Granny Decor Mistakes You Might Be Making!

Dear Laurel,

I recently found this post about hideously dated furniture. And then I 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?

L.C.D. Wolf



Hi LCD and everyone.

Those are all great questions and ideas.

I realize there’s some confusion with the term “granny decor.”


There are some 21st-century styles of home furnishings known by terms such as:


Granny Chic

Grand Millennial Style

BoHo (Chic)

Shabby Chic


All of these incorporate a style of home furnishings with home-y-one-of-a-kind and vintage furnishings. It is often full of whimsy.

Granny Chic is an ENTIRELY different animal, than Granny Decor. (We’ll go over that definition in a sec.)

However, I see Granny Chic as a newer marketing term for country cottage.


Or, maybe country cottage with some bohemian thrown in. And, perhaps, with 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 Decor

Madcap Cottage


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 lacking in a classical, timeless style that reeks of saccharin sweetness or is phenomenally tacky, tasteless, bland, disproportionate, unbalanced, and looks exceedingly tired and old.


Granny Decor is NOT a function of the age of the person.


After all, I am easily old enough to be a great granny! However, some aspects of Granny Decor are vestiges from an earlier generation. Some of it might be cultural.

Granny decor can be a false take on any style from any point in history, including modern. It is not even trying to be a replica of any classic style. Or, if it is, it’s a thoroughly absurd facsimile.

We will see many examples of granny decor mistakes that are fairly common.


In fact, over the years, I have seen dozens of homes of young families who decorated, not in Granny Chic, but in Granny Bleak, we’ll call it.


Why does this happen? I suppose, like many things, they don’t realize there’s anything else. Or, maybe they think it is better than nothing.

I disagree. Nothing can be exquisite. Seriously, just give me a couple of big floor cushions, and I could be content as can be in a perfectly proportioned architectural gem of a room like the one below.


Ben Pentreath classical architecture mouldings and wainscoting

Ben Pentreath


Before I go on…


Many of us can’t afford a fancy room like the one above. For most of my life, I haven’t had the funds to purchase anything for my home. That’s why I wrote this post about free or almost free ways to decorate one’s home beautifully.


However, in several blog posts, we have looked at talented readers who created a beautiful family home without spending much money.


A modern rental home but with a tacky kitchen.

Can you do beautiful decorating on a shoestring budget?

A reader fears she messed up by painting her vintage table.


Sometimes Granny Decor is about home furnishings bringing down the entire space.


***And, this is super important.***

This is only STUFF. And, stuff is not nearly as important as people. I know some will have some of this stuff in their home. You might even like it and feel insulted because I’m saying it’s “hideous.”

However, sometimes people stop seeing things that others do see.


Please know that I love you just the same, whether your home is beautifully decorated or filled with what I deem to be tacky drek- bad design. :]  Here are some old pics from my imperfect New York apartment.

I STILL have many far-from-optimal areas in my Boston home.

And, that reminds me. I interviewed the potential replacement contractor on Friday, it’s a no-go. As much as I was hoping it work out, I could see in five minutes that it would be problematic for me. We speak totally different languages.


Therefore, if anyone in the Boston area knows of a fabulous contractor with a great appreciation and understanding of old buildings, please let me know. It would be better to write me privately here: admin at laurel bern interiors dot com. (If you’re a subscriber you can write me back from any email you receive from me, announcing a blog post.)


The reason that meeting took place is that the contractor I’ve been talking to for nearly two years told me about ten days ago that he’s six months behind schedule.


So, let’s get into the specifics of Granny Decor and granny decor mistakes.


Before we jump in, please, do not pin any of these frightening images to Pinterest, unless it’s a graphic with words on it that make it obvious it’s not my thing.

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


please pin me on Pinterest

This link shares the correct way to hang art.


Crazy Cat Lady - Bad Granny Decor

Just so wrong on many levels.

Really? Boring, bad, bland art. Anything would be better than this.

Plus, I don’t believe they could have made that wall any uglier.


I don’t understand this.

