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BrownColour Trends

What’s Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?)

By 10/10/2016February 10th, 201746 Comments

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Recently I received an email that haunted me for days.

This happens often by the way, when you send me a good one. It puts me deeply in my head and sometimes I forget to respond. I really get upset when that happens.

This email from one of my subscribers, was one of those:

“I have been reading your blog for about a year now, and I have learned quite a bit about color and undertones from your books. However, I regret that I have to unsubscribe from your blog.

You see my house was built in the Tucson brown trend and believe it or not it seems to be still going strong here in Oklahoma. As a result, I get depressed looking at all the beautiful fresh and clean white interiors, and until I am able to build a house I won’t ever have a house that is fresh, clean and white.

I finally talked my husband into painting the kitchen (used your book of whites and big samples to pick the color)  and it looks so much better but the counters and floors are still brown. He refuses to paint the trim and replace the doors especially since nothing is wrong with them.

I thought we could move but most of the houses in this area are the same, so every house I look at, I want to change everything in it. Hence, the reason I am giving up until we can build.”

I did respond to this one but it took me a few days.

For all of you who often feel that way, my first piece of advice would be to stay off Pinterest. Even I get depressed when I see the fabulous architecture of so many interiors. They’ve ruined it with their new, bad, unrelated ads anyway.

So here’s the thing. There are very few homes that cannot be transformed with some lighting, styling and new accessories.

In fact, if I had to live a house that was white or brown but the white one was not styled or didn’t have any lighting, I’d choose the brown house.

I’m serious. Those of you who are cranky about your house, you think it’s about the colour but it’s not.

There are so many unnecessary and expensive paint jobs I have saved my clients from simply by introducing some great styling.

If you can paint, by all means. But if you’ve painted what you can and there’s still too much brown in your house, well then it’s time to break out the accessories.

Giving a not-so-awesome room a new focal point, with a new vignette on the mantle, or the entry table, or your kitchen island will help a lot!

When my nephews came over for pizza night this week, William said my new family room transformation made this space his new favourite.

When I dropped in to visit my sister Elizabeth this week, William had pulled out several Christmas ornaments and she said it’s just a matter of time before it all comes out. Last year both my nephews pulled out Christmas in early November because they love the sparkly lights.

So I decided to get some more decorative pumpkins and we made a quick trip to HomeSense for some accessories on Saturday in the pouring rain.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

This is what Elizabeth’s kitchen looked like when we photographed it after the new subway tile was installed a few years ago (above).

That’s the first step. Replacing backsplash tile is not expensive. Elizabeth had a dark travertine backsplash which was a very common installation during the tuscan brown trend.

Related post: My Sisters Fresh New Backsplash: Before & After

If you need help with the colour, you can go here to get an e-Design consultation.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

At HomeSense we bought a cutting board in the shape of a whale (my nephews are studying the ocean right now, she’s homeschooling them and they are into whales) and since Elizabeth is always baking, I found this coordinated pedestal with a glass cloche over it. Notice how it adds height to this vignette.

Then we dropped in at the local nursery and picked up a little Cypress topiary and a terra cotta pot to plant it in. They are outdoor plants but if you don’t let them dry out, they last at least a month or more inside. My last Cypress tree lasted 6 months. Then you can just get a new one if it drys out.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Notice I repeated the green and cream in the gourds I chose to coordinate with this vignette.

You hardly notice the brown countertops now that there’s something pretty to look at.

And that is my point. If you’re depressed looking at your brown house, this is what’s missing.

This is the other side of her kitchen:

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Elizabeth wanted blue in her kitchen and it wouldn’t have worked to paint all the walls blue because her countertop has so many colours in it already and no blue. So we found the art in the adjoining living room (at HomeSense) and then chose the blue which is P&L 27-22 Lovebird. Then we repeated it in the artwork on the pantry wall (above).

Related post: The Minimalist Way to Inject Colour (My Sisters Blue Accent Wall)

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

This was the vignette she’s had here all Spring and Summer, time for a change.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Elizabeth had found some amazing large pinecones while hiking this Fall, so we arranged them in glass vases that she had to repeat the brown in the table lamp.

