Monday, May 6, 2013

Fashion is Fickle, So is Decor

Do you ever get tired of trying to stay in style? Whether it is shoes or sofas, styles change rapidly and often. I don't know about you, but I think trying to stay "with it" is expensive and elusive. By definition, to be fashion forward is to hit a constantly advancing target. The transitory nature of design has led me to follow three rules when making purchases.

First, choose things that are classic. Look at an item and ask yourself, "Will this seem weird or dated in a few years?"

I am sorry, if I offend, but gilded tree trunks may fall into this category.

DYI project from
 The same goes for colors. A few of us remember avocado appliances.
And thirty-somethings probably recall their parent's forest green den.

So, let those flashbacks be a caution sign. Green is the color of the year, but go slow before purchasing a green sofa, no matter how "cool" it seems.
photo from
Try, instead, a less costly venture. Try a green throw or green lamps.

Warn yourself not to fall for fads that have come and gone previously. I seem to remember a booth in my aunt's kitchen, when I was a tiny little girl, which leads me to wonder, "If I get a builder to put in stationary seating in my kitchen, will the next home owner just have it demolished?"
Or I ask myself the question another way. "Will this trend date my space?" What would your answer be to that question, if you were considering this coffee-table-on-wheels?
My recommendation is: if there is a hesitancy that this will not stay a forever-favorite, don't buy it.

Which brings me to my second principle: choose personal perennial favorites. I have an all-time favorite color which always makes it a safe choice for a room. But, since purple, turquoise, and magenta aren't on my favorite list, I won't buy even a pint of paint that color.

Ok, maybe you don't think you are easily led into following the design leader, but Madison Avenue is sneaky. How often do think about buying something, because you have seen it "in the magazines"? It is easy to get tempted to make a purchase, when you know the item is all the rage.

For example, you see a grisaille mural at an antique mall. Truly, it is an unbelievable deal. And besides, there was a mural just like this on the cover of Veranda,
The Harvard Museum
but ask yourself, "Have I been dying for a picture of nymphs in my dining room?" If the answer is no, walk away. Chances are, you will be relieved you didn't buy on impulse.

Personally, I don't really like modern and mid-century styles. However, a few times I have been tempted to buy a lamp or a a painting, because I don't want my home to get dowdy.  It is important to  remember, "To thine own self, not to Madison Avenue, be true."  

This leads me to my third axiom: be sure purchases fit my worldview. What do I mean?

Well, think about what the piece says philosophically. I have seen variations on the Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portrait in Architectural Digest and on Pintrest.

But, Marilyn was an unhappy woman in unhappy marriages; she was a sex symbol not a noble or accomplished woman, and she committed suicide. Would I want one of my daughters to emulate her? Of course not. So, I wouldn't be tempted to have her portrait in my house?

The same goes with Mao.
My word, he was king-of-human-rights-abusers, overseeing the deaths of 40 to 70 million people. I really would not have wanted to live in China in his day, so neither will you find his portrait in my house.

Ok, these are obvious examples, but you get the point. It helps me to think about what my accessories say about me, my lifestyle, and my worldview.

OK. Enough moralizing.

Now, time for true confessions. I must admit, I have enjoyed my "hot" orange shoes this season.

I bought them on a whim one winter day, because I was anxious for spring. And, actually, orange goes with an amazing number of things in my wardrobe. Besides, shoe soles wear out much more quickly than does upholstery...Ok, I admit it; I'm rationalizing. But, really, they aren't as bad as...

these pants which I bought a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, I didn't practice what I preach.  I'm already asking myself:

"What were you thinking?"  :)

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