Undecorating

There’s a new book I’m excited to get my hands on called “Undecorate” by the founder of Dwell Studios: Christiane Lemieux.   

There was a fantastic story in The Wall Street Journal last weekend about this undecorating trend: the idea that a home shouldn’t be this forced reflection of perfection, but a place where things come together organically over time and everything just sorta makes sense.

But before we get to the book, it sorta reminded me how the world of prop styling has really forced us away from pin-straight, high-end luxury, gilded decorating and more into a relaxed, realistic, DREAMY way of living.     That is, the prop styling worlds have taken the “sloppy” approach to decorating so far that there’s even parody site making fun of some of these photo spreads:  Take Catalog Living for example.

I see here a fluffy bed with comfy sheets, a weathered bookshelf (not sure I’d stick above my head…but that’s beside the point), some b/w photos artfully snuck into the cracks of the bookshelf, old books casually stacked on top, and a cup of tea perhaps drunk after a morning of catching up on some reading.

And here’s what Catalog Living has captioned this over-styled photo:

The horse had heroically made it over the highest peaks of Book Mountain, but unfortunately faced a treacherous descent before he could reach his companion.

You have to laugh a little.    It’s worth visiting on a regular basis whenever you need a laugh:  catalogliving.net.

Anyway, I think UNDECORATE has recognized the fact that prop stylists have changed the way we view decorating and has captured this idea that certain types of clutter, disarray, random juxtapositions and casualness can actually be very very pretty.

I’m a big believer there are two types of rooms that will be obsolete in about 20 years: the formal dining room and living room.     These used to be rooms that we never went into as children and even today we never use.   In any of my houses, I don’t have either and think the way architects are going to be designing houses in the future, we’re going to eliminate them altogether.    It’s just not the way we live anymore.

So, would love to hear what you think about this un-decorating trend.     Do you think this is a beautiful way to live or do you think it’s just outright sloppy?

I’m off to Borders (lucky my store is still open and not on the chopping block) to go pick up my copy.   Maybe I’ll read half of it, leave it flipped open by my bedside table and take my two horses for a walk up Book Mountain….   :)

6 Comments

  1. I like the undecorating trend. I’ve been doing it for years…living with what I love and not worrying about decorating *rules*. I also feel every room should be used to its potential and not just for company.
    We did away with that living room and dining room when we built our log home, and now have a large open great room and kitchen and it is so versatile and allows for large and small gatherings.

    happy day!

  2. denise f in c'ville, va says:

    thanks for posting this … i might have missed the book and the “idea” behind it.
    *(but now i’ve got to go find a great old mantle like that!)

  3. Hannah says:

    i love the site, catalogliving.net, it says all the things i’d say in my head when i’d look through certain catalogs. really funny stuff.

    i think the idea of “undecorating” is great. why let your house feel inferior to the catalog homes just because it’s not as matchy or formal as the stuff you see in catalogs? i say, let go of the false security of perfectionism and let your house reflect who you really are! (unless of course one really does believe in the false sense of security of perfectionism…in which case: carry on!)

  4. Jules Moore says:

    There will always be an art to lighting, composition and graphic balance…. : )
    I Love to undecorate…. there is so much movement, mystery and sensuality…. and so much more individual!

  5. Beth says:

    My home is an example of the undecorated house. It is filled with things I have collected along the way, along with pieces from my grandmother, and numerous other relatives. I love the items we have. It is casual and VERY lived in ( lots of children, it has to be). However, as someone who loves design, I have worked to pull it together as best I can.
    But I am with you, why have unused rooms? With our large brood I turned our living/dining room into one loooong dining room, since I have a very looong table. On weekends, it holds whoever I can get to come over. During the week, it is the project table, homework table, and anything else it needs to be. Love it!

  6. I no longer have a formal dining room (turned into an office) or a formal living room (now the family room). The former family room is now the kitchen (as it was off the kitchen, and the dining table is now there, in front of the fireplace). All these spaces are being used to the fullest, every day–so I totally agree with you about those vanishing rooms!

    I love the idea of undecorating. I have many beautiful rooms that truly looked “lived in” with rumpled beds and accessories strewn about after daily use. Of course the quality of the accessories–everyday items–is what makes the room beautiful! Why not put your money where the everyday use is–beautiful bedding and sheets and dishes, so that these items look pretty when they are out and in use?

    Love this trend–I never knew a name for it previously!
    mary