For proponents of “aging in place.” There is a ton of metallic wall decor with inherently sharp edges. Not only is it tasteless, it’s dangerous!

I found a website that’s filled with tasteless “granny decor.”  And I found hundreds of pieces of wall garbage.

wall drek for sale - why do they make this

This is a tiny fraction of more of the same.



Please do not hang art in this fashion.


I know many people do this, but it immediately cheapens whatever you have hanging there.

Wall art, if more than one piece and they are the same size, always goes horizontally or vertically, in a line or a grid. Otherwise, you can do an art wall design in a grouping of five or more. Get some free art templates here.


Boston restaurant lunchtime Prudential building - beautiful art wall - photo-LBernInteriors


This is a beautifully executed art wall I took in a restaurant here in Boston recently.

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


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


  • plate-glass over wooden table tops


I might get some flack on this one. Think about visiting a museum where they have a period room. Will you ever see plate glass over a wood table? No. Have you ever seen plate glass on a wood table in an A-list designer’s room? No, again.


Well, how do you protect the table, Laurel?

That’s a reasonable question, but you already know the answers.


  • table cloths
  • placements
  • coasters
  • trivets
  • Use books on coffee tables. (No, you don’t have to use them as coasters unless you come to visit me.) :]
  • Put felt on the bottom of items that might scratch.
  • Give all children and people who act like children plastic silverware.




Self-portrait with Lace Jabot (ca 1751)-Maurice Quentin_de_La_Tour

Self-portrait with Lace Jabot (ca 1751)-Maurice Quentin_de_La_Tour


Lace goes on clothing like this handsome gentleman is sporting.

Maybe there are some exceptions, but right now, I can’t think of any. ;]


Lace  AND a glass top. I guess that’s an added layer of protection for this table.

Plus the photo in the contemporary steel frame and the placement of the table shoved into a corner is wrong.

Nothing says Grandma or Granny more than things like glass on the table or plastic slipcovers.

Remember Aunt Gert with her cigarette?


granny decor mistakes - mantel scarf. what is that?
This is a lace mantel scarf. (That’s what they call it.) Huh? A mantel scarf? Don’t they realize that a fireplace is where one puts a burning fire? Oh wait. It’s okay; the fireplace is fake, too.


Neon-white, polyester lace against stained wood with the wood showing. So bad.

It reminds me of a slip. Does anyone actually wear a slip these days? Several years ago, I walked into a Victoria’s Secret looking for one, and the sales lady looked at me as if I had said, “Do you carry napalm?”


More granny decor mistakes. Let’s stick with window treatments for a sec.


Oh, I could do a month of blog posts on hideous window treatments.

  • cheap curtains – either lace and/or polyester
  • ruffles for days!


And more ruffles and saccharin, sticky-icky-poo pastels.


Ruffles and a shell theme. No.

And valances alone, usually say Granny unless very tailored. Here’s a good post about window treatment valances.


Heavy swags

versailles fake valance with rouching, no, wood casing, no showing, no way!

These are cheap polyester silk with a gathered header. Who does that? And then hung over stained wood that is, once again, showing. It comes in several colors, too.


  • More ruffles on bedding


and rouching– for DAYS…………



No words.


Flood-length drapes are a granny decor classic.

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


One tip I’d like to suggest is if you moved into a home, even if it was 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.


While we’re looking at the horrid wall-to-wall pink carpeting above, let’s talk about rugs and carpets that are granny-ish.


  • wall-to-wall broadloom in the living areas (many examples throughout these images)
  • sculpted wall-to-wall is an extra layer of granny.
  • as are colors like mint green and mauve.


Fine rugs are not inexpensive.

If you can’t afford them, keeping your floors bare is fine.

OR, you can do an inexpensive seagrass rug.

If you need or want wall-to-wall carpeting, you can do seagrass. If that’s too exotic, there are some fantastic synthetic Berber broadlooms that imitate sisal rugs. This is not the horrid Berber from 30 years ago. These are lovely, tailored carpets that are handsome, like the two below.

