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When I first heard that expression used to criticize a home interior that was polished to perfection, I thought I was going to have to break something. No sooner had I gotten to the point where I could almost pull off a perfect room than I learned that wasn’t the aim.
“It’s not?!” I ask some top designers, who are all in cahoots.
“No,” they assured me. “It’s not.”
“You moved the goal posts!
You might want to sit down while I explain. “Too precious” is designer diss for a home that is too pulled together, too perfect, too color coordinated. And it’s no compliment.
Translated, it means that the time you canvassed three counties looking for drape fabric in a green that exactly matched your throw pillows was likely a waste of time. Ouch.
I never said decorating was easy. But the flip side of this harsh news is that we can stop trying so hard.
I know. I know. Breathe. Hang with me.
“Anyone can match pinks, but that’s boring and false,” said anti-precious designer Katie Leede, owner of Katie Leede & Company, an interior and textile design company in New York.
“When putting together colors, picture the number of blues in the sea,” she said. “Indigo is next to turquoise. In nature, you see spring green next to conifer green and sage, and it’s spectacular. Open your eyes to see how God does it.”
“You make it sound so easy,” I said, but frankly, when I hear design advice like this, I just want to go live in a cardboard box in an alley and drink gin all day out of my shoe.
“When a home is too precious,” said Leede, “besides being just boring, and not showing any uniqueness, it feels uptight, zipped up, as if this is not real life. You feel as if it’s for show, and not for living and eating and talking and drinking wine and messing around.”
“In other words, if we got over ourselves, loosened up and relaxed more when decorating our rooms would turn out.”
“You want a lived-in look,” said Leede
“But not everybody’s definition of ‘lived in’ is the same,” I argued. (Remember, I’m on your side.) “There’s lived in what a mess, and lived in worn and wonderful; just like there are old jeans no one should be seen in, and old jeans faded and fabulous.”
“It’s a fine line,” she agreed. Then, to help steer us away from creating too-precious interiors, she offered these traps to watch out for:
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.