So you think you can (un)decorate?

November 08, 2011

In the recent publication, Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design, author Christiane Lemieux provides a peek into the homes of, as she puts it, “some very audacious, very stylish people” who are willing to disregard the classic rules of design and listen to their own voices. The book starts with the premise that the internet has allowed us to discover that it is not necessarily experts who are giving us the most exciting style ideas but, rather, real people-—and then takes us into their homes.

While I am not certain that these homes are undecorated, I love the idea that, as she says, great style isn’t necessarily a finished product so much as it is an ongoing process.

Lemieux seeks to do nothing less than to create a snapshot of the beginning of a movement in which the personality of the occupant drives the design, rather than a set of rules.

I love that idea.

Everyone has the capacity to be creative and artistic and what better place to do that than in our own homes?

Does she succeed in documenting a new approach?

For those of your who want to decide for yourselves, the book is available on for $25.64.

The homes are not designer-perfect. They are also wide-ranging, in terms of taste. From ‘more is more’ to ‘country minimalist’ the juxtapositions are surprising and the ideas eclectic. I didn’t always love the outcomes (these homes are deeply personal.) I did like that, with a close reading, the book provided a wealth of interesting, real-world ideas.

For example, Lisa Borgnes Giramonte uses art and sculpture to make her walk-in-closet not only beautiful and inspiring but an expression of her personal style. In another chapter, Stephanie Lockeman used a collection of century-old antlers, inherited from her German parents, to personalize—and add drama—to an otherwise understated design scheme.

Photo of open book showing antlers on the wall

So how would you take this idea into your own home?

Well, any collection from family postcards to mismatched ceramic plates could achieve the same effect. To create a new collection, scour flea markets or collect interesting picture frames that appeal to you and group them on the wall.

For example, in another home belonging to Harry Heisman, the bedroom walls are almost completely covered with a collection of tramp art frames. It clearly shows how creating a salon-style wall of framed images can be extremely dramatic. A collection of framed mirrors would be equally delightful.

Photo of open book showing salon-style frames on the wall

All in all, I enjoyed the read.

It will join my collection of reference books.

Even when I don’t uniformly love the projects, I love to see how other creative minds have tackled a particular problem. The trick to making an idea work—and perhaps to joining the “undecorated” movement—is to translate the inspiration you find into something deeply personal.

When you use objects that are pleasing to you, your home will delight and inspire you. It doesn’t matter if it works for anyone else.

If you have a decorating project that is deeply personal and you think is an excellent example of how to “undecorate” please send me a photo and a brief description of how you made your choices. I will publish my favorites in an upcoming blog series about our readers’ own design projects.

You can email me at:

Written by Catherine Holliss, Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  Photographs © Catherine Holliss. Blog Post © KOUBOO LLC. All rights reserved.