Friday, June 21, 2013

Answering Just One More Question

Today I am actually going to help someone.....
Now I could pretend that the reason I write this blog is to spread sunshine and helpfulness throughout the blogisphere,
but I would be wrong
 and that's SOOO RIGHT!!!!!
It's not really about all the money I make from my advertisers.....
This month I am going to make.... wait for it....over one hundred dollars!!!!!
You know how much stuff you can get at
 Home Goods for 100 smackers???????
Only problem is, I have no more room in my tablecloth drawer.
No more room for glasses and plates.
Or silverware for that matter.
I could use some new outdoor pillows, so that would use up around $38.00......
you may be wondering just why the #$% I write this damn thingy anyway.
let's just suffice it to say.....
I am the youngest of 5 chillens, 
There were 5 of us in 7 years
(my mother wanted us to be close in age so we would be friends when we got older.)
(now my big brother won't leave me alone, 'cuz he thinks we're friends.)
(why would I be friends with someone so old?????)
(wait.....he's only 7 years older than I am.....does that mean that I'm old toooooo?????)
where was I?????
oh yeah....youngest of 5, close together in age.
I was the youngest, but not the cherished baby, if you knows what I means, 
I want me some attention, damn it!!!!!
I know you guys are out there, 'cuz I can hear you breathing
(I check my blog stats, and my readership keeps increasing!!!!!)
(Sometimes I get so many hits I can make 5 dollars in a day!!!!!)
I took off the word verification dealio, so you could leave them without any problem.
I feel like we're dating, but you never call me.
Is it my breath?????
I could tell you that I take a shower every time, before I sit down to blog.....
(but that would be an untruth...)
I did just go for my biannual hair cut and color, so I'm looking pretty spiffy!!!!!

I started out telling you I was going to help someone.....
I kind of got distracted talkin' 'bout meeeee....
lets see....helping, helping, helping.....
who was I going to help??????
oh yeah!!!!
now I remember!!!!!
Soooo without any further ado,
(and there's been a lot of ado so far)
let's get to today's post.

Now, just for the record.
I don't give free advice anymore!!!!!
But some of you don't seem to have gotten the memo!!!!!
So recently I was emailed some questions from one of my readers, and I felt that they were generic enough to be interesting for everyone.
So I emailed this person back and let her know that I would be answering her plea.
Next thing I know.....
she's flooded my mailbox with more pictures and words and stuff.
I warned her, she better not be thin skinned,
because if I'm giving free advice,
I better be able to have some fun with it,
here's what she wrote me:

Dear Betsy,
 You are one funny girl.  I remember the Aerosmith kitchen, as well as the lake bedroom you did, and purchased your book, one of them anyways, soon after.  Then, as I thought it was one of the books that a cup of coffee got spilled on and ruined, I bought it again, only to discover the first one had survived the coffee debacle.  Just wanted you to know.  And, it is still a relevant book i think, even though everything is gray gray gray these days, and  have to feel bad that I still like color but now it doesn't look right...blah blah.  But let me get to the more serious point.  

I am a decorator, not a designer, no degree, but somewhat steadily employed, until the last few years when I followed my team USA figure skater around the world. I currently work for a store in town as their in-house designer.  It is the current rage of horse prints, and yes, they are the rage, giant black and white closeups of horse faces, and the gray trend.  No color is allowed in the store except a pop of charteuse in one pillow, haha  It is a beautiful store, despite my kidding, and has influenced me I think to my detriment.  I have what Mary McDonald has.  I do or see a beautiful home, and think, I want that, and then I start, and it doesn't work, and then I start again. sigh. So heres my problem.  I will send some pictures from iphone, as I am too lame to figure out how to get them up on my computer.  I am on a house tour in the fall, and want to have my home look great, and be the talk of the town (it won't), but...I always knew what I liked, and I liked color, and toile, and french.  Then, all of a sudden, I joke two weeks ago, I wanted plain, no color, earthy, simple.  I have tried at least 3 paint colors, and have two button tufted barrel back turned leg chairs for 4 months at the upholsterers, unable to decide on a fabric or a look.  I also have a round tufted ottoman there.  I just painted the walls, they don't go with my silk curtains!!!  I have held on to the toile dining chairs, a 25 year old set, with the old toile.  This room (rooms) are keeping me up at night.  I no longer know where I am going or what I like.  I have a theory.  I am a new empty nester who has a minute to project who I am, and I suddenly don't know.  I am a born free spirit, generally unconcerned about what others think, as I try hard and am nice.  All of a sudden, its as if the blog police are going to visit me and condemn my taste.  The Gong Show.  So, please, pretty please, free advice.  I admire you.  Paint, placement, chair(missing from photo) fabric.  I am stuck. Even if you do not answer, I still really like you.  
 Best Regards,
 Holly Lichtman  

I wrote her back, warning she may not like what I had to say.....
and she answered with this.
I am including this, so you can understand some of her furniture choices.

