Nell's Decorating Rules

I am nothing if not eclectic. That is true of how I dress and how I decorate my home. I may be in a Moroccan tunic one day; a blazer, skirt and button down shirt another day; a caftan (or bou bou as we called them in West Africa) on another day or what I call professional but classy “preaching” dress. My home is the same way. At one time, I liked all matchy-matchy traditional. Then we moved to West Africa. I would buy my husband something for his office like a spoon chair or a carved wooden hanging and it would never quite make it to his office. He would find a way to put it in our living space. Thirty years of overseas and cross cultural living means we have a very “eclectic” home. Mix in with this family heirlooms, things we have bought just because we liked them, and precious gifts we just can’t seem to part with. Regardless of our many moves, it has been my heart to take all these odds and ends and make them a home; make them work together. Recently a friend came and said, “I love how you live with your stuff.” It is true. I don’t hide it. I don’t put it away. I don’t carefully secure it from guests or little ones. We enjoy it. Why am I writing this? Because one of my most recent additions was our mud cloth pillows from Threads by Nomad. We had had the same bed set for 10 years! Besides normal wear and tear the dog had done his damage clawing at my side of the bed to get to me. A change was in order. In my bedroom are antiques, a canopy bed we bought years ago and still love, and some Ikea pieces. How do you make all this work together? After looking for months, we only changed 2 things: the bed cover and the pillows. I already had gold colored curtains that were only 2 years old. I wanted something modern thrown in the mix. Hence we chose a black and gray duvet with white European oversized pillows. I needed my splash of another world. I chose 5 of our mud cloth pillows arranging them with a gold throw at the end of the bed. For us it is perfect--a mix of old, new, exotic, and comfort.

One of the nicest compliments was given to me was by my nephew. “Who decorated your new place for you Aunt Nell?” Shy grin. “I did.” He was taken aback. I explained that when you have had to take concrete houses in Africa and make them into a comfortable home, you learn a thing or two!

Here is what I have learned: - This is my major rule…It DOES NOT HAVE TO MATCH! This still gets to my husband, because he just can’t see it. When it is all put together, then he gets it. - If you have it, use it. Don’t put it away for no one to enjoy. Yes, even the antiques. We love using ours. If it breaks, well it hurts in the moment but you enjoyed it while you had it.

- Let your house be a museum of your life. We have two walls that I create in all of our homes. One is a family gallery. Geez I love that wall! The other is a gallery of art work particularly water colors of places we have been. You are different and unique. It is fun to let your home reflect that.

- Showcase special items. My very favorite is an embroidered cloth from Mali. It sat in a chest for some time until I could figure out what to do with it. Then we framed it. Oh my! It has hung over our mantel for many years.

- Work around those items you just don’t like. Confession here. The man loves recliners and he loves leather. We don’t have a “man room”, so we had to figure out a way for him to have his sports central and for me to have a place of calm and beauty. I tried Windsor shaped chairs that were recliners and that just did not work. So we ended up with leather love-seat recliner I paired with other items like end tables and decorative lamps to make it more pleasing to my taste. - If I have a number 1 rule, here is rule number 2…if you see it and fall in love with it AND CAN AFFORD IT then the question of “Where will we put it?” really doesn’t matter. You will find a place! It wasn’t a big thing. I just needed to spruce up the bedroom. And just in time! Because since my surgeries I have spent a lot of time in the bedroom and those mud cloth pillows were just the thing.

To purchase your own mud cloth pillow, shop our website right here.

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