(un)decorating made easy

Must have colors for 2011, according to fashiontrends.com

After my unsuccessful bid to become a wedding consultant (why cake is optional), I need to explore other post-career options. Retirement is just a few years away.

Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal covered something last weekend I never thought of, but for which I am clearly gifted.

Interior decorating. Or rather, undecorating. Apparently you can make money helping people achieve a more personal, lived-in look. So I’m going to be a “prop stylist.”

“Perfection is overrated,” says Christine Lemieux in her new book Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design According to the WSJ, “The premise here is cleverness over money, taste over expense, personality over hired expertise, idiosyncrasy over polish.”

Just tape a postcard to a mirror and you are good to go. How creative is that? My favorite example was leaving a bicycle helmet on an end table. On purpose. My wife will tell you I’ve been leaving stuff on the furniture for 35 years. This is a look I can pull off.

Blogs like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge now celebrate the personal, accessible, informal look. Because in this economy, “you make interesting decisions that wouldn’t be made if money were not object—the imperfections, the real life demands are what inspires us,” says Lemieux.

So, if you are in need of inspiration, here are five ways to make your house look lived in. It’s just a teaser list. And it’s free. I’ll take your money when I write the book—Home is where your hat is: misplaced garments and the democratic impulse.

    Have kids. Three or four of them. Have them, adopt them, rent them or borrow them. Kids naturally know how to misplace stuff. Just set a table by the back door and they will build a monument to your artistic license.

    Shop Ebay. One man’s kitsch is another man’s quirk. And quirky is good. What you need is a garden gnome in the yard, a vintage spoon rack in the kitchen, and a shadow box in the living room. Serious undecorating requires eclectic taste. Anything on Ebay that calls itself vintage or collectible will help.

    Lose the tie. I don’t mean lose it as it don’t wear it. I mean lose it in the sense of, well, lose it. Nothing will be more rewarding or refreshing than when a visitor finds it under the guest room bed. It will dazzle and delight them, and they never need to know you bought it at Goodwill.

    Splash the color. This is not just an exercise in nonchalance. So make sure the tie and the bicycle are bright, or deep, or pastel, or whatever color is in this year. You can find this out by walking through Target. But lots of friendly websites would be happy to inform your undecorating taste. (I understand honeysuckle is in this year.)

    Embrace the chaos. In the end you must see your choices as more than a nod to disorder. It is not just decorating on the cheap. It is a philosophy of life. We are rejecting modernism, and the voices of our moms. Symmetry is sterile. We can finally color outside the lines. And in fact we must. We can carry this outside our homes. The lines in the parking lot are not for us. We can park our SUV’s wherever we like. Perfection is not just overrated. It is oppressive.

There is a slideshow of artfully disheveled homes over at the Journal. But you will quickly see that these undecorators have not fully freed themselves from the bondage of the bourgeoisie

Your comments and photos are welcome below.

My recent paean to messiness was only a beginning.

A movement is born.

6 thoughts on “(un)decorating made easy”

  1. Really like this. You absolutely have the makings of a second career here. I just have one question. Where is the line between artful chaos and unqualified catastrophe? As a recovering perfectionist, I am not likely to stray into either, but I am distressed that I may have been living under oppression all of this time. With time and therapy I hope to inch closer to boundaries of nonchalance! There is hope though. I can do quirky. Great post, as usual!

  2. – would you allow us to share a guest post with your blog to raise awareness of the work we are doing to help aid single mommies in need – would be short and sweet and we are willing to repay the favor on our blog at babypickel.com – With a cherry on top :0)

  3. I laughed out loud when I found out that Mom really shouldn’t have been upset by my behavior in high school. I was just giving the family some culture.

    This also means Pilgrim is basically Martha Stewart.

  4. Ha! If they add an “eau de parfum” element they can use my son’s dorm room for the next edition of Better Homes and Gardens!

  5. This must mean my mismatched, hand me down furniture isn’t the sign I’m broke. It just shows how trendy I am! And I’m really great making a room “artfully disheveled” within minutes of entering it. Perhaps this is a new career option for me too…

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