Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Top Ten Design Elements

The wonderful designer Joni Webb, of Cote de Texas fame, has just begun a series of posts outlining her Top Ten Design Elements.

What a terrific idea!

I'm certainly no designer but, as they say, I know what I like. And Joni encouraged her readers to make their own lists, so without further ado, here is mine:

1. Pattern -- I have seen beautiful rooms that are calm and serene and mostly white, but I don't think I could ever live in one. New Jersey has so many snowy or gray days that we need some warmth and pattern to wrap round ourselves in the winter. Besides, I grew up with pattern -- in wonderful wallpapers and beautiful tea-stained fabrics, and they are still among my favorite building blocks for a comfortable room. I love the wallpapered ceiling in our library (above), and the big floral patterned curtains.

2. Antiques -- Even one beautiful old piece will give instant presence to any room. And family heirlooms are even better. The black Seth Thomas mantel clock in the photo below belonged to my maternal grandfather. It is one of my most cherished pieces. The Bristolware vase, (above) was a thrift store find, but antique and quite lovely.

3. Books -- Any kind will do, but I always love to include some antique books; their colors and the often gilded typography on their spines make a beautiful addition to bookshelves or tables.

4. Needlepoint -- I go weak at the knees for needlepoint pillows. I know that a lot of people think they are impossibly "granny," but I just love the texture and the handmade feeling that they bring to a room. And double points if they portray a floral subject.

5. Dishes -- Transferware or anything with flowers on it. They make any room feel a little lighter, perhaps a little feminine. Love that!

6. Curvy Furniture -- Oh how I love a Chippendale sofa, or a wing chair with it's sinuous curves. Again, it's that feminine touch. I also love French fauteilles, with their delicate legs. So beautiful!

7. Ottomans -- I just can't get into coffee tables. This is a totally subjective opinion. Instead, I love to have a beautifully upholstered ottoman on which to place a tea tray or a few books. And of course, they help make a room comfortable and approachable. You can't feel stiff in a room where you can put your feet up.

8. Throws -- I love the feel of a beautiful wool or cotton throw. Again, they make a room more comfortable. I have throws in almost every room, and I use them every day. They can also lend a softening effect to a more formal upholstered piece.

9. Flowers -- Real flowers shine in any room, but can be expensive. So yes, I do use some dried or silk flowers (horror of horrors!). I also almost always have flowers present in either fabrics or china or vintage botanical prints. Lately I've been collecting pressed flowers in small frames. They make a pretty grouping on a wall.

10. Light -- Especially from true divided light windows. Yes, they are hell to wash, and not really all that weatherproof, but they have such charm. And I'm all about the charm. :)

Well, that's my list. Be sure to visit Joni and read her wonderful post. And let me know what your favorites are.


  1. Morning, Mary. Can't say anything about my design elements. I'm sitting in my living room and looking at all the awful things that I would change if this house were mine. I'm going to close my eyes before it gets too depressing . . . gah!

  2. Great design elements. I love and agree with each.

    I saw this on Joni's blog, and I've been thinking about doing it, too. I got tickled at her first favorite element. She sure does like linen. ;-) But, so do I. In fact, I like most things.

  3. Mary, you've sure got taste.absolutely agree with your design elements.It's great!!

  4. Great list. Your room is beautiful!

  5. Mary I so agree with all of your top ten design elements. You seem to hit on almost all of what I would include in my top ten. Hope you are well.

  6. Good Morning Mary,

    I love your list. I looked around my living room and have noted several of the things on your list...I will have to work to add some of the others that appealed to me as I read them.

    Have a great day.

    Becky K.

  7. Can I move in with you? I love the same things but can't quite get it together here!

  8. I love your list. It reflects your style so well - refined, feminine, warm, and classic. Great post - makes me want to look around my house and do the same.

  9. Mary, Enjoyed your post about design elements.
    Glad you shared.
    Like your living area. Very cozy.

    Decorating trends seem to be ever changing.
    It's interesting that we live in a time where anything seems to go.

  10. Good morning Mary! I love your home so much! Everything about it. I concur with your list. I'll have to think about it and come up with one of my own. Thank you for sharing. God Bless! Lauralu :)

  11. Just stunning. I love all of the elements. So beautifully put together. Hugs, Marty

  12. well hi there! It's very nice to meet someone
    "new" to me.....and those are delightful! pictures.....

    do stop by sometime~

  13. I'm in agreement with you on needlepoint! I bought a lovely small framed piece a couple of weeks ago at an antique mall and since the frame is a little washed out, I think I'll deepen it with a rich walnut or cherry stain.
    And that urn on your mantle!!! I absolutely covet it! I'm going to try to find a similar one--I hope you don't mind copycats! I hear it's the highest form of compliment! V.

  14. I like your design elements. I seek to have most of these things in my rooms. I would add pillows, lots of them! And I love potted plants to bring some of the outdoors in.

    I think the best decor lies within your own heart! Great post!


  15. Great list Mary. I love your ideas and thought your summaries were well written. The pictures made it easy to understand as well.

  16. beautiful elements - I so agree about light and flowers especially.

  17. I agree with all your elements. I may not have them all at one time. I would have to add art. I love all kinds of art. Some of the art I have does not go with anything but I like to get it when I am in a particular place. The folk art I got in Belize goes with nothing, except my love for those people. blessings

  18. Your list is terrific. It's so terrific that I now know exactly what I love about Little Red House. We may agree on almost all ten; although, I do not own a needlepoint pillow...yet.

  19. Your list is great......many of those are my favorites.

  20. Love this idea of making a list of design elements -- I never thought about it; now you've challenged me. I think I'd have a lot of the same ones as you, except for the possible addition of spaniel hair on my list.

    That homey touch, you know.

    Welcome back!


  21. Love your list! It could be my list-I just don't put all of it together as well as you! Your photos are beautiful. laurie

  22. hi -I just saw this!!!!!!!!!! love it!!!!!!! thanks for the shout out. and i adore your list!!!!!!!!!



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