Please Get Your “Should” Out Of My Decorating

Last Updated on March 31, 2022 by Kristi Linauer

This is a phrase that’s been rolling around in my mind quite a bit over the last month or so. And quite frankly, I think it’s a phrase we should all learn…and use…regularly.

Since I’m a blogger and I put my stuff out there for public consumption and critique, I get more input (as well as some of the most arbitrary decorating “rules” I’ve ever heard) than the average non-blogging homeowner. But many of you have mentioned that you also get (often unwelcome) input from friends and family who visit your home. So the next time someone walks into your home and starts saying, “Well, you should do such-and-such,” or “You should have done it this way instead of like that,” I want you to say (even if only silently in your mind), “Please get your “should” out of my decorating.”

The fact is that our homes are highly personal spaces. They’re our sanctuary from the crazy world that lies just outside the walls of our home. And our homes need to represent the people who live within those walls. That’s it. No one else. There’s no room for anyone else there (unless, of course, you ask for others’ opinions). In the end, no one else has to be happy with your home but you.

I happen to love color. Lots and lots of color. Bold color, muted color, warm color, cool color, jewel tones, pastels…just give me color. Sure, I’m drawn to some colors more than others. But I pretty much love them all.

I’d love nothing more than to be surrounded by ALL of the colors when I’m in my home. Obviously that’s not for everyone. And it’s clear from scrolling through Instagram these days that neutrals reign supreme right now. Picture after picture after picture of neutral farmhouse decor fills my Instagram feed. I’ve searched and searched for colorful homes, and they’re few and far between. When I finally do come across a colorful home, I save it, study it, mentally bathe in it, and come back to it often.

You have no idea how many times I want to say to people, after seeing the 100th picture of neutral farmhouse decor for the day, “You really SHOULD add some color to that room! It would really liven things up in there.” But you know what? I need to keep my “should” out of other people’s decorating. If they’ve filled their home with nothing but white, then clearly that’s what they like, and my should’s have no place in their home.

I really started thinking about this several months back when I came across an article/slideshow on some big website (Elle Decor or Traditional Home or something like that) about decorating rules. It was entitled something like “50 Decorating Rules From Today’s 50 Top Designers.”

Just using the word “rules” in regards to decorating kind of gets my hackles up anyway. Decorating is artistic expression. Are there really “rules” to personal artistic expression? I hope not.

But I read it anyway, because after all, these were Today’s Top 50 Designers, so they must be right. Right? The most enlightening thing about that article/slideshow was that several of the designers’ rules actually completely contradicted other designers’ rules. I wish I could remember specifics. Unfortunately, I can’t. But one slide would quote a designer who said you should ALWAYS do such-and-such. And then a few slides later, another designer was quoted as saying you should NEVER do that exact thing. I thought, “Well, how stupid is this?!”

My takeaway from that is that there are no rules. There are opinions. And you know what they say about opinions, right?

Believe me, sometimes I wish there were hard and fast rules. Formulaic decorating sure would make things a whole lot easier, but way more boring. And yes, there are times I wish there were hard and fast decorating rules. If I were made Queen of Decorating and could make the rules, I have a long list of rules I’d implement on Day 1 of my reign. Just off the top of my head, here are a few…

Rule #1: Absolutely no tab top curtains. These should be relegated to the trash pile immediately.

Rule #2: Grommet top curtains are okay only in certain situations, but are generally unacceptable. They should be used judiciously. Please submit your decorating plan and get prior approval before using them. Unauthorized use of grommet top curtains is strictly forbidden.

Rule #3: Blinds and shutters are not window treatments on their own. They’re utilitarian, not decorative. They should almost always be paired with fabric.

Rule #4: Oak cabinets and wood paneling finished prior to 2000 should be painted.

Trust me, I could go on and on.

So how many of you, as you read that, glanced across the room at your tab top curtains that you just bought, or your grommet top curtains that you absolutely love, or your very expensive plantation shutters that you just paid a fortune for and love on their own, or your oak cabinets from 1984 that are still in excellent condition, and thought to yourself, “Wow, thank goodness Kristi isn’t Queen of Decorating! I like my tab top curtains/grommet top curtains/blinds/shutters/oak cabinets!”

I need to keep my shoulds out of your decorating, don’t I?

I remind myself to keep my shoulds to myself quite often when I’m scrolling through Instagram. There are a few people I follow whose homes don’t look decorated. They look merchandised. There’s a big difference between decorating a home for living, and merchandising a retail store, and somehow they seem to have gotten the two mixed. I just shake my head when I see pictures of stacks of throw pillows organized neatly in wicker baskets and placed under a bench by the front door. I want to ask, “Are these things for sale? Why are you merchandising your home?” Throw pillows lined up neatly in baskets and placed under a bench in the entryway serve no purpose. That’s how you would imagine them being displayed in a store, not used in a home. But I see things like that all the time. It drives me crazy, but you know what?

I keep my shoulds out of their decorating.

Clearly they like it that way, and it’s their home, not mine.

This whole topic came to mind again a while back when I made my first drapery panel for my living room.


I tried a few different configurations for the edge banding and trim and decided that this is the one I liked the most. So I went for it.

I was shocked at how many people responded to that post with comments like, “That Greek key trim should be centered on the blue,” or “You should have done it like this,” and on and on. I’ll admit I was frustrated. By the end of that day, I started making plans to make changes to that drapery panel. As a side note, I can always tell the people who have zero experience sewing and seem to think that moving that trim over is the simplest thing in the world. No, in order to make changes to that edge banding, I’d pretty much have to take the panel completely apart and start over again since adding edge banding is literally “Step 1” in making draperies. But I was determined to do it because a handful of people said I should do it that way and thought this way was the wrong way.

But I never did do it. I moved on to other projects, like refinishing my floors, and then focusing on my breakfast room and kitchen.

And you know what? I’m so glad I didn’t jump right in and start redoing that panel. I was going through my box of fabric yesterday and came across that one finished panel. My initial thought was, “Ugh, I still have to rip apart and remake that panel.” Then I unfolded it and looked at it, and realized that I love it like that! I chose to do it that way because after testing out different options, this is the one I like the best. And in the end, I’m the only one who needs to like it.

So what’s with all of these arbitrary decorating rules? Where the heck do they come from? And why do so many of us feel bound by them?

Not only are we holding other people to these rules, but we’re also holding ourselves to them. We could be on the verge of something great, but we’re holding ourselves back because of a rule that we think we need to follow.

Well, I say it’s enough of the rules. Let your creativity flow. Try new things. Break out of the mold. Don’t be bound by other people’s arbitrary decorating rules that they try to foist upon you. Stepping outside of these arbitrary rules may be scary. You may try your idea and realize that it’s not going to work. And that’s okay. Or you may try it and realize that it’s the best thing ever! And it’s your home. The only person who needs to like it is you.

So the next time your Aunt Sally comes to your home and starts telling her how you should do things, just tell her to keep her “should” out of your decorating, even if you only say it silently in your mind. 🙂

EDIT: To be clear, I have no problem with opinions, and that’s not what I’m talking about here. 🙂 “Hey you guys, do you think I should use this table or that table?” “Oh, I think you should use this table. The other one looks out of place.” “I disagree. I think you should use that table. It has a more interesting shape.” Opinions are great. We all have them , and we all love to share them.

I’m not talking about sharing opinions here. I’m talking about when those opinions turn into hard and fast rules. I’m talking about when an opinion is presented not as an opinion, but as absolute fact. I’m talking about when an opinion is given as, “You should do it this way because this is the correct way, and any other way is the wrong way.” I’m talking about the arbitrary decorating rules that most of us have somehow had engrained into our heads that don’t allow us to push beyond those boundaries. I’m talking about the rules that we not only hold ourselves to, but hold others to.

Opinions are good. Share away. (Unless you’re a poo-flinging monkey.) But hard and fast rules have no place in artistic expression.

