At Home: Upping My Decor Game

Williams Sonoma bedding "New Moon"

A lot of our furniture was inherited at various points from my in-laws, whose taste in home decor ran to “80’s-90’s Modern In Soft Neutrals.” Lots of taupe. It’s quality stuff, and most has held up over time, but we’ve taken the easy road and have just decorated around it, sticking with the same theme. Le Monsieur feels (and rightly so) that there’s no need to replace perfectly good furniture. As with clothing, simple, basic pieces can be a good canvas to play with. We’ve played it safe however, mostly out of having little time and energy to make decorating choices. We’ve stuck with a palette of soft neutrals and earth tones, and lately I’ve been itching to bust out and add some color and pattern.

My friend Karen is redecorating their new (to them) house in Oregon, and has been inciting my interest with some of her Chinoiserie-inspired choices. She turned me on to a couple of decorating blogs/websites that (while they are a bit more exuberant than our style) really are great fun: Chinoiserie Chic and Madcap Cottage.

Redecorating is expensive business (and yes, we’re looking to renovate our kitchen at some point this year) but bedding and accent pieces can be a lower-commitment way to test the waters. We’ve actually been talking about replacing our worn-out bedding for a few months now, and with the January sales I decided to get serious about it. I’ve seen almost nothing I’ve liked in stores, so went online. That bedding set above grabbed me the minute I saw it. I’ve ordered the duvet and shams, will give it a try. (Our walls are a light almond color though, going to stick with that for now.) I’d love to find a bench along the lines of the one shown for the foot of the bed.

Asian bedroom decor - peacock duvet cover

This design was a close second. It has kind of a fun mid-century feel to it. I’ve ordered this one too, and will see which we prefer in our room.

My grandmother loved Asian decor, and collected some art and incidental pieces (some of which I’ve inherited, along with her love of Asian art) which fit with that motif. They include a lot of antique Blue Willow ceramics, which she apparently bought by the barrel when she visited Hong Kong in the 1960’s. I might be able to re-purpose one or two of the bowls or canisters as night-table accent pieces. I already have her Dong Kingman San Francisco cable car prints hanging in our room (these have been favorites since I was a child). But I think the colors in either bedding design would also set off our vintage French posters quite nicely. I like to keep it eclectic.

Watercolor artist Dong Kingman, San Francisco cable car prints

If anyone’s interested, I’ll share some before and after pictures, once we’ve settled on a pattern and theme.

Do you re-decorate periodically? Have you made dramatic changes in one or more rooms?

Let’s Decorate…

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.


  1. Debra
    January 18, 2017 / 4:10 am

    Love all but especially the framed prints! I have a love of ‘tourist’ artwork and have collected watercolors by 1950s Paris artist Guy de Neyrac. I’m sure they were painted ‘dime-a-dozen’ for Parisian tourists in the post-WWII era but their nostalgic view of the city appeals to me.

    I’m redecorating my bedroom, too, but am too afraid to go for color. I’ll be living vicariously through you and hope you’ll post more photos as your project continues.

  2. Sue K.
    January 18, 2017 / 4:16 am

    I would LOVE to see “before” and “after” photos of your bedroom! You have many beautiful items with which to work. Looking forward to the results.

  3. January 18, 2017 / 5:09 am

    Saw the comment about the bench at th foot of the bed and thought you might want to take a look at Grandin Road. I ordered a leather storage ottoman a few weeks ago and the quality is excellent and service was fast. There were lots of color options, very happy with this piece. Looking at a living room refresh this year, nothing worn out but tired of the colors. I will watch your project for bedroom ideas!

  4. Martina
    January 18, 2017 / 5:51 am

    It must be that time of year! I just made a new shower curtain and got hot pink towels for my windowless bathroom. Now I smile when I walk in first thing in the morning. 🙂

  5. MJ
    January 18, 2017 / 5:52 am

    Love the blue comforter and shams – they look like a great way to make the room feel completely different without being horribly expensive. I second the request for before and after pictures.

  6. Sue
    January 18, 2017 / 6:07 am

    We move about every 5 years and are currently in the process of moving to Philadelphia. We have Purchased a house but it really needs updating. We are renovating the kitchen and painting all the walls. I am trying to figure out how to arrange what furniture I have into the space and we have purchased a few new pieces. We are updating the lighting fixtures too. Of course I will need new linens. I will be very interested to see what you do.

  7. Valerie
    January 18, 2017 / 6:29 am

    Love that blue duvet, Susan. Fabulous.

    I have been in total redecorating mode for about 8 months! We’ve been in our home for 12 years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I want to move, but family circumstances prevent that right now, so I got into “redo mode:” I did a full kitchen reno and after getting quotes from kitchen remodeling folks, I became my own general contractor and did the entire kitchen for about half what was quoted, but that included all new appliances and a new washer/dryer. I love it. I’ve had slipcovers made for a sectional and two rocker/swivels in our upstairs gathering room: this is a room that previously had lots of color and I neutralized it with beige on the sofa and animal print on the two chairs. No more expensive furniture for me: I’m into trendy and comfy. That way, if I’m sick of it in 5 years, it’s not a big deal to get rid of it. I’m awaiting a new off-white yummy, comfy sofa for our 2-story great room, but have added color by way of a rug and accessories (blue and lime green … two colors I’ve never used before.) I also redid our outdoor area with a big funky sofa I bought at a consignment shop. I had a new cover made for the cushion, got tons of pillows at Home Goods, a new rug, etc.

