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Asian inspired living room

Asian-inspired space

During my many years working as a designer, I have visited numerous homes that have been in need of various levels of makeover. Most of them are simply worn out or in need of updating or “sprucing”. However, on rare occasion I run across a house whose “unique” set of design challenges simply make me think, “HUH?!”.

As I drove down the long driveway to a grande, brick house with wrap-around porch and perfectly manicured lawn, I wondered about the interiors of this stately, old beauty. Would it be traditional style inside? Perhaps, French country? Or maybe shabby chic? Hmmm….. I wasn’t sure about this one. As I waited for the homeowner to answer my knock, I decided that my final guess would be “traditional”. Boy, was I about to get the surprise of a lifetime!

As the door swung open, a charmingly, petite woman introduced herself as Lola, the homeowner. She immediately beckoned me into the foyer, where I got a look at the first “tier” of her

French-Country kitchen from Art and Decoration

French-Country kitchen from Art and Decoration

very “broad” taste. Much to my surprise, the foyer appeared to be quite modern, with a chic, white leather chair, clear acrylic side table, and a bright red accent wall covered with abstract paintings in primary colors. WOW. Ok. Unexpected, and not at all what I would have expected as the decor choice for this client OR this home… but nonetheless, it was certainly a well-done job. Moving on…

It was only when I entered the living room that I realized that I MUST be on candid camera. I actually excused myself to the ladies room to check for hidden cameras along the way! I just KNEW my staff had to be playing another crazy joke on me! That HAD to be it, because there was NO WAY that this could be for real! The living room and each subsequent room thereafter…. was a completely different decor style from all the rest! Let me clarify, though. When I say “different”, I mean to say that the living room was decorated completely in botanicals and slipcovered furniture; The kitchen was French Country; The parlor was dripping with fine antiques and porcelain figurines; And the sun room was primarily Asian-inspired! I was aghast and completely at a loss for words when Lola finally ended her tour with the innocent question, “So, I was thinking that maybe you could help me blend everything together a little bit

Botanical living area. Photo from Homes and Gardens.

Botanical living area. Photo from Homes and Gardens.


Ahhhh!!! Honestly, this was one of those jobs in which I wanted to back quietly out the door, mentioning to the homeowner that I would be retiring from the interior design business the next week?! I mean, REALLY!? What the heck could possibly have gone so awry in this home… HOW did this menagerie of decor end up all in one residence? Adding to the mystery was the fact that each and every room was exquisitely adorned with only the finest of furniture and accessories. From the lovely antiques all the way to the modern art, no expense was spared on the decor of this home.

After a long pause, I finally cleared my throat and asked the only intelligent question I could come up with, “So, Lola, if you had to classify it, what exactly would you label the ‘style’ of your home?”

She laughed for a moment before she answered, and here is when I can definitely add…


“I like to classify my house ‘cutting edge’, since I copy pretty much all the new trends from every major design magazine!”

WOWSA! Almost unbelievable to me still!

So, what can we learn from this crazy design situation?

Kelly Wearstler's Modern Foyer

Kelly Wearstler's Modern Foyer

1. DO NOT decorate with trends, simply because they are trends or because you have no idea what else to do. If you do, not only can your house end up looking like a jumbled mess, but it will never feel quite like YOUR home. ONLY incorporate a trend into your home if you love it, and if you can effectively execute it on your own. If you cannot execute the job solo, you may want to consider engaging a designer to assist you. Remember…. trends do NOT stand alone… they should be ACCENTS to your overall design. And when in doubt, err on the side of classic beauty, rather then trendy. Be true to your own design style.

2. Treat your home as a single unit, rather than thinking of each room as a separate entity. The entire house should be considered when decorating communal living spaces. There should be an element of continuity in the overall style, decor, and wall color.

3. Purchasing the most expensive decor does not necessarily ensure a desirable outcome. Yes, it’s fabulous if your budget allows for the highest quality furniture, artwork, and accessories. However, remember that the placement and usage of these elements is often what determines the overall styled look. It might be wiser to invest your dollars in a professional if you are unsure about your design plan.  It will definitely be money well spent!

And I will spare you all of the details of the excruciating process, but let’s just say that Lola did end up with a gorgeous decor that was mainly traditional with an eclectic edge. She was tickled, and I was even more thrilled than she was!

NOW, GO HAVE AN “It’s So Fabulous!” DAY!

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