Trend Snob – House Proud, The Toronto Sun

Every so often some designer will tell you what is in and what is out for decorating your home. If you’re like me, a trend has been incorporated into your decor only because you really love it and it fits with your lifestyle and personality.

Just because some style maven has proclaimed red suede tabletops the hottest trend of the year doesn’t mean you’ll automatically run out and invest in crimson cowhide. A couch is a much bigger commitment than, say, a pair of shoes. The revolving door of fashion turns more slowly in the world of home decor, but in my view it’s just as fickle.

One list I recently read pertaining to the “out” things for fall 2010 includes stencilled letters spelling out words like “laugh” and “love.” I happen to have a few of those carefully selected words on a master bedroom wall, and they’re meaningful to me. Not only do they represent some of my life’s top priorities, they look dreamy and serene — characteristics one wants in a room where sleep is the main function. Every designer can put this look on their “out” list and it won’t matter to me.

So it’s with the antidote to a disposable way of living in mind that I share with you my own top five list of “in” ideas for decorating your home.

1. Include something in your decor that’s uniquely you. Whether it’s a collection of ceramic chickens, a rack of vessels that show off your great cooking skills or something else entirely, your personality is paramount in making your home a reflection of you.

2. If you do have a collection, put only the best ones on display and pack the rest away. I used to collect elephants, but my herd got way out of hand. Over the years I received loads of gift elephants that were — how can I put this delicately — of a less expensive quality than I would have personally chosen. Then I realized: when someone gives you a gift, it’s a one-way contract. You are not obligated to make a centre piece out of a cheap trinket.

3. Choose accessories that mean something to you. Some people decorate with items they buy when they travel, making their souvenirs dual-purpose. You may want to pause a moment before you buy that shrunken head and think about whether it will really complement your decor. But well-chosen objects brought home from your adventures are true conversation pieces. If you’re more of a homebody, just don’t buy everything from one store.

4. Keep clutter to a minimum. We all have some clutter. Here’s a test to decide if yours has gotten out of control: Do you leave newspapers on every flat surface because it makes dusting easier? Are there more clothes on your floor and your bed than in your closet? Do you have a professional Sherpa on standby to assist guests over the mountain of coats and shoes in the entryway? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a clutter problem.

5. Cleanliness is the next best thing to fabulous. KEEPING things clean is a lot easier than GETTING them clean. And it’s everybody’s job to help with this. Feel free to tell them I said so.

So there you have it. No trends that will expire and no silly fly-by-night ideas that you’ll get sick of living with, just some sensible guidelines for fashionable living. The particulars are up to you.

Over the years, plenty of people have told me that they have no taste and don’t know how to decorate. I ask them to look at a photo and show me what they like. And that’s how it starts.