The framed picture above the HomeSense scene is a painting by William.

I brought over the blue and white ginger jar from my house and then we picked up some faux sunflowers to add a hit of permanent happy to the whole thing!

Well, until the Christmas decor comes out anyway 🙂

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Notice that I have a collection of different size pumpkins and they are orange, yellow and white. And all 3 colours are found in the painting.

And pumpkins are an inexpensive and colourful way to add Fall to your home!

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

And don’t forget the votives. . . this vignette looks so pretty at night with the candles burning.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Here’s Elizabeth’s back entry (which is really where everyone comes in from outside). You can see her Turquoise & Red Family room on the right.

Related post: Elizabeth’s Turquoise and Red Family Room: Before & After

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Here’s the new Fall vignette. We only added white pumpkins here, because orange pumpkins won’t coordinate with the red in the adjoining room.

Elizabeth and the kids go for lots of walks and a collection of rocks and sticks have gathered on the entry cabinet and on the windowsill above it, so I incorporated them into the tablescape.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Just pile them up and add some hazelnut shells with a little puppy peeking over the stone wall.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

To keep the white candles looking nice, I suggested that she replace them with votives when she wants to light them. Easier, and votives have a shelf life because they only last about 4 hours. Then you can light them and almost forget about them.

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

Here’s the other side of Elizabeth’s entry:

What's Missing if Your House is Not Trendy (Who Cares?) | Maria Killam

BM Moonshine

What do you do with an awkward wall with a railing on it? Arrange some starburst mirrors.

So there you have it, there is no shame in copying anything and everything that’s out there. There’s nothing original anywhere so if you see something you like, just copy it and bring some happiness inside your house!

Trends come and go and it’s impossible to keep up with them! Even my white kitchen feels dated right now because I don’t have any gold fixtures or hardware. Oh well. The list goes on because trends change constantly.

And it’s the reason why all conversations about classic and timeless with me come right back down to subway tile.

Boring it might be to you, but it’s hard to argue with the timeless factor.

Related post: Boring Now Equals Timeless Later

I’m flying to DC today because my Specify Colour with Confidence workshop starts Wednesday! Then Terreeia (pronounced Maria with a T) and I will stay in DC for the weekend and be tourists before we go to Charlotte where my course will be at the Carmel Country Club right before High Point.

Traci Zeller will be reviewing the course (she is famous on this blog for being the first TCE) and she’ll also be sharing with us how she does her “Designer in a Day” consultations. Traci has come a long way in her career and business since doing my very first workshop 7 years ago.

The reason why it’s so hard to figure out how to charge for services is because everyone does something a little different. So in order to figure out how much YOU should charge, it’s super valuable to hear other ways of doing it.

Register here if you’d like to transform the way you see colour!

Related posts:

How to Create an Ethereal Colour Scheme

Thanksgiving in the Country 

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

9 pins


  • Lucy HAINES says:

    Good post busy girl! Both your fall makeover and your sisters is stunning. It is fun to change the look for the seasons. I have fall silk flowers stowed away for my fall table. Every year I add different items to it so that it never looks the same from year to year. When I walk in I feel like I am in a new house. Hopefully your subscriber did not stop reading your blog. If she did she will be missing so much! Your advice is so succinct.

  • Nancy says:

    Oh just love what you guys have done to your sisters house 🙂

  • Barbara Barker says:

    Dear Maria,
    This post about how to deal with outdated colors has really brightened my day. My husband and I are getting our New England colonial ready to put on the market next spring. Even though we have done much to bring our house into this trendy new century, we have not one wall painted what I call ” Millennial Gray.” Speaking with real estate agents is depressing, because that is all they want to see. I will take your helpful hints to heart as we try to find a middle road and get this place sold!

    • Susie says:

      Barbara, I hope you find a realtor with some common sense! I was worried about the same thing when listing our cape cod style home last spring, which was painted with golds, greens and beiges. She told me not to worry, it all flowed and looked great with our furnishings. No negative feedback from any buyers and it sold quickly and near asking. I would guess your traditional home will be fine without millennial gray!