New England Boston faux sisal


I’m sorry, I don’t know the source of these images.


Handsome tailored flatweave bro


However, let’s look at some granny decor mistakes regarding area rugs.


These folks had the gall to call these sculpted, scalloped aberrations an “Aubusson” rug.


They are an Aubusson Rug like a Hostess Twinkie is a pastry from the finest French bakery.

Below is a mini widget filled with genuine antique Aubusson rugs.

But, you can also find some quite good reproductions that aren’t nearly as expensive as the antique versions.

For 21 interior design mistakes to avoid, including wimpy wall colors, click here.


Another common granny decor mistake is:


  • 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 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 are another granny staple.


bad granny decor lamp


It goes on and on… That is a very bizarre finish on that lamp. It reminds me of this woman I once knew who spent hundreds of hours on a tanning bed. Never mind why anyone would do that. Why would anyone want this lamp 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.


I can assure you that they will never be in Laurel’s Rolodex!


Here are some good ideas for cheap lamps that don’t look it.


One last  Granny Decor (Real) Faux pas!


  • cheap, ditsy wallpaper and horrors – a wallpaper border

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

Oh, one more!


  • vertical blinds

Like everything else I’m screaming about, 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 decor.



Hideous Granny Decor

Please pin to Pinterest.


Well, I hope that you enjoyed that. I think the main takeaway 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 and beautiful new pieces in the widgets. And, some of the sales are ending very soon! Like Serena & Lily’s 20% off EVERYTHING and an additional 20% off sale items. So, it’s one of their best sales ever!




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If you shop on Amazon, please click the link above, before you put your items in your cart. The price is the same for you. The vendor pays me a small commission, which helps keep this blog running. I so appreciate your help! You can also click the banner below.

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60 Responses

  1. I like the pink and white ruched bedspread. I think the worst problem with the room is all the matchy stuff displayed with it and that the bed is in front of the window completely covering the window! On a plain wall without all the matchy stuff the spread would be pretty.

  2. To Lauren,

    I, too, have naughty pussycats. One has two aliases: plant killer and biscuit licker. I keep my plants under glass cloches and in terrariums. No choice–Bandit would eat them all. The leftover biscuits go directly into the microwave. I also put plants on furniture that is too high for him to get to–he’s 16 now but still remarkably fit. We all have to do work-arounds for the pets (and children) we love, and glass cloches is just one of them. I try not to think about the microsuede furniture I have, though. Sigh.

  3. Well…I didn’t know it was Granny decor at the time…I thought I was Anne of Green Gables! (3 types of floral wallpaper & a floral padded cornice with curves) I’m cringing as I remember it!

    When I got married, I inherited dozens of doilies & lace-trimmed handkerchiefs, and they’ve been stored ever feeling too guilty to get rid of these heirlooms. I think I’ll adopt the wonderful idea of framing 3 to put on my bookshelves…thank you, Martha!

    I think it’s funny that the company we all think of that produces this stuff is called “Touch of Class” … the ultimate irony, for “class” it is not! I don’t think even “kitsch” works, bc I have a few kitschy things that are small reminders of special events or people, which gives them a honored spot in my home, whereas all the items in ToC are just lipstick on a pig!

    Thanks for a very funny post, Laurel!!

  4. Laurel –
    I was relived to have completed the post and only having seen one (sort-of) faux pas that I’m committing. You are TOO funny!

    About Amazon, and using the link… how many times can that one link be used? Each week I see it’s in your post… should I use a new link every time, as I use Amazon frequently. I cringe to think of the times I’ve missed supporting you and your many many contributions with your posts. Hoping all followers will pitch-in!

  5. Absolutely hilarious posting! I see the faux pas you talk about all too often. I am grateful that nobody in my family or my husbands family ever had anything remotely approaching granny decor. I am currently getting rid of yucky borders and paint in a house we bought last summer. You did leave out the grotesque plush toilet sets.