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Thanks for pointing this one out. It’s one thing to offer a critique on a blog or social media (provided it is solicited), but to do so at someone’s home is just bizarre!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Zanzibarz Xanadu
      April 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      This blogger frequently posts pics that have, gasp, COLOR! http://www.southshoredecoratingblog.com/
      Also, houzz.com has photos that can be looked up by search terms or whatever colors one is looking for.

      As much as I like farmhouse style (Shaker and New England styles, specifically) and modern farmhouse style, I prefer color and lots of it. I love modern design, but colorful transitional style with some traditional thrown in is awesome, too.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Theresa P
    April 26, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I love those colorful homes that you included in this post! I agree that the neutrals have gone too far (My home is currently quite neutral. whaa, whaa, whaa. I do plan to address it). I’m thinking the tide might be turning, though. I was watching Home Town last night. It comes on after Fixer Upper. She designs with a lot of color and I thought of you while watching. 🙂

    Regarding “shoulds”, I’m sure I’ve thrown some “shoulds” out in my comments. I apologize! I’ll be better going forward.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbara H.
    April 26, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Love this, Kristi. And I’m guilty of this at times – always with the best intentions, of course. The worst thing about it is that it takes away someone’s joy – one of the great sins in life, I think.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Amen sister!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    sally north
    April 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Great article. I always try to be mindful and keep my opinions to myself unless asked.

    One decorating rule that has really grated on me since I first heard it. “There should be no family pictures in public spaces of your home. They make your guests feel uncomfortable.”

    It’s my home and if I want to see family pictures everywhere that’s where I put them. I’ve never had a guest comment about family pictures making them uncomfortable. Maybe they discuss it once they leave but yet it never stops them from coming back.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 11:33 am

      I’ve never understood that rule. To me, home is for family so it only makes sense that family is present in every room. Guess that’s one of my “rules” 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      I’ve only ever heard that for when your house is on the market, which makes sense. I’ve gone through houses and looked at pictures and totally forgot what the house looked like, but when you actually live there? That’s insane. I don’t have a lot of pictures, but that’s because I don’t like to dust!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      The only time I ever had an issue with photos in anyone’s home was when my dad remarried. On my first visit to their newly-built home (wedding present), I questioned the lack of family photos on dad’s side of the family (dad has 2 adult children and 4 grandchildren). My father said those photos didn’t “go” with her decor! This was the first in a serious of unfortunate decisions (design and otherwise) that resulted in my having virtually no relationship with them. And it started with a lack of photos!
      With that being said, I totally support Kristi on her opinion and appreciate the positive manner in which she expresses herself. I subscribe to lots of blogs, but Kristi’s is the only one that truly makes me happy when I see it in my Inbox! I’m a fan for life!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Great Post!!! Spot on…..

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

    My husband has always told me to say, “Stop ‘should-ing’ on me.” Even if it is only in m mind! 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      What Linda said! I had a statistics professor in college who was a very casual dresser — he’d wear shorts and sandals to work almost every day (this is Southern California, the college is close to the beach!). Some students would comment that he “should dress more professionally.” He was a wise man for being much younger than the other profs, and every once in a while he’d suspend the math lecture to do a “life lesson” lecture to the students, sort of like how you sometimes do posts like this one that are more design-“adjacent,” vs. strictly design/decorating/DIY, etc.

      One of his “life lesson” lectures was in response to the “should” comment and was about being polite, ***having good manners***, and how far kindness goes in the world. He also noted that he got his tenure based on his own education, experience, skill level, and multiple Teacher of the Year awards from the student body, not on how he dressed. He specifically said in response to “you should dress more professionally” that the critic “stop ‘should-ing’ on” him! It was a great response (besides the fact it sounded like he was saying something else ;)) and I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve used it in my own life whenever some nosy, bossy, poo-flinging monkey/busy body has gotten all up in my business with unsolicited “advice” about what I “should” do.

      If you can do it, maybe think about just deleting the crappy comments and blocking the commenter? Truthfully, it throws me (and I’m sure other readers, too) completely out of my happy space when I’m ready your blog (because I love it and you so much!) to come across some nasty, poo-fling-y comment, and seriously gives me a rage spike. I mean, you are *THE NICEST, GENTLEST* person in the world (not to mention an incredibly talented designer/artist) — on what planet is it appropriate to make such crappy comments to you, or anyone really?! These must be the same type people who’d mow down the Easter Bunny, or use a grenade launcher to blow Santa Claus out of the sky!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Amen to the nth degree!!! I love me some color, all the neutrals make me depressed, and I think this is where people run off the rails – paying attention to the “shoulds” instead of their hearts/guts.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:34 am


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anne B
    April 26, 2017 at 10:37 am

    “Bless your heart….what an interesting idea” is always my response to “should”. It works in multiple situations too!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      That is the perfect response, for many situations! I’ll have to steal that one. 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      In the south where I live any sentence that starts with “Bless your heart…” is an insult. So is saying “That’s..interesting…” about a design choice someone has made. Put them together and you will most definitely have offended your guest/friend/family member. Lol. Not saying that that’s what it means where you’re from but that’s what it reminded me of.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 4, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Anne B, I think most people know that is a big-time passive/agressive insult. If that is your intention, carry-on; if it’s just a stock phrase you use when you can’t think of anything else to say, you may want to drop it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tammy Jones
    April 26, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Here’s the source for the beautiful room you posted: https://www.yahoo.com/style/house-tour-home-designer-christian-162920280.html

    And anybody that tells me I should get rid of my recliner and my ceiling fan is on my list, and I don’t mean my should list. 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Yep!!! Need both! Heck, I just purchased a Lazy Boy DUAL loveseat recliner!!!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Gosh I do wish the manufacturers would try to make ceiling fans more updated and prettier in some way, but here in AZ we’d die without our ceiling fans even with AC. You can’t breathe without some moving air and they are much more convenient than fans on stands blocking up the whole room.
      Kristi I help on some art groups on facebook and various artists are also always trying to say you shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that, and I keep asking them where is that big book of ancient art rules that you are all getting your information from. I thought that was the idea of art.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        August 17, 2020 at 9:41 pm

        I so needed to read this. My sister in law says I have old lady taste. I happen to like antiques. It honestly made me feel bad for a couple weeks. I’m not going to let her ruin what I enjoy or pass judgement on my personal space.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:39 am

    The photo credit for the picture above is, that is all I could find on it : https://www.alechemer.com/Editorial/4/

    You’re right on all the above. I had a 100+ year old dutch colonial and there were more layers of wallpaper then I can remember and I removed every last bit alone, I think the living room had 6, repaired the plaster alone, prepped the walls for paint alone and had just finished the main floor all on my own. I had someone come into my home a long, long time ago after working days and nights on it (sometimes 20 hours at a time) saying “If you set me free in here, I could only imagine what I could do to this place!”, Why don’t you let me decorate Uncle ****. This was my ex’s niece who said this to me. I was so insulted, because everyone else but this 20 something thought it looked great.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Such a good post! I’ve gotten some “shoulds” with our house that we are renovating. A lot of them have actually been really helpful ideas for how to use the space we have. Some of them haven’t been.

    I’m certainly glad I don’t have to subscribe to your “rules”, because I am just fine with tab top curtains! 😀 I’m also planning on sewing roman blinds for my kitchen windows and having them as my only window coverings in that room because there isn’t enough space beside my windows for curtains because of how the cupboards and windows are placed. Up until my kitchen, I totally would have agreed with your assessment of blinds, though, and I do think that generally speaking, most blinds are too ugly to be on their own. Especially plastic ones. *shudder* 😄

    I love colour as well, which is why I enjoy your blog so much. And I really like the placement of the trim on your drapes!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laura Laskey
    April 26, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Whereas I do love Farmhouse one of the reasons that I follow your blog is that you do what you want and not necessarily what everyone else is doing! Keep being you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:44 am


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Becky J
    April 26, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Thanks for the excellent tip/reminder Kristie. I don’t think I have done that with anything you have done (because I almost always love it, and if I don’t I try to keep my mouth shut) but I’m probably most guilty of this in my adult children’s homes. I’ll try to do better!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenda Pawloski
    April 26, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Kristi, I hope I’ve never “shoulded” you, I try to never “should” any one but my children. Would it be fun if you kept a list of some of the more audacious, ridiculous or crazy suggestions you have fielded and turn them into a post? (Maybe this is a crazy suggestion in and of itself.)