    • Lisa says:

      LOL 🙂 As a millennial, your comment made me chuckle.
      I do love “Millennial Gray”, and my house was painted in that color when we bought it a couple of years ago. But, I soon realized that I would have to paint over my beloved gray because it just did not work in my house with the lighting. So, you need to stay true to what works in your home.

  • Ange says:

    Great advise for those of us who, because of limited finances, haven’t kept up with the new trends. I just shook things up a bit by moving pictures from one room to another and the my “BIG shake up” was flipping the little used living room with the family room. The living is now my office. By removing the desk from the family it gave us more room for everyone to visit. I’m loving the new look. I’m re-reading your ebook and hopefully I can re-paint the walls shortly, which will give me another new look. Thank you for all your do.

  • Fran says:

    Hi Maria, I love the fall vignettes you created at your sister’s house, especially how you worked in the blue and white ginger jar to tie things together! As for outdated colors, my house is full of them, but I love my greens and golds as well as my glazed kitchen cabinets. Over the last couple of years, I’ve worked in some blue and white porcelain as well as some fresher (lighter) greens. I’m sure these colors will come back around in a few years, and I’ll be right in style! 🙂

  • Lorri says:

    The thing with brown is that you can add lots of cream, and it’s beautiful. Brown isn’t a problem; it’s endless brown that is the problem.

    I like classic, but I also like individuality. One reason trends can end up so disappointing is that every element seems to come as a package deal. You see a certain counter top with a certain cabinet and a certain pull or knob . . . and everything looks exactly the same everywhere you go.

    Just painting cabinets and trim, or changing the back splash or just the counter top can relieve all the sameness and endless brown.

  • Carolyn Hyman says:

    I have a houseful of stained oak woodwork, a bespoke natural cherry kitchen table with custom chairs as well and if Joanna Gaines walked into my house right now, she would paint this gorgeous table white. Which would ruin it. Who paints natural, oil rubbed cherry wood? People who don’t know anything about wood. You know what will happen in about 10 years? Stained trim will be the thing to do because it’s all about making you spend money to change your house. Do what you love. Do what makes you happy every single day. Even if it’s not the cool thing. If you love your Tuscan Brown (and judging from my neighborhood, plenty of people still do) then enjoy it. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about something that you love. Everything looks dated eventually.

    • Kelly Scott says:

      I agree! I moved into a house with lots of honey oak woodwork. At first I hated it, but then I noticed how well it fit with the house’s woods & water setting. I had existing soft yellow and green furniture, and following Maria’s blog, I decorated with teal accents with some cognac to tie in the orange woodwork and included a few repeats of the existing green and yellow. It looks fantastic, and I’d take it over a new white and gray house any day, mainly because the stained woodwork and more natural interior decor feels correct for the house’s setting.

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I feel so bad for your reader. There is nothing worse than being depressed by your own home. I hope she takes your advice & accessorizes with some light/white things to freshen up her space.
    If her husband is refusing to paint the trim maybe he just doesn’t like to paint. Can’t she do it herself? And paint the doors too. Painting is always the easiest thing to do to freshen a space.

  • Linda M. Snipes says:

    I think too much is made of trends. I have always preferred green, yellow, gold, browns, blues, orange, and rose. I have consistently used them in 4 different homes over my 50 year marriage.
    Too much is made of staging as well. Everything in my home that is displayed is antique or handcrafted–collections of folk pottery, Indian pottery, handmade baskets, original framed art.
    When people see my home, they always like it and say there is something about it. It is that it is not like anyone’s else’s home. You won’t find it in a magazine or on pinterest.
    It’s because a home is personal and should reflect the people who live there.

    • Kathy says:

      I agree. I wonder about those staged homes where everything is new–looks lovely but impersonal. Why go to a store to get that “collected look” when you can use your own items that have meaning to you. Of course some people prefer to start with a clean slate, or prefer others to make such decisions for them, or rearrange things for the sake of a Pinworthy picture.

      I too have used mostly the same colors in my home since I first got married and invested in handmade rugs and textiles that I love, and artwork by friends and family. Twenty years and 7 homes later, they are still going strong, although various other things have changed with each move, and some items are changed seasonally.