  6. My granny-esque sin: I rent and my apartment has a huge plate mirror over the kitchen sink with the one redeeming characteristic of bouncing some light around the dark galley layout. But it’s chipped and who wants to watch themselves wash the dishes? So I’ve covered it with a stained glass window cling that echoes the floral motif on the 70s doorknobs and it looks better while still helping with the light.

  7. I’m super curious to know if you have a “Grandpa Bleak” vs “Grandpa Chic” version as well. Vertical wood-paneled walls, dark green/blue plaid, checkerboard vinyl floors, vinyl records, trophies of any kind, the “comfy chair”, the chair that holds all random things, TV, desk, occasional table, lamps, loads and loads of drawers and bookshelves for some reason, etc. Can you make a “Dreary, Old-Man House” into “Home of a Refined, Sophisticated Old-Soul”?

  8. Laurel, you forgot the crocheted toilet roll covers and ‘painted on velvet’ artwork of my childhood. Still makes me cringe!

  9. My daughter just got engaged and we went and looked at the venue that was the exact horror that you talk about -lace everywhere-dated wallpaper, dated furniture – dated pictures— the woman mention she was an interior designer, and I almost fell over. She had the sweetest personality tjough.

    I sent you a picture to your email of my granny decor! Thanks for another great blog

  10. I have a more-than-lifetime supply of crocheted doilies from my grandmother, mother, and best-friend’s mother. It was a puzzle what to do with them. Three small ones, one from each source, are now in beautiful antique/vintage wood frames and look beautiful tucked in among books and decor in a bookcase.

  11. Lace curtains can actually be lovely in the right house–but only the kind I can’t afford. They were used to keep flying insects out in summer before window screens were common and so really belong in pre-1880 houses. I remember going into a shop in Heidelberg that specialized in ‘gardinen’ back in the 70’s –thousands of them hung together like books in the library with only the spines showing. I walked in, saw the edges of one and said, “I want that”. The shopkeeper replied, “That one is hand made by nuns in Venice and costs $800/m.” Champaign tastes on a beer budget even back then.

  12. Natalie R., you are so right! Sloganeering, indeed. It’s my pet peeve. I can tolerate a lot of grannyisms, but not signs. Please – no signs. Don’t tell me what to do. I’m not going to live, laugh, love, or gather, just because you tell me to, all over your walls. And I don’t need a huge “LAUNDRY” sign over the washer/dryer to understand that it is the laundry room. Why do people think signs are art, and hang them in place of it? Simply dreadful. And yes, folks, a lot of these granny things came from the Touch of Class catalog. They have no clue about decorating, and call tester beds “teester”s. There is no such word as teester. Puh-leeeeze. The one thing I disagree with is glass over tables. I do see glass over some things in very chic homes. Not everywhere, but there are times when they are called for.

  13. I say wait for the original contractor. I wish we had waited for ours instead of having a rocky relationship with his replacement. Unless you feel like he’s trying to move you on to someone else for his own sake?

  14. Funny post and best comments ever. Special applause from me to Ramona, Llauren, and Jennifer Thomson. My 92-tear-old mother (a great-granny) has a blue and white apartment –Chinese rugs, family antiques, paintings that she and my father bought over the years – that looks like the natural version of what Mark D. Sikes does professionally. She has glass over one of her old tables and under it are photos of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. So I’m with the folks who plead for permissibility of glass tops.

  15. With regard to vertical blinds, we found a solution for our sunroom/den sliding patio door that needed good light control from harsh Texas sun. Because we wanted to keep the room light-filled and the window treatment soft, we ordered Hunter-Douglas vertical sheers. They are vertical blinds fit into “pockets” of a sheer fabric, giving the appearance of tailored drapery. This solution has been very practical for light control, and at the same time allows us to enjoy the greenery outside, even when the blinds are drawn, because we can enjoy our view through the open vanes.