    Now, if only I were as adept at redoing my wardrobe as I am at redoing my house …

  8. Tracy
    January 18, 2017 / 6:33 am

    I was recently wondering if your home is as stylish as your person! I would love to see before and afters of any and all rooms in your house! Home decor is always a point of contention between me and my husband. He thinks, like your husband, that there is no point in replacing perfectly good furniture, but unfortunately when we moved into this house in the early 90s I bought what was in at the time and now it’s all so dated that I can’t stand it any more. I have slowly been replacing pieces and trying to choose things that are more neutral and timeless.

    Nearly everything on my walls was made either by me (quilts, cross stitch samplers), purchased at local art fairs, or painted by talented family members. I also have a lot of framed art work made by my children when they were small. They had an inspiring art teacher at their elementary school and they came home with some amazing things! I have so much that I periodically swap out pieces, like a gallery.

  9. robjodiefilogomo
    January 18, 2017 / 6:50 am

    We absolutely want to see the befores & afters Susan!!
    I think decorating your house is like getting dressed!! It’s all about putting great colors & items together!

  10. January 18, 2017 / 6:58 am

    We’re gradually finding out our living patterns in this new space, and seeing what we can live with from what we brought along and what we found here — and what just won’t do. Really happy with a new couch (leather sleeper sofa) that arrived Monday — a bit terrifying, these custom pieces that cost a small fortune, paid for long before they arrive. . . . I’ll be much happier when we’re at the stage of playing with bed linens.
    And yes, absolutely would be keen to see Befores and Afters….

  11. January 18, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Your bedroom looks fabulous! Love to see the Before and afters please!
    We rarely redecorate after we have restored a room in our heritage home…
    kitchens are big projects but they are SO worth it!

    • Susan B
      January 18, 2017 / 8:59 am

      Hi Leslie, that’s actually not our bedroom, but hope ours looks as fabulous when I get done. 🙂

  12. Cathy D.
    January 18, 2017 / 9:06 am

    Definitely yes to seeing before and after photos! I’m redecorating my bedroom. In fact, the hardwood floor is being replaced tomorrow (hope I survive). I love the Williams Sonoma Home website and have made many purchases from it.

  13. Susan D.
    January 18, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Yes, we occasionally redecorate. We built our house in 1993, so it has been ripe for some updating. We redecorated our family room and kitchen five years ago. And lately, we have been working on two of the upstairs bathrooms. All very expensive as you note. And not always a fun process. We’re getting there and I am mostly pleased. Love your prints from your grandmother and would love to see more of your new decor.

  14. Ann
    January 18, 2017 / 10:39 am

    I so need to think about this and could use everyone’s inspiration to lift me higher. In a year or so hubby and I will sell our beautiful but enormous country home (5200 sq ft) and move to a 1500 sq ft patio home. It’s time to downsize the housekeeping, utilities, and yard care and create a home we can lock and leave for months at a time.

    Susan, I’m SO looking forward to seeing what you do with your home, since I admire so much your personal style.

    P.S. Like your husband, we don’t want to throw out good things — but I am so in the mood to do SOME things differently. And soon!

  15. Marilyn Lowe
    January 18, 2017 / 10:58 am

    I’ve spent the last few days revamping pine furniture in one of our bedrooms using Rust-Oleum furniture paint. Just 2 shelves to do. The way it had brightened the room is amazing. The furniture was too good to throw out but dull and out-dated. A frugal way to completely change the ambiance of a room.

    • GingerB
      January 20, 2017 / 4:27 am

      I’ll have to try that! I have two bedrooms with wood furniture from when my kids were here. It’s very sturdy, and money for furniture doesn’t grow on trees- but it’s dated.

  16. Vivian Foster
    January 18, 2017 / 11:08 am

    Yes, please! I would love to see your style translate into home decor. I love the blue bedding … fun and luxurious at the same time. Keep the pictures coming!

  17. Aniko
    January 18, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    Love this new topic on your blog. I think exploring the style in our homes is every bit as interesting as the style in our clothing. I would recommend painting an accent wall behind your headboard as in the photo. We did that in our master and it made a dramatic difference for very little work and money. We chose a smokey plum color which added sophistication to the whole bedroom. Would love to see your before and afters!

  18. Meg
    January 18, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    I love that pattern and all the color on the bedding! I have been planning a re do for a few months now and I have started to collect fabric swatches. My new dining room is going to be aqua and coral. With a chinese pattern on the wall paper which will be done in ‘frames’ of molding, rather than all over. Fun bright colors!

    I would love to see the finished room , and I hope you will share!

  19. nanci
    January 18, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful “home” post. I would very much like to make some tweaks in my home and would enjoy hearing of new resources. Your followers always have good resources as well.