      I’m sure Maria would agree that a home should reflect the owner, not just the latest trends. She has said so many times in her blog. She used things that meant something to her sister and nephews in the example, just augmented to tie everything together.

      Sometimes it does take a fresh eye to bring new life to a decor. Perhaps her former subscriber will resubscribe and recruit a friend to help her see things anew with some accessories.

    • Debra says:

      Linda …you are so right !

  • Katy says:

    I’ve lived all over the US and I’ve learned the key to good homes is whether things are Honest vs “faux”, (there’s nothing wrong with Spanish tiles) and whether people take cues from the location and setting of the house.(adobe round walls in New Mexico are cool).

    a rancher in oklahoma is going to call for a different look than a Southern beach house! Everything is beautiful in the right context. I lived in TX for a while and had more earthy colors than i wanted but it fit that particular house.

    I concur that a Pinterest break is good for the soul!

    • aprilneverends says:

      I agree so much. With every word you’ve said.
      (Except for the Pinterest break-it doesn’t depress me at all. I like how it’s quiet and beautiful))

    • Nancy says:

      Excellent point! I find creating a Pinterest board where the fixed element is in the right context and part of good design to be motivating to see how to work with it. Just gotta ignore the stuff that won’t work in your house.

  • sandyc says:

    I hope your writer will try again before she gives up. It is easy to get depressed when you can’t change things, but if she sticks with following you and takes your advice, she can be happier. You’re so right about Pinterest, and even HOUZZ can be pretty lame. Often I just google “images of …” (Tuscan trend, for example) and I get tons of pix, some OMG! ones but some really pretty and inspirational ones.

    With regard to trends, I just realized recently how bored I’ve gotten with so many bloggers’ homes that are white and blue (or white and grey) throughout every room of the house – it becomes a “seen one, you’ve seen them all”. What I’ve actually found myself doing is going to the pix of your house in STYLE and referencing your wonderful post on carrying color throughout your house and laughing in delight. I learned so much from you and, although I haven’t done everything I want to do in my house, I do love what I have done and I do smile every time I walk through it (and any trend is with a very small “t”).

  • Shirley Baker says:

    Yes, ain’t it the truth. When we compare and find ourselves wanting, it brings us down. This is not just with houses but with everything. Loved seeing your pictures of your sister’s house. I love the fall decorative touches.

  • Susan says:

    Maria, this was a fantastic post. The majority of homeowners will never have the perfect on trend homes that are shown on Pinterest and Houzz. Make the most of what you have to work with and use paint colors that are classic and then change up the accessories and artwork. Use accent colors that make you smile. If you don’t like a trend…don’t use it. Example, Sherwin Williams color of the year for 2017, Poised Taupe. I think it is a very difficult color to use attractively. Use items that are meaningful or memorable to you; the seashell you found on vacation while walking along the beach or pine cones from the evergreen in your back yard for Fall & Winter decorating. Do what makes you happy!

  • Krista says:

    Thank you for writing this post.

  • Laura Neuman says:

    Well said Maria! I just came from a design consultation where the homeowner only want to talk about paint color. This happens to me all the time! I tell my clients that paint color is only the beginning and If they think the room is boring or drab in brown paint it will most likely still be boring and drab with the walls painted white. The wall paint will be the beautiful canvas on which the rest of the decor shines – lovely artwork, lighting, accessories, fabrics and furnishings.

  • Chris says:

    I agree 100%…what in the heck are we doing to ourselves, to our peace of mind, when we start get obsessed with looking at pinterest, instagram and blog posts of amazing houses. We are driving ourselves nuts for no good reason. I too get depressed occasionally when I think there is just so much more to do to get my house looking like a Houzz pic. It is a no win situation. I already spent 80K on renovating my new house to try to get the 90’s out of the house. Yes that is a lot of money for me and no, it did not go very far in fixing it in the Seattle area. I could easily spend another 100K, and another 100K again just on landscaping…it is getting ridiculous. All these “fixes” are so much, much, much more expensive than we are lead to believe. And no matter how you do your house, it will be “out” in a few years again. Trends no longer last 10 years, they are currently only lasting about 3 years because we all get tired of seeing them – even before we have them – because of all the endless pics. I’m trying to forget social media and perusing endless “inspirational” pics (no more…except for a few bloggers like Maria) and look else where to satisfy my creativity and look for joy just by being with my loved ones and my dogs and try to love what I have and be grateful every night that I have a roof over my head. Don’t mean to be Debbie Downer, but this post did resonate with me too.

    • Charlene Burdett says:

      Exactly!! Comparison is the thief of joy. All the trends and ‘new’ ideas are merely to make us unsatisfied with what we have, and convince us that we need to spend that $100,000+ to ‘fix’ it. And then the next trend and the next colour and this mood and that mood! I can’t even keep up with what is ‘current’ in drawer and door pulls!! Haha! It’s an illusive, expensive ideal that you’ll forever be chasing if you fall for all the trends. That’s their job, to make you unsatisfied with what you have so you’ll take the plunge. Repeatedly. I think finding out what YOUR style is, and being confident in that choice is the best idea. Little nods to trends in accessories can brighten up a home without the perpetual chase.

  • Suzan says:

    I have brown stained woodwork and doors, and the kitchen viewed from the living room and family room has brown wood cabinets. My father lovingly stained everything when the house was built.

    What goes with brown? Loads of colors! And loads of furnishings. We have things from all over the world, and a huge red Persian rug from the 1930s in the living room. A gold mirror, yellow striped chairs, bronze framed art from Asia, a big basket of red flowers and it all looks fresh and comfortable. I wouldn’t want to live in a lot of those Pinterist homes. I want my father’s brown stained woodwork and the things I love around me, and well arranged they look wonderful. It’s all in the arranging and as Maria pointed out, the little accessories make a lot of difference! (I’m bringing up a big, shiny black vase and loading it with fall leaves and yellow flowers to go with the little pumpkins, and adding some black and white photos in frames of my family.)

  • Tina says:

    A great post, Maria. I just love the idea of vignettes and to give it a change occasionally. At the end of the day we have to live with what we have but can make small changes here and there to make the space more interesting and pleasing to the eye. And, I agree with Chris, of being grateful for what we have. B’H.

  • Jan says:

    I can not imagine anyone unsubbing from your blog. I have popped into many and have never found another blog that offers so much information and value. For FREE! The vignettes are beautiful as always. I don’t live in a Pinterest house nor a styled house. I live in my home. Any vignette I would create would be rapidly rearranged by a 3 and a 4 yo granddaughter. If not them it would be my husband walking by, snagging a pumpkin to see what a new power tool could do to it. If not them it would be a cat deciding they were cat toys, right after they had eaten the flowers and barfed them on the floor. I have cabinets I want to paint and have just not had time to deal with it, but I do have white trim, my beloved BM Revere Pewter on my walls and beautiful medium tone wood look tile throughout the living areas of our small French Country home. I do what I can to make our home presentable, comfortable and an enjoyable place to live but it is a process. Your blog saved me last year from doing a more grey tone flooring (lots of $$) Every single blog gives me ideas that I can then modify to suit our needs and my taste and I would not miss one. I appreciate your common sense approach and leanings toward timeless. I am sorry your reader is so unhappy in her home. Maybe it was just a down moment and she will be back. Soon I will get the white slipcovers I have been coveting on Pinterest for sofas that are a depressing brown. Then the 2 pups will run in from the yard, leave muddy footprints all over them and I will laugh out loud about wanting them in the first place. I am so thankful for everyone in my life and when I die I hope my house not being Pinterest worthy is the worst anyone has to say about me. 🙂
    Oh and I too am in OK. Not seeing the Tuscan Browns in my area. Thank you soo much Maria for all that you give.

  • Janice says:

    Thank you for writing this post. The original question and your response struck a chord with me and I really appreciate your thoughtful reply.

  • Tanya says:

    This is pretty much my mom’s advice to me, oh so often: stop obsessing over the walls and decorate around what you have now. She has no boards on Pinterest, but she is my ultimate decorating inspiration. My mom has a very traditional style, and she isn’t trendy, except to add pops like Maria suggests. Her colors aren’t the most in, her walls are gold with oak trim and floors and she doesn’t have a lot of “clean” colors (though mercifully no Tuscan), but her house could be in House Beautiful or Traditional Home any way because she knows how to use what she has and decorate with that rather than getting sidetracked by every tend. It is cohesive, has yin and yang (old and new, complementary colors, balance in the decor, etc.), and her biggest decorating problem is that at 74 she still has to do Thanksgiving because no one in the family can imagine a warmer and more cozy, but beautiful (elegant but not at all stuffy) place to go for the warmest coziest holiday of all!

  • Susie says:

    Your reader’s email haunted me, also. I read this last night and can’t keep thinking about how desperate she seemed. Over interior design? I think you offered some great tips to help her enhance what she has. Very few people live in their vision of a perfectly decorated home. I do hope she can find a way to make it hers and embrace it. It seems so drastic (and costly) to build a new home. I love reading your blog. Your free advice helped me stage two homes (that were not painted in trendy colors) for quick sale. The home we live in now is tiny and dated, but we love living here, primarily because we are a happy family, but also because the changes we’ve made to it are classic, comfortable and harmonious. Thanks for your great advice.

  • Ishtar says:

    The vignettes look contrived, fake, and meaningless.

    Especially with the “here’s the obligatory random book nobody’s every read, placed in such a way nobody could even read it, that I’m just pretending to casually have laying around”. Under a chess board? Come on, that’s not how you store books, especially not books that are read, which is the illusion vignette books are supposed to give: that books which are used are randomly strewn around the house.

    The whole thing looks FORCED, and fake, and plastic, and cheap, and shallow.
    Like the home owners have no personality whatsoever, nothing of themselves to put into the decorating of their living space, and the only thing they know how to do it to buy things and then try to pretend to have a personality.

    • SDC says:

      Ishtar –

      Question: Did writing this comment make you feel proud?

      Apparently MISSING from among the books you have randomly strewn about your home – you know the ones you use and read all the time and wouldn’t be caught dead including in a vignette- is one on civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society.

      I’d recommend you start with ” Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct (2002) by Dr. P.M. Forni. He’s a Professor at Johns Hopkins University and co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project.

    • Sue says:

      Ouch. Not everyone has a closet full of “meaningful things” to use for decor. I, like Maria did here, take the few meaningful, collected, inherited items I have and combine with current items I find. Plus, this is a young family that hasn’t had years to “collect” like maybe you have. Don’t want the “museum look” either!

      • Tanya says:

        Lol to SDC’s comment! Yes…a book on civility and manners would look nice strewn about Ishtar’s rooms 🙂 It is sometimes tempting to be brutally honest when you are anonymous, but really, it is a blog about decorating,not a blog about how to perform heart surgery. Maybe when you disagree and lives aren’t on the line, saying nothing is better.

        • Tanya says:

          Also, after going back to look at the vignette, I really think there is nothing overly contrived here, contrived yes, b/c that is how vignettes are. But the point of the vignettes is to include anything you find pleasing to the eye, and that helps you create a pleasing well-balanced moment in your house. These are the points that give the eye a place to rest and provide a beautiful moment in what might normally be a less-than-perfect lived in house. Some stylists believe that our homes are our personal museums (among other things) where we can display what we love and be as personal as we want in what can be an impersonal world. It allows us to sit and look at what we love…our books, our families in pictures, and yes, even a well made wooden chess board. Even if we don’t know how to play chess or never want to learn!

    • Barb says:

      Perhaps the tone of Ishtar’s response was a bit too harsh but …he/she is entitled to their opinion (let’s not jump on the “judging/hater” bandwagon). I do agree that vignettes can look fake, plastic and cheap….especially when all of the objects in a grouping come from big box stores (these tend to be poorly made items from China). Maybe when we are thinking we need to buy something to refresh our homes we might consider buying from a local craftsperson/artist instead of a big box store (buy less …buy better). If cost is an issue then perhaps a good alternative is to look for interesting second hand items, try making something ourselves or swap with friends. Of course, items from nature always offer a free/inexpensive way to link your home to the changing seasons and provide visual interest.

