To Decorate or To Undecorate?

Last week I treated myself by ordering a couple of design books I had been anxiously awaiting to come out.  The first one is Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux.  Because I often think of staging houses to sell as “undecorating,” I thought it’d be interesting to see what the creator of Dwell Studio meant by that term.

Newly-Released Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux


I am generally a rules-based person – it’s in my nature.  I actually have lots of rules that I use when I am decorating or staging a space.  If you’ve worked with me, you know I am always spouting my “rules” (guidelines sound better!) as I work through the design process.  But here’s a really cool thing that I’ve learned over the past several years . . .

page view of Undecorate


Once you know the “rules,” you then have the confidence to break them if  that accomplishes an even better and more personal design.   Lemieux talks about how the internet and blogs have changed the way we look at interior design.  It’s no longer about magazine perfection, but about real-life living and living with what you love (no matter what anyone else thinks).

page view of Undecorate


This book profiles 20 homes that are inspirations for their surprising juxtapositions and unconventional, highly personal choices in decor.  This little girl’s room (from right here in Nashville) is my FAVORITE of the whole book!

page view of Undecorate


The other book I had been wanting to buy is by Holly Becker from Decor8.  I ordered it along with Lemieux’s tome, without paying much attention to the title.  When I opened my package from Amazon, I laughed out loud at the irony of the book titles inside – Undecorate, and now:

Holly Becker’s Decorate



Pretty funny.  I just can’t make up my mind, can I?  This book appeals to my sensibilities because it is chocked-full of lots of specific ideas for decorating your home.

page view from Decorate


It’s both inspirational and instructional, with chapters about decorating specific rooms, setting your own style, and dealing with things like floor planning and lighting.

page view from Decorate


I think this quote in Decorate actually describes the underlying theme in both of these books:  “Use your critical eye to see and use your heart ot feel, and then trust your instincts.”  – Shannon Fricke

page view from Decorate


So I hope to be taking a short holiday soon.  You’ll never guess what I’ll be spending my time reading . . .

To order either of these fabulous design books for the best price going, simply click here for Undecorate and here for Decorate.  Have you read either or these, or do you have another fabulous read to share with us decorating bookworms?

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13 thoughts on “To Decorate or To Undecorate?

  1. Barbara Jacobs says:

    Thanks for the book-tips. It’s always good to have a glimpse of something new and the counterpoint is interesting. Do you think “they” meant to hang the pictures on the cover in an unaligned way? Is that intentional “Undecorating”? Just wondering, what’s your take on that detail?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      i thought the same thing about the unaligned pictures on the cover of Undecorate. that would drive me INSANE. my guess is that it was initally a mistake, and then the homeowner was like “i’ll fix it later,” and then later thought, hmmm, wouldn’t it be so rebellious and cool to act like i meant to do that?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      haha, i almost named the post “To Decorate or Undecorate – That is the Question” but it was a little long 🙂 i do think you are right – it’s really about balance, just like everything else in life!

  2. Sheila Zeller says:

    I have SO been wanting both these books, especially Holly Becker’s ‘Decorate’! Did you know it’s already sold out in the US? That was FAST! The quote is perfect… how do you say it any better than that?
    Thanks for sharing a little glimpse with us… and enjoy your relaxing read while you’re away 🙂

  3. [email protected] says:

    Looks like a great read. I like what you mentioned about knowing the rules so that you can confidently break them. I’ve learned so much about “the rules” through blogging and find that some rules are best not broken, but others can and should be. I love to visit homes where the rooms are decorated with only things the homeowner loves-even if that means that the design world would tell them some elements are passe. Our homes should be our sanctuary, not a carbon copy of what we see in the latest design magazine.

  4. Kelly says:

    I love finding new design books and looking through them page by page. I always try to use the home owner’s accesories and furnishings that tell a story about them. That is what ‘undecorate’ means to me. I love using quirky and interesting items so they will smile everytime they walk into the room. I love the line ‘after you learn the rules then you gain confidence to use your own designs you way’. Thanks for sharing Kristie! I am going to order both!

  5. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Hi Kristie—just wondering if your husband ever chides you while you're on a get away about reading books on decorating, like mine does?

    Speaking of "Undecorating"…. I was just going through some VRBO listings (looking for a getaway ourselves) and the biggest turn off in many places is the over decorated places. On the other hand, so many are underdecorated, that they look like Motel 6 !

    Why ,O why don't they consider hiring a designer for such a potentially lucrative business?



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