14 Pieces of Grandparent-Approved Decor Advice

published Jan 1, 2023
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Grandparents have lived through enough decades, trends, and often different homes that they can offer perspective that younger people don’t quite have yet. They’ve seen current decor become vintage, and vintage hand-me-downs turn into storied antiques

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Below, 14 people share the best pieces of home and decor advice they received from their grandparents — and that they continue to share and honor. While styles evolve and move in and out of fashion, timeless advice is always relevant. 

1. Decorate with both personality and practicality.

“My grandmother’s kitchen was the heart of her home, and the decor was very intentional. It was a culmination of years of experience, personal taste, and strong life philosophies. She advised making your decor personal but practical. For me, the epitome of this was a cute ceramic plaque she hung on the wall of her kitchen with her favorite oatmeal cookie recipe engraved on it. It was personal as it was her favorite cookie to make (and our favorite to eat!) and practical because the recipe was right beside her mixer, so no need to fumble through a recipe box. 

“Her penchant for practicality and sentimentality is something I take with me wherever I go, and has allowed me to grow a career and lifestyle around marrying the personal and the practical. Every piece in my kitchen has a personal story attached to it from my travels or from a memory of using it to cook with loved ones.”Sylvia

2. Remember that your home is where you live.

“The most meaningful piece of advice that my now-103-year-old grandmother shared with me was that a house is just the place you live. It’s not a guaranteed investment, it’s not a bank, it’s just a place to live your life. Thinking of homes this way is wildly freeing. Make it yours, love it, and when it’s time to move on, you can do it again!” Carol

3. Bust out your nice dishes every day.

“My grandmother was a true believer in using all the rooms in your home, and enjoying your nice silverware and china every day — not saving it for special occasions. It definitely gave me the perspective to really fully enjoy your home every day and not be afraid to give your furniture or family heirlooms that well-loved patina that gives pieces lots of character.” Kevin

4. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

“We’ll worry about making it perfect when Better Homes & Gardens comes for the photo shoot.” Kalena

5. You will find a spot.

“If you love it and you can afford it, buy it. You’ll find a place for it.” Meg

6. You can’t go wrong with black, so…

7. You can always use more dishes.

“My grandma always says you can never have too many dishes. She had a room in her basement full of dishes and glassware for any sort of occasion. She’s started giving me some over the years and it’s so special to have them passed down.” —Jennifer

8. Decorate slowly.

“[My grandma used to say,] ‘If you have everything you want now, then you won’t have anything to look forward to.’ She was right. It’s more meaningful to take your time and acquire items you truly love and will want to keep instead of trying to fill spaces for a short-term fix.” —Kelley

9. Design a home you can actually live in.

“One important piece of advice my grandmother Lee Bogart shared with me is that you should always make your home livable — make your home work for your family and not your family work around your home. She was a well-known interior decorator (she decorated the country home of the former head of Condé Nast) and someone who had the most exquisite taste. She always insisted on using true, clear colors for paint, to showcase the room, and using the best materials you can afford because you won’t have to replace them so frequently, or ever.” Sarah

10. Make the design feel right.

“My grandmother always said your bed should be positioned so you see the foot of the bed first when you walk into a bedroom. Not advice but a little superstition. She passed away a handful of years ago, but I often think of her when walking into the bedrooms of my home and seeing the foot of the bed first.”  Allison

11. Decorate where you entertain first.

“My grandparents had a lot of different houses growing up and my grandmother always said, ‘Start decorating in the rooms where you entertain people. It will make the whole house feel more inviting!’” Hayley

Credit: Minette Hand

12. One word: mirrors.

“One can never have too many hanging mirrors! Makes any room feel bigger.” Ruth

13. Don’t be afraid of change, but don’t change you.

“My grandma always found a way to give practical as well as metaphorical advice. I would ask how she always decided what pictures to hang up in the house, and she would emphasize to never be afraid of change and be open to switching things up. Decor doesn’t have to be set in stone. If something looks off, replace the frame, not the picture, since the picture is what matters the most. She would get philosophical and say, ‘You can use that as a way to live life. It’s okay to change your outer self, like your clothes, music tastes, and preferences, but never change who you are at your core.’ That has translated into a personal interior design philosophy for myself.” Stefan 

14. Don’t divulge why the flowers look so good.

“If you can’t plant flowers, find quality artificial flowers and stick them in with natural grass. People could never figure out why our daffodils always looked so good!” Caroline