    So what do you think about “defining principles”? I remember you warning against “bottom heavy” rooms (and I had just applied grass wall paper beneath the chair rails in my dining room and foyer so I took that to heart.) I try to think about things like proportion, light, texture, repetition and balance across different decorating and architectural genres because I like so many different aesthetics and therefore look for what may be common to them all. And then I realize that when it comes to the globe, maybe there are no such principals and our western decorating principals are just “shoulds” to the rest if the world. Who hasn’t seen an interior that breaks all the “shoulds” yet somehow is still pleasing and lovely?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Robbyn Mendleski
    April 26, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I SO agree with you, especially about the use of neutrals in “farmhouses” – too trendy for me. I love color and pattern and splash them around freely (in a controlled, OCD kind of way). Grey mattress ticking banded with a Covinginton paisley, paired with an apple green check with a coral stripe – everything flows and makes sense and has COLOR!!

    PS I ADORED your banded greek key drapes and used them as inspiration for my own banded drapes; so thank you!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Such a great revelation!! I often teeter on doing what the majority like. But then I don’t every “love” the end result. Be true to yourself and you will Love the outcome.

    P.S. I’ve always loved your drapes just the way they are.:)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I’m not sure if it comes from all these “flip/sell this house shows,” but it seems like so many people decorate their home for the NEXT owners. I have a Victorian I’ve done in rich jewel tones, which I love, and I hear all the time that I should go more neutral so it will sell better. There may come a time when I have to do that, but for now, my home makes ME happy.

    I do find myself guilty of the “shoulds,” on occasion, but I hope I soften them more to “have you considered?”

    In any case, it is helpful to have a better sense of where you are coming from, Kristi. You invite and accept suggestions, so I imagine people feel more comfortable being upfront with their opinion. It is comforting to know that even a popular blogger can only take so much! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Who invented honey oak? Is it even a natural wood??? Is there a honey oak forest somewhere?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mrs Mike
    April 26, 2017 at 10:53 am

    So well said! My mom and I normally have very similar tastes clothing wise but we have vastly different opinions decorating wise. My first home, we painted our entryway Dare Devil red by Behr. I loved it. We installed a chair rail and I hung my Ansel Adams prints. Up went toile panels on the windows of the double doors. I smiled every time I walked in my home. Until my mom came for a visit. She was horrified by the red. I seriously debated changing it to a more “soothing” color after she left. But in the end, I didn’t. I really love the color red and it worked perfectly in that space. I’ve never had the right space for that much red again and I’m so glad I did what felt right to me.

    Thank you so much for the reminder!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:53 am

    The photo you ask about is Alec Hemer’s photo of Christian Siriano and Brad Walsh’s living room. Brilliantly colorful and just lovely room too.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:57 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I am a retired interior designer. Frankly, I know all the ‘rules’. I used to say (after the ‘new’ wore off and I realized my responsibilities) “I don’t design for your sister, your mother, your cousin and most all, your best friend.” This only after 20 minutes of “my Mom says, my sister says, well my family thinks we should…………” I design beautiful spaces for you (it)! Now, tell me some of your ideas, likes and dislikes. After that it was smooth sailing. They felt more comfortable on many fronts. EVERYONE, leave the SHOULD out of your comments or remarks! I have never seen such letdown looks after someone makes a ‘should’ remark!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Thank you for this insight! We SHOULD all heed your warning. The one thing I ever want to comment on is when art work is hung up near the ceiling and it is too far from eye-sight to enjoy. I really want to tell people “you should hang that a little lower” haha. But I don’t. Thanks for sharing those pics where color is used so beautifully. I love color too and was starting to doubt the validity of my preference based on the neutral trends. Those pics and your house remind me that preference is important and a big part of decorating my house is using/doing what I love!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 11:34 am

      My Mom always tells me I hang my pictures too high and that they should be eye level. She’s five feet tall and I’m 5’7″ I’m not sure we all have the same eye level. LOL

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 26, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        My Dr is 6’2″. His Dr wife is 5’11”. She told that’s why their pictures were so high, because of eye level for them. Lol

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Oh, yes, as an artist that’s one rule that I want to scream out every time I see it, but I don’t think I’ve ever said anything to anyone who chose to ignore or was ignorant of that rule. BUT, please people google some instructions on hanging artwork-it is unpleasant when it is floating around the top of the room 12 inches from the ceiling!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Rules are made to be broken. LOL I hate it too when someone says I shouldn’t do something especially when decorating. You are so right that you can do whatever you want in your own home. Go girl! We enjoy seeing you try different things.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Peggy pasicznyk
    April 26, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Wonderful!! Everyone should follow those written words!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I smiled the entire time while reading this. You make so many really good points. My favorite is your calling out of “arbitrary decorating rules”. Yes! Lol!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I always say that your home should tell your story, nobody else’s.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Home decor history – I grew to hate celery when everyone’s house had to be painted celery (yipes! it’s coming back). I immediately loathed mauve in all it’s shades and tones and the dingy Colonial blue miniprints that were paired with it when everyone’s house had to be done in those shades (and some still are). On the other hand, Harvest gold reminded me of baby poop, but avocado had zing. Farmhouse – I like the pale blues and touch of yellow approach, but jeez, don’t these people have pets and guests? I am tired of cleaning at my age. I have collections. Several of them. They are grouped together and displayed and make an impression. Chinese porcelains are art imo. So to those who suggest I move them to my bedroom, the answer is no. I never ever make a decorating suggestion unless it is solicited. I have learned that no matter how diplomatic you try to be, it’s just like that age old no no question – Do these pants make me look fat? On the other hand, I love color. And I like white slipcovered furniture because then I can switch out pillow colors, my modern quilts and art quilts and get a ‘new’ look. I like color and I like change. I say go for it and who cares what other people say. Mothers everywhere need to get a grip and keep their mouths shut. If your kids want your suggestions they will ask. Trust me on this.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:09 am

    hackles:) lol. loovvvee that word and am going to add it to my vocabulary!!!

    Should needs to be eliminated in all situations, not just decorating!!! I heard a message at a women’s conference about this very subject.
    You should…….
    YUCK. No place for it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheri Hepworth
    April 26, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I borrowed a library book about decorating with flea-market finds. Every picture but one in this huge book showed rooms with white walls. I couldn’t feel any warmth in any of the lovely still life because the white was too stark. My house has no white walls at all; your house makes me smile because you are not afraid of colour; or of changing colours after a brief engagement!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      I agree about HATING white walls! The first home I bought that’s the thing I was most excited for, painting the walls, after living in apartments with white everywhere! I made a comment to that effect to my mother-in-law and she said she LOVES white walls. She can do her thing in her house and I’ll do mine in my house! Not that my house is all that colorful, I prefer yellow-tan for most of the house with a moody blue in the bedroom! I also LOVE olive green and orange and we had walls those colors in our last house and they worked so well! The current house I just couldn’t find the right green or orange to use for the walls so the front and garage doors are going orange and I’m thinking the lower cabinets in the kitchen will be a light olive green color with white uppers and butcherblock counter tops. I can’t wait until we can do that room over!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jane @quirk-shop.com
    April 26, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I’m with you, Kristi–we all have our own tastes, style, and vision when it comes to decorating–and that’s what makes it interesting to read decorating blogs.

    What’s interesting is that with our own work, our own taste, and our own vision, some things will seem “right” or “wrong.” Not in a rule sense but in a “gut feeling” sense. I guess the distinction is that “feels right to me” is different than “is right for everyone.” But it’s hard to make that distinction sometimes.

