decorating decisions I still like today

by | Apr 12, 2021 | All Things Home, Decorating, Uncategorized | 45 comments

Happy Monday!  Thank you so much for the kind comments and constructive feedback about the new look here on my website & blog!  We will be making changes and tweaks over the next few days to make things even easier to find and navigate.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my decorating style and how it’s evolved over the 12+ years I’ve been sharing on this platform.  I thought it would be fun to look back at the things I did about 10 years ago that I still use and love today.  This is really a great exercise for anyone because recognizing the things that are timeless and have staying power in your home will help you make better decorating decisions in the future.  Here are some of the things I liked then that I still like today…

painted legs & wood tops

I love painted furniture, as most of you know, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like wood!  In fact, most of the furniture pieces in my home are wood.  But, when I paint a piece, I prefer to leave the top wood.  I’ve been doing that since I first started my decorative painting & mural business and I still love the look and practicality of it today.  When I first started painting furniture about 20 years ago, I learned that painted finishes can scratch and mar easier than pieces with a clear finish over natural or stained wood.  It is just a more forgiving finish, especially for tabletops.  So, that is how I’ve finished the majority of my pieces over the past 10+ years.  I also love the warmth the natural wood brings to the party.

(PS – I’m thinking I might paint or refinish that buffet.  It’s always looked a little too orange to me, but I haven’t had a clear vision for it.)

landscape mural | milk paint | miss mustard seed | dining room decor | feel like home book

blue & white

I have loved blue and white for over 20 years and I can’t imagine that ever changing.  I love to paint with blue and white.  I like to wear blue and white.  I want to be the blue or white pieces in a board game.  To me, it looks classic, cozy in the winter and cool in the summer, and I never tire of it.

antique blue & white transferware | miss mustard seed

dishes on the wall

This is one I thought I might grow out of, but I haven’t yet!  I started hanging plates on the wall because it was affordable.  I could find pretty dishes at thrift stores and yard sales for just a few cents a piece, so it was a great way to cover a wall and add vintage style to our apartment.  I still think it’s such a pretty look and I like how it brings 3-dimensional texture and interest to a wall.  It’s also another way for me to display my extensive ironstone collection!

decorating | blue and white | ironstone | antiques | miss mustard seed | feels like home book

the (gently) karate-chopped pillow

I have seen this discussed in articles on decorating trends that are “out”, but I still like a little divet in the tops of my pillows.  I’ve never done the harsh, full-out karate-chop, but I like little indent and pointed corners.  I think it’s a subtle visual cue that the pillows are soft and inviting.  Pillows that are stiff squares can give the impression that they are not very comfortable.

antique grain sack pillows | blue and white | miss mustard seed | feels like home book


I can’t imagine ever being tired of my ironstone collection.  It is one of my very favorite things and I love that it’s such a feature in our home.  It is in just about every room…used as decor, as our daily dishes, as holders for pencils, paperclips, and toothbrushes.  When I’m in an antique store, I still make a beeline for ironstone.  Even if I don’t buy it (which I’m buying less these days since I have so much), I enjoy spotting it and taking a minute to appreciate the maker’s mark and pattern.

ironstone collection | living room shelf styling | miss mustard seed | feels like home book

marble tile

I have always loved the clean and classic look of marble.  It is such a beautiful, timeless material.  In every bathroom and kitchen makeover I’ve done in the last ten years, I’ve used marble for the backsplash, flooring, and/or on the shower/tub surround.

suburban kitchen makeover | miss mustard seed | feels like home book


I was heavily influenced by Sarah Richardson, Carrie Raphael, and Rachel Ashwell when it comes to slipcovers.  They sold me on the versatility and beauty slipcovers can bring to a home, not to mention the ability to give quality upholstered pieces a longer life.  I made my first sort-of slipcover about 20 years ago and have continued to make them for pieces I sell as well as most of the upholstered pieces in our home.  I like knowing I can change the look of any piece and I don’t have to stress about stains and spills.

kitchen table | slipcovers | blue and white | miss mustard seed | feels like home book

I’m sure there are other mainstays in my house, like jute rugs, white cabinets, warm wood tones, quilts & textiles, and more, but I think the ones that made the list are the biggies.

