Domino's Deborah Needleman on "10 Elements of Style"

Domino's Deborah Needleman on "10 Elements of Style"

Catrin Morris
Oct 18, 2011

Like many of you, I am still recovering from the demise of Domino magazine. Well, lucky for us, the genius behind the magazine, Deborah Needleman, is still churning out her trademark decorating advice and inspiration.

Deborah Needleman's book, due out November 1, is titled The Perfectly Imperfect Home, an excerpt of which appears in The Wall Street Journal, where Needleman now serves as editor in chief of the paper's magazine,WSJ. For Needleman, "the most stylish homes are ones that are comfortable and inviting, in large part because they are imbued with the sensibility and spirit of their owners — and the life that goes on there". In other words, embracing imperfection means "beauty tempered by reality". Indeed, many of Domino's most memorable images capture this decorating philosophy.

Deborah Needleman's 10 Odd, Yet Essential, Elements of Style

1. A little Animal
A funny stuffed animal on a nicely made bed, a white porcelain monkey on your dining table, a painted Staffordshire dog in your bookshelf or a big gold piggy bank on your mantel.

2. Jollifiers
Sentimental things that spread a little joy every time you cast your eye upon them. They are among the easiest decorating tools, as they require no skill, no sophisticated understanding of color, texture or composition. You basically set them out and, like talismans, they exude their subtle power." Jollifiers are "really quite personal, and could be something as simple as a favorite snapshot stuck into the edge of a mirror or a child's drawing framed and hung "seriously" among other pictures.

3. Mollifiers
This is the stuff that you allow into your home because as awful as it may be, it makes someone else happy. There is a softening of attitude that comes from letting some of these things into your life. They show that you put love before style. A famous example of decorating mollification is Jackie Kennedy's acceptance of President Kennedy's funny old rocking chair in the Yellow Oval Room.

4. An Odd Chair
While an odd chair is useful, it is not primarily for sitting. It is desirable primarily for its amusing demeanor, making it more like a piece of sculpture in the shape of a chair....The odd chair is the most individual of all. It is frequently diminutive, unusual-looking and solitary. (Think a little tufted Victorian thing, or a gothic-style wood chair or a child's chair pulled up to the coffee table.)

5. Shiny Objects
Like magpies, we are attracted to bright, shiny objects, and for good reason: our homes need them. As our eyes flit around the room, they alight on and are delighted by those bright spots....These objects can be in silver, gold, brass, glass or mirror, and in the form of anything from boxes to bowls to candlesticks to picture frames--or even completely useless items whose only purpose is to sit around looking attractive.

6. Ethnic Textiles
Handcrafted fabrics bring coziness to a room and worldliness to a home....These things can be draped over a table, laid on a bed, made into pillows or hung over the back of a sofa.

7. Not Too Much Brown Furniture
Ever seen a room and wondered why it looked like a bland hotel lobby? Brown! ...Look at a picture of a room you love, and you will likely find the furniture to be a mix of tones and materials, like painted or stained wood, lacquer, Lucite, metal, glass or fabric.

8. Decorative Mirrors
Most rooms, like most lives, can benefit from some extra sparkle. These more glamorous mirrors have beautiful frames, like gilded wood or shiny lacquer. Convex mirrors have been used since classical times to reflect light, not to check your eye-liner, and that is still the point of the decorative mirror, convex or otherwise.

9. Log Baskets
Even if you have no fireplace and no use for split wood, you still might like the rugged texture of a big woven basket in your living room or front hall. A good basket cozies without cloying. It gives you something a little rough and adds a sense of depth to both sleek-modern and refined, antique-filled interiors.... A log basket gives a powerful one-two punch of style and function.

10. Some Patina
A home needs some of the softness of old wood, the dullness of aged metal, the subtle colors of an original paint job, or fabric faded by the sun. Without a little of this, a house feels cold and untouched by human life.... little decrepitude is just the thing for some fabrics and rugs and furniture. Life is messy and gloriously imperfect, and a few signs of wear and tear indicate a well-loved, well-used home. And a home that looks well-loved and well-lived in usually is.

So, what do you think? Any of these elements of style stand out to you as gospel? Do you disagree with anything on the list?

Visit WSJ for the full article.

Image: Domino

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