Less Is More In The World Of Good Design

Submitted by Annette M. Callari, A.S.I.D.; CMG

No doubt you have heard the old adage “less is more” many times.  Never has it been more relevant to good design than now.  Have you ever been in a home where every surface was covered with accessories–every wall, every table, virtually, every horizontal and vertical surface available? Anyone who decorates like this may think they are showing their treasures off to their best advantage, but they couldn’t be more wrong.  Collections become clutter, and the assault on your visual senses leaves people feeling claustrophobic and restless.  Not to mention that you lose the beauty of the interior architecture altogether. 

Just recently, I attended a wedding at a multi-million-dollar estate.  The gentleman who owned the home was a world traveler and had the collections to prove it.  A collection of silver and crystal bells, a priceless collection of Faberge eggs, unusual letter openers, fine china from Ireland, hundreds of leather bound books, and the list goes on.  The home looked like a furniture store with curio cabinets lining every wall.  His collection of fine paintings ran the gamut from eye-level to the twenty-foot-high beamed ceilings.  His mammoth antique desk in the library was unusable because it was the showcase for his hundred-piece pipe collection.  I think you get the picture.  The bride barely made it down the sweeping staircase without her veil snagging some priceless artifact.

The lesson imbedded in this story is that this home had become a museum!  Each collection in its own right was valuable, but the impact was lost in the overall clutter they created.  Displaying several well-placed items (and rotating them with others in a collection) is a much better approach and underscores good design.  Look around your home.  If the building blocks of good design are indistinguishable among the “things”, it’s time to start streamlining your accessories. Over-peppering your interiors with bric-a-brac is unsettling and will rob a room of negative space (it’s the undecorated areas that calm your senses and offer visual relief). Make sure that your interiors showcase line, form, shape and space first and foremost.  The rest, in moderation, is just icing on the cake. Here are two images that drive the point home:

Uncluttered image: Line, shape and form emerge with fewer accessories, and the fireplace becomes the main attraction.

Cluttered image: Overdose of accessories takes away from the focal point of the room, which is the fireplace.


10 Quick Ways to Decorate and Update Your Home



Is your home boring and tired? Are all of your walls and floors beige? There are many simple ideas that you can do to spruce up your home and make it feel almost new again.

  1. Rearrange the furniture. Changing the way the furniture is laid out can make a room feel completely different.
  2. Paint an accent wall. This is a fast, easy and inexpensive way to change the look of a room.
  3. Add an area rug. If your floors and walls are all neutral and your furniture is wood and solid colors, an area rug can add color and life to a room.
  4. Change a few key light fixtures. Updating light fixtures can add more light to a room as well as more stlye.
  5. Change plumbing fixtures. Changing facuets to a more updated style and finish can make a bathroom, especially look more updated.
  6. Declutter. Take a serious look around at what you really need versus what you have collected over the years!
  7. Recover or slipcover worn upholstered pieces. If you have chairs or barstools that are worn or the fabric is last decades style, a slipcover is a fast and easy way to get a whole new look.
  8. Add greenery. If your home doesn’t have greenery, adding it can make a room feel more complete. The greenery doesn’t have to be real if you don’t have a green thumb!
  9. Change cabinet hardware. Changing cabinet hardware can change the whole look of a kitchen. Be careful to make sure the replacement hardware has the same type hole as the previous or that the new hardware will cover the old holes.
  10. Add a backsplash. Adding a backsplash is not only a great idea from a functional standpoint, but it can make a room feel put together and stylish!

Trying any of these quick tips can help change the look of a room. Everyone doesn’t need all of these tips, but one might inspire you to get the look that you want. Happy Decorating!