Okay Betsy.  
I am literally, not figuratively thin skinned. Menopause.  I will grow an extra layer.  So excited.  I really do want your advice. I am sending more pictures, and will give this brief background.  Home is 10 1/2 years old.  We built it.  Many choices I would not make today, but a warm home, not over the top with fancy, just pretty.  Most of my stuff, which you have mentioned, working around old stuff(you called it crap!), stuff I inherited from my mother in law, whom I was close to, or gifts bought by parents, or know the drill.  I am always working around something I didn't choose.  Sofa is vintage Kittinger from Williamsburg, antique piano of my parents, curio was my father in laws parents.  Dining set a gift from my dear Mom, etc.  I welcome all of your comments, as I really am bugged that I can do others homes so effortlessly, and cannot see my home as it is.  Mary McDonald also said, "I am my own worst client!"  That's me too.  Looking forward, and look for additional pictures.  I do not own a real camera, but my son does if you need better quality.  Thank you thank you!!!  
First, I have to share the picture of her dog.
I am a sucker for animals....
what can I say?????
let's get to the decorating, already....sheesh.
The first room shot she sent was this one.
it's not bad.
Not my style.
Too bare.
LET'S ADD SOME @#$!!!!!
Holly, start collecting creamware or light colored plates to hang on the wall around the mirror.
You'd be amazed at how it would warm the space up, yet still keep the clean lines.
Place a plate above and below the wall sconces, then maybe three over the top of the mirror.
Then do a collection over the little curio cabinet to bring it into scale with the room,
I've never been a fan of Queen Anne and Chippendale sofas.
They don't look cozy or inviting to me.
With everything in the room having legs, it looks like a sea of sticks.
I think, if you had a plumper skirted sofa against the wall, it would do wonders for the space.
But if money's an option (ha), how about a slipcover with a skirt instead?
When you first sent me this picture, I was thinking, if you want the draperies to match the room better, how about painting the walls pink???
Then you sent me your follow up shots, of how the walls used to look.....
Even the ceiling!!!!
I mean.....really?????
I was thinking of a softer pink, with a white ceiling.
But then I looked at the brown walls again, and they're definitely growing on me.
I have a fondness for silk taffeta plaid, so the draperies are good, and I like them against the brown of the walls.
Here's a shot of Holly's room before she painted it pink.
The curio cabinet is much better in it's current position, flat against the wall.

In the shot above, I see the barrel back chairs you have waiting to be reupholstered.
Never do them the way they are in the shot above again!!!!!
Being nice, I'll give you some suggestions, so you can have them done, and get some more furniture in this room for your home tour.
They didn't look good in the green silk either, so there.
Have the upholsterer change the skirt detail to a higher pleated skirt, like this one right heah...
This is a shot I stole off the internet to show you how I think they should be done.....
But instead of those tufted buttoney things, use a simple button.
Or no buttons at all, just a nice high skirt, with a welt along the top, that runs just under the arms, like I did for my aunt.....
Here's a shot of the first chair I ever upholstered.
Don't do a gathered skirt, but a box pleated one could be good, or just a flat one with inverted pleats at the corners.

For the cushions, have the upholsterer, wrap them in dacron to add some crown to the tops.
I prefer the boxed sides, like you have, but they are too flat.
As for the fabric choice, 
With the cocoa colored walls, it should have a simpler, more sophisticated vibe.
You could use the taffeta that's on the windows, or a plain white like the sofa.
My head is now spinning around, because you have two different furniture placements in your photos.
In the first picture, you have the curio cabinet with a Louis the XV chair.
Then in the second shot, you have a pair of end tables with lamps on them.....
by the way....
the lamps are too tall.
They are almost as high as the wall sconces.
Get shorter, squatter lamps, and while we're at it, get bigger end tables.
One of the problems in your room, is the stuff seems to be floating around because it's not big enough.
Having fun yet, Holly?????
Glad you wanted my help?????
I like the table with the French country chair next to it.

