The Most Important Design Lessons I've Learned in My 30s
I’m only two years into my thirties, but as a design junkie turned prop stylist turned market editor turned creative director turned interior designer, I’ve taught myself a few important lessons about the world of decorating on my journey through editorial and working with clients at Consort Design.
My twenties were all about being risky. I outfitted my tiny New York City studio apartment as if Pee Wee Herman had been given a huge gift certificate to Ralph Lauren Home, I painted my walls insane colors and patterns, and I basically used any space I lived in as a desperate cry for attention. Today, a more laid back outlook has woven its way into my design style. Do I still love color and unexpected choices? Of course! But, as I simmer into my thirties, I find myself following a new set of steadfast lessons learned.
When you’re totally sick of everything you own, a flower arrangement will make it all better. They are the easiest way to turn around both your space and your mood. When I shoot homes for Domaine, the room only comes to life when these unruly characters are added to the frame. I make it a point to swap out flowers in my house every week (or steal them from shoots).
I discovered some of my favorite designers like Marco Zanuso and Jean Royere accidentally online. If I like something, I run a Google image search, find out who designed it, and use 1stdibs and Pinterest to discover everything I can about it. Dig deep and see how other designers are using furniture you love. Your taste level will thank you!
As a digital editor, I’ve always been a huge proponent of click-and-buy. It wasn’t until I began also working as a professional interior designer that I discovered the wonders of custom furniture. Why not have it exactly the way you want it? Source the fabrics and materials yourself and bring pictures of what you want to a local upholsterer. They can make anything you show them, and often for around 20-30% less than something off the showroom floor.
Original artwork elevates a space. Ditch the movie posters and junky thrift store finds and collect artwork that draws you in. Make deals with artist friends, ask galleries about payment plans, and scour sites like Tappan Collective, Saatchi, and Citizen Atelier. Great art is more accessible than you think and will always make your space feel more luxe.
My twenties were all about color, my thirties are all about carefully planned white rooms. Pick a gorgeous white paint and only decorate with furniture and accessories that would be beautiful, even when standing alone. Your home will feel like a very personal gallery.
If you’re in the homestretch to home owning and not quite thrilled with the state of your current rental, make minor upgrades. Paint cabinets, change switch plates, swap out light fixtures, install a dishwasher! It’s oh-so-worth it to add polish in the right places. Consider it rehearsal for the day you buy into your first real fixer-upper.
Go prepared! Bring as much cash as you’re comfortable spending and mentally prepare yourself to spend! Every! Dollar! Have a scratch list of items you need and blaze thru the aisles, stopping only when inspiration strikes!!! Don’t overthink it because you will lose out and leave defeated!!! There’s nothing worse than exiting the flea market empty handed, and there’s nothing better than saying “Thanks, I got it at the flea market, can you believe it?!!!”
Ask yourself this, everytime. If you’re on the fence, pass.
It’s wonderful how casual and eclectic interior design has become because it frees us up to follow our whims. If you think that chair is chic, it will probably fit in nicely with the rest of your stuff. With 21st century design, we don’t have to worry so much about specific styles or “tying it in”. Decorate with pieces that look great and trust it will all come together. Your unique point of view is the thread that will tie a room together.
What are the greatest design lessons you've learned? Share with us in the comments below.