      But, I know that it’s very difficult for some to let go. And, particularly if the reason they are selling is something that they’re not ready to face.

  46. Well, I’m sure you officially had everyone looking around their rooms this morning! It’s funny how things change over the years, and then head back in that direction again. What seems hideous to some now, was really quite elegant at the time. I’m sure we all have a few items that maybe came from mom and dad’s house that may seem ugly to some people (and that in reality, I’m sure lots of folks secretly have an “heirloom” from their childhood days from mom and dad’s house sitting in a bedroom or some room) that quite likely gives them comfort or warm memories from days gone by. Not a thing wrong with that and really…who cares what anyone thinks anyways, right? So many people worry too much about what other people think.

    1. Hi Colleen,

      That is true. But this post is not about inheriting furniture or whatever that has sentimental value. And even if it’s not-so-great, most pieces can be updated with paint and/or fabric. I’ve done that a lot for clients in the past.

  47. Thanks for a great post, and a good laugh! Ironically, my two grandmothers actually had some lovely pieces, but my mother…not so much. Your wonderful post had me thinking back to some of the most cringe-worthy decor in my childhood home: I think the prize goes to a mirrored wall opposite a gold-and-white Greek-inspired scenic mural in the (narrow) hallway of our suburban Long Island home….bleeech.

    Speaking of awful artistry: Are you familiar with The Museum of Bad Art? It’s quite a hoot:

  48. Hi Laurel,
    Thanks for the funny post!! I’m glad I read it all the way through, because I was considering putting a thin piece of glass (!) on top of an Oly Studio coffee table top, but now I will not purchase it at all!! Ive heard that Oly Studio tops scratch easily; Is that true in your experience?
    Thank you; I’m learning a lot from your blog, but have a long way to go.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      I’ve ordered a few table from Oly. You can see one of my favorites in my portfolio in the family room with the deep blue walls. I am not aware that they scratch any more or less than other brands.

  49. I love Miles Redd, and of all his projects I have seen, I can hardly believe that this is his work. It’s hard for me to imagine how AD chose to include this particular room in an issue. (It must be me. I’m missing something here.)

  50. Laurel, that was quite funny! I know of several people who decorate like this, and they seem content with it, so I guess ignorance can be bliss. I love your approach to decorating and design, especially your sense of humor! Few learning and application processes are this much fun, thank you!

  51. I enjoyed this article about what not to do (and gagged, too!), but now could you do a piece on good use of antiques? I have three storage rooms filled with true family antiques, some dating back to the Civil War. Many of them are exquisite but I don’t want an entire house filled with them.


  52. Laurel, thank you for my first belly laugh of the day.. OMG, these pictures are a flashback to my 70s and 80s childhood home. The 70s was bad, but the 80s was Granny hideous on steroids. And that stuff still persists!!! Remember the velvet paintings usually sold by roadside vendors? We actually had the dogs playing poker artwork hanging in the family room (at least that one is funny). My aunt had one of those “fountains” where oil dripped down the wires surrounding some fake greenery and a Greek goddess…with lights to emphasize every terrible detail! Peach and aqua “paint spatter” wallpaper borders. That’s the holy trinity of bad granny decor: color, pattern and border wrapped up in one sweet package, LOL!! Oh, my husband just walked in and brought up the glow-in-the-dark velvet posters with black light. Good times good times. Haha all of this is enough to make me go hug my blue and white porcelain…my security chinoiserie!

  53. ROFL! Especially because I now know what to call all the weirdness left in my house when I moved in. They were not only valances, but they were stuffed with plastic bags to make them poof, and had plastic vines twined along the top. In a few windows there were polyester eyelet lace curtains below the puffed valances. And — the previous owners took all of that with them when they moved out, along with most of the vases of silk flowers, especially the vases attached to the walls with wrought iron holders. But they left the vertical blinds, the plastic mini blinds and the white plastic roller shades. 🤣

    1. Hi Marsha,

      I have seen the plastic or paper stuffed into window treatments. So, so weird! I can’t wait to see how your place is coming along; a fixer-upper for sure!

      1. Whatttt! My drapery hanger put the tissue in the balloon valance to make them POUF in the 80’s! All the draperies cost a small fortune. I think that’s one of the reasons that we see so many non-decorated windows. The cost of fabric and custom made wreck the budget. And then the decorating trend is out in 7-10 years. So we start all over again.

        Fun Post!

