10 rules of freestyle decorating
Expert tips on how to make the most of what you have and indulge with care
Oakland, Calif., interior designer Sheri Sheridan says the most important areas in a house are the entryway and the living and dining rooms. “These are your entertaining spaces, and they should be celebrated every day.” Each needs something big and bold, so the room feels substantial. “You want to add something tall to support flow and draw the eye up, making the ceiling seem higher,” Sheridan says. Note her Greek column in the corner.
Invest in furniture that will withstand the test of time; its basic shapes and colors serve as decorating cornerstones. In Sheridan’s house, design icons like a Saarinen dining table, a modern sofa, bubble lamps, and an acrylic coffee table balance her colorful, eclectic accessories.
On a lawyer’s bookcase in her kitchen, she’s combined a doll form found at a flea market with antlers her dad found at his Oregon ranch (nostalgic pieces she plans to accent with gold leaf), a wax diorama from a 1920s biology class, and a stuffed duck
(“I don’t support taxidermy,
but I do celebrate antique art forms,” Sheridan explains).
A midcentury Saarinen table and chair combine with
a new chair from West Elm (similar-style chair $99). Pillar candles from Pottery Barn fill the fireplace; the mantel is home to several balls of string, saved by Sheridan’s grandmother, plus 19th-century candelabra. Hanging over it all is a vintage George Nelson saucer lamp (new ones from $300 at Design Within Reach).
SELECTIVE SHOPPING From malls to big box, where to get what
Crate and Barrel Great for: basic upholstered furniture Ikea ikea.com Great for: draperies, flowerpots, bath mats, flokati rugs, candles, kitchen-ware, mirrors, frames, teak garden furniture
Pottery Barn Great for: shelves, accessories like jewelry armoires, candles
Restoration Hardware Great for: towels, hardware, cleaning supplies with design-friendly packaging
Target Great for: designer specialty lines, bed linens (Fieldcrest Luxury), towels, bath accessories, chair cushions
West Elm Great for: dining chairs, side tables, Parsons desks, specialty designer items, and quirky ephemera
Z Gallerie Great for: mirrored furniture, trays, barware, decanters
For one-of-a-kind pieces and quirky treasures, check out Swallowtail, Sheridan’s San Francisco design store (415/567-1555).