      • Liz says:

        I do like your comment about perhaps not buying cheap imports. They are junk. I don’t care how cute/nice/stylish they look, but really? They are poorly made, are discarded after limited use/display usually, and create landfill and I just find it really hard that these things are seen as a good way of making a house a home. Sorry!

  • Kathy says:

    I recently came home from a trip out west, and while I am usually happy to come back to our wonderful beach house, this time it felt dim and lifeless. I spent a couple hours pulling out the fall decor stuff, making new arrangements for the kitchen island, the dining table, foyer table, mantle, etc. including some blue and some white pumpkins I had picked up at trader joes and phew ! My husband and I both felt reenergized ! It was the first time he ever really appreciated my “stylizing” and how if makes the house feel.

  • Jane Beard says:

    This is SO SO HELPFUL! And yes, I’m shouting.

  • Stacee Connelly says:

    Let’s see pictures of your house, Ishtar…

  • Cynthia says:

    ” comparison is the thief of joy” not sure who said it but so true. I too encourage your reader to stick with you and find things to color her home happy, for her and her family! Not for Pinterest or anyone else. Trends really are coming and going so fast now, it is impossible to keep up. So… choose what you love These comments are totally a reminder to myself also. I too get stuck in the I want a new house. I try to remind myself, HOME is what I want.
    Thanks Maria, you keep it real and encouraging.

  • elle says:

    Appreciate your blog and the comments, Maria. I luv vignettes and instead of moving rooms and furniture around (oh my aching back) I make vignettes! So fun! I luv books and I know where they all are and if I have to lift one out from under a chess board or candlestick I do and just rearrange the styling! ;^)

  • M says:

    Great post. Wow, LOVE what you did with the front entry and demonstrated that you can achieve a different look without changing the furniture, lamp or large wall art. Would love to see more posts like that!
    However, to be honest, I never care for the books lying around with objects on them. It’s just too staged and phony. Like a book stand with an open cookbook in a kitchen. Eye roll.
    Would love to see more vignettes without book props

  • Susie says:

    Great post Maria! I have a lot of brown in my house, but changing out throw pillows, accessories and adding some black and white photos has totally transformed my home. Also, the major thing I did was paint the interior SW White Dove and I love love love it. I don’t consider my house “Tuscan” anymore!

  • Alice Dean says:

    Wow Maria . . . looks like this was a much needed breath of fresh air for many readers, including myself. I’m in my mid-50’s now, and having seen many design trends come and go, sometimes have felt concerned for others who become almost obsessed with being “on-trend”–when everything is just going to change again soon anyway. I could not agree with you more that the wisest and most economical approach to design is to focus on timeless style and what we actually like, and, when money is tight to make small affordable changes. Wonderful advice about accessorizing to freshen things up and to not allow trends to depress us. And, as many readers have mentioned, it’s important to not let less-important things distract us from things of actual substance (like our family relationships and experiencing joy) by the world of Pinterest and the like.

    Thank you for a wise and compassionate reply to your reader–it has benefited many of us 🙂

  • Barb says:

    Great post Maria and great comments from your readers. So much wisdom!

    In my opinion, the best houses are ones where it is obvious that full, joyful lives are being lived. These homes are typically not perfect from a design standpoint (and many would likely be considered “dated” in design/real estate circles) but they are beautiful and charming. They are not beautiful because they are perfect but rather because they are perfectly imperfect (quirky features, unique colour combos, age patina, art/collections…). I remember when this type of home was actually featured in magazines and they were way more appealing than the bland, white/gray minimal houses that constantly appear in the shelter mags and online now. Of course, even these “on trend” homes are starting to look “dated” so now we see the return of warm metals – brass and copper and so it goes. It is good for us all to remember that trends are just part of the endless (and environmentally unsustainable) consumer marketing machine. Step off the trend track and stick to what you truly love and you’ll be happy with your home for years even as trends come and go.


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