  20. Tiffany Hutton
    January 18, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    I don’t redecorate per se. Occasionally I’ll swap something or have a couch reupholstered or hang a new painting, but that’s about it. I once decided to experiment with more flamboyant bedlinen (it’s usually taupe/grey/dusty pink 100% linen) but it was just too busy for me and not restful. I love the patterns you’ve chosen – exactly what appeals to me, but turns out I can’t live with that much colour!

  21. Jill Ann
    January 18, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    I’m surprised you went for that much color in your bedding, since you are so relentlessly neutral in your wardrobe! I am a color lover, so I think both choices are great. I’m currently pondering a redo or update of living area/kitchen, which will need to coordinate since they’re adjacent. And that all gets very complicated……

  22. Sue
    January 19, 2017 / 2:10 am

    Definitely love to view before and after shots of any decorating. It is so much less stressful vicariously! The mustard duvet looks great, too. Looking forward to seeing the end results.

  23. Vicki
    January 19, 2017 / 4:23 am

    My husband and I renovated our home 10+ years ago.
    Amongst other things we replaced; The carpet with new carpet to the main lounge area/bedrooms only. We laid Italian porcelain tiles to main living areas.
    We replaced our kitchen bench tops/ cupboards and all kitchen appliances.
    We changed the light fittings in our house to mainly down lights with a ‘ feature’ light in the dining room, We changed all internal doors. I got rid of all curtains and replaced them with wooden shutters in white or vertical drapes in pale grey.
    We changed all the internal house colours after very careful deliberation – we went with a bluey/grey wall colour with white skirting trim to match the white internal doors. I have a feature wall between my rumpus/kitchen which is a dark stormy grey colour.
    Living in Australia – out house faces due north and we get sun all day, the westerly sun is the worst for us with our home having a 13 foot triple sliding door in the rumpus room.

    We replaced the plain wooden double front doors with double lead light doors to add some character to our home and give it some street appeal.

    I find bed linen such as quilt covers/doonas/ pillowcases/ European pillows and pillow cases great revitalisers for bedrooms. Neutral colour schemes for bathrooms let you play with colours for towels etc.

    Vases with fresh flowers do wonders, these don’t have to be expensive – they can come from your local supermarket. High quality fragrant candles burning while you are at home help create a wonderful atmosphere.

    All these things don’t have to be done at once – they can be a work in progress. This is just a small sample of the changes we made to our living environment.
    It’s all about creating a comfortable space for you and your family.

  24. January 19, 2017 / 8:14 am

    Love the blue bedroom. I’m using the same scheme in my living room (sort of by accident) but have grown to love it. I change my bedding seasonally and enjoy bringing out my spring yellow spread and crisp navy shams and accents. Winter warm comforter is on now with rich burgandy shams and accents. Fall is a light weight comforter in multi stripe natural tones accented with navy or orange. I have alot of throw pillows that I can use to also change out the looks through out the season. I’m lucky to have a large closet down stairs that I use for accessories. I love to shop this room for things to change the look of bedrooms & livingroom. Please post Before & Afters!

  25. Christi
    January 19, 2017 / 11:02 am

    Both choices are so wonderful but have very different vibes. Can’t wait to see what you choose!
    We did a kitchen update 2 summers ago, it was disruptive and annoying but worth it! It involved taking down cabinets, a tile backsplash, new wallpaper, appliances, lighting and flooring. Have fun and enjoy the process!

  26. January 19, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    Thank you for the shout-out, Susan! xoxo Jason Oliver Nixon, Madcap Cottage

    • Susan B
      January 20, 2017 / 7:16 am

      Thanks Jason! Love your vibrant and fun style!

  27. Karen
    January 19, 2017 / 2:41 pm

    Love that your’re sharing your decor adventure. I helped you open a can of worms it seems! KAren

    • Susan B
      January 20, 2017 / 7:15 am

      Yes, but in a GOOD way! 😀

  28. Linda L
    January 19, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    Love your duvet choices! Can’t wait to see your before and after post! We have recently refreshed our living and music rooms(the former dining room) and are starting on the kitchen now. We also updated our patio and added a fire pit this fall. We have lived here 20 years and things were looking dated! I usually update bedding every five years or so. I love blue willow china! Blue is the hot decorating color right now too. Have fun and take lots of pics!

  29. Bea
    January 20, 2017 / 7:31 am

    Beautiful choices, would love for you to document your decorating adventures.

  30. amy
    January 23, 2017 / 5:47 pm

    I too would like to see before/after. I am a big fan of REARRANGING everything to freshen up. In fact, I’m known for this proclivity. Two years ago my empty nester spouse and I relocated from a 2700 sq ft 1930’s house in the suburbs to a 2000 SF downtown condo. Really fun to pick out just what we wanted to use in/repurpose for the new space. I even pitched some of my grandmother’s dining room furniture — not worth the cost of repair — it felt scandalous but freeing… Like a new chapter of our lives. Good luck!

  31. January 27, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    I love that blue luscious bedstuff. Good choice. I would order it in a heart beat. We have dramatically changed the living room a couple of years ago, which was a costly affair. I told Ron we would probably die in this decor as we cannot afford to do that again haha.

Dites moi vos pensées...