While there are a lot of things that have remained the same, there are a few things that have changed..,

Art & Art Supplies

Jeff and I were watching a documentary on an art heist yesterday and I said, “If I were an heiress or somehow had massive amounts of money, I would become an art collector.”  Of course,  you can be an art collector on any budget, but I mean I would go to auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s and start a serious art collection that I would probably donate to a museum one day.  Anyway, I never would’ve even had that thought 4-5 years ago.  When my mom and I went to Paris a couple of years ago, I wasn’t even planning on visiting any art museums!  Other people talked me into it.  Now, I can’t wait to go to more museums and I’m consistently trolling for new books to see more works from more artists.

All of this to say, creating art has made me a more passionate supporter of other people who create art and I’m using original art more in my own home.

art studio | antique palette | feels like home book | miss mustard seed

It’s also given me a whole new love for antique art supplies.  Since I don’t really *need* or have room for any more ironstone, I have turned my collecting efforts to antique art supplies.

victorian reeve's watercolor box | miss mustard seed

Less rustic/primitives

I still love primitive pieces, but they just didn’t work in this house.  The taller ceilings just the general feel of the house felt at odds with chippy, worn pieces that were smaller in scale.  Those worked great in my little 1940’s Cape Cod, but the style of this house dictated a shift to pieces that are a bit more refined.

raffles arm chair | antiques | miss mustard seed | feels like home book

What are some of your decorating mainstays?  How has your style evolved over the past decade?

Tomorrow, I have a fun announcement to share along with a giveaway, so I hope you’ll come back for that!


  1. Meredith

    I have followed your blog for about 8 or 9 years now, and my biggest takeaway has been to stay true to what I love. I started reading your posts just as we were moving into a new-to-us home.thatvwas original to 1969, waiting for us to gut and reno the whole thing. Initially, I was very caught up in the IG and Pinterest trends of all white everything and I wanted to milk paint allllllll the things. Then we hit burnout (we did all the work ourselves) and pieces that were slated to be painted were put on pause. I am so grateful for that, because after living here for 8 years and sitting with things how they are, I’ve realized I want much warmer tones, more wood and a very cozy, cottage feel. Every time I feel pulled to buy something just to fill a wall, I think of your evolution posts, and remember to just be patient. I am forever inspired by how you use old things for even the most mundane tasks (paperclips in ironstone) and realizing I need to pull more of that into my own home.

  2. Paula

    I love how you have remained “you”! I have followed your blog since the early days and felt connected to your unique use of vintage, antiques and painted items, I have thrifted shopped long before it was cool, economics was the driver. Anyway, keep sharing and your talent is amazing!

    • Suzette

      I have followed you from the very beginning. It’s been wonderful seeing the love you have for different things. One being Ironstone got me hooked!
      Living in S.C. for some reason ironstone is hard to find, so that really made me want to search every where we would go. Mostly in other states.
      I got a great collection that I sold off of a few times because we are downsizing homes. Believe me, I saved a few pieces!
      I’ll soon be placing them in a new home.
      Can you tell me again…who the lady is in the pic?

  3. Cherie

    I agree with you that you can’t go wrong if you surround yourself with things you love. I went through a period of time loving and collecting early American. It’s not easy finding pewter pieces in the Midwest! I did manage to acquire a large collection of pewter, stoneware, coverlets, and some good reproductions. After awhile, I pared it way down, mixing in some of it with more of a relaxed traditional style. I too love white ironstone and blue and white. I collect ironstone, historic Staffordshire, Wedgewood, and Liberty Blue plates. My heart flutters when I see a beautiful Windsor chair or a salt glazed jug with cobalt blue decoration. They will always have a place in my home. I used to enjoy primitives, but I find I am more drawn now to beautifully made cherry antiques and reproductions.

  4. Karen

    What fun to see all you’ve stayed true to over the years. I remember all your chippy furniture and thought how pretty it was & how it works for Marian, but that’s not me.

    I love warm wood patina, and used to mourn all the pretty satin wood, bird’s eye maple, & quarter sawn oak that got painted over. I’ve kept my natural cherry wood panels and cabinets unpainted. I’ve never been a fan of grey, I love creamy ivory tones for my neutrals, including my backsplash tile. And I’ve always had green in my house. (Heck my 13 year old Camry is green, & one of the many reasons I don’t want to replace it is I love the color so much!)

  5. Judi Yingling

    I love the buffet natural. It ties in with the wall trees. Green or white would wash out the room in my opinion only. I love painted furniture….but, some things just look so much better left natural in my opinion only.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, that’s how I feel about the buffet with regard to painting it white or green. It would have to be something different, but I don’t have a clear idea of what. Maybe I would just refinish it to remove the orange-tone poly. I’m not really sure!