  16. I grinned a lot reading this – we recently bought a property in the Ozarks with five mini-cabin vacation rentals and they were all done in various levels of faded granny decor. I was in such a horrified rush to tear down the lace valances and blobby porcelain wall pockets that I never got good “before” photos. I’ve been having a lot of fun updating the paint, linens, art, window treatments etc while keeping the better country antiques. Cozy cabin vibes are good – grandma’s tired leftovers is not! Oh gosh I just remembered the valanced brocade shower curtain with 4″ gold bullion fringe in one of them. I gave some of that fabric to my daughters for royal dress ups which was a much more appropriate use.

  17. Many of those tacky pictures you included are reminiscent of,or actually from, the “Touch of Class” catalogue.

  18. @Linda D, what about plantation shutters for your mom’s sunny kitchen? We are in Florida, as well, and they are both popular and very practical here. More polished looking than blinds (IMO) but would allow her to control the light, privacy, etc. while still enjoying the view when she likes.

  19. I had those aqua colored, cape cod curtains like in the ‘no words’ caption shown, except in white in my bedroom growing up. That is what we called them in upstate New York: ‘Cape Cod curtains’. Anyway, this brought back memories from long ago. The too small artwork is a great point. Too small, and hung up too high on the wall. That drives me nuts.

  20. I think a way to judge whether something is granny decor is if it was a trend that was imitating a past one or a facsimile thereof. Lamps for example- it’s more about quality than age. If it’s resin it’s cheap. If it’s ceramic, porcelain or vintage brass it is better quality.
    Even granny’s brown furniture can be updated with updated art frames. Quality vintage or botanical prints can give a room an update. The way items are hung (too high) vs eye level, a grouping. The way furniture is arranged is another. Fabrics and colors are another. Mixing styles can update a look. But it mostly comes down to trendy and quality of materials, natural vs “faux” that doesn’t it for me.

  21. LOL. Such horror. I am guilty of two infractions. I have a glass top on a dresser which has a painted design. I would surely ruin that painted design otherwise. I also have a two dimensional metal “sign” in my study which says ‘create.’ It creates its own shadow, so it is nudging me to sit down and write twice.

    So I am skirting the edge of these horrors in some places. No grannie of any kind in my new house although I am stuck with some ceiling fans until I my finances recover from some simple but expensive renovations. Those finances may never recover without a part time job in retirement.

    I do think blaming grannies for all of this is not fair although my grannie had some doilies around for sure. My mother did wind up with some doilies in her old age. I’m not sure why that happened because we really did not have them in the house when I was growing up. Maybe she caught the bug because she was living in a retirement community.

    But the vertical blind horror. I am sure they became popular because they are the most inexpensive way to cover glass. They also break and fall apart easily. I endured one in the apartment I rented last year.

    I do really like lace half curtains in kitchen windows. But getting quality cotton lace is very expensive. I did research getting the real thing from Europe about 15 years ago. The polyester and other synthetic stuff is a horror in every way.

    Why can’t we call this kitsch?

    def.: “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.
    e.g. ‘the lava lamp is an example of sixties kitsch'”

    p.s. Stick with your original contractor.

  22. I’m ok with becoming a granny lol. The glass top on my coffee table (which is a scholar’s table my mom brought over from Korea) is the only thing that keeps it a coffee table lol, and we’ll remove the table pads and cloths when the President comes over for dinner lol.

    I vote wait for your original contractor. At least stay on his schedule. You might meet another one you like better but you also might not.

    I also vote take this extra time to do your yard area. Get going now and you can use it until Thanksgiving.

  23. This was an amusing but definitely informational read. Thank you!

    I like most here vote for waiting for your original contractor. Even if he is not available for more than a year, I’d wait. If you settle, you will regret it and instead of getting done what you want to get done once you’ll have to do it twice with twice the expense and twice the money. You always counsel patience to others; give it to yourself as well.

