Thursday, May 25, 2017

Do You Have A Design Challenge?

Edouard Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera - on display at the National Gallery of Art and in my living room.
Havenly, an online interior design company, invited me to tell the story behind a decorating piece I have in my home. I will depict not one, but a few things, as well as, talk about making the most of a small space.

As it is, I live in a modest Manhattan apartment compared to the 3-4 bedroom houses that people elsewhere tend to occupy. My #1 decorating rule is, there is to be no clutter, and so all the objects I bring into my space are full-sized, yet compact and multi-functional. Often I say, "I don't buy pretty. Everything must have a purpose." My couch and ottomans have storage for pillows and blankets. What's more, the top of a sturdy ottoman can be flipped over to use as a table.
I painted my walls an off-white (with a tint of warm yellow) and the trims a bright white for a pop of crispness. A bright white as a main color looks institutional and sterile, but not so with a yellow tinted white.

Since the walls are white, I bring color into the apartment with a huge Pottery Barn wool rug, colorful pillows, plus prints of museum paintings I like. The Manet 1873 painting (at the top) is one of them. As a congressional intern for the U.S. Senate, I walked over to the National Gallery of Art frequently to look at the original. I simply bought the museum poster and had it framed. Artwork on a wall is a smart decorating choice for a small space since it only requires vertical and not horizontal cubic feet. Select art, or personal themes that make you happy, as you will look at them everyday.
I have one article of whimsy in my apartment, James the Butler, but he, too, has a function. He holds a wine glass or cheese platter for guests who come into my home. Every city dweller needs a butler! Sometimes he holds my mail, gifts or other items I need to take with me to events. Always ready to serve, James is a treasure trove. He charms my guests and never complains!

Do you have an item in your home that is especially useful, has a history, or makes you smile?

You may also enjoy:
At The Red Brick Cottage
Decorating Your Home With Art
Extras That Make Home Life Easy
The Best Places To Go For Antiques And Home Decor


  1. I have always enjoyed the art of Manet, and your picture is a great choice for your decor. Over the years I have had a few prints of his work too. James the butler is so cute, and useful too. Never seen one of those before! We have quite a large house, although the rooms are fairly small in scale - it is built for a family. Now there are only two of us here, we tend to let things accumulate, a bad habit, and I have been on a campaign this year to get rid of much that fails to bring joy, with a hope of replacing with more carefully chosen pieces in the future. Rather too many pieces have a history as they come from both our parents' homes. I like a table which my grandfather made in the 1930s, extremely solid, and we use it every day. One day we must downsize - that will be a huge undertaking :)

    1. Trish, I'd have such a hard time getting rid of family things with all the memories attached. I'd love to see your grandfather's table. It will last forever!

      What a sensible practice of "getting rid of much that fails to bring joy." It's a sure way of determining what should be parted with. I'll have to adopt the standard!