    The other thing I’ve noticed about the world in general, is that not everyone has the vision to see something as part of a bigger picture. Something that looks “wrong” out of context can seem perfect with everything else in place.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I know the purpose of your post was to make it clear that there are no rules, and people need to decorate with whatever inspires them. But I still like that you put some random off-the-top-of-your-head rules out there, to illustrate your point.

    I have the same issue that I tend to not tell other people what to do decorating, but constantly get told that I’m somehow breaking the rules. It’s kinda nice to be able to put out there what *my* rules would be, and see yours.

    So I would like to hear from other readers/commentators too: If you were the Queen of Decorating, what would the rules be?

    If I was in charge, the top 4 rules would be:

    – No ‘vignettes’ which make utilitarian objects unusable. Books aren’t coasters people! If you put trinkets, or flowers, or other crap on top of it, so you can’t actually pick it up to read it without moving 20 things around, your house doesn’t look decorated, it looks fake (and it looks like you’re not smart enough to understand what books are actually for).

    – You don’t need to fill every flat surface. Just because you’ve got an end table there doesn’t mean you need to put something on it. You WILL put something on it when you use the house: your drink, your laptop, the TV remote, etc. There needs to be space for that stuff. And please DO remember you’ve gotta clean all that stuff. The more you put down, the more you’ve got that needs to be dusted.

    – Accessories and art need to be collected over time, and displayed because they have meaning to you. They need to evoke memories/emotions. If you buy the latest set of trinkets at Pottery Barn because they look ‘cute’, your house will lack soul.

    – Storage solutions come before design. You need a space where everything goes, because if you don’t have that, you’ll be perpetually living in a mess. Which means that you need to figure out which utilitarian items belong in a room, and how you’re going to store them there, BEFORE you start decorating.
    If you constantly keep certain items by your spot on the coach, an end table with a drawer so you can put some things away will look much better in the long run than that sleek end table you fell in love with instead, because the one with the drawer will make your house look much more ‘finished’ more of the time once you’re living with it. Same with desks: if you have tons of office supplies, you need one with a lot of drawers, because even though you really liked that minimalist looking desk in the store, a ‘heavier’ one will look better in your house because it won’t be covered in crap all the time.c
    Your storage needs should be in the forefront of your mind when you start decorating. Looks are second.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Yes to all of your “rules”. I’ve always been somewhere between mildly annoyed and amused when looking at pictures of books with something on top of them. Your comment about this is spot on 🙂

      And there are some useful rules related to ergonomics and/or safety. Like – the size and position of the chandelier above the dining table should be such that people don’t bang their heads when sitting down or getting up.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Brenda Pawloski
      April 26, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Ishtar, I also agree with your rules. Too much stuff accumulated on surfaces is the reason surfaces don’t get cleaned as they should around my house. If I have to move 20 things I feel like I have to schedule it rather than just do it. And if you’re going to use a book as a coaster, give the book to charity so that it can find a reader. Buy beverage size napkins for coasters and throw them away! I don’t like coasters, they are just more surface clutter. Another rule, at least at my house: the top of the refrigerator is not for storage unless there is a cabinet or shelving up there.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree with all you just wrote! Thanks for clarifying those vague pet peeves of mine.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      Now those are rules I can agree with wholeheartedly!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:13 am

    This is why I look forward to seeing a post from you every day! It’s kind of a downer on days you don’t post 🙂 I love that you aren’t afraid of color and don’t follow trends. Your home will not be dated by the decor because it isn’t about what is happening now, but about what you personally love. I recently made a comment to someone about how my Instagram feed was starting to look like everyone shot their photos in black and white. I actually started following more gardening and cooking folks, just so I could see more color in my feed! I’ve noticed a trend lately where some bloggers are marketing decorating courses, breaking decorating down to formulas and rules for everyone to follow to have the perfectly decorated house. Ugh. I don’t want to feel constricted by someone else’s arbitrary rules and I don’t want my home to feel contrived. I want it to feel like me. I’ll make my own rules, thank you very much!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Love this post! I am a color girl for sure! I know exactly what you mean about our instagram feeds are full of white and more white! I hate white. I love warm cozy colors and worried so much about my home getting out dated. My husband and I tried this winter to start painting our home a light color of grey. I lived with it for 3 days and told my husband I can’t take this anymore , we have to repaint it! I went back to my taupe colored wall ( not a light tone either) and my green accent fireplace wall. Honostly, I just sat and felt relief and like it was home again! Haha You are so right that our homes are our personal spaces they we need to be happy with. I’m a french country girl at heart but enjoy other aspects of different styles of decorating too. I feel like if I want to add different styles together than I should be able to! Thanks for the great post, I really enjoying your posts. P.S. love the drapes just as they are…. coming from a fellow sewer of drapes… I feel the pain of ripping them apart!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Lol. I LOVE those curtains. I AM a seamstress, and I know making curtains is a lot of work (because I’ve made them), and I would LOVE it if you would make me a set. :-).

    PS. I painted one wall of my family room orange to pull out a color in a painting I love. Didn’t think I’d like it (orange is not my favorite color), but it has grown on me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I once used a decorator who told me I couldn’t place my pine English hutch in my dining room because the rule said there wasn’t enough space can move round the chairs when people were sitting. Well, the decorator was NOT used and the hutch was. Sure, it was a little tight when the table was full, but it all worked out fine and I still love my hutch!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

    My best friend doesn’t say “should”. She says “You are going to think I am crazy” and then gives me advice. The problem is I am a minimalist and she has “stuff” everywhere. She likes neutrals and I like color. But every once in a while she throws out a truly unique gem and I run with it. I never give a “should” because my taste is unique to me. I am fixing up my house for me. Not for the next buyer but for me. I want a house that welcomes me when I walk in the door. Doesn’t everyone? I just ignore the “should-ers” and do it the way I want. I like that you do too.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I recently heard a new term –“stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself”. I think it applies in your situation. Good luck. Keep up the good work. I always read your emails first!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Out of all your blog posts (and i am a l.o.n.g. time follower) this is, by far, my FAV one! And I LUV, LUV, LUV those rooms that have an eclectic plethora of color and style!!

    While it is not everyones decor taste, as an artist it has always been my ultimate dream to decorate each room of my own place in a different design and color scheme. Friends of my mother’s when I was 12 had a home that the wife decorated like this, and I was mesmerized and SOooo impressed by it. It was a veritable Disneyland of decor of inspiration to me! I have never forgotten it, nor have I ever changed my mind about wanting such a living space for myself.

    Agree wholeheartedly that decorating is a facet of artistic expression, and as such has very few “rules” that need be paid attention to. And those ‘rules’ are the ones that play across *all* forms of artistic expression: light, shadow, composition, balance of negative and positive space, etc…

    Other than a very few things one needs to keep in mind, the rest is expressed through FREEDOM!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Thank you. Rooms are like paintings to me, when one of those elements is off it hurts my “eye” and throws it off in my already dizzy mind!

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        September 7, 2021 at 8:50 am

        FINALLY the blog of my heart. As a realtor, I am sick to death of grey and white. All new construction and flips – gray and white! One small step for decorating and one giant leap for freedom of thought and expression! Thank you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    April 26, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I try to never say should to someone. Instead, I’ll say ” I never would have thought of that, how smart of you!” or “What a surprise, you amaze me!” This doesn’t mean I agree with what you’ve done necessarily, but that I acknowledge your effort to try. Many people these days don’t know, or forgot how to be tactful and to consider someones’ feelings before they give an opinion.
    As for all the neutrals out there, I agree! Used to be shades of brown/tan, now it’s gray/pale blue/white. Still dull, boring and shows no personality! That being said, I confess to having a neutral tan base to my home (I have a husband who still thinks men should NOT wear pink or lavender!) but I add color in accessories to please ME. It works for us,we are both happy with it. After 40+ years of marriage, I’ve had to adjust more to please him, but in my private space (my workroom) I go crazy with my favorite colors/things. But I do love farmhouse style, only with some color thrown in! More “old style” farmhouse, I guess!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      After reading through the comments (which I love to do after reading Kristi’s blog) I was just thinking to myself that I don’t ever say should to someone when I’m talking about how they decorate because to me, it just sounds bossy. LOL! And I’m not a bossy type…I appreciate your comments and agree with you.