        1. Oh my, yes! Plastic fruit and plants! That was an oversight, but let’s just say they fall under the fake and false in all aspects of decor. However, there ARE some well done faux fruits that are not plastic and silk flowers. I have no problem with a silk orchid, for instance. Well, as long as it’s dusted now and then.

  54. Thank you for a great laugh this morning. I wholeheartedly agree that when people live in well-designed spaces it changes their lives for the better. You’re definitely making the world a better place!

  55. Laurel, I heartily agree with all the Granny Decor don’t dos in your post, but I have to say that, that side by side, diagonal hanging of pictures, weird metal floral plaques, etc. those might work to complete the perfect reproduction of the times. LOL It is so classically ingrained in my mind as one of the most annoying examples of that era’s design style. I grew up in a house with many of the examples of the don’t dos, that the visuals made me cringe. A pink, curved sectional sofa with brass legs, stepped, mahogany side tables, wild blown glass vases and ash trays and lace doilies and tablecloths ( at least all hand done) are not and never will be seen in my environment. I think growing up with them was a form of aversion therapy. Thanks for the reminders of what not to do.

  56. The ironic thing here Laurel, is that the “new” floral wallpapers and fabric are as hideous as some of these granny decor ones!

  57. Thumbs down on vertical blinds. Had some in the condo I bought. I tore them down and put up some simple drapes instead. Also remember the country blue and dusty pink craze accessorized with white geese with bows tied around their necks? I was in a home in Nova Scotia, the kitchen was all country blue with a huge collection of the white geese with bows. Let’s put that phase behind us!!

  58. Just for the record, as much as I like Miles Redd those curtains while expensive are definitely Granny Decor. I would feel like they are creeping in to smother me.

    1. Hi Pat,

      haha! I am wondering what they look like in person? Also, I’m wondering if the stylist intentionally made sure the ruffle stood out. Maybe IRL, it’s not so pronounced. Or maybe it is. I find that things like this, in photos really stand out far more than they do when actually IN the space. It’s like that crooked lampshade that you notice in a photo, but never would sitting in a chair across from it.

  59. Hi Laurel,

    Very entertaining as always. You really got some bang up examples there. My dear mother passed away just over a year ago and she was funny in how she had wonderful taste in most of her furnishings but then she just simply couldn’t resist those church bizarres and would come home with the most hideous stuff, lol. She had reproductions of famous Dutch masters in nice frames, and then she’d buy some picture of a cute child and want to hang it on the adjacent wall. What do you say, eh. She was such a sweet person and if it brought her joy, up it goes.

  60. Laurel,
    Oh my gosh! What a funny post. I chuckled through the whole thing. Thanks for brightening a dreary and rainy Sunday.

  61. This was sidesplitting! I was laughing out loud. My mother moved in with me recently and she has some stunning antique Chinese porcelain and I very much appreciate that it is now in my home, but apparently, each piece must sit on a frickin’ doily! We play this game where I remove them and she puts them back. We don’t speak about it. Hahaha! Thank you for such a fun start to my day. Now I’m going to rehang a few pictures.

  62. Argh you’re right. Guilty as charged on the lace curtains. I’ve known they need to come down for a while now but two things hold me back:
    1. The curtains may not be pretty, but when the sun shines through them, they make the prettiest patterns of dappled light on the wall. And,
    2. When I try to figure out what to replace them with, I get so tangled up in the complex logistics of what to replace them WITH that they just…stay up.

    I would take them down entirely but we live on a fairly busy street and need at least some privacy.

  63. Hi Laurel!

    Great post! These pics look like they were right out of an old JC Penney or Sears catalog! I’m sorry but as a “Granny” I couldn’t live with it either. It’s hideous but you know not everyone has the finances to decorate like you or I. Cheap t’chakas are everywhere and some people just don’t care what their house looks like as long as they’re comfortable. Many people live on a strict budget so there are many factors into why people choose the decor they do.

    1. Hi Gina,

      It’s not about money. Maybe you missed that part. It is quite possible to decorate stylishly without spending a fortune. A number of readers have proved that to me.

  64. Especially doilies *under* the glass top on a table. Thanks for a post that brought back fond memories of happy childhood days in my Grandma’s 100% granny house. Those plastic covers were sticky and gross in the summer.

  65. Good Morning Laurel,

    Another entertaining and oh-so-spot-on post!

