November 8, 2018


(Jayne Mansfield's Beverly Hills Home ca. 1959)
I've never been known to keep
my opinions to myself...
especially those interiors trying to look "rich" or imply wealth.
I thought it would be fun to share some  bad examples  with you and explain why they're bad as a way for you to avoid making these same mistakes.

We're going to use the acronym
(What Would Joe Do?)


J.C.Penny's "Old Money Look"
1.  Paint the mantle the same color as the trim in the room.
2. Paint over the two hideous tromp l'oeil niches and hang large paintings in their place.
3. Lose the rug - it's too dark and makes the room look small, not cozy.  Get a beige and rusty red rug with a slight geometric pattern. The room will look bigger, smarter and less cluttered. 

OMG what a view!
1.  Lose the small-scale furniture
2.  Use an "L" or arc shaped sectional facing the view.
3.  Use a low cocktail table.
4.  Lose the Venetian blinds (drawn up in photo)
5. If sun and glare are a problem: install soft, textural open-weave curtains to filter the direct sunlight when neccessary.  They will add texture and softness.

A 21st Century Groove.
1.  Place a sofa in the space to "ground" all the floating pieces.
2.  Pull the chair and ottoman and the two 'swan' chairs closer to the cocktail table.
3.  Close the audio cabinet under the bar before taking the photo
4. Always have a small table near seating to rest a drink, book, etc.

There's Too Much White
1.  Have natural food floors or paint the floors with a pale color, this will help cover soil and create a single plane of color.
2.  Accent the room with some accessories in the same tones as the floor. If the "super white" scheme is preferred pastels can add zip without being a bold statement. 
3.  Add interest through art or some interesting focus. 
4.  Add a large tree.

Modern Shouldn't Mean Boring
1.  Add a painting over the sofa with some color.
2.  Use a black lacquered cocktail table.
3.  Add texture, everything is too "slick." Maybe a flokati rug, or thickly woven textiles on some pillows.

Nice Chic Room
1.  Pull chairs closer to the sofa.
2.  Always have a small table next to chair to rest a drink on.
3. Ottomans are the last choice to sit on during a party as they're not comfortable at all - especially for those over 50.
4.  Place most seating within the ideal "conversation distance" of 5 feet from one person to the other.
5. Dont attempt to fill the room with furniture, thats not your goal; your goal is to create inviting spaces

Great Windows 
1.  Rooms with lots of floor to ceiling windows need an indoor tree to blurr the lines between outdoors and indoors.  
2.  Add a carpet, one with texture perhaps.
3.  Add some organically inspired things - curvy chairs, or wooden pieces to make it warmer.
4. Empty rooms are not friendly rooms

Nice clean lines
1.  Add some interesting pillows in brighter colors 
2.  A groovy tree with big leaves behind the sofa in the corner would be perfect too.
3.  Lose the retail "off-the-shelf art"

Nice Woodwork
1.  Add some burnt orange or French blue to make it pop, cause it ain't poppin' now...
2.  Lose some of that flouncy, upholstered stuff, it's just too feminine looking.
3.  Get some art that isn't color coordinated, that sepia-tone flower looks catalogue-ish.
4.  Have something fully upholstered in the room, now everything has exposed frames from all different periods...not good.

Good Light
1.  Use all long hanging curtain panels; the London shades look stupid on one wall only. Pick one style and stick with it - regardless whether they're doors or windows.  Roman blinds on doors aren't easy to use, so all windows should've had full length curtains on poles.
            2.  Wheres their "stuff?" No tsotchke's or books
                                makes it feel so sterile.
3.  A tree is needed in the corner too!

Pretty Antiques

1.  Add two fully upholstered chairs to anchor the room.
2.  Add some books or a live plant.
3.  Add a gilt framed mirror over the fireplace, it will make the room sparkle and pop a bit more. It's very "flat" now, without any punch.

A Handsome Room

1.  Pair the four identical club chairs in front of the fireplace.
2.  Get a pair of open arm-chairs and use on either side of the sofa
FYI: Four matching chairs in a contemporary setting looks great sometimes, in a traditional setting it looks very "lobby-like."


1.  Paint the walls solid, flat, smokey blue instead of whatever that is on the walls - 'ragged' and faux finishes are OUT!
2.  Lose that stupid capiz-shell light fixture; no light fixture should drop from the ceiling in a living room, ever, unless you have a very high ceiling.
3.  The mantle is huge, but it works because its such a good decorative one.
4.  Get other chairs for beside the fireplace, those are very feminine
5.  Replace those "granny" sheers at the windows with Plantation shutters or grass blinds (behind the curtains) if you have a privacy issue. If you don't have a privacy issue have the glass fully exposed.
6.  Lose the tiebacks on the curtain panels.
7. Don't use pillows as "stage sets;" the chair should look inviting to sit in, not look like you need to disassemble it. 