      Love Kristi’s blog!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Thank You for writing such an important post on the decorating “rules”. I am a color lover, too and every time I decide on a decorating project, color instantly comes to mind but I think twice and think I “should” tone it down or it won’t be right! Color what makes you happy!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I wholeheartedly agree about color! I have looked at a lot of houses over the past five years because we moved several times. “Builder’s beige” is the one color that I loathe that seemed to be in every house. To me, there is nothing that is more wonderful than a room full of color (like a crayon box). So carry on! I love seeing what you’re doing–you are so inspiring!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I hear you loud snd clear on this topic and wholeheartedly agree about everything. I’m so tired of seeing farmhouse white everywhere but I know that there are those who love that look. As long as they feel comfortable living there, that’s all that counts.

    And as for colour? I’m in love with it, too. Nothing finer than to see some bright colours to wake up to early in the morning, especially on the long winter’s ‘farmhouse white’ days. You look outside and see white snow and the grayish-brown trunks and branches of trees. Inside? Exactly the same colours. Ugh.

    My home is colourful and I love it. My best friend’s house is totally muted shades, looking not unlike a furniture store display. It just doesn’t do it for me but what’s important is that it makes her heart sing!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Love this post and the sentiments expressed. Yes!!!!!

    I had to laugh out loud, because after I finished reading this post and all the comments, and agreeing wholeheartedly, especially about all the neutral decor floating around Pinterest and Instagram and the blogosphere, I closed the window and the very next article in my blog reader was “Five Rules for Adding Neutrals to a Room”. Hahahahahaha!!!!!!

    I had to come back and leave this comment!!!

    Like all “should” topics, I take what I agree with and leave the rest. Usually a few years after a trend has peaked, I finally am ready to incorporate the part that is lasting. No one will ever accuse me of being a trend setter. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    One SHOULD never be a poo-flinging monkey. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    😂😂😂. I agree. I also liked your “rules” and think you should give us at least 46 more!!!! 😂😂😂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Excellent post! I can relate to everything you said. I am a sucker for “top 10” or “best designer ideas” , etc. and chuckle to myself when I read them because one top designer always contradicts another, within the same list no less! I am trying to follow the philosophy you laid out myself and decorate only for me and my family. Trends, schmends. They come and go just like all the so-called styling authorities will too. Oh, yeah, what you said about merchandising your stuff is spot on too!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Bailey McCarthy’s curtains are some kind of wonderful!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Hope Williams
    April 26, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    I LOVE this post! Amen and I second these emotions whole heartedly!
    P.S. I love color and I can’t live like I have to wash every ing all the time to keep whites white!
    I would love to sent a pic of my entry as it sets the tone for my whole home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Ha Ha. I love your “rules”. (One of mine would absolutely no curtain rings!)
    I appreciate the post and your candor. Many times I think to myself, “Why would she do THAT?”
    And just as quickly I remind myself, because it’s not “my” house 🙂

    Thanks for posting consistently and allowing us a glimpse into your process and your home. Whether or not I always like every one of your choices, you inspire me to take on projects both large and small with the confidence to just keep at something until it is what I want.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jo Anne Wooldridge
    April 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Taylor Swift has a song for this…I try to sing it in my head often (but not enough)

    “…haters gonna hate hate hate…shake it off, shake it off.”

    I’m not even a TS fan but I can’t resist singing along and smiling when I hear that song.

    Shake off shoulds and other negativity. I would live in the rainbow if I could.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Stacye Hixson
    April 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m in the process of redecorating my whole house because I was never happy with it. I had decorated the way I thought others would say was pretty and it was blah! Well those days are out the door and a color bomb has exploded and it makes me so happy. I do have a slight color trend that moves through the house but I have let my imagination loose and it has and continues to be so fun. Can’t wait til I’m finished (well I don’t think you’re ever completely finished but you know what I mean). I never did understand the throw pillows in a basket either but to each his own

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen W.
    April 26, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I love this post (and I’m in violation of Kristi rule number one!). The internet is alive with listicles such as “20 Things Women Over 30 Should Never Wear,” and I disagree with all of them. I love color too, and I happen to love a style of decorating within my home that does not jive with what all my contemporaries go for (they all have mid-century modern with an ironic twist). When I was little and people asked me what kind of a house I wanted to live in when I grew up, I said, “a haunted house.” I didn’t mean one with ghosts in it – I meant one with antiques and potted palms and ferns and floor-to-ceiling bookcases like the ones I saw only in movies about haunted houses. So I’ve gone that route (sans ghosts) and I couldn’t be happier. I get the occasional odd remark from friends, but could care less. It suits me. The only valid “should” in design is “you should do what makes you happy.”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laura H.
    April 26, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I agree but I am probably guilty of doing this sometimes myself. One of my biggest pet peeves is people decorating their homes based on resale value only. I get that, if they are planning on selling their home in the near future but so many do it that way period. It is the one thing that just grates on my nerves! I am guilty of saying that they should decorate their house to please themselves and not on resale value but to each their own. I just feel like everyone would be happier in their home if it were truly decorated to their own taste and not to what they feel a buyer would want.

    Thanks for this article! I need to watch myself and remember this when looking at other people’s homes.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I would never go into someone’s home and tell them what they should or shouldn’t have done as far as decorating unless they asked me (maybe I would with my daughters lol). I agree with Laura when she says she doesn’t like it when someone comments about re sale value. If I were flipping a home or decorating it to sell that is different, but I plan on living in my home until my dying days. If I want something and it costs more than I would get back because of resale value, who cares? I am the one living with it and wanting it.

    Kristi, I know you get many comments about decorating, but as you stated, you put yourself out into the public with your blog. That doesn’t give people the right to say what you should or shouldn’t do, but I think some people think it does give them the right.

    No matter what walk of life we are talking about, no one and I feel no one wants unsolicited advice!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Kristi,
    I’ve been following your blog for ages and ages. I just love that you know how to do everything. It’s totally amazing. I mean, totally! Anyway, now I’m a tiny little blogger and in the One Room Challenge (Linda from Calling It Home Blog). And quite frankly, I was feeling a little bashed about the whole washed out farmhouse trend. I’m totally about color and have a house full of items that just need updating with fabric or paint. So it’s two weeks until the reveal and I was feeling mighty anxious —until I read your post. I refinished 13 pieces and used 10 yards of wild fabric. Now the room is eclectic and fun and works great for my family. I leave this post here knowing that when this thing goes live, I can take the “shoulds” in stride. Thanks for being such a great example for us. It’s super comforting to know that you would love my room even if it’s not your taste. What you would really love, however, is the mountain of broken rules. LOL…. Rules? What rules? 🙂 Thanks for encouraging freedom. Going forward, this is where I plan to live.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      How fun for you doing the One Room Challenge! I can’t wait to see your room. I always set aside time to look through every single room by every single person on both the “official” participants list as well as the “guests” list. And I think you’ll be in good company. One reason I spend that time doing that every time is because I find “my people.” It seems like the One Room Challenge brings out lots of lovers of colorful rooms and decor. This is my all-time favorite so far:

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        April 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm

        I remember this room! LOVE it!. I love her use of super-saturated colors. That lilac-y pink. Swoon. And her drapes –totally looked like you designed them. My first outing for the ORC, I went with blushy pink, black, white, and greiges in my room. It was as much pink as I could get away with –you know how guys can be. 🙁 I was looking last night at boho chic for the dining room. Maybe eclectic traditional with influence from boho. That room has the light to handle some super sat color. Don’t want to be looking back on the refresh and think, “I shoulda.” Right?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan L.
    April 26, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Like you, I’m a can’t-live-without-lots-of-color gal, while my daughter prefers white, grays and creams. She has a hectic job and likes the calm. Whereas I blog from home and need the stimulation. Her home is actually very lovely, and I always FEEL calm when I go there. Fun, humorous post. PS: Lots of color at http://www.bohohome.com

