always / never: the home edition

A few posts back I did the fashion always-es and nevers, and everyone had a good sense of humour about it (thank you!). After spending the past month fantasizing about all the things I want to accomplish in our new apartment -- on a micro-budget -- I came up with the home decor edish.

The same rules apply. That is, these are personal preferences and are not meant to offend anyone, and I think I will pass the tag along. Lauren, I'll start with you! I am all tagged out after yesterday's post, but if any of you would like to do it, please feel free.


1. Ikea in moderation. Sometimes I worry that I come off snobby (in general, not merely about furniture) when really, I am not a snob. Okay, so when I was moving I was a little sad to see the parade of Ikea parts going past me (scratched MDF, dinged corners, etc.), but I've had my Malm bed for almost ten years and I can't think of a bed that I like better. I'd love to be able to shop at Design Within Reach or Unica Home, but let's face it, I never will.

2. Light-coloured walls. When I think of an apartment that had the perfect walls, I think of the apartment I shared with my friend Annie. My bedroom was a brownish pink, and the living room and the dining rooms were pale peach. All the accents were white. Those walls made me happy, despite how cracked they were and how we heard little mice running in between them every once in a while.

3. Antique trinketzzz! Pretty little plates for storing jewelry and cute little tchotchkes strewn all over the place.

4. Pendant lamps. We have them in most rooms -- we had to replace the generic ceiling fixtures, and Geoff has become quite handy at hardwiring lamps. This is the wooden "chandelier" in our bedroom. We have this particular Ikea pendant waiting to be hung over our landing -- I saw that Coe & Waito have a couple in their studio, too!

5. Doilies and lace. You are not surprised.


1. The Keep Calm and Carry On poster. I was walking through the neighbourhood the other day and was absently doing some peekins when I spotted it in someone's house. It looked pretty good on the wall, but I can't do it. I can't put up a poster that was originally designed for people who had bombs dropping overhead. I don't deny that it's stylish, and its ubiquitousness doesn't bother me (I have the For Like Ever poster, after all). It is just not for me.

2. Fake flowers. I would rather have no flowers at all than fake ones. Fake flowers do serve a purpose, but give me fresh cut flowers or pretty flowering plants any day, as above.

3. Dark, glossy paints. One wall painted navy blue can look okay, but when the entire room is navy blue, it's a little too stifling for me.

4. Dust ruffles on the bed.

5. Retro overload. I like Nelson clocks too but if you have a swag light, a shag rug, a kidney table, orange walls, etc., all at once, I instantly flash back to the damp basement rec rooms of my childhood.

To recap:


1. Ikea in moderation.
2. Light-coloured walls.
3. Trinkets.
4. Pendant lamps.
5. Doilies and lace.


1. Keeping calm and carrying on.
2. Fake flowers.
3. Dark, glossy walls.
4. Dust ruffles.
5. Retro overload.


  1. Ooooh, I love this! I have yet to move out, so I'm afraid my ideas of home decor have yet to be tested. I grew up in a family that was constantly painting, buying furniture, customizing and calling our neighbors to talk about it all, but still!

    I agree with you so much :D And I do keep all my things in little bowls and plates that I can't bear to leave behind in thrift stores and antique shops :D

  2. hehe, good answers! I really like your always'

    yes, I was also bummed about the size of he gingham shoes!

  3. you write in such a cute and funny way x

  4. Amen!

    You're head on, my friend.
    hehe My mother would hang silk flowers everywhere. Above door frames, in vases, anywhere she thought fit.

    Then I couldn't bear any longer and I took them all down. The house never looked better!

  5. Ha! Ha! I love this!! I agree with it all. I bought a Keep Calm poster once and then gave it to the goodwill. I am so weary of seeing it EVERYWHERE. It's not longer interesting to me.

  6. Anonymous2.6.09

    hi anabela!
    you're so awesome!
    i have to admit, i feel the very same way about the stay calm... posters. i'm glad i'm not the only one!
    your new home is coming along so nicely... it's lovely!

  7. Loved reading your lists. We're in the process of finishing up a major remodel project on our house so I'm planning on putting in some serious time, getting our place all nicely put back together. I'll have to think about this kind of thing for myself :)

  8. those wall colors you mentioned sound fabulous!

