I know, I know, to many of you the idea of decorating an empty room feels as horrifying as one of those dreams where you're suddenly in public naked. But I'm going to fix that.
Although decorating a room from scratch is intimidating, here's the truth: If you can dress, you can decorate.
Stay with me. Let's assume on most days you get up and get dressed. You in fact start from naked, though one hopes not in public. (I'm going to plant the seed right now: Naked = Empty Room.)
To assemble an outfit, you — and let's assume for the sake of our discussion that “you” are a put together woman of a certain age — have to make at least a dozen design decisions: Skirt, dress or pants? Which top, which bra, which shoes, what purse, which lipstick, which necklace, scarf or no scarf, sweater or jacket? You get the idea.
You likely move swiftly and expertly through these decisions. As you do, you layer, mix color and texture, accessorize and edit, all while considering comfort, function and your agenda.
Ahem! That's decorating, folks! Pulling together an outfit takes exactly the same skills as pulling together a room.
I ran this analogy by my friend Elaine Griffin, a top New York designer, and author of Design Rules (Gotham, 2009).
“SHUUUUUUT UUUUUP!!!” She emailed back. “I tell my clients ALL the time that designing a room is just like getting dressed in the morning, which you've been doing since you were 12!”
Like me, Griffin wants to see more homeowners check their creative hang-ups at the door.
“Fashion and interior design are first cousins,” said Griffin. “Both acts share the same set of visual rules, which lead to creating a personal design statement.”
Steady now. I know about the teeny weenie differences: Outfits are easy to change. If you don't like what you wore today, you get a do-over tomorrow. And the financial investment in most outfits is much less than what you'd spend on a room, though, come to think of it, I have seen some shoes that cost as much as a nice sofa, which just seems wrong.
I get that decorating raises the stakes, and feels like getting dressed cubed. But you really can do this.
Here are some more parallels between dressing and decorating.
• The purpose. When you get dressed, you automatically factor in the day's agenda. Whether you're going to a wedding, work, or a backyard barbecue dictates whether you'll be dressy, professional, casual or stay in your pajamas. Same for a room. What you will do there determines how you will dress it. Is the space public or private? Is it for formal entertaining, working, or putting your feet up?