With the new year and a rough economy, what better time for a little bit of navel gazing? I like to do my cleaning seasonally as I’m taking out new candles, digging up appropriate clothes, changing sheets, and swapping home accessories. Since winter is a few weeks in and I’ve been on the prowl for some fresh design ideas, I’ve grown more and more frustrated with what I’m seeing.

We all know that mass consumption has got us overwhelmed with clutter and debt, but all sorts of “lifestyle” sites and blogs perpetuate the problem by advocating more, more, more. I don’t think I’m alone in this frustration. See, for example, Apartment Therapy’s Predictions for 2009 post, which seemed all in good fun but drew a lot of bitter comments. I guess the readers got a bit tired of being told that a $1000 table is a great! find! in November 2007, then being told it’s out a year later. Or being told that “obvious mid-century modern” (a phrase that if I never hear again, it’ll be too soon) is so last year, but we should all run out and redo our home Mad Men style because that’s what’s on the TeeVee. 

Ok, I’m giving AT a hard time, but there are good ways and bad ways to approach your home and lifestyle that don’t require a complete overhaul every twelve months. Read the full rant after the jump. (more…)


Apartment Therapy directed visitors to Nettleton Hollow the other day. It’s a great source for finding branches to decorate with, and it inspired me to pull together some branch-centric ideas. While buying sticks and branches retail guarantees quality and variety, there is no reason you can’t just bring some in from your yard. We are talking about plain ol’ sticks here.

AT had a post devoted to branch ideas last week, but the photos reminded me more of a beach house look and aren’t really my style. Cool to see people decorating with them, though. 

For the autumn I really like these birch branches, either in natural or white:


Tie a bundle together with a gorgeous orange, plum, or brown sash for a seasonal touch. 

Pottery Barn also sells a faux persimmon branch, which is pretty and not too badly priced ($14 each). A large bundle of branches is what I call “white noise” in decorating. It’s there, but not the central focus and easily overlooked. Instead, a group of sticks leaning up against a wall adds to the overall feel of a space without drawing attention. On the other hand, a singe branch in a pretty vase can be used as a centerpiece on a dining room or coffee table. Used together, these two ideas can bring a blank room up to date, with a seasonal touch that steers clear of kitsch.