    Are cloches outside the kitchen (for preserving cakes and cookies) also Granny Horror? I have three cats who insist that everything in the house is “theirs” and I also have some things that must be preserved as is. One is a kind of miniature corner shelf about six inches high that I found while scuba diving in the 70s. I don’t know what it was actually, probably some broken off manmade items that got softened by the ocean over the years but I saw it as this kind of mini shelf. On it, I have teeny tiny shells I also found over the years so it looks like one of those cute “granny” display cases. I have no doubt you can picture how much this attracts the cats–and I would be unforgiving if they got to it. So I searched and found a smallish (nine inches tall) cloche that fits it perfectly while keeping both safe and dust free. Yet I have this odd sensation that having that glass cloche on a side table in my living room is leaning toward too much granny, or worse, Victorian and. its glass cloches everywhere with *shudder* taxidermy, even though it is now doing its protective thing. So I guess one it is but no more than that.

  24. When I married and moved into my husband’s home, every surface of every piece of furniture in his home was scratched, dented, and stained. I grew up in a home where we used our possessions without damaging them. I had never seen anything like it. We replaced a great deal of his granny decor. Within 24 hours, he managed to put a huge gouge in a bedside table. The day after I saw that, I slapped glass on everything I cared about. I inherited a beautiful midcentury dining table from my parents. They had two children and regular meals on it for decades; when they gave it to me it looked practically new. It is a gorgeous walnut piece whose top has not seen the light of day since I brought it into my home. I hate having glass on everything but I believe I might have sued for divorce if I hadn’t.

  25. I cringed at all the examples, and learned something new – I bought a vintage side table that came with a glass top and I thought that was a nice way to protect the wood top. I didn’t know it’s a faux-pas!

    As others have said, I don’t think waiting 6 months is that long in the grand scheme of things. It’s a bummer for sure, but it’s worth it to wait for a good contractor. I learned that the hard way 🙁

  26. Please wait for your original contractor… he’s honest about timelines, six months isn’t a long time in renovations and most important: he speaks your language !
    I bet almost everyone reading your blog can tell you a story about the contractor who did exactly what he wanted, ignoring the homeowners explicit wishes…
    And your new kitchen will be everything you want in an un-kitchen…

  27. Hello Laurel, such a fun post. I do have a small piece of tatted lace framed ( sentimental) and I am ok with that.
    With regards to the contractor, I would wait, as others have said. We actually had to wait 1 year for a recommended contractor to be available for our kitchen. Worth the wait, no delays or issues when he was available. All good things come with time.

  28. A dear friend of mine recently got a new bed and I asked her if she was going to do a bedskirt. She said bedskirts are trendy and out of style. I refrained from saying anything to her about the multitude of “sayings” she has on “artwork” plastered all over her walls. I think tailored bedskirts are fine – any other opinions out there?
    And Laurel, I agree with many of the other comments … wait for your contractor. The fact that he told you he is 6 months out is a good sign of honesty. And by the time you find someone else who is available (and if he’s available, is that really a good sign?) and get them lined up, you will be close to 6 months anyway.

  29. What a post! Re: contractor: It is so disappointing that your contractor is 6 months behind. Maybe it will be 7 months when all is said and done. However, that means he completes his jobs before moving to the next. He underestimated the time it would take, but he is sticking with it. So when he gets to your job, I would expect he would also complete it no matter how much time it would take, even if it puts him behind. He has been talking your language, I think. I think you should very seriously consider sticking with him. Six months seems like a long time, but it will not seem too long once your project is completed and you are happy with it and can enjoy it every day. The only other thing I can think of is working with your kitchen folks to see what or who they could suggest. Other than that, sticking with the original person that you liked seems like the best solution.

  30. Note on my doilies, both are pretty small and under an object, making them barely noticeable. And they were crocheted by my mom when she was a teenager, so priceless!

  31. I had to laugh at the photo of the doily on the glass top.
    I have a round end table that has leather on top. I put a glass top on it to protect it, as it was getting cleaned improperly by my cleaning lady.
    Then my mom moved in with me and one day I noticed a doily on that table, as well as one on my bedroom dresser.
    I didn’t have the heart to remove them, and now since she has passed, I can’t help but smile each time I see them;-)
    So, judge me if you will, they are staying!