  6. Judi Yingling

    I always loved the old and primitive and the browns, greys and black and lots and lots of stuff…..but, NOW….as I am getting closer to 70 I find myself going for the brighter colors and less is more. Less is easier to dust and take care of. Everything doesn’t look so cluttered and I really enjoy all my special things. I still love old things, but I have to have the perfect place to put it before buying.

    I find that the older I get the more I get rid of and keep the more cherished memories of things that make me smile or warm my heart.

    • Betsy

      Your a girl after my own heart! Same age, same mindset.

  7. Diane

    Enjoyed your post today. Your home is beautiful and is a true reflection of you. I am a collector of art. Some pieces done by my father and many by beginning artists when their work was still affordable. I started with limited editions but now I only buy original work. Some as little as 10.00, some much more. I have so much now I am running out of wall space, but the subject matter tells a lot about who I am and what I enjoy.
    I am curious to know if you are left handed as I notice you have all your pitchers facing the same way. When I put a pitcher on a shelf it faces the opposite way. I am right handed. It just caught my attention.

    • Marian Parsons

      Interesting question! I am actually right-handed, but I play most sports as a lefty, so I am sort of a bit of both depending on what I’m doing.

      • jinny spencer

        Diane’s question is mine – whenever I see your bookcases I mentally turn the pitchers on the right side to face the center! I assumed you were left handed.

  8. Tracy Sbordone

    I love your blog update! It’s beautiful! My mainstays are white and blue, but mainly white ironstone.

  9. Cassandra E

    I cannot stand the karate chop…and yet….the subtle karate chop? Perfect. It’s so funny how just the smallest tweak can go from irritating to comforting! (Yes, I have strong feelings.)
    I too have loved white and blue always. I was just looking through clippings I’ve saved for 30 years, and my style is very much the same. The thing is, the home dictates the style a bit, as you expressed. I can go in a couple different directions, I like country pines and I like dark woods. Of course my cottage calls for country pine, and I haven’t the heart to switch out my Grandmother’s dark china cabinet which would be better suited to a more formal house.

    • Kristine

      Cassandra -I think you and I are a little bit alike! I have a house full of mahogany and dark woods (from my mother and grandmother), including my parent’s dining table, but I am jonesing for my brother’s pine coffee table that is at least 30 years old! I call my style Traditional with a Cottage overlay. I think a cottage accessories soften Traditional furniture and make a home feel more welcoming and inviting. Elements like blue and white, ironstone and pretty pillows (mix of plaids, checks and florals) dial up the cozy. And I have notebooks full of clippings from the 1990’s – BH&G, Pottery Barn and various catalogs.

      • Cassandra E

        We do sound alike! I love how you describe your style as Traditional with a Cottage overlay! Wouldn’t it be funny if we had any of the same clippings!

  10. Sue M.

    All I can say is,”I love All Things Miss Mustard Seed”!

    • Amy

      After traveling all over the globe as a military wife for 30 years, my style has changed quite a bit. It is hard not to adopt little things/ideas from everywhere we have lived. Then we returned to the US and my husband retired. I kept thinking I should choose A STYLE, and stick with it. Turns out my style is called “things we love” and they tell our story perfectly! I find when I stray from this idea, our house looks like it belongs to someone else! Thank you, Marian, for not following trends and being a thoughtful decorator and shopper!

  11. Vickie

    Typewriter black for the buffet would be beautiful. Every room needs a little black…just grounds things.

  12. Stacy Smith

    I’ve been collecting blue and white anything since high school and I haven’t stopped – I’ll be 50 in June.
    Blue and white is a classic that is ever fresh.

  13. Susan

    The one decorating advice I commit to is practice of contentment. With that mindset I can deflect the lure of trends, impulse buying, and poor financial decisions.l

  14. Kathy

    I started collecting art when I was in my 20s. As my budget grew, so did the size and type of art I acquired. Not that I have any famous works in my collection, just local artists. The guy who bought my last house told me he really appreciated all the art hung in the house. I was puzzled by this because what else does one hang on their walls? Well, besides ironstone of course.

  15. Kathryn Dawson

    Ironstone, majolica, blue/white transferware, Victorian era bamboo furniture, and a touch of black in every room–these are a few of my favorite things! I’ve been collecting these items for many years and while I rotate my collections frequently, I’ve never tired of the inherent character and beauty of these items.

  16. Dana

    I used to love the Country look, with lots of brown timber, and antiques that were dark. Now I’ve evolved to painted white timber, marble tops, or timber tops; with some favorite antiques thrown in here and there. I’ve been able to cull pieces I don’t really like and just keep the things I love.