Nice "Decorator" Pieces
1.  Short of a total redecoration (which I think is whats needed), I'd say edit out about one-third of the stuff in there. The apartment is too small to be so overstuffed with all that "old world" decorator crap. 
2.  Lose that bookshelf floating in the middle of the you really think that looks like you have a seperate dining room?
3.  Introduce one or two contemporary pieces to the room, this looks like an old lady's apartment that was done in 1990.
4.  Lose that tacky curtain valance. Hard, upholstered valances are out and make the ceilings look lower.

Nice Cocktail Table, Pretty Palate 
1.  Lose the dining chairs with the super-wide decorative pillows, it looks dumb and they're way too large to be paired with that petite settee.
2.  Put a full-size sofa where the settee is and put a pair of club chairs flanking it.
3.  Place the existing settee facing the loveseat, floating in the room (back to the camera) this will create a cozy seating area which is still chic and contemporary looking.  The settee also adds some "patina" which makes the room less "retail" looking.

NICE Fireplace & Wall Finish
1.  Lose the two downmarket rattan chairs;  rattan rarely looks good with metal fittings...
2.  Send the five pillows back to whatever online source you found them....tassel fringe went out with the Oldsmobile.
3.  If this is a foyer, a pair of beautiful old consoles would be perfect on both sides of the fireplace. Or, a pair of trees, either topiaried Bay's or Fiddle-leaf figs. 

Feels Fresh
1.  Never end a paint finish or wallcovering on an outside corner.  The proper way is to run whatever the finish is through out the area until its actually divided by a doorway, moulding, or another transition. If you cant afford that much paper, just paint.
2.  Never end a wainscot by just dead ending it into a corner as is done here (right side of photo) it should run circumferentially around the room and die into another moulding or door casing. 

LOVE That Patterned Fabric
1.  Never use a bold or patterned fabric on something large in the room, then on one small item, it will always look like a scrap was used. If that lampshade was a simple white paper or burlap linen it would be perfect.

Can't think of anything positive here....
1. Move, ain't no fixing that mess

What kind of stupid-ass shit is that?
1. Get rid of that stupid "double" chaise, it's like a Buick parked in the room.
2. Get a comfy chair with an ottoman, they're easier to get in and out of.

Great Weekend House Living Room
1.  Lose the National Geographic magazines stacked up for their yellow color is just too cutesy - regular books would be better. Too many color-coordinated accents are never good.  
2. Don't fill bookshelves with plates and iscellaneous junk just because you don't have books. Go to the Salvation Army or thrift store and buy a hundred books at 50-cents each and fill the shelves, leaving room for the occasional plate or tsotchke. 
FYI: In a beach house such as this, old books are read by guests who forgot their book or finished the one they brought. With 50-cent ones around they can take the old Ann Rice, James Patterson or Dan Brown novel home and it's OK!  

Large, Light-filled Room
1.  Minimize the size of that fireplace by:
a.  Paint it in the same sand color as the walls.
b.  Remove the wooden mantel and surround the nice stone with a wood "bollection" moulding.  
2.  Get a larger rug so that no wood is inside the furniture arrangement.
3.  All the curtains should match in this room - why do they change for that one window by the fireplace???
4.  Get a more substantial cocktail table; everything in the room is masculine and well-scaled, the current cocktail table looks flimsy.

Warm Colors and an Architecture
1.  Really, four seating areas??? That's just not good, it's too commercial looking for a home; not cozy at all.
2.  Have some seating areas against the side walls and some perpendicular to the entrance.
3.  Don't create an "aisle" through the room. Move the people around, t-h-r-o-u-g-h the room.

Pretty Country-Style Room 
1.  1. Lose half the pillows; no sofa needs more than three, maybe four throw pillows!
2.  Fluff the pillows often to keep their shapes

Thats a LOT of Pink
1.  Never have pieces on the diagonal, or "catty-cornered," it wastes space and doesn't add interest.
2.  Paint this ceiling white!! Pink ceilings don't work unless it's a light blush or pale-pale pink and that's only for a young girls bedroom or ladies bathroom
3.  Use a softer, less bubble-gum shade of pink.


