When it starts to feel contrived, it's time to edit and purge

By Joseph Pubillones
Posted1/19/2020 7:01 AM

I am so confused! Even as the new year begins, I promise my family and myself that I will not bring another piece of furniture into the house. All of a sudden, I glimpse at a garage sale sign, the car screeches to a halt, and I just can't resist the temptation of a find. Next thing you know, resolution No. 1 is broken, and -- kerplunk! -- a new grouping of stuff takes center stage in my living room.

Now, I admit I am an impulsive and compulsive person and designer. In our home, there is always a flux of furniture and art. Still, from time to time (make that dusk to dawn), I find my house is either overly decorated or just doesn't have the right stuff. Let's call it interior dissatisfaction -- or visual fatigue.


There is a reason for that, and you might be suffering from this malady, too.

My house, you see, is a testing ground of sorts, replete with leftover items from past projects, "oops" furniture, things I have collected and inherited over the years, and every so often an accessory or two that scream out the latest craze. In your home, it might be interiors by accumulation or by Aunt Sally.

I love lots of things, ranging from polycarbonate chairs to fine classic furniture to faux fur pillows and antiques. I love it all! And as I try out new ideas and accessories in my own home to see what works and doesn't, it's easy to get carried away and overwhelmed. How do you put it all together?

When it starts to feel chaotic or contrived, that is when I get the desire to edit and purge.

Lots of folks and designers feel that in order to make a project or room feel complete, you must add more decorative elements and furnishings to what is already there. Sometimes, this is the correct approach to finish what at one time was not, or breathe a bit of new life into an existing interior design. Knowing your taste or your family's style is essential. Your interiors should be reflective of you, your lifestyle and what you like -- but don't overdo it. Use restraint.

However, sometimes what a room or project needs is what I call the opposite of decorating. The opposite of decorating involves allowing the items to be placed in a manner that feels natural -- more organic and functional placement of items and less staged. Editing is crucial to this approach of "undecorating" your room.

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Eliminate all superfluous items and bring them back where and when needed. Let go of the need for symmetry or the pairing of items. Keep things that may even have a bruise or two. Embrace the flaws if the design is good. Sometimes, it's OK to keep it simple.

Undecorated rooms are more like timeless capsules than prizewinning designs. Their beauty doesn't depend on everything being in a perfect state or place, just where things make sense. Undecorating allows you to rearrange furnishings often so they don't look staged. It's liberating!

• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.

© 2020, Creators Syndicate

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