  17. Dana

    I used to love the Country look, with lots of brown timber, and antiques that were dark. Now I’ve evolved to painted white timber, marble tops, or timber tops; with some favorite antiques thrown in here and there. I’ve been able to cull pieces I don’t really like and just keep the things I love.

  18. Babs

    I have lived in many different homes…some were unique. Started in a modest ranch in the mid-west, moved to CT and purchased the same modest ranch for twice the money! Moved to a 1940 Colonial Revival in NJ…then to the biggest move of all…moved to an 1829 ante-bellum brick home in Virginia on 36 acres with outbuildings. We now live in a log home on several acres. We love it here but we really need to downsize as the house and property are becoming too much for us. Where to next??? My style has not changed much…still love traditional style with some quirky items thrown in for fun. I, too, refinish and paint furniture which I find relaxing…I love to paint checkerboards patterns on them. I love plates on the wall as art, too. I did read some fancy designer telling people that plates on the wall were out of style. Who cares what some fancy-schmancy designer says…it’s your home,…do what pleases you!

  19. Sabrina

    I love your style so much, and it amuses me that it is not my own! I must be a chameleon of sorts because mine changes fairly often, as do my circumstances. Even so, I have developed tendencies. My homes reflect their heritage and location. So now I love my little old ranch in New Mexico, which is quite different than the cedar clad Alaskan cabin. I have an affinity for green, black and white, natural and folk and primitive art (think feathers, baskets, wood and ivory carving). Oh, and believe it or not, orange, like terracotta and rust. Maybe I’m bohemian? No matter, I love personal, thought design, like yours.

  20. Michele M.

    I have and will always love warm earthy colors – earthy olive greens, beige, brown, off white, black…I always do well with live plants as I have a strong penchant for plant growing. I like peaceful surroundings with touches of modern and touches of rustic (a true transitional but lean towards traditional as I get older.) Like yourself I don’t too strongly chippy/rustic and I do love real wood both stained and painted. I really don’t overdo anything. I seldom go on trend. I like and buy forever stuff.

    I love wine jugs and baskets and wool and linen and touches of vintage ironstone. I always have one or two interesting white teapots in my decor.

    I love your style and your gorgeous home and always enjoy seeing your posts. You have understood your home perfectly. There is an art to being a successful decorator – and it does take house bones as the blank canvas.

    I can never stand ultra high tech modern in an old Parisian flat – makes me skin crawl when house bones are ignored. LOL.

  21. Claire

    I love the way you don’t follow the trends. Your style is so you that when I see pictures on Pinterest that people have pinned, whether it is a room or a slipcover or a painting, I recognize it as yours. Following your blog and watching you embrace your style has given me confidence to embrace mine more. We are building a house in Oklahoma next to our daughter and her husband and my three granddaughters. We live in Augusta, Georgia and the whole thing has been like painting with your eyes closed. Selecting all the things and some new furniture for the living room has been hard having only seen a model for less than an hour. Watching you and other bloggers embrace your style has give me confidence to make choices, including buying another sofa with a slipcover.

  22. Patricia Kasparian

    My mainstays are also blue and white; my love of healthy green houseplants in every single room and lots of varieties; pretty curtains are a must and bring in pattern, and I’m def a seasonal decorator, like you are. My home needs rugs but I can never make a choice for those, that’s my decorating weak spot, if you will.

  23. Cynthia

    Hi Marian,

    I love the new website~ it has an elegant simplicity, and your photos’s come off beautifully.

    Thank you for apprising me of the karate chop..:). I’ve never heard it in those terms, and I myself give my pillows a slight chop~ so that’s it’s not to obvious although it’s there.

    Thanks for sharing so much with all of us~. I needed some sunshine today and I felt calmed by this post as everything looks so refined and comfortable.

    Be well,

  24. Cheri Dietzman

    My biggest mainstay is ANTIQUES – getting my first antique when I was in 3rd grade– a drop front desk (from my Grandma for my birthday). From the time I was in elementary school, I joined my mom and grandma going to antique shops. I purchased the antique bedroom set when I was 20 and refinished it myself. Our first apartment was adorned with antique furniture, dishes, family treasures, art, and some ironstone.

  25. Kate

    Haven’t been able to view your website for a while. Just to let you know – the new print for titles of your blog posts is quite hard to read. Typing this comment is quite difficult too. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit older. I love your blog and decorating!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you, Kate! Yes, we’re going to address both of those concerns. They are already on my list!