Large Rooms With Killer Art
1.  Use chairs with a simpler frame or "softer" looking. 
2.  Consider a large carpet that would cover most of the floor

Beautiful Wallpaper, Nice Antiques
1.  Place a larger console or buffet against the wall.
2.  Bring the four paintings in closer to the mirror and raise them slightly to "beef up" the grouping - 6" off the mirror's edge.
3.  Use the Chinese chairs beside the buffet - not at the table, makes the room look confusing.
4.  Get a larger, less patterned carpet
5.  Get a beautiful chandelier, they are ALWAYS important and that Home Depot number sprayed gold aint working. The bottom of the chandelier should be 30-32" off the table top too.

That Mural is Everything
1.  To make the ceilings feel higher mount the window shades at the bottom of the crown moulding.
2.  Paint the ceiling white.
3.  Lose the goofy lamp tables on either side of the fireplace and replace with two floor lamps. The lampshades should be solid, not silky or see through. If the lamp shades are brighter than the chandelier they will be the focus, not the main attraction. Solid shades provide light furtively. 

Nice Colors and Furniture Finishes
1.  The arms of the dining chairs don't tuck under the table top, not a crime but not great.... it limits some people getting close enough to the table. 
2.   Get rid of that stupid puny "wagon-wheel" mirror over the buffet. I assume they probably didn't want to cover any of their wall mural, but there should be a huge-ass mirror or painting over the buffet.

Nicely Scaled Dining Room
1.  Cove lighting always looks commercial.
           2.  There needs to be more furniture in the room,                      
                    maybe a settee under the window.
3.  A light colored carpet would take the pretentiousness
edge off of the space.
4.  Chairs with a less rigid design would soften the space, take away the boardroom look.
5.  Some nice art on the walls would be great.
6.  This room could handle two round dining tables.
7.  Lose the curtains at the door - you're not at the Paris Ritz, you're in a tacky gated community. 
8.  Nothing on the windowsill, ever! Unless it's a plant.

Stunning Room
1.  Lose the chair and magazine rack.
Maybe a chair or settee in a bay window
but never in the corner like's goofy.

I Love Me Some Velvet Tiger Fabric
1.  Lose the Chinese rug, it's just too busy for this room and the bright yellow gives an odd tinge to the silver-leaf Chinese wallpaper and silver-gilt accents.
2. The tiger velvet upholstery or the handpainted wallpaper deserve center stage, but you cant have both.

A Mediterranean Influenced Room
1.  Get upholstered back, less formal dining chairs, perhaps even good quality rattan chairs. 
2.  There's too many hard surfaces; add casual, soft off-white curtain panels.
3.  Add a carpet; a round sisal one would be casually chic.

A Grand Dining Room
1.  I'm loving the antique white finish on the dining chairs paired with the mahogany table,  but that tired-ass 1980's tapestry fabric just totally wrong. A beautiful "antiqued" russet colored leather or small "French" geometric  pattern would've been perfect. 
2.  Lose the tiebacks on the curtains: Never use tiebacks...they're sooo Park Avenue 1974.
FYI: The tapestry fabric competes with the beautiful walls. ONE thing needs the be the focal point.

The Circus is in Town!
Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your husband

Great Wallpaper
1.  They've done something silly by installing the wainscot to coordinate with the wallpaper pattern - which makes the chair-rail wayyy too high. If the wallpaper went from floor to ceiling without a wainscot it would be perfect. 
2. Rooms this size shouldn't have wainscoting at all as it makes a room look small.
3.  The mirror over the buffet should be vertical, never horizontal!
4.  The low-quality dining chairs shouldn't be upholstered in two different fabrics, it creates visual clutter. The room would be very pretty if the chairs were painted antique white and upholstered in the green geometric pattern only.


A Pretty Bedroom
1.  Get a larger carpet
2.  Don't install the curtains on the face of the window casing - in a bay window, they should almost always be mounted at the ceiling line.
3.  Don't install curtains that look like they're from Sears Home Catalogue... Swags and jabots are beyond passe'
4.  Bed-side wall lamps should usually be installed about 40 - 46" high....not 6' high as shown.
5.  The ceiling should be white. 
6.  The chairs look cheap and uncomfortable, they're in the MBR, they should look comfy.
7.  Another color accent would compliment the room, there's too much blue which makes it boring.
FYI: Wall-to-wall carpeting is often the best in a bedroom, it helps with the acoustics and makes a room feel larger.

Nice Collection
1.  Layering accessories is always good, but here it's creating a claustrophobic feeling.
2.  Clear off the bedside tables for the guests to put their own things down.
3.  Take two of the pillows off the bed. Getting into bed shouldn't feel like unpacking...

