An Environmental Design Firm Specializing in Interior Design and Landscape Architecture

SHERRI JAMES Interior Designer

About Us

The design profession is about passion. It is an artistic endeavor that combines a lot of knowledge, engineering, and creativity. The passion of Michael and Sherri James is the thrill of implementing designs that bring joy to other people. Both are graduates of UC Berkeley. Michael studied landscape architecture, and Sherri studied interior design and art history. They formed MJDT, an environmental design firm, 25 years ago and have designed numerous residential estates, private homes, executive offices, and historic buildings. They can work within your existing architecture and your personal style to provide your family with living spaces tailored to your way of life. Or, they can remodel to a new look! Michael makes the garden an extension of the home. Sherri makes the home “green” and more comfortable. She does this with the harmonious use of colors, fabrics, furnishings, and accessories. Having raised 5 children, they are qualified to provide a safe and pleasant environment for your growing family.

Drawing of the Travolta's Great Room with his plane framed in the curved window

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

PERSONAL STYLE - PART THREