A room which has been decorated with good taste gives an impression of dignity and restraint…Good taste in decoration has nothing to do with expense; it is the outward expression of good breeding and a sense of the fitness or appropriateness of the decoration for the type of room…A room may be decorated in perfect taste and be correct in every way, yet be uninteresting. —Elizabeth Burris-Meyer, Decorating Liveable Homes
Have you ever heard the phrase “Her taste is all in her mouth?” Or, the even more derogatory, “She doesn’t even have taste in her mouth?” The implication is clear: The person is considered tacky, crass, and/or has no taste in what ever is being talked about.
When it comes to decorating our homes, Mrs. Burris-Meyer tells us that all it takes to avoid the “tacky” label is to thoughtfully select our furniture as well as the color and texture of other decorations that are used. We must be careful not to crowd too much furniture and other stuff into a room. The “one object in, one object out” rule must be followed diligently as well as the best quality we can afford.
But Mrs. Burris-Meyer is quick to remind us that good taste reflected in dignity and restraint doesn’t mean that the room has to be formal nor does it mean that we have to spend a lot of money. But we have to be aware of the “big picture” of the room and the kind of personality we want the room to project. For example, in a child’s room, a few Disney-like motifs are appropriate. But, some people go bonkers and every single thing in the child’s room has a repeating pattern of a princess dancing with animals. It is overkill. And makes us look like a “decorating victim” without a personality of our own.
Mrs. Burris-Meyers explains the importance of considering the personality of a room this way,
After a few moments in a room, most people can give a quite complete and accurate description of the owner–not his physical appearance but his likes and dislikes–in other words, his character.
Again, a thoughtful plan goes much further than haphazard decorating.
During my recent vacation with my mother, we stopped into an antique mall. A room dividing screen caught her eye and she was considering buying it. I asked her what she would do with it and she said that she could put it in her bedroom. But she didn’t have an actual plan. She was working backwards–she saw the screen and wanted it instead of planning for a screen in her decorating scheme and then searching for the perfect screen that would fit the plan. After our conversation, she decided against buying it.
About a year ago, I was at a small family party given by my sister-in-law’s sister. Sister and her family had moved into their townhouse about a month before our gathering and we were all raving about the decor. It was sophisticated, family-friendly, and welcoming all at the same time. My mouth hit the floor when she told me that almost everything had come from Ikea. The secret was that she planned everything out in advance using Ikea’s Planner Tools and then it was just a matter of putting the pieces together.
Good taste has nothing to do with money. It has to do with being mindful of the big picture and engaging in thoughtful planning.
The Mister and I are fortunate in that most of our furniture was inherited from our grandparents. But we bought our office furniture–executive desk, credenza, bookshelf, and matching Steel Case file cabinet– second hand from a used office furniture store for about $250 or so. What is your experience with budget decorating?
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