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Krissy Buck
    April 26, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I agree with all of this! I really think the “shoulds” should go away in all areas of my life. Everyone is an expert these days.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I love this post! I think I read the same article and had a good laugh about all the inconsistencies! I’m not a professional – not even close. I like what I like till I don’t like it anymore. I have no idea what I’m doing but love the process of trying to figure it out – in my budget, in my timeline, for my family. I think you SHOULD do whatever makes you and Matt happy – and I will enjoy the ride. Thanks for hanging in there 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 26, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      I want to add to my above comment. I think many of us appreciate your honesty and enjoy hearing your process in making the huge decisions you do…including the changes! Hello – people change their minds! I do not, however, want to come across as enjoying your frustrations with people’s thoughtlesssness. I actually appreciate what you’ve poonted out because it has made me stop and ask myself if I have done this very thing to others without realizing it. I will be more attentive to sharing my opinions and how/when they are shared! THANK YOU for bring a sensitive subject up in a mature way that we can all benefit from.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Kristie – all I can add is AMEN!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kate S
    April 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    LOL! This post sure got some comments…
    Anyway, it spoke to me… I have three wonderful daughters-in-law and a married daughter…. and, oh boy… I have keep my SHOULDS to myself… going to remember this post 😀

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    A lot of decorators don’t follow their own “shoulds” because they can’t afford it either. I’ve been through the colonial, mauve, cherry wood, painting all wood, black instead of hated brown and now gray everything. I can’t afford to keep up and don’t. This is called creating a sense of history. A mixture makes it interesting. I’ve learned that eclectic is the way to go for me. My beloved old furniture with interesting accessories, art and books. It’s called “home”. P.S. I have oak cabinets, tab curtains upstairs and probably some pink- beigh somewhere. Horrors!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Amen sista! My boyfriend had hired a decorator for his new place – she wanted all the rooms the same color, all the ceiling fixtures the same everywhere, the bathroom vanities, countertops and handles all needed to match the kitchen, same blinds, etc etc etc. BORING!!!
    Long live color!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lee Ann Perez
    April 26, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    As I just told my granddaughter when she had her first baby last month, listen to people’s opinions of how you SHOULD raise your baby, smile, nodding your head, and simply say, “I’ll keep that in mind”. Doesn’t commit you to anything, but you’ve left that person feeling validated.

    I may not always agree with your choices or decisions, but you know what? I’ve learned that eventually, you won’t like those particular choices or decisions either, and sooner or later, you nearly always revamp those particular points of decorating. You have great taste, talents and skills. Remember, “I’ll keep that in mind….” then do what you want to do anyway. 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I try to give encouragement/positive feedback on all blogs/social media I read. There are positive ways to spin the negative thoughts you may have. For instance, my post yesterday praised Kristi for her very detailed tutorial on how to add trim to her breakfast room draperies. They were done perfectly and looked good. I also stated that pom poms were not my choice but if she loved them and was happy, that was great! It’s HER home. We are guests and ‘should’ keep that in mind. Thank you for the reminder that we all need to keep the ‘should’ to ourselves.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    As a professor, I have to be really careful with using the word “should” because students will often take it to mean “this is a thing I have to do.” Instead, anywhere I would say “should” I try to say “might consider”.
    You should use blue here instead of green.
    You might consider using blue here instead of green.
    Same content, but they’re the ones making the final decision, not me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Well said. I think ‘rules’ for decorating have evolved because many are so overwhelmed by choice that they seek guidance. But as you said, decorating is ultimately a personal endeavour because you live in it, so yours is the only opinion that matters.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    “Should” is okay when the “S” means ‘sharing an idea or opinion’. Its when the “S” becomes a “C” for Critical that it is better left unsaid.
    I’m right there with you on color. I’m beginning to believe too many designers are color adverse since white walls are so prevalent in articles for the last few years. I’ve nothing against white walls if that is what you really like. Go for it! Just don’t tell me that I “should” have painted my walls a neutral, preferably white.
    Its personal. When you walk in your door and your house makes you feel warm and smile, then you have the right color whether anyone else thinks it is correct or not.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Right on, sister! (She says from her all white bedroom!)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I love color as well. My last house I had dark purple walls with French country cabinets 8n my kitchen. My LR and hallway were a dark tan/beige/ with white woodwork and trim. One BR was wine color, one was sage green, one was sky blue turquiose. It was a rainbow and I loved it. My home now is a work in progress, but it’s colorful too 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lorna huyser
    April 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    It was very satisfying to read this. We built a house a few years ago and first when I was making decisions I spent too much energy wondering what people would think and if everything was meshing well or if it would look stupid. Finally I came to realize: it’s my house, you can’t please everyone and I’m the only who really cares anyway.
    But if I would have put myself and my house out there on a blog like you I would have been second guessing myself all the time. I think you probably fall in that trap sometimes too. I’ve noticed when you redo things it’s like you know what I wasn’t crazy about and changed it just for me.😋 I love your postings and I love seeing what your tackling next.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Teri Randall
    April 26, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Kristi…I am sure you would cringe in my house. We bought this house brand new 12 years ago. White walls everywhere. You have inspired me to go with some color. I want a tan color in my living room and breakfast and dining room. They are all connected and open. I physically cannot get on a ladder for these vaulted ceilings. So I will pay for it this summer. And I’m not waiting another year. This tan will go with my early American theme. I know. Probably not your style. I purchased a couple of really clean recliners from the Habitat For Humanity Restore along with a like-new couch. For now, I like it but hate those white walls. There’s a lot of oak in here too. At first, I loved it. After seeing what you do has changed my mind to break out of that mold. Thank you for sharing with us. Your home is beautiful and I love it.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Susan B
      April 27, 2017 at 9:28 am

      The restore ROCKS!!! Don’t apologize for painting your walls tan, if you like it, do it. I am sure it looks lovely.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jean C.
    April 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Great post, and finally someone gave voice to many of my same thoughts – AND you described an issue that I couldn’t put a name to: “merchandising your home.” I have a few friends who do this as well and i’ve never been able to put my finger on why it bothers me so much. But I have lots of friends whose homes I love to visit because each one is unique and each person brings their own personality into their homes. I enjoy looking at how they place their art and combine furniture and other decor items. I always return to my own home feeling quite inspired. As a side note, I design home decor products myself, and I diligently avoid reading about “trends.” I do what I think looks lovely and I figure someone out there will feel the same way.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    BRAVO and great post Kristi- I do admit I read the title and thought, “Oh no, what did I say??”
    I like and appreciate your style but to me that Bailey McCarthy living room is all over the place! But I can see it’s light and fun and charming so what’s the point of having a should in there? A few months ago you said something I meant to write down and it was something about a home being comfortable for the person in it . I can’t remember exactly- anyone know what I’m talking about? I thought it deserved to be framed and put on my walls!
    Shoulds are out but how about Could’s when asked? That might work well .
    I painted our powder room Van Duesen Blue (BM) and it’s dark and yummy. It’s going to be interesting to see who loves it and who doesn’t. You could say that I should have a light color in a small room but I disagree!
    I have paid a decorator a couple of times by the hour to come in and get me over some of my decorating blocks. But in the end our house is filled with our memories of 38 years, our parents memories and our children growing up. And to a lesser degree the things we’ve collected overseas while serving in the military and it’s always nice to see that commonality of things in other military families.
    You should learn and thrive and enjoy and relax and work and cook and love in your home . Period.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    This is so great! “merchandising” – yes, I totally get it although I never knew what it was called. I’ve been in homes that looked like a catalog page, and while beautiful – I never understood why I never felt homey in them or relaxed…make sense? We like throw pillows with different textures and sizes and randomly tossed on our couches because we actually use them. We use them for our backs and legs and elbows when we watch TV and when you mentioned a basket of pillows – hahaha, yeah, we’d never have a basket of pillows in our foyer, but hey, whatever floats the boats of anyone else 🙂 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carol-Anne Powell
    April 26, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I’m a colour junkie and I love to mix and match patterns too! People often balk when I suggest it in their homes, but they love it when they see it in mine.