  32. Fun post! FYI: I found full silk slips at Banana Republic a few years ago…bought 2, but they quit stocking them! The struggle is real.

  33. Laurel, I’m a granny who has remodeled several homes. I vote for waiting for the contractor you already chose. If someone is available to start “tomorrow,” they’re not the one you want. If they say they can start in 2 months, it will likely turn into 3 months unless they can show you a chart showing all the subs’ work in a believable timeline to completion. If they can start in 3 months, well wouldn’t it be smarter to just wait another 3 and go with your first choice?

  34. Hi Laurel,
    Since I like old things I was a bit nervous to read this post. But I haven’t committed any of these crimes. I certainly cringed seeing your images. I think the owners of those type of things just haven’t been exposed to really beautiful decor. Which is sad. A beautiful home makes one feel good.

  35. Laurel – you are hilarious! This is one of the most entertaining posts I’ve read. And from now on I’ll go to your site in order to enter the Amazon site.

    When did the world stop wearing slips??
    Those gorgeous ballgowns at awards ceremonies look so unfinished when you can see the outlines of ladies’ legs etc underneath. Draperies are a lot less luxurious without a nice lining that adds structure and richness to the fabric. Slips are no different.

    More to say, but I need to go line up a couple of frames horizontally in the living room now ;o)

    Wonderful post!

  36. Mom lives in Florida with her kitchen having a southern exposure. (LOTS of sun!) There is a corner breakfast nook with diagonally opposite full patio doors leading to the pool area. While we’ve managed to get rid of the vertical blinds everywhere else, Mom doesn’t want to do shades or curtains in this heavily trafficked area where she eats daily meals and walks out to her pool.

    When the house was built thirty years ago, she did not have neighbors. Now, she does and privacy is a concern at night since you can look right into the house when the lights are on. The verticals are left open during the day and closed at sunset. Any ideas for something more appealing that preserves Mom’s privacy? Since it’s a working kitchen, (mom’s great cook and frequently entertains) she doesn’t want fabric coverings. Any ideas?

  37. What a fabulously funny way to counter a disappointing week. I love your sense of humor. Wait for your contractor if you can. You will never regret a good relationship and working with a contractor is a lot like a love affair. As my Daddy used to say, if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.

  38. Hey! Don’t be knocking a good Twinkie. I’m just sayin’. Love this post, and Madcap cottage isn’t my preference but I can see that there actually is a style to what they’ve done. The rest of it… Are those really photos of current rooms??? Maybe from real estate listings? Hideous!

    Stick with your original contractor. He communicates, he gets you. That’s hard to find.

  39. The other day my daughter commented on the art work in the homes of her contemporaries. She is 32. Guess what it is? Cheap canvases with nonsense sayings on them. My daughter went on to remark, growing up we had real artwork in our home. Yes indeed, reproductions, but timeless and beautiful.

  40. Haha! These room photos could have come straight out of the ads for home sales in this rural, granny-filled area.

    My 2p…. wait for the contractor you want. Good ones are rarely available on short notice.

  41. actually vertical blinds are a good warning signal if you live in an earthquake-prone area. They start swaying back and forth and hitting each other when an earthquake is in progress. (told from personal experience when I lived in San Diego)

    but seriously, I took down the ones that came with my condo and replaced them with some sturdy drapes.

  42. The last ‘what not to do’ widget is straight out of the A Touch of Class catalogue…anyone else remember that from the 90s? Last I checked their website was still around and they are still selling the exact same products from back then 😁

    Very entertaining, Laurel!

  43. Great post today, had me laughing! I had a neighbor who put clear plastic over all her rugs, so they would not get dirty! With regards to your kitchen, I know how delighted you were with the design process and quality of your original choice. What if it takes you six months to find a new one? You’re still six months behind. Do you think maybe you should just wait the extra six months and go with your original choice? They sure seemed like an amazing business!