Now don't go getting excited, because I'm about to diss your draperies.
Is that a balloon shade valance along the top?????
Can you get rid of the valance and just have the draperies?????
Or, change the valance to just being flat.
If the valance was interlined with a thick interlining (like felt) it would have the body to poke out a little to give a luxurious feel without the dated feel of a balloon shade.
Now let's talk about the toss pillows on the sofa.

Is that a grain sack pattern fabric?
Not good with the plaid silk taffeta.
Choose a style.... any style.....
I would go back to your pink toile pillows, they pull in the dining room, and work with the plaid.
Now in the picture above, the little tables are in the dining room.....
I'm very confused.
I would put a rug in this room.
How about some natural fiber, like sisal or seagrass?????
It would work off the plain rug of the living room.
While you're collecting the cream colored plates for the wall, how about hanging one above each picture on either side of the china cabinet.
get ready,
I like the chairs at the end of the dining table!!!!!

Overall, your home is very pretty.
I appreciate that your were working with furniture that has a high sentimental quotient.
I have a niece that I give all that stuff to, so I only have the furniture I like in my house.
Don't tell her I told you that, though......

On one final note.....
If it were my home....
I would paint the newel and the handrail white on the balustrade.

Now I hope all you guys reading my blog have learned something from this.
Namely, don't go asking me for advice.

On that note,
Latah, Gatah


Anonymous said...

Betsy, I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago, so I check in frequently to get caught up on your previous posts and for decorating tips. I think it is very generous of you to share, it has helped me so much in my own home that we built a few years ago, I even have a painted tray above my oven now, and it looks wonderful, please never stop blogging!! Julie

Erin~Just*Grand said...

Great post! To summarize, never ask you for free advice, choose a style, consider scale, lose the balloons and ruffles and go shopping. What's not to like? I predict more requests!

Amy Davis said...

I like her home to begin with, but I can see how all of your ideas will make it much better.

20 North Ora said...

Great ideas! I agree that a person who is a designer has the hardest time doing her own home. I know what I like but always over think the situation.

Good job!


Amy Chalmers said...

I liked this post. Good job. lots of things to think about. I had some of her issues too...changing styles and getting caught and then getting indecisive...but now i have a store so i don't ever worry anymore.

Jayne said...

Great advise! I love the walls before the pink...

Anonymous said...

I like the dog ;-)

Anonymous said...

I like you...alot....

Anonymous said...

Rats, Betsy- no more free design advice? What if I send you photos of my three standard poodles-would that soften your heart?
Just kidding- I wouldn’t dream of asking, because I too have a thin skin and can’t stand rejection.I learn just by reading your blog.For example, today I had my husband hang four majolica leaf bowls around my floral painting that is on my covered front porch. I think you would approve. Got them on eBay for a song.
You made me laugh with this post!! “A sea of sticks..”I know I have made many mistakes but never that one-but that’s only because my mother always commented on rooms that had too many furniture legs, and it stuck in my mind.
Your advice was fantastic, and so easily implemented, and I can see how the living room will be a warm, elegant place once it is done.

Anonymous said...

Aren't you sweet to give all that free advice!

Nutbird said...

I Love this kind of post! Because I am one who likes to ask questions. This is very educational for the rest of us. If Holly wanted to buy another piece of furniture, would you have her buy a plain sofa? And where would you place it? In the dining room, would you remove the little tables next to the breakfront and put chairs there, or leave blank spaces? I think the tables looked dwarfed.
I think people are afraid to leave comments. But we will soldier on and let you know how much we appreciate you. Ann - the one with the red dining room that is probably hopelessly out of date.

Rhonda said...

Thanks for the free advice! We all learn from it! I, too, love to hang plates and have them in several rooms. When I want to hang more, my husband tells me we have enough plates hanging already. I tell him that's not what Betsy Speert says! He just looks at me! Of course, you know who will win! :)

Anonymous said...

I learned a lot from this post. Thanks!

Penelope Tucker

Victoria said...

Great advise and very instructive to hear your reasons.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Seeing the photos and then reading your comments is so helpful to me. I can see how your suggestions will make the space so much better! I guess now I must paint my newel and handrail.

Donnamae said...