    That’s so funny about the “merchanding”….have you ever seen that blog called “Catalog Living” where they mock that whole lifestyle? http://catalogliving.net/

    Bailey (Peppermint Bliss) is a decorating goddess to me!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Carol-Anne Powell
      April 26, 2017 at 5:40 pm


    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Theresa P
      April 27, 2017 at 9:13 am

      OMG. Thank you for posting that link and thanks even more to the writers of that site. catalogueliving! I love it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    My decorating style is really kinda simple- something the cats won’t knock over, pull down or collect cat hair (even though all of mine are short hairs- I swear they import it from overseas). My biggest pet peeve is people live in a house for years and only make an effort when it is time to sell it. I am working towards making my home a place I want to be.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!! You only stopped at 4!!! NO! You can do better than this. We all know you have a minimum of 20 in your head. What about the toilet rugs? waterbeds with bookshelves? feature walls in one color? massive entertainment units? wallpaper borders??????
    Come on!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    I’m a kitchen designer. The one thing I always stress to my clients is, don’t worry about what your neighbors, friends, relatives think or like. You are the one who needs to wake up every morning, walk into your kitchen and absolutely love it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 26, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks! I totally needed this today. Had a family member suddenly tell me how i should not go with the wood plank style counters i wanted. But i love them and am doing what i like in my house.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Phyllis E
    April 26, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Great post, Kristi, and I am enjoying reading the comments, too. I love how you mentioned that even top designers often contradict each other ( “But one slide would quote a designer who said you should ALWAYS do such-and-such. And then a few slides later, another designer was quoted as saying you should NEVER do that exact thing.”) I noticed the same “phenomena” on HGTV: on one show they are ripping out or redoing (removing, repainting, etc.) almost the exact same color, style, tile, design element, etc. that they are installing, bringing in, or using on another design show! Too funny. Has anyone else noticed the same thing?

    Do you find that, oftentimes, the decorating “shoulds”, especially coming from people who aren’t professional decorators, are merely what the person “thinks” is what is on-trend or what they have read should be done, etc.? For example, I used to work in the “flooring and décor” dept. at a big box store. One day a lady came in and picked out a very colorful (purple, green, gold, orange, brown) glass mosaic tile for her backsplash tile. She told me that she was trying to update her house to sell it. I was surprised she picked out such a taste-specific choice (not to mention expensive) for staging purposes. She showed me, on her phone, a photo of a colorful fabric pattern with those colors in it that she was using for “inspiration”. I asked her if it was her drapery fabric. She said, “No, it’s my realtor’s coat. She said I SHOULD get a backsplash tile with those colors in it to update my house!” I am NOT making this up, LOL!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2017 at 1:54 am

    I was one of the “should-ers” on your “A Peek At My New Living Room Draperies” post. Sorry for bothering 🙂 I will try to keep my shoulds to myself from now on.

    You know what happened, when I see your living room draperies in this post, I like them.

    And I really agree with you, it is your house and it should make you happy, not any of us.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Yeeeeeees!! This is so relatable. I have this friend who is very critical about my decorating style, even pointing it out to other friends how specific my style is and how she would never have a home like mine. Yet her house is not decorated at all, it’s very bland and she has a lot of excuses why she hasn’t made her house a home, and keeps making comments about other peoples interiors :S Very annoying. I love my home, my boyfriend loves our home and we are the ones living there. She’s not living with us so I don’t understands why she feels the need to constantly comment on it and point stuff out that she would NEVER do in her house.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kathleen Rupp
    April 27, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Kristi- your post was so empowering for me!! I have a new found freedom that I can’t explain after reading:) I decided to launch my blog in Feb. and have been intimidated by the fact that my design tastes have not evolved with the new trends. As my brother puts it, my home is ‘uptight old lady traditional style’ at its best. My favorite aspects are the rich colors, fake crystal chandeliers(because I didn’t pay a fortune) and my oriental rugs! ha. But I love it!!! In the past couple of months I was thinking… well, I will just photograph any makeovers or projects I do and crop my design inside my home because people of course won’t want that! Rustic is IN refined is OUT. But now after reading….I feel like why not? Who cares! The point of blogging can be missed! It is like the person who won’t buy a home because of the color on the walls but the house has great bones and the moldings are intricate. You have amazing talents that I haven’t seen on many sites! If some can’t look past the decor that you are working with because they don’t like it, they are totally missing out on their own potential that they could gain from learning from you. Thank you for putting yourself out here for the world to see! As someone who sews, I am so happy I found your site because I know I will be exploring your old posts and learning from your expertise. Thank you for your tutorials and thank you for doing something different than the neutral farmhouse of 2017 design.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Well said, Kristi. I love color but also love neutrals. Everyone has their own style. Rules are meant to be broken. BTW I love your dining room curtains. Never thought to add pom pom interest. (May use that in the future)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Well now I’m rethinking my curtains … They are supposed to be rod pocket, which I don’t like so I was going to add grommets (currently taking these store bought panels apart and lining them). Maybe I SHOULD review your lesson on “pinch pleats” … ? If the grommets work, I won’t be sad but maybe SHOULDs are okay to pause and confirm a plan before it is too late. Love what you do. Love seeing your posts.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cyndie Ross
    April 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

    We just moved to a two bedroom; 1 bath cabin in the mountains. This place had not been updated since it was built 40 years ago. So, I totally agree with painting cabinets; which I did; changed the wall color from what looked like a ‘smokers yellow’ to a very light blue/gray.

    Ah, the bathroom has the ugliest tile…..dilemma is to remove it or paint it. It’s not a flat tile either, so sanding will be a problem. I would love to remove the tub and put in a walk in shower, but it’s not in the budget and having only 1 bathroom; it creates a problem……Kristi what would you suggest?

    Since this place is so small we had to put up blinds and in order NOT to make the rooms small no other window treatment will work over the blinds. At least they are white and still let light in from among the trees.

    Now for designers who NEVER show a room with a TV and NEVER make it a focal point, I SAY ‘GET REAL’ TV’s are in every house and quite possibly in every room. Although we only have one TV in this cabin I certainly don’t want to stare at my wood stove!

    Great article!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I am loving this post!! I love color too!! I have tried to like white or neutral but I just can’t embrace it. I think that’s why I look forward to your posts. I actually had someone inhale their breath sharply when I gave them a tour of our home. Comments like I would NEVER have used that color in MY bedroom. “How can you sleep in here”. It really hurt my feelings. I have repainted that room several times over the years. Not because of the comments, but because I wanted something else. Paint is like instant magic for me. So thank you for inspiring me. My “should” is I should get up and try painting my cabinets!!! Lol Thanks again

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 28, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Oh, this needs to be shouted to the masses! I am a designer…I do mostly space-planning (kitchens & baths, additions, etc), NOT decorating (I will refer you to some lovely interior decorators for pillow and lamp selection, thank you.) Clients constantly want me to tell them what they SHOULD do. I explain that I can’t tell them that. I can tell them what I would do if it was my house (which has little bearing, because it’s NOT my house!). I can explain to them what the current trends are. I can play psychologist and help them figure out what would be best for them and their family. I can give them all of the pros and cons of their options, and tell them about potential pitfalls to be aware of. But, at the end of the day, I can’t tell them what they SHOULD do. It is their home. Nobody can tell them if they would prefer more windows in their kitchen or more wall cabinets and fewer windows, or if they want darker floors with lighter countertops or a more “matching” look. We can discuss pros and cons, but the ultimate decision is up to them. That being said, there are GUIDELINES when it comes to space planning. I can’t put an island in your kitchen if you don’t have the clearance for it. I can’t put a pocket door in if there is too much plumbing/HVAC/electrical in the walls (unless you want to pay to have it moved!) But I know that’s not what you’re talking about here. I work at a floorcovering store part time, and it always amazes me that people want to take the samples home because they’re “having the family over” or “having a birthday party”, and they *think* they want everybodys’ opinions. They really don’t. Nobody’s opinion matters except the ones buying and living with the selection, and they’ll just come back more confused than ever after 20 people tell them what they “should” do!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 8, 2017 at 9:17 am

      Amen! I was an interior decorator for 12 years, working independently. Far too many people would say “What’s trendy now?” To which I would say “I can tell you that answer but it does you no good if it’s not something you’d like in your home.”