  26. Kathie B

    I love the new look. I’m missing the arrow that takes you to the previous post. Loved this post.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, we are trying to add those back in. Until then, you can click “next” and “previous” at the bottom of the post page.

  27. Kristine

    Like many others have said, you were one of the first blogs I started following, and you still stand out, head & shoulders above most of the current bogs. And I totally blame you for my collection of white pitchers. I knew I would not find ironstone anywhere in my beach community of Southern California, so I settled for a white pitcher collection, which does bring me a sense of pleasure and contentment. And amazingly I did find a piece of ironstone tucked into the kitchen accessories rack of a consignment store. The price was so low I felt like I stole it!! Clearly, your consistency to your own style and taste inspires myself and others to stay the course of buying/keeping/using only what we truly love and what speaks to us. And that in and of itself is a challenging and worthy goal!

  28. mary m

    I have taken many lessons from you. I have an empire secretary. Have filled it with iron stone and wantabees. Three bowls from WalMart to fool the eye! My father was an artist and i cherish some of his early work. I have some nudes sketches that he did in the 1920’s at the Art Students League. Time to pass the om to my niece who wants them for her new home. I agree keep what you love and dont be sorry if you pass things on too quickly.

  29. Beverlee Lyons

    Great value post. I can always depend on you for consistent style and grace. The objects might change, but your style is always there.
    I have never heard you say you ‘hate’ anything, and your tolerance for other styles is remarkable. Thank you.

  30. Theresa

    Marian, I have loved loved following your blog and progression of style. One of the major take aways from you is about curating what you have. I was one of those married to pieces if they were family pieces regardless of how they fit my aesthetic. Now I can release things and preserve the memories if it’s not my taste.

  31. Heidi Carlson

    Hello Marion… your SO talented! You make pairing look so easy! But you have inspired me to make small changes that feel right and make my home mine. I’m very excited always to see what your next share is, and how it will move me to try something new! Your passion and creativity is amazing to say the least. Wish we were neighbors.

  32. Kim

    My decorating mainstays are lots of bright color and black against lots of white walls and furniture. Think Allison Kandler. It just gives the house so much cheer and vibrancy and makes me feel happy. I love other combos too, but I don’t like to actually live with them. I think over the decades I have learned and studied the decor magazines and blogs and learned WHY I like a certain room in a photo. Then I can use the same techniques but with my own things and color schemes.

  33. Lynnett Ratchford

    My dear, Miss Mustard Seed,
    What is in my house, you ask? What has been and will always be? I have had a yellow kitchen for 49 years, never met a pink rose I didn’t like, feel everything looks better with a piece of lace or ruffle, and don’t karate chop my pillows, just pile on all I can fit. I have china, crystal, silver and linens in abundance. There is art, but I wouldn’t label me a collector…my family labels me a hoarder. The style has been an English Victorian Cottage for years. I chuckled when Country Living said the new trend is “grandmillenial”, a cross between grandma and millenial, which looks just like what I’ve been doing for decades.
    Keep up the great work.

  34. Crystal Brown

    Even though I’m in my 70’s, yours was the first blog I followed and your book, Inspired You, actually inspired me to bring my things out and use them! So now I eat my cereal in my vintage bowls and with my Grandmother’s silver spoons! I was always a country decorating fan, even when it was ducks and geese and loved blue and white. My dream was to have a blue and white kitchen, with white cabinets. Enter the husband who loathes white cabinets and after struggling for years to make my vision come to life, I sold and gave away all my blue and never looked back! I still love architectural salvage and a good mix of both painted and natural wood. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that neutral colors suit my psyche. So I went back to mostly white walls and am very happy I did. Everything shows well against a creamy white wall. My home is a mix of whites, wood with some black for seasoning. Over the last couple of years I’ve pared my collections down to a few that I love, along with family things. I gave away and sold al most all my ironstone, it just isn’t me. But still love crocks and stoneware. Dundee and all the English Advertising pots are my downfall, I have far too many. I went from shopping thrift stores because I was poor, to shopping there for fun. So I know how blessed I am. While my look has simplified, I’m still a country woman at heart. I thank you for the inspiration that helped me refine my look. And I still look forward to seeing a post show up in my email!

  35. Teresa

    I love the slipcover on your dining chairs. Is there a place to order them? Etsy maybe? I have two chairs that need that touch!
    And, I love the diamond natural fiber rug too! Is there a source for it?


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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