In ‘Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design,’ personality trumps perfection


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Imperfectionists, rejoice.

Textile designer Christiane Lemieux, founder of the DwellStudio brand of home furnishings, appeals to the average do-it-yourself decorator as she writes in her new book: “Perfection is overrated.”

“Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design” ($40) was released by Clarkson Potter this month. What does “undecorate” mean, exactly? Illustrated by the 20 homes in Lemieux’s book, it translates to bright-red mod Orla Kiely wallpaper in a Nashville log cabin. Or an antique dining table surrounded by mismatched chairs (like nearly all of the chairs and tables in this book). Or a vintage Airstream trailer-turned-master bedroom within a Chicago loft.


“These homes don’t have pristine spaces or flawless furniture,” writes Lemieux, “but their sense of vitality and surprise nevertheless makes them beautiful.” Indeed, even the blue linen couch detailed on the book’s cover, right, appears rumpled and yet inviting. (That’s Caitlin Wylde’s home at top, an artist’s collection of collections in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.)

Lemieux has compiled an inspiring design book for people who perhaps cannot afford to hire a decorator. She notes that no stylists were used in Melanie Acevedo’s wonderful photographs. Nor makeup artists. (Similarly, magazines may bring in a team to edit decor, add decorative accessories and contrive vignettes for the camera, but L.A. Times photographers do not use stylists in Home photo shoots.) The homes Lemieux has chosen to profile exhibit a quirky sensibility that is more about personality than perfection. This is a book, she writes in the introduction, about ‘real people and real style.’

Lemieux writes in a gentle and friendly tone as she encourages readers to abandon rules. For there aren’t any. Living well does not come from furnishing a house with $10,000 couches, she seems to be saying. It comes from having fun and staying true to who you are. The message: Your home need not be perfect, but it should never be dull.

For more glimpses from the book, keep reading ...

The kitchen in the Nashville log cabin of Genifer Goodman Sohr and Benjamin Sohr features a long island inspired by years spent traveling and eating at hotel bars. The artworks on the wall disguise the fact that the television was installed off-center. Barstools are covered in laminated vintage fabric for easy cleanup.

Lauren Ehrenfeld tore out the flat ceiling of her Venice home and installed cables and beams for support. The main living area is one big open space composed of kitchen, dining area and living room.

The shelves in the New York farmhouse of Grace Kelsey and Kenyan Lewis are littered with props, accessories and other treasures.


A hallway in the Monterey Colonial home of Lisa Borgnes Giramonti and Piero Giramonti in Hollywood features patterned wallpaper from Clarence House and a bench covered in an Uzbek robe she found on EBay. (Regular L.A. at Home readers may recognize this house as one of our Homes of the Times in May 2010.)

Dave and Michelle Kelsey’s Louisiana home is filled with odd antiques and props.

-- Lisa Boone


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