Thanks for all the little pointers. I started looking around my home, and yikes, I found a few mistakes. But then, I also found a few things that I did right! Now, don't go spending that $100 all in one place! ;)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. It is very entertaining. I have learned a lot about decorating from you. Good job!

sweet violets said...

Well, for once I have to agree with you on the "sea of sticks", that was the first thing I noticed and the stick lamps that are too tall and too big for the little tables they sit on. Also a stick lamp on the round table. Get some round ceramic lamps in there, maybe blue and white and get rid of the balloon valance, so outdated!!! Love the Chippendale sofa, if you're going to stay traditional, blue and white china or Gaudy Welsh or Imari would fit right in. Lovely floors......

Blondie's Journal said...

I like your eye for detail. But the hard part of being a designer is "You can lead a horse to water...". I think a change of paint color in her living room would shed a whole new light on her furniture. Then she has to be brutal and get rid of the stuff she doesn't like. Period. If you don't love it now, you never will, sentiments or not. She needs a clean slate and go from there.

As you can see, I like to give free advice and I don't even have a degree. I do like how you tell it like it is with a great sense of humor. Love visiting!


Anonymous said...

Love you and your blog, Betsy. Have loved your work for years and still do. This blog was particularly fun, entertaining and informative. Thank you for sharing with us.

Di said...

Betsy your sense of humor "kills" me. If I'm having a bad day I always know your post will make me laugh. As for your decorating advise it's always helpful. I would like to see where she ends up when you two(?) are finished.LOL...

Anonymous said...

I think her living room and dining room are both lovely! It looks very Virginia to me. And to get rid of a Kittinger sofa in a neutral fabric? No way! Betsy did give good advice to warm up the space, but some of the comments from others were harsh....especially after I clicked on the blogs from which they came! Sorry, but Blondie and Sweet Violets homes are in dire need of a critical interior decorator! The home featured has got them both beat in classic good a mile! Just saying.... And Betsy, I do love your taste and blog.

Anonymous said...

So entertaining and informative!

Katie Mansfield said...

I love your blog, Betsy. I love stopping in to read but I will be honest and say that I don't always leave comments. I just figured you had oodles of comments because you're a celebrity and all. ;)

PattyM said...

I'm just commenting so that you get the attention you want. I like your writing and I'm afraid if you don't make money or get the attention, you will stop. Glad to help out.

P.S. Holly's home is really lovely (except for the grain sack pillow) but will be that much better once she implements your suggestions. I suffer from the same problem she described. No problem evaluating others spaces and love doing Olioboards even for people with questionable taste. But when it comes to my own space - it looks like I'm still living in a dorm room with concrete block/pine board shelving (not literally - it's not quite that bad). I'm absolutely paralyzed and so susceptible to the power of suggestion in beautiful pictures. One minute I want minimalist décor and the next I want heavy antiques and toile fabrics. If I had thicker skin I would ask for advice!

PattyM said...

I forgot the most important part. Really cute dog.

fran sakis said...

You are the Joan Rivers of the decorating world. You tell it like it is ........Fran

Angela said...

I promise I will not ask you for decorating advice, but I do LOVE the questions and your answers.... I think it makes your blog more "interactive."

For some reason, I never read your blog during the day - I always like to read it at night!!

Thanks for keeping us in stitches!!


Angela said...

I promise I will not ask you for decorating advice, but I do LOVE the questions and your answers.... I think it makes your blog more "interactive."

For some reason, I never read your blog during the day - I always like to read it at night!!

Thanks for keeping us in stitches!!


Amy Davis said...

I am wondering why the curio cabinet is better placed flat against the wall rather than in the corner?

Anonymous said...

Betsy, You DESERVE attention! I haven't commented before but LOVE your blog. I've been following since Amy wrote about your advice at her home. I'm sorry to say that I didn't recognize your name at first, but when you posted mag photos I REMEMBERED THOSE ROOMS! Thanks for breaking your rule and giving Holly advice. And thanks for continuing to show us "pretty" in the face of gray and burlap! Barbara in Mn

Virginia said...

My design style is "Betsy on a Budget".

td said...

this is a test to see if I can now post comments. You may be regretting that you made the changes, if that's the case! CTD

Kelly Villanueva said...

First , I love, love your book, the Great color and Patterns book. If people love your blog than this is a must have. You really need to remind people about it. Second, I love when you have questions and answers. Thanks again for writing your blog.

