Before I get started, I wanted to share my excitement over being mentioned on that mother-blog design*sponge on Monday! Looks like those New Yorkers are taking a page from us Canucks! Take a look-see here.
Anyway, I was flipping through some back-issues of Martha Stewart Living, hunting for inspiration, and read one of her old “Remembering” columns, now defunct. Martha, in all her wisdom, wrote about how if you get the shell right, a room can be just as beautiful left undecorated as if it were filled with furniture and objects. If you work on having a solid base — nice floors, soothing paint on the walls, lots of light — the space will be pleasing no matter what. Every subsequent bit of décor is just gravy.
How true it is! In a time when we’re recovering from a design headache brought on by exuberant pattern and colour, simplicity seems appealing. When everybody has begun to count their pennies and wants to invest in design that will last instead of make a trendy statement, these principles apply.
The Martha Stewart aesthetic played a huge role in the formation of my own personal style, and as I flipped through for inspiration I found a gold mine. These rooms aren’t about ‘it’ pieces, patterns or colours. They’re all about simple, pure, even gentle, decorating. The shell comes first and each piece is added carefully, with an eye for quality and timelessness.
Take a cue from Martha — I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was.
Just as much of an icon as Martha herself, this is the house that made her famous: Turkey Hill. With its symmetry and putty paint, it’s a (quiet) knockout. I’d live here.
Another Martha hallmark — copper! Here in her Turkey Hill kitchen, Martha decorates with what she uses — beautiful everyday objects are all you need. Hey, and she was into the black Windsor-back chair before all of us!
Soft shell pink paint + quilt + simple chair + plant = heaven. Enough said.
Martha’s famous drabware shade on the walls — gleaned from Wedgwood china — is the perfect mix of grey and brown and so easy to live with. She also uses her famous grey/blue/green here. Notice how the millwork, floors and ceiling just shine. The house sings despite the stuff.
Calm and tranquil with near-perfect symmetry. Spool beds are hot again, and I’ll bet they will be again in 20 years. Ahhh, timeless style.
P.S. The standard-issue ceiling fan doesn’t even bother me here!
Even Maratha can do punchy. This yolk yellow is bold and happy. But notice how the whole room is finished with classic details to keep it livable? Simple seagrass carpet, matchstick blinds, fresh, white millwork and a neutral chair in a classic shape.
This one makes me dizzy in a good way. This is an oldie, and I can remember loving it when I was around 12! This perfect green/blue colour was taken from Martha’s Araucana chicken eggs and inspired a movement. This colour is still hot today. Again, simple walls, humbly painted floor, iron bed and ticking stripes. So simple and so perfect!
Looks like MSL was onto bleaching early, too! The doors are stripped back so you can appreciate their details and patina. The floors are bare and rustic, too. Linen-coloured walls in the hall, pale lichen green in the living room. Furniture? What furniture?
This room goes to show you how even your grandmother’s heirlooms will look smashing if mixed with the principle of simplicity. You don’t always have to paint something to freshen it up. Why not start by simplifying the shell (here it’s all white) and giving dark old pieces lots of breathing room. Add one handsome hue like grass green and you’re off to the races.
And finally, this classic shot (which made the cover way back when). For me, it’s the essence of pure, simple style. And what’s more affordable than painting an old chest buttercup yellow and using it as your sideboard?
My opinion: don’t waste too much time on what’s hot right now. Concentrate on the basics, then enjoy your space.
1. Martha Stewart Living, Turkey Hill home
2. Martha Stewart Living, Turkey Hill kitchen
3. Martha Stewart Living, Pale Pink Bedroom
4. Martha Stewart Living, Pastels gallery
5. Martha Stewart Living, Blue Room
6. Martha Stewart Living, Yellow Room
7. Martha Stewart Living, Pastels gallery
8. Martha Stewart Living, Pastels gallery
9. Martha Stewart Living, Signature Sofa
10. Martha Stewart Living, Green Room
11. Martha Stewart Living, Yellow Plus Yellow