I didn’t watch nearly any design shows before I came to China, but a combination of the eclectic offerings on hulu, and I think a general nostalgia for Western rooms and taste quickly had me watching quite a few of them as a guilty pleasure. In many ways, these shows sort of reinforce my anxiety that decorating and design are duanting, when you’ve got a blank canvas, and you have to make all these color and style decisions.
But I’ve also learned a few simple things by watching them, that I will take to some fictional home in some place when I begin living like a real adult.
And those laws of design would be:
1. I will paint my bedroom grey.
Designers often bemoan the fact that people are afraid or hesitant to use grey, but it’s actually a very soothing, calming color and perfect for a bedroom environment. In fact, one of the things I’ve learned in general about design is that working with neutrals on the walls and in the furniture, allows pattern on the floor or in accents to stand out, which brings me to…
2. I will invest in beautiful, graphic rugs.
Designers like to say that the floor takes up 30% of the room so you need to treat it as importantly as the rest. I love dark, hardwood floors, and bamboo, but what I love even more is a plush rug that grounds and defines an area. My husband and I skimped on rugs in our first apartment because they’re so darn expensive, but now I know that they’re money well-spent. Check out some of these options– I’m a particular sucker for blues and yellows.
3. I will invest in built-ins.
Pretty much every room I admire has some custom built-ins that make every book, every piece of art, every dish look like it’s on display and it was meant to be there. Although built-ins aren’t cheap either, in my mind they are what make rooms looked lived in, polished, and luxe.
Okay, so warning, I’m about to get on my soapbox, but one of the things I can’t stand about design or house hunting shows is people who complain that closets are too small, or things need to be “updated.”
I heard someone recently say that houses are really just boxes to put our things in, and I think this is one reason I’m so resistant to think about “settling down,” because of the stuff we acquire, stuff we begin to believe we actually need. A house is no good if it’s not opened up to others, and closets are no good if they keep convincing us that we need to buy more things to fill them.
In China, many people have just a few pairs of clothes, and the amazing thing is they don’t feel a need to have many more. Before we moved to China, I pared down my own closet dramatically, and it was a liberating feeling.
But these lessons in contrast are quite difficult for me to swallow and live out, too–here I’ve written a whole post on things I want, and now I’m preaching about what I don’t need!