  9. I think I agree with everything here! Perhaps not so much the Ikea one but only because my parents drag me to that store so often that I can now quite easily navigate through it (and that's saying something for Ikea- I even know the shortcuts!). I should probably also say I disagree with the dark glossy walls one because my mum wallpapered on of the walls in my room whilst I was at university in a dark, glossy, floral type purple. It's a nice wallpaper and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, it's just I have so much junk in my room that it all clashes and looks quite chaotic. I need pale walls! High ceilings would be nice too.

  10. Oh, the photos are wonderful, I love your "always's"!

  11. This was a blast to read :)

  12. this is so fun! I like pendant lamps too! But Jin won't spend the time to hang them for me!
    And I didn't know where the Keep Calm and Carry On poster was from!! It all makes sense now!

  13. Kater: I'm sure you have your personal space styled beautifully! Having a space to decorate any way you want is definitely one of the better aspects of being 30 -- even though I don't have a lot of money, it's fun to see what I can do with what I have.

    Eyeliah: Thanks! This was fun.

    Kerri: Thank you so much!

    Melissa: My mother has a fake flower ADDICTION! She even sticks fake flowers in pots with her real plants! Why she does this, I have no idea.

    Chelsea: I just know that the poster is going trickle down to the point where I will get a mug with it on it for Christmas. Probably in the wrong font.

    Tiffany: Thank you! Thank you!

    Missa: Ooh, good luck! It sounds like a pleasant challenge.

    Rebecca: I wish I could find pictures! It was really calming and lovely. When we acquired the apartment, it was a disaster. The walls that were white were so dingy and dirty because the previous tenant was a filthy beast! The beautiful mantle was painted black (!!!) and some of the trim was dark blue. It was awful, awful, awful. We spent so much time and effort trying to get it pretty (I was on crutches at the time, but I was determined!).

    Hannah: The first time I went to Ikea I thought it was an abomination. My parents never went there at all when I was little -- all their furniture was real wood, imagine that! I have learned to love it and to be thankful that I have three locations relatively close by.

    Parapluie: Thank you!

    Helen: Thank you!

    Celine: Thank you! When we got the Tord Boontje Midsummer Light it sat in its package for a year because we didn't know how to hardwire it! Then Geoff learned how to do it and had it up in half an hour. Now he can hang a lamp in five minutes flat! I still don't know how to do it. The Keep Calm and Carry On poster was originally produced by the British government during WWII but I don't think it was actually used. A bookseller discovered it fairly recently and started reproducing it because it is in the public domain. It was going to be used to strengthen resolve if the Nazis -- THE NAZIS! -- invaded Britain. The idea of putting a poster like that up in my house in Toronto in 2009 is completely stomach-turning. Lest we forget, y'all.

  14. Oh and Celine sorry for the rant but that's just my opinion!

  15. I love your "nevers"! No, I mean, I LOVE them! I love fake flowers, although I do have more of the living plant variety in my home. I love dark glossy walls... well maybe not so much glossy; more of a light sheen. I love retro overload! But I agree with the hate for dust ruffles (I don't even have a bed frame), and the keep calm and carry on poster must end. I'm more of a panic now, ask questions later type of gal.
    Also I agree with your always-es 100%!

  16. April: HAHA! I love you. I have no stiff upper lip myself! I freak out regularly!!!

  17. This was a fun post! It's always nice to read about the little things people are particular about. I have the Malm bed too! And my bedroom walls are dark brown, which was actually inspired by the display at IKEA. I still have doubts about it... But there is no turning back now!

  18. IKEA in moderation, that's funny! I totally agree with all of the always. Also, how can someone think that fake flowers are a good idea?

  19. great idea for a tag! i think i'm too wishy-washy about home decor at the moment to try to make this list. been living with my man for over a year and we're still trying to find that balance of our styles that makes us both happy. :)

  20. Anonymous4.6.09

    The Malm is still one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in. We had a bit of separation anxiety with the box spring (which is probably just a throwback to my mom always insisting that you need one) but it's been nothing but sweet dreams on those slats.

  21. That was so fun. I love your list and agree with every single one.