Nearly two years ago, I posted this room to illustrate how I decorate much more by feel than by looks:

Some time last year, I found out that that gentleman on the couch there is P. Allen Smith, a garden expert and television host and that’s what looks to be a study in his home. I also found another photo of the same room which shows just a little more of the space:

As I said in that old post, this is much more traditional than my style but I’m still so drawn to the feeling of this room. Given my design ADD, when a space still resonates with me years after first seeing it, I pay attention.

So what is it about this space? First it’s the layers. There are layers of books, art, rugs, lighting and accessories everywhere. Second and more importantly, all of it has a very casually strewn feel about it. The result is a room that invites you to sit (or lie) down, get comfortable ad hang out. You actually want to pick up and browse through these books unlike in so many rooms where they’re used as props and you’re afraid to move one because it’ll upset a vignette; it’s the kind of room where you feel like you can put your feet up, set your drink down wherever and totally relax without worrying about messing something up. In other words, it’s about real living, not staging. Of course, it would be naive to think there isn’t some styling involved when an interior is being shot but in this case, I’d venture to say not a whole lot.

I guess the bottom line is it feels authentic and lived in, not too precious or perfect. Let’s face it, perfect is kind of boring. That’s the feeling I strive for in the spaces I decorate and it’s much harder than it sounds!

Boy, this post was a lot wordier than usual, wasn’t it? I guess I just have a lot to say on the topic. So what are your thoughts? If you missed the second post on the topic of decorating by feel, you can find it here.

(Photo: 1.My Home Ideas 2.P. Allen Smith)




Some folks have “the feel” and most don’t. But almost all of us recognize a “good feel.” Thanks for the feel good post.


I want my home to feel warm, cozy, lived in, and inviting. I’m all about creating a feeling more than a style.


I like the space a lot too – and for some of the reasons you mention. A lot of interior design doesn’t speak to me either because everything is too coordinated and simplistically color-matched. You know, those photos that have basically 5 colors in them, no differences in shade within each color and obvious graphic patterns that have only 2 or maybe 3 of the colors in each. To me that’s very boring.


I agree, it must have that ‘feeling’. Sometimes, for me, it may have several layers and textures, and other times it may be simplistic.. but it always needs to feel complete.
xoxo, B

Heather in Arles

Hear, hear! You probably can imagine that I can’t stand the “perfect” look that so many American designers are aiming towards and what a stark contrast that is with homes here in France that are more lived in and more for living than for show. I always wish that I could go around and muss up the pillows in the photo shoots. Put a bowl of fruit on the table! That kind of business. And don’t get me started about kitchens…

Arlene Gibbs Décor

It’s funny, I prefer rooms that are more spare yet, I’m drawn to this space too.

You hit the nail on the head. It’s inviting. I could see myself relaxing with a book and cocktail on that couch.

I don’t like rooms that feel like a showroom or a museum.


Amen…a lot more living! I love walking into a space I know the people love because it’s cozy and being used. This space is just that, and I could so be there right now :)


Great post. I totally agree- it looks like a lovely room to relax in- even though it isn’t my style. I love the books and the flowers. And also the placement of the pictures. I think the charm is that it feels unselfconscious.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment! I read every one and reply through my own comments.