Cool Bed, Nice Mirrors and Lamps
1.  Lose the skinny legged glass topped tables. They're the wrong visual "weight" for the room, they should be solid.  These look as if they ran out of money and went to Pier1
2.  Don't have the casters on the bed exposed, especially if they're white...
3.  Lose some pillows....again.

1.  Gut this room, send it all back to that Vintage store and demand your money back.
2.  Never disregard the architecture when designing a room.
3.  Never have a tufted upholstered wall unless your lithium isn't working.
4.  Never do anything like that with curtains, ever...

Great Wall Lights
1. Use other lights, these stick out way past the bedside tables, so you'll walk into'ink.
2.  Never make a bed up like that with the white bedspread tucked under the pillows unless your at grandma's house...

Beautiful Beds
1.  Never put beds in front of windows like that. 
2.  If the room is small don't use beds with foot-boards and side rails it takes up too much room.
3.  Here, upholstered boxsprings would be nice as they're clean-lined and subtle.

Restful Room & Color Scheme 
1.  Get bigger, taller bedside tables; those are pretty, but the wrong scale.
2.  Don't have a chair in a room if you can't move around in the room.
FYI:  A bedside table top should be above the top of the mattress by several inches.  The reason is - if your pillow pushes over in the night or your comforter flops over it wont knock everything off the table.  The room also just looks better when the tables are higher. I like them usually 30" and up, depending on the scale and height of the bed.


Gorgeous Stair Hall
1.  a: Add two matching consoles backed up to the stairs.
     b: Add a console on one side and a large bench on the opposite wall.
2.  Lose those two stools in the middle of the main walkway. Never create an obstacle course...
3.  Add a lamp on the console so you can have soft light in the foyer - general light drifting down from two floors above looks commercial.

Cool House
1.  Lose the zebra, you don't need a rug

2.  Lose the stupid fake "found object bottle" by the stairs
3. Install a runner on the stairs to take away the coldness and prevent slipping accidents.
4.Use a large, contemporary center tablet make the foyer look less voluminous.
5. Hire a professional

A Large Formal Foyer
1.  Remove all the existing woodwork; door casings, baseboards and crown mouldings - they're all wayyy under scaled for the size of this room. Add larger, better quality mouldings and this room will instantly become much more elegant.
2.  Get a larger table, that ones way too puny.
3.  Put a carpet runner on the steps.(See February 2, 2011 Master Class on carpet runners)
4.  Don't have a lantern without glass, it looks low-budge.
5.  Put a piece of furniture (chest) under the steps, it looks "empty."
6.  Lose that stupid column on the landing....


1985 on Line Two
1.  Never use a self-rimming sink with a stone top. Use an "under-mount" sink.
2.  Never use a "decorative" sink, they look dated immediately.
3.  Paint over that hideous wall finish ASAP
4.  Don't use a cheap mirror in a powder room, your guests are too close to it and its poor quality will be revealed. 
FYI: A powder room should always have the best fixtures and decorations you can afford. Reasons are: Guests are alone in there for a few minutes - so they'll have time to check things out and any low-budge stuff it will be realized, and guests are physically much closer to the decorations in a powder room.

Nice Stone
1.  Be careful using a vividly patterned stone, it can get "busy looking." 
2.  Never use 12" x 12" stone tiles.....they look very "off-the-shelf" from Home Depot, regardless of what you paid.
3.  Don't use all the "accessory pieces" in a tile series, it's just too matchy-matchy.
4.  Keep the inside of a shower simple.
5.  Don't put huge-ass silk arrangements in a bath, ever.

Nice Finishes
1.  Get rid of the grids on the shower glass!  There are many nice patterns and finishes in this room, but the shower doors just put it over the edge into the
clutter zone. If the doors were plain, clear glass the room would look much bigger as the interior of the shower would become visually a part of the room.

Fireplace in the Bathroom
1.  Don't have upholstery monogrammed (anywhere) unless it's in a child's room, or it will look like... a childs room.

You can do it, I'm here to help!
Twitter: JPDMasterClass
Instagram: Joseph Paul Davis


Poly Van said...

Hello! You are so great! I'm from Buenos Aires so please understand that my english is not so good.

I am a crazy woman for decor and architecture and I found your blog looking for "Black Front Doors" and I couldn't stop reading your comments.I totally agree! Your last post is so funny and SO true.

I'm happy to have found you and I will continue reading.

marilyn said...

Joe, you really, really made me laugh outloud while reading are great!!

Lighting Deals said...

Lights in all room are perfect. Everything looks so bright, fresh, clean and cool in our eyes. Thanks for sharing.


(Jayne Mansfield's Beverly Hills Home ca. 1959) I've never been known to keep my opinions to myself... especially those i...