      Too many opinons = a very confused homeowner 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    April 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    This is my most favorite post that you’ve ever written. I love following you and all of your ideas. Keep on doing what you love!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 8, 2017 at 6:28 am

    You’ve been so bombarded with comments you might never get to this one, but if you do… I just want to say a great big THANK YOU for posting this. I am plagued by the word “should” in just about every aspect of my life, including decorating and just like your drapery panel (which is bloody lush, by the way!), I am way too easily influenced by other people’s negative opinions. Funnily enough, I hardly remember (or trust!) those lovely positive comments I receive. Go figure! During a recent lightbulb moment, I realised it’s “OK” if not everyone loves my blog and that rather than attempting to attract subscribers and followers by trying to appeal to everyone, I need to find my tribe – those people who already love what I do! They are out there, I’m sure! Thank you again for your insight – I feel all fired up again x

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 8, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Oh oh oh I LOVED your post!

    Please allow me to share a couple (from many!) of my own stories from my 12 years as an independent interior decorator. (I recently dissolved my business to focus on our other independent business.)

    Story #1: One of my first phone consults.
    Caller: I love red. I want red sheers in my living room. My friends say I’m crazy. What do you say?
    Me: Who’s going to live in the house?
    Caller: Whaaaa? Well, just me. I’m a single lady.
    Me: Well, put up those red sheers! 🙂 Don’t decorate for your friends, relatives or neighbors. They don’t live there –YOU do!
    Caller: I’m SO so so happy! Thank you!

    I didn’t get any money from that phone consult but one very happy lady was out there somewhere with red sheers she loved in her living room.

    Story #2
    Five years ago my hubby and I moved into a different house. E.v.e.r.y single one of my family members who has come to visit our home has given me FAR FAR FAR too many “shoulds”!! (Exception: My Dad loved our home. Sadly, he recently died.) A few examples are…..

    —-My mother told me the stove-top burner and separate wall oven were wrong. “You should get rid of those and put in a real stove” ( I wanted to respond: Uh, mom, it IS a real stove! It’s just not like the one you have. And we happen to like it very much.)
    —My youngest sister said “The sink in your guest room bath is too tall You should lower it somehow. One of your steps to the upper level isn’t exactly the same height. You should tear them out and fix that. I hate all your white colors! (I wanted to respond: Uhh Sis, you’re getting to stay here free with free meals and transportation instead of paying for a hotel,restaurants and rental car.)
    —My brother in law said “All your mirrors are too low on the wall. You should put them up higher so I can see myself.” (I wanted to say, Well brother in law, did you know mirrors can be placed for reflecting something other than your face AND sometimes their only purpose is to reflect light or that the mirror is beautiful as art in and of itself.)

    Happily, many visitors (friends, party-goers,etc.) have come into our home with expressions of jaw-dropping awe , saying they love our home. It’s family who gives me the “shoulds”! Arrg! 😉
    It bothers me (and my hubby too bacause he too loves the look of our home) quite a lot. It’s taken me several years to tell them “Well, it’s our home and we like it.” The rest of the comments of course stay in my head 😉

    I used to follow a very prominent designer/blogger. One day someone wrote to her saying “I liked my pinky beige bathroom until you said in your blog it’s a bad color. Now I don’t know what to do.” I literally cried for that homeowner! Here she was loving her home until some ‘big shot’ told her it was “Wrong”!!! Bad designer, bad designer! Was the designer going to cough up the funds to change out the “wrong” wall tile, floor tile and fixtures? No… She was too full of “shoulds”, IMO. I quit reading her blog.

    I am so very very very (can I add another very? LOL!) happy to see decorators telling people in blogs they should do what THEY want in their homes and forget the “rules” of decorating. If it makes you happy, DO it! 😀 (I would like to say that if farmhouse chic is your thing, please thoroughly clean the chicken poop and peeling rust off the feeder before you use it for table decor. {giggle} OK, as an interior decorator myself, I guess I would have a couple of “shoulds” for the sake of cleanliness.)

    Our homes surely MUST be our sanctuaries and how we define the word sanctuary, is only set by ourselves and those who we live with.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie Brown
    July 3, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Curious how you determine how much bold print to use in a room? Window treatments, chair covering….. example a dining room, well actually who cares what room. You have lovely use of fabrics. How do you decide a plain drapery fabric with a bold fabric trim versus the whole treatment is bold fabric?
    I am considering various things from your blog’s inspiration. Love your drapes but I have a cat so was thinking of doing just a valance. The side panels would be so nice but I can imagine them being a claw factory!!! How do you determine that right amount of pattern/color energy versus over the top too much making it animated or busy? You always seem to find the right balance of print/pattern, texture and color. Genius

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 9, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Oh my, I just saw this post in the middle of trying to amp myself up to continue work on taking apart shoddy work on my kitchen by a bad contractor and rebuilding them entirely and AMEN to that. The reason why I am after 9 months of renovation taking apart and rebuilding my kitchen again in the middle of a very busy school year is because some people couldn’t keep their shoulds out of my house and convinced my partner I should be forced to hire a contractor to renovate our house. So we did. And he took NINE LONG MONTHS to shoddily build an IKEA kitchen and then leave the job half done and washing his hands of the whole business by refunding me and leaving a totally screwed up half done kitchen behind him. So I’ve essentially paid 16 grand for the pleasure of watching someone ruin my beautiful new kitchen cabinets and then having to undo and redo the work myself. People should take their ‘shoulds’ and put it somewhere else. Like the compost heap.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Happened upon your blog on Pinterest, and I never comment on blogs, but this post deserved an “amen!”
    I live in a stuffy white colonial. I’m cool with the traditional exterior, but I want people to walk in and think fun people live here. I love ALL the colors! I love so many architectural and design styles. I have kids and pets that need to live here too! My personal taste is eclectic and I don’t want to be tied down to someone else’s “shoulds”
    Thanks for the great post-you’ve gained a new follower 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anahid Dominguez
    November 13, 2021 at 8:46 am

    I love decorating and I also love color, lots of color. I do find that a lot of people are afraid of color. Somehow when to prepare a home to rent or sell, it has to be white or neutral color. I just can’t understand why? I am also an artist and anytime I want to display my paintings that are in the nude in a public place it’s unacceptable and it’s automatically related to be sexual but it’s art. What do people do when they go to Europe? Nude is in the open and it’s art. So yes I am not afraid of color at all.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 17, 2022 at 9:40 am

    I love your post. And I am committed to my white walls and light color scheme. Lol. I am a little more cottage and not farmhouse, so my colors are not stark tones but cozy ones, but still on the light side. I agree completely with your sentiment! If you love something, you should do what you love! I had a friend visit who said “You spend too much on decorating. You should not do that and spend extra on other things instead.”. I mostly found things for the home at thrift stores, but you can find extremely nice items there! I did not ever spend what my friend decided I had! It was far less than she thought. Even if I had paid department store full prices, if I wanted to spend as a hobby on decorating, it was my decision to make. I do not have a cluttered look, just a few nice pieces that are of a look that I splurged big. But I found them in thrift stores!!! My friend’s should may apply to how she prefers to do in her home but it did not mean I was more interested in decorating than was right to be or that I actually need to spend less money.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 17, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    Love love love your drapery panels!!!
    Can you share where I can find it ?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Corry Saunders
    June 27, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Accidentally came upon your blog and enjoyed reading your opinions about decorating rules. 100% understand what you are saying.