design ramblings | who are you decorating for?

Marian ParsonsDesign Ramblings12 Comments

In the last episode of Design Ramblings, Kriste and I brought up the question, “Who are we decorating for?”  I was talking about my sons’ decorating their Christmas tree and how I had to restrain myself from trying to “fix” it…to make it “photo-worthy.”  As I jerked my hands away from the tree, I thought about what kind of message that would send to them.

What you’re doing isn’t good enough.  Step aside and let mommy make it the way SHE wants it even though she said it’s YOUR tree.


Marian, back away from the tree.

And I did.  I let them weigh it down until the branches were sagging under mis-matched garlands, Lego pieces, blinky colorful lights and three toppers.  And I cross my heart that I didn’t “fix” the tree the entire holiday season.

Miss Mustard Seed-321

I’ve had a lot of moments like that throughout my life as a homemaker.  I wrote about it a lot in my book, because I was really in the thick of finding contentment amid the smushed Cherrios in the carpet and was just on the heels of having the row of baby gear in the family room.  I’ve had to learn (slowly) that the house isn’t all about ME and MY decorating wants and desires.  There are three other people who live in this house and it has to be a refuge for them, not a place where they are going to get yelled at for messing up mommy’s stuff.  (And that goes for Jeff, too.)

So, that’s what Kriste and I rambled about in this episode…

That is definitely still my tendency…to get hyper about the silliest things regarding the home and how things should look.  But I have chilled out a lot over the years, especially as the kids have grown.  I want them to be respectful of the things in our home, but I also want them to feel free to set up a huge Lego battle right in the middle of the family room or, as they were doing today, throw balloons at the ceiling fans to watch them get batted around.

So, what are some practical tips for staying balanced?

I said it in the video and I really do believe this – Things don’t have to be all about form or all about function.  They can be both!  There are so many clever ways to deal with the not-so-pretty things in everyday life and there are so many well-made, well-designed pieces of furniture that are comfortable and stylish.   So, try to find a piece that looks the way you want it to, but also meets the practical need.  (I love how my pot rack keeps the pots and pans we use everyday easy to reach.  I intentionally look for pretty pans and colanders, so they look nice, but they also have to be great for cooking.)


You might have a clean idea of what you want, but you need to be okay with compromising.  Slipcovers, for me, are a great way to compromise when it comes to soft furnishing.  They can unify mis-matched pieces, they can be washed and they can hide ugly or worn fabric.


You need to know when to show preference to your spouse (or kid or roommate).  Jeff was set on picking out his own desk chair.  I kept insisting that I could find something that was comfortable and fit everything he was looking for, but also looked the way I wanted it to.  After trying out lots of different desk chairs, he settled on the kind that are made of a heavy, mesh fabric.  I can’t slipcover MESH!  Why are you picking the one thing I can’t make look better?!  I was a little irritated by this, because I thought he was picking that particular one on purpose!  Once I got some much needed perspective, I recognized that it’s HIS desk chair and if that’s the one HE wants, I need to be okay with it.  I have been able to pick every other chair in the house, for goodness’ sake.  So, he happily sits in his mesh office chair.

Be okay with letting go of things that aren’t working.  I think this can be the hardest one.  You make a change or purchase something and now things look the way you always wanted them to, but you come to see that it’s totally impractical.  People are tripping over it or bumping their head on it.  It doesn’t provide enough storage.  It’s blocking a traffic path.  It falls over at least three times a day.  Whatever the situation, if you see that your decor isn’t working for your family, let it go.  Work to find a creative solution that will address the needs and the wants.

So, how do you balance your personal preferences vs. those who live in the house with you?


By the way, Happy July 4th!


It’s a special day in our family, not just because it’s Independence Day, but because it was my Opa’s birthday.  He was born on the 4th of July and, when he was a kid, his mom told him all of the fireworks were for him.  He was really a great man and we named our oldest son after him.  Happy birthday, Opa.  We miss you.


design ramblings | who are you decorating for?

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12 Comments on “design ramblings | who are you decorating for?”

  1. What a great topic! There’s a children’s book that has this verse I love, “My home is me and I am it and it looks like all my dreams”. When we found our farm, we sorted out all that was important to us…a lot had been sorted out after almost 25 years in our prior home too! We knew what was near & dear to our hearts…couches were meant to curl up on, furniture must be sturdy enough for kitten play, quilts would be used, and nothing was sacred. This was a farmhouse after all, a big old 1857 embrace of a home. We also knew that we were not followers, so threw all trends right out with the bath water…..granite counters – no thanks; white on white on white – too picky for us. We embraced color and everything that made us happy…after all, we live here! I needed a smile around every corner…and my litmus test was often based on “charm”. I love that this is our home and that it is comfortable and true to who we are. That, to me, is what matters.

