Decorating & Design

December 18, 2008

How To Express Your Style

Personal consultants Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte, authors of Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design, share inspiration and ideas for creating a home that reflects the true you.

Step 1: Use your best everyday

Life is too short to wait for a special occasion to bring out your finery, your treasures, your brilliance and your highest regards. What do you keep tucked away for special occasions and company? Your high thread count sheets, your beeswax candles, your hostess with the mostess generosity? What constitutes a special occasion for you, and how often are those special times coming your way?

This week’s intention: Identify three things that you keep stashed or tucked away as “precious.” Promote them to everyday-special status. Make a real leap. Pull out the antiques that you want to pass down — life is short. Take the finery out of the china cabinet. Go ahead, use your good dishes tonight and have water in a goblet — even if company isn’t coming over. Putting a little more treasure in your day reminds you how valuable your pleasure is.

Step 2: Remember, cheap is expensive in the long run

Why buy twice when you can buy once? Commit to quality and it commits to you.

You choose: Three cheap throw pillows that you buy on sale. You feel like “they’ll do” for a little punch of décor. Too soon they’re floppy and tired. Total cost: about $150 bucks — which you may as well donate to the Goodwill store, because that’s where those pillows are headed anyway. Or: One heavy, rich textile pillow, linen or silk, maybe even antique, handmade in Paris or Toronto or Morocco. It would take some time to find it (perfection usually takes a while.) Cost: about $150 bucks — a pricey pillow for many of us. And when you walk into your living room, you see a splash of quality, craft, fabulous design — your artful choice.

It’s better to have fewer quality things, than low grade quantity. Compromise definitely cramps your style.

This week’s intention: Resist the temptation to fill empty spaces. Be especially mindful of bargain highs. Make a list of what quality feels like, sounds like, and looks like to you. Hold out for the best and treat it well when you find it. (And need we say it? This lesson applies to more than just pillows.)

Step 3: Know the divine law of the great chair

Here’s a radical notion: What if you really liked, even outright adored every material thing in your own life? What if the quality, shape, colour, function and feel of the things you owned gave you satisfaction, pride and delight?

Carrie was an interior designer for years. Many a time she’d come across people who were holding on to futons and tired old chairs long after university days had passed.
“Get rid of it,” she’d advise.
“Well, we hate it but we really need it.”
“Get rid of it.”

Enter The Divine Law of The Great Chair.

When you let go of things you don’t love, you create space for things that you do love to show up. Even if it’s “useful”, it’s filling an “empty” place, it was a gift, it was inherited, expensive, imported, exotic or you truly loved it once upon a time — if you don’t like something in your space, it’s dragging you down. This isn’t about old, or new or what you can afford, this is about how stuff makes you feel.

This week’s intention: Identify the “old chairs” in your life that you’re making do with and get rid of them. You may have to sit on floor cushions for a while but you’ll be dwelling in possibility instead of compromise and regret. And you know what will happen? The “Great Chair” you desire will show up. Your neighbour will be getting rid of a chair they don’t like and it’ll be the Great Chair of your dreams. Or you’ll get a raise next week and treat yourself to a new Great Chair. Or you’ll find it on a road trip – finally! Your Great Chair, oh-so worth the wait.

Satisfaction and delight feels just right.

P.S. Please purge responsibly. Deserving friends, charity shops and shelters are much more practical than landfills.