Is This the Best Design Advice You’ll Ever Get?

I just read my latest issue of House Beautiful, as I do every month–cover to cover. And this month it features an impeccably decorated New York prewar apartment by one of my personal favorites, Suzanne Rheinstein.

Whether or not you like Rheinstein’s restrained aesthetic (I love it!), this article contains what I would say is the single best piece of design advice you might ever get. Says Rheinstein,

Have fewer things, but better things.

So, there you have it. The best piece of design advice you’ll ever get. And it just happens that these six words are the essence of Slow Luxe Design.

What I call “inheritable design” doesn’t happen overnight. Or, as Rheinstein puts it in the HB article, “It’s not 10-minute decorating. But, I’ll tell you what I tell the young people who work for me: If you buy one good thing a year, in five years, you’ll have five really good things.”

To me, having a few good things and working toward adding more good things makes more sense aesthetically, financially and even environmentally than serially consuming trendy mass-produced goods with a big carbon footprint.

Here’s one way to think of Slow Luxe Design decision making. It’s like making a choice to eat a fresh vegetable every day instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips. Is it easy to do? Yes. Once you’ve made that commitment, you know it is pretty easy to choose something nutritious over something filled with fat, salt and chemicals. Is it hard to do? Yes. It means overcoming a strong habit. Is it worth it? Yes! Because, over a year’s time, if you choose a half-cup of broccoli over the chips, you will take in about 65,700 fewer calories. That’s a weight loss of about 19 pounds.

And the same goes for making the commitment to fill your home with good things, however slowly, and not the empty calories of cheap, trendy overseas mass production.

Am I saying that Slow Luxe Design is good for you? I am. In many ways. And it’s not just good for you. It’s the farm-to-table of the home. It’s good for the artisan who creates it. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the economy which makes it good for the community. It’s a thoughtful part of your personal narrative. And I think all of that is worthwhile.

What do you think? Is this the best design advice you’ll ever get? And if so, what are you dreaming of adding to your home?

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6 thoughts on “Is This the Best Design Advice You’ll Ever Get?

  1. Lovely post, Andrea. I’m dreaming of adding just the right dining table and chairs for my open concept kitchen/dining area. (Of course, in the meantime, I’ve been making do for forever with a hand me down from my in-laws that doesn’t quite count as heirloom furniture, but that has meant I’m not consuming some cheap piece in the meantime!)

    • Carol, thank you for sharing that. I love that you’re reusing your in-laws’ set until you get the one you’re dreaming about–and I think that often the dreaming and planning part is almost as much fun as the having part!

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