Style help for a jeans and T-shirt girl

I never developed the ability to accessorize, whether it be in my wardrobe or my home. I tend to like a more clean-cut wardrobe full of basics (a good white shirt is the key to all humanity as far as I'm concerned although I rarely wear them because I usually spill coffee on them in about two nanoseconds) and I admire outfits that are basically jeans, a white shirt and some great jewelry, but I can't manage to put the same thing together on myself. I've been wearing the same pair of hoop earrings (that have not come off except for a handful of dressy occasions) for two years now.

The same goes for my home. Oh how I long to have a perfect styled bookcase. Even if it only has books in it, do you notice how they just look better in magazines? But no matter how I stack my books, I cannot make it look like that. And I sort of abhor buying home accessories just to fill space. I love found objects and things that I love or that have meaning to me, but it takes awhile to find such things.

Oh look, you're just in time for dinner. We're having apples.

So it's a bit humorous that I've spent most of last night looking through magazines and online images trying to get a feel for how spaces are "styled" (that's what the cool kids call it, you know). But there's a damn good reason for it. Our house renovation is going to be featured in the local newspaper's home and garden section. And that's not quite like ending up on the Nate Berkus Show or on the pages of House Beautiful, but there's a certain amount of pressure involved in it. Imagine if everyone you knew in high school—your best friends, your not best friends, your ex-boyfriends, and those people who totally had it out for you for four years—were all invited to your house for a party. You'd want it to knock their socks off, right? I know that's not a particularly charming personality trait that I just exposed there. It's much more interesting to say that I don't really care. I live how I live and they can take it or leave it because I'm perfectly happy here, but let's just say I haven't gotten to that point in my life yet. Maybe I just need a few cocktails. That would probably help.

Obviously the person who sleeps in this bedroom just got up, threw off the blanket and walked toward the light at the end of the tunnel through the French door.

Anyway, I have a lot of bare walls and bare shelves in the house right now because you might recall that in spring I put a moritorium on all indoor projects so that I could get a much needed break and go outside and garden. And since I'm in denial about the changing seasons, I haven't exactly picked up where I left off inside. I have less than a week to get the place as "photo ready" as it's going to get and I know fresh flowers will only get me so far.

All that stuff on the nightstands and no alarm clock?

But here's what I observed:

1. Tables always have something on them. Mostly books, but usually a trinket of some kind as well.
2. Pillows are always a little squished.
3. Most pictures look like you JUST missed someone walking out of the room. Because no one really lives with cookbooks randomly laying open on the kitchen counter, right?
4. Nobody actually lives the way these pictures look. Period. Which is of course the point of the wonderful and hilarious Catalog Living blog.

OK, those barely count as bookshelves since there aren't many books on them. And photo shoot or not, I'm not wrapping all my books in white covers!

So ... do you have any tips for me on how I make the place look good? No book covering allowed.


  1. Getting rid of clutter, not having a lot of things on your counters. A punch of color on your sofa (could be 2 new pillows).
    A vase with that punch of color (flowers).
    That is the little bit I can offer.....hope it helps.

    My favorite outfit is a crisp white shirt, jeans, black blazer and lots of big turquoise jewelry, oh, and a GREAT handbag!

  2. A tray with a couple of coffee cups and napkins on the kitchen table or counter. And yes a cookbook is OK. Mine often sit out for ages after I've used it for the recipe. A group of similar vases but put a different flower (one color family) in each one. A cabbage or pumpkin or blue squash instead of flowers. A wasp nest on the mantle. A sweater thrown over a chair. A basket with magazines or the mail or keys. We have dark rectangular baskets in the bookshelves to hold junk but also to keep the books from falling over.

  3. I like rooms that tell a subtle story. You are funny! You should show that off with your decorating.


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