    I used to adore anything old, and have inherited a few pieces from both sides of the family–nothing valuable, but definitely important to me. One such piece is a little sewing cabinet that used to sit in my grandmother’s guest room where I would sleep when I visited. She has been sitting in my powder room for 19 years due to her simple lines and storage. But last year when I redid my powder room to bring it into the 21st century, I decided that my sweet little cabinet needed a makeover. I cleaned her up and painted the body and legs with with glossy black paint, leaving the drawer fronts a medium dark wood color, like you see on some mid-mod dressers. Then I cleaned the grime off the original knobs, and now they sparkle like jewelry. She’s over a hundred years old, but is thoroughly modern now. I’m glad I talked myself into it!

    Take care, and I hope you aren’t encased in ice like we are here in Illinois.


    1. That sounds very cool, Connie. Sorry about the ice. It was quite mild and now it is freezing again. I haven’t looked outside, yet but am going out soon.

  66. Ah hahaha
    Elsie de Wolfe
    That was too clever and cute!
    Made me laugh first thing this morning
    You are too cute

  67. Laurel, I’ve been waiting for a post such as this. You have explained the topic so very well and with your usual, “always makes me smile” or “laugh out loud” humor. I’m definitely bookmarking this page for future reference.

  68. OH NO…….
    I didn’t know I what I did was wrong, I swear.
    The picture thing, hanging them offset. I do that. I WILL FIX IT.
    I promise.

  69. I love to read your blog so very much, I am always either charmed or informed or laughing, but generally all three. XO BIG TIME.

    I was very nervous about reading this because of years of having no idea what my style was and taking those stupid quizzes to be informed my taste is eclectic ( thanks, great. HELPFUL.) I decided it was Grandma Chic. It’s very funny to find out that s a real thing when that’s what I was calling it in my head,

    It did take introspection(me) and education ( from you). I realized the two major style influences in my life, whose looks I was ALWAYS trying to replicate was my both of my super stylish grandmothers. One was a very chic, hilariously funny, well mannered and glorious single parent in the 50’s. You know she had a will of IRON to survive. And her home was beautiful, full of antiques which I realized as I got older were likely very cheap and somewhat dated when she got them but yes, she got all wonderful quality and recovered things, I recall going to a lamp shop for a third time as she looked for just the right shade, my mother would NEVER have done this, moms taste is awful and runs deep to Tacky Beachy. The idea as a teenager of going to a lamp store for the perfect shade instead of buying whatever was a very new and fancy and interesting idea to me. Her home was beautiful and very formal. My other grandmother was a designer and artist, her home was a bit more casual but beautiful danish mid-century will lovely art and colors and textures.

    I have embraced my love because it makes me feel good and serene. It reminds me of them in the best way ( eff you cancer for taking them too soon) . My house isn’t exactly where I want it yet, but I can see it, it will get there,

    I laughed at the glass covered side table my cat put roughly 100 scratches on my side tables jumping up to look at birds and beg to eat them now please. I will try felt on his paws. Hahahaha.

      1. Yes, you can put those nail caps on any cat who will let you handle its paws and then let you distract it for 10 minutes or so until the glue dries. That second step is the key to success. If you don’t fuss over them, play, and give treats, they’ll disappear and chew the caps right off. Start by just trimming her claws for a few weeks until she’s used to it, and then get some SoftPaws —and they come in loads of colors as well as tasteful clear.

  70. Well, Laurel, this makes us all feel better: tons of mistakes we’re not likely to make! I clicked on your link to the source of many pics, and while their name offered further hilarity, it was a relief to note that they say “you won’t find this anywhere else”.

    I’m not on the fence about the ruffles at the window: just an upmarket version of polyester lace curtains, in my view. I think “trim” on curtains or cushions or upholstery can rapidly turn nasty and even granny-twee if you’re not careful! And there are other things in that room that I think don’t quite work…

    A fun signature to your fictitious e-mail — is Elsie the original anti-granny? GL

    1. Yes, Elsie de Wolfe was definitely the first anti-granny. And I don’t disagree about Miles’ room. While I love his work, sometimes, at least in a PHOTO, it feels like he went a little too far. But again, it’s a photo. Photos are there to give an idea of the space. It is not the same as being IN the space.

  71. Regarding the picture of the set from the Roseanne show: When I saw it, I thought, “This looks like something that could’ve been used for the Roseanne show” — before I saw that it actually is the set from the show! You have me laughing in the wee hours of the morning!!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
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