Column: Decorating against the norm


There comes a time in decorating stream of awareness when there is the realization that just because it has always been that way, it does not mean that it has to be that way always.

My defining moment for breaking the traditional gold standards of the way it always is, was when I decided to eschew a traditional headboard for my daughters bed in exchange for anchoring it with a white picket fence gate.

This wild and carefree dismissal of the norm received mixed reviews in the ’80s. My best friend thought it was brilliant and ran out to copy the garden-esque room for her little girl. My mother in law thought it placed me on the other side of the tracks, so to speak.

My offbeat pursuit of the unconventional ensued and rather than ditch the picket fence garden gate headboard, I ditched the mother-in-law.

That gate would be tame today in terms of the creative branch upon which we have thankfully crawled.

The unique is now celebrated with postings on Pinterest and Houzz. When an unusual approach works, it is not just copied by a best friend; it is stored for posterity in digital scrapbooks, lest it be forgotten.

When it comes to your home, your safe place, your sanctuary, be true to yourself. Be authentic.

Trends come and go as a way to sell product. They come in like an ocean wave and they are as temporary as an ocean wave. The only thing constant about a trend is the knowledge that it will change.

It is incredibly easy to get caught up in decorating trends. Magazines and websites are ripe with beautifully appointed rooms that lead the observer to believe that it is the trend that has created the beauty. In reality, it is the fact that the room is well appointed with the basics of good design and paired with a dusting of different color combinations or a different mood.

While Houzz and Pinterest are ripe with ideas that challenge the way it has always been done, there is an art to pulling it off. Just doing the avant-garde for the sake of avant-garde will not guarantee a room that turns heads.

The secret is having a purpose for breaking away from the typical. If you are going to break the mold and paint just a portion of a wall, make sure that you create additional interest with the furnishings relative to the painted area … otherwise it looks like you simply ran out of paint.

If you are going to use a vintage door as a headboard, look at the remainder of the room. Is the goal a shabby chic sort of feel? If not, your vintage door might appear as if was abandoned while on its way to the trash.

If the reclaimed pallet fad is your thing, tie the look together with other “green” elements for the perfect imperfect look.

Creativity is the mother board of all endeavors but just as in writing and painting, every attempt is not a winner.

Don’t be afraid to climb out on that limb of unique but don’t be afraid to move on, either. Consider it an experiment, learn from success as well as mistakes, and most important, get better with each attempt.