  2. I decided that I decorate with things I love. I’m an artist so I use colors that I love for my paintings. These tend to be a bit seasonal. For example in summer I do a lot of seascapes, water and waves little harbors. So therefore I’m throwing Teal pillows and hand painted pillows with sea and sand . These will be placed on my porch (dedicated to every thing ocean) and in fall and winter I’m using reds and blues and since my basic furniture and walls are neutrals, I then paint barns and farms and rural warm scenes.this has worked well for me for years. I have been collecting antiques for as long as I can remember. I love the warm earth an worn colors of old pine primitives. I recently recovered an antique wing back chair in drop cloth following your video. Thanks for all of your tips and rambles. Love Miss Mustard site. Sandi

  3. Great post! Today is my Grandfather’s birthday, also. He was truly a great man and he has been gone for many years but I can still hear his whistle. Miss you ParPar!

  4. What a great post & a reminder to keep our homes real, a reflection of who we are so that they are unique to us.

    I believe that we all choose things with ‘the same eye’ for our homes so they do go together in an eclectic way that is much more pleasing than a generic look.

    My husband recently brought his late Dad’s chair back from the family home. It had an orange velour cover, was not to my taste & was in need of additional supports so we took him to a local upholsterer to choose fabric & had it redone in his fabric choice for his birthday – a perfect compromise ….

  5. Ladies this is not meant to be a harsh criticism but I must tell you that the foreshortening that is happening when you are sitting on that sofa is not a reflection of how lovely you are. Just cut the camera above the waist & see the difference. I love your ramblings & look forward to all of them! Just wanted you to know (like when you see a friend with a tag hanging out of her shirt:). Thanks for all of your inspiration!

  6. I was one of the people who left a comment asking what to do when your spouse has different decorating ideas. Thanks for rambling about this topic. What I enjoyed the most about your answer was your honesty in that you are sometimes still trying to do what you yourself like.

  7. This topic is soooo on point for me right now. With my youngest going off to college, “my Brian” (too old to have a “boyfriend”) and I are finally discussing the “combining of the household.” We have dated for 15 years and both own our own home. His style is “dark” and mine, not so much! After 16 years, my house is the way I want it, in general, and just the thought of bringing in “his style” and “stuff” is starting to stress me a bit. Fortunately, he generally does not care, and he has been around long enough, he is totally comfortable in “my style.” But there is the struggle of the transition from “mine” vs. “ours” and the day is coming….I think this will be a tougher transition than the introduction of kids…lol!

  8. This is a good topic. Our home and my decorating has evolved over the years as most of us. Now our home really reflects both of us and our family and our needs. If I were alone, I say I would have a little cottage with lots of flowers and more pink. But that really isn’t bringing my husband into it and now that he likes to sometimes go to shops with me, we choose things that both of us like. But he also knows that my judgement is good and that I have the overall feel of our home in mind. I have a friend who has the most darling home, so cute, so feminine and lots of flowers and lots of pink. But I cannot see where her husband fits into their home. I’ve also seen the reverse where the husband wants the decor his way and so the colors are bold, surfaces are hard and it doesn’t reflect his wife. So, I really feel that a home should be a blend of the two, then it will express both and be more of a home – than decorated in one certain style.

  9. Oh my does this ever resonate with me!! Honestly if I had my druthers the paint scheme in our home would be different but I learned long ago that my boys have opinions too. They feel most at home in “masculine” cozy colored rooms… think overstuffed furniture, darker neutrals, black, chrome, etc. now the only left at home is our youngest and he likes a more modern feel. So his room is decorated how he likes it. I know that I only have them here for a few short years and honestly I want them to look back fondly on each and every room they have lived in. To develop their own sense of design tastes so they can know what makes them feel comfortable. Plus I know we will be moving again in a little over two years to a whole new area of the country after his graduation from high school….. into a rental. So I’ll get to start all over once again and he will have had the room he loved.

  10. Wow this topic REALLY resonated with me. There is no doubt that when people walk into our house they see my style. My husband & daughter’s style-not so much. I am a “work in progress” when it comes to showcasing their “likes”. Truthfully, my husband (like Jeff) doesn’t really have much of an opinion on the decor. The exception to that is the family room in the basement where movies/tv are watched and pool is played. He will overrule decorating decisions if they interfere w/viewing angles, pool cue placement, or where electronics/speakers need to be placed. It is so hard for me to let that go. I remind myself that this is his home too and if this is the only space that he really has an opinion on, then I need to back off and let him have it. My daughter is 12 and is starting to have some opinions about her room. We plan to re-decorate it this summer and I am going to let her take the lead when it comes to the decor. I want her to have a room that represents her and a place to escape and feel she can relax. I’m learning to “share” 😉

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