On our latest Style Matters podcast, Karen and I interviewed Mera Matthews, one half of the team that makes up the fabulous home and style blog, Red House West. One of the best moments in our interview came when Mera said "it's the bold choice that's the most enduring".
Wait a minute! So that moody indigo wall color you were dreaming about for your dining room....Or that over the top wallpaper you wanted to plaster in your front hall...? Aren't we always told that you should stick to neutral for the big items? What if you get sick of that bold emerald green in your bathroom after six months? Mera reminded us that going bold is much more likely to be lasting than going with something safe.
We got to this point in the conversation because she was telling us about her crazy colorful rug in her living room. It's bold. It's not for everyone. But she adores it. And when she walks into that room, she knows she would have regretted not buying because it gives her so much happiness.
But going with a bold choice really flips conventional decorating advice on it's head. Think about it. If you're about to make a purchase of a big ticket item, like a couch, most people would advise you to go for something neutral. The rationale being that you won't get tired of it because it'll go with everything. Which might turn out to be true if you really love the particular neutral shade of your newly purchased couch. But, it could be equally true that the beige color you picked out might just drive you crazy after a year when you're tired of the blah that spreads out over a large part of your living room. It all depends on how you feel about the piece on its own. (And in this case, remember, it's a couch! It's big! It's not like you can hide it behind its beige-y-ness). Here's one of my favorite personal examples that has taught me to first buy what I love, rather than buy what "goes" with everything:
12 years ago, when we were shopping for a couch, we saw a red one and fell in love. But we listened to that annoying voice in our heads that told us we should be practical and choose the beige option instead. Turns out, when they came to deliver the beige couch, it didn't fit through one of the doors that led to our family room. But it did fit in our living room, which was bright yellow and also happened to need a couch. All of a sudden, the neutral beige that was supposed to work with everything and anything, didn't look so hot next to that yellow, which we adored. So we sent it back and exchanged it for the red one instead. (We made-do with an old futon in the family room for a couple of years). We've moved houses and changed our living room several times since then but have never had trouble making the red color work and haven't had any regrets about being "stuck" with a red couch. If we had gone with beige, (a color that I never would have chosen from my big box of 64 Crayola crayons), it would have continued to not really work, no matter how my style was changing because I didn't like it on its own merits.
As Mera says, "every room needs a boss", not only because it's the star of the show, but because it challenges you to love every single thing you put in a room as you continue to refine your style. Our red couch is the boss of our living room. And Mera's boss is definitely her beautiful rug. What's the boss of your room? We'd love to know. And send photos!