  44. As Amanda says, this took me right back to the 80s! Especially the white ruffly curtains, which I wanted but never got. The full window lace curtain was very common when I lived in Europe–in the 80s. Probably their grannies. When you bought laundry detergent for whites, there was usually a before-and-after photo of gleaming white lace curtains (after).

  45. Love this post. And that comment about wearing a slip, Victoria’s Secret, and napalm had me laughing out loud!

  46. May I add to the list — couches and chairs shoved smack up against the walls. So awkward and Granny and so easy to fix. Even if the room is small, seating arrangements look so stiff when they are pressed up against a wall. I’d say 6 inches is a bare minimum for a couch or chair to be placed from a wall. Better yet, let the seating arrangement “float” around the focal point of the room.

  47. I’m so happy to get your advice Laurel, and your posts are always entertaining. I’ve made made many corrections in my home since subscribing to your blog, though I’m happy to say that it’s been only little things–nothing like the horrors that you show here. I’m guilty of a little modern-looking sculpted carpet in the non-public areas of the house. I’m glad to see the advice about lace, so now I know what to do with the Bruges lace I purchased years ago in Belgium. That room with the single table and chair is gorgeous–I could live with that. Have a good day!

  48. After the first big set of pictures with the red question marks, I was wondering how you’d managed to put that horror show together, Laurel. I can’t believe that people are buying that sort of stuff, but if the vendor is still in business…
    Oh well, here’s a nice word for the vocabulary list: it’s all twee. I once saw a blog post about a completely renovated C19 house, the kitchen in cream and travertine was not bad at all, until they added large twirling black knobs to every cabinet and drawer: twee, and another lesson in what not to do. If it’s frilly (and I don’t mean just fabric frills — the not-Aubusson rugs are frilly, like the curlicue knobs and a lot of the artwork in your horror show), keep away from it!
    For Jenny: framing antique lace is a great idea. I think you could probably fix it on to a museum quality acid free card in a suitable colour, using “invisible” nylon thread to sew the top to the backing in several places in order to avoid stretching the lace. I’ve done this with cut brass ornaments which are very thin and fragile, and the needle holes are invisible unless you really know exactly where to look. And of course, hang it where it will never get the sun.

  49. I enjoyed this column. I’m a 73-year-old granny who’s always leaned toward modern in decorating; among other things, I have seagrass rugs on wooden floors, and abstract impressionist art on my walls. I have a horror of Granny Decor, but I don’t call it that. When I see miles of beige brocade with fringe, on the furniture and at the windows, over miles of wall to wall beige carpeting with lots of beige and brown accent pillows and oversized, distressed white painted wood objects appearing here and there, I call that Funeral Parlor Decor. I don’t ever want to come home to that!

  50. Hi Laurel! I totally get it and I’m glad to see that some retailers are going for great, clean design at affordable prices these days. Unfortunately a lot of the drek comes from hobby stores where you find garish florals and lots of kitschy sloganeering. I hate stenciled sayings anywhere. Shoppers see the vast assortment of granny decor crud and assume it’s all acceptable.

    But I myself may have a problem with displaying too many ceramic animals. I know it’s bad but I love big tigers, leopards, lions and Staffordshire dogs. I also love large parrots on sconces. While it’s easy to see that Precious Moments and Hummel figurines are no no’s, what about showing off Meissen Chinoiserie? The general rule is to group a collection together and not to scatter pieces around. But how much is too much when stuffing cabinets and shelves?

  51. I enjoyed the article and especially found the info about too small pictures and hanging art informative.

    I have a question about lace. I have antique hand tatted lace from my ancestors. I don’t know what to do with it. It’s very beautiful and intricate. I thought about mounting a piece or two in a frame of I can figure out how to do so without damaging it. I’m curious, would you consider something like that Granny decor?

  52. So, basically, nearly every middle class suburban home in the 80s… but more precisely, my mother-in-law’s house. Down to exact the rug. I’m a little shocked you didn’t include any photos of bulbous, pillow-topped faux leather, wood-trimmed sofas, Laurel. Surely you didn’t mean to exclude them!

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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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