Anonymous said...

I am laughing out loud! Thank you Betsy for your wonderful humor, beautiful pictures and incredible advice. You are a treasure. Gail

Decdreams said...

Fascinating blog! I love when you do one that is not just flat out pitiful, this lady has some good stuff but seems confused, it is not the bits and bobs of inherited stuff but what she has done with them, YOU pull things together all the time. I wish this lady would go with her gut and just have at it..............................better yet, fly you in, wine and dine you and then let you have your way with her house!!!

Why would she ask your advice if she is in a neutral mode? I suppose her hormones are running amuck. You are so NOT neutral, so cozy and unique. She NEEDS you desperately, hold her hand until you get her back on track please!!!.

A devoted fan in Ca.

Decdreams said...

P.S. OH jeez, I don't mean your blogs are pitiful but some of the pleas for help were just flat out sad and you were so gentle with them.

Cyndia said...

Betsy, I promise that if I were ever to ask you for advice, you would not tell me that my rooms are too bare. If anything, you'd probably tell me to edit! So much fantastic stuff; can't I keep it all? My border collie and golden retriever seem to love it!
You have a fantastic sense of humor and of style! Keep it coming!

Joy said...

Excellent advice Betsy. I've always loved your style but am slowly downsizing from lots of stuff (sorry) to a more simple classic look. Like you, I love antiques and traditional furniture but am always looking for ideas on how to keep my home from becoming too "grandmotherly" by adding a current touch through color, accessories, and rearrangement. You provide the perfect solutions to preserving the old while embracing the new. Thanks for helping me keep up-to-date.

Anonymous said...

Now Betsy you have opened the door!! You can't just do one 'helpover'!!!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog ! I have to say that I LOVE IT ! I used to do a decorating blog as well,(Room Service ~ Decorating 101) before I got two St. Poodles and my time went to them. Loved the advice you gave to your reader and laughed the whole time I was reading it. Thanks!!!

Thrifty Southern Pilgrim said...

Your blog posts always make me laugh! I am from MA and now live in FL, and love both your homes! Love your blog too!

Holly Lichtman said...

Hi Betsy,

thoughts to your response on my home, hey, I agree with most of it, and I will send you pics as a follow up when I make the changes. Now I know your advice was free....and you do not give free advice, (who can blame you, gahhh) but my wheels are still spinning as to how I can neutralize without being ho hum, and what I need to look for in the way of tables etc. per your suggestion. My "sea of sticks" need a break, so starting my search tomorrow for the anchor! This whole post was a lot of fun, and I loved the comments, good or not so good. Like I told you, I inherited family pieces, and at the end of the day, its the people and the memories that matter. (And my grand dog is really cute, and I have another grand dog who is also really cute.)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this room! Does it need a few additional items...? Sure! But it is absolutely gorgeous. All of you who had negative comments better check your homes as I am sure they are not so beautiful

Karin said...

HA! "My design style is Betsy on a Budget" Me, too! I loved this post. Loved it. I'm as confused as Holly. I have the same furniture and even the same paint color on my wall (Sherwin Williams Hopsack?) OMG, I even have a grain sack pillow, which I am tossing as soon as I get off the computer. I learn so much from you, Betsy. I'm going to click on your blog 10 times, just to say thanks. PS Holly, I think your home is lovely- even more lovely with Betsy's suggestions? Hope to see your update!

shannonallsworth said...

I adore reading your blog. It's been detrimental to my productivity. Just thought I'd offer my unsolicited opinion regarding your comments. Despite current evidence, I'm not a commentor type. But I read them, and wish I could see some responses from you. Perhaps you'd have more comments, if commenter types had hope of receiving answers. Nothing boring like, "thanks for commenting" bs, but some of your commentors have legit offerings. If you answered even a few, you'd give hope to many & probably increase your numbers. Actually, varied schedules of reinforcement are highly addictive, like gambling. I bet answering less than 5 per week would drive your comments up by factor of 10. Best wishes.

shannonallsworth said...

Oh, and I desperately miss Oi Vey Q & A. I vote you bring it back.

Lisa said...

I'm still catching up but here's a comment for your collection.

By the way, I didn't think your post was bullying regarding the blog designer. As you pointed out, you did NOT mention her by name. Sounds like she learned a new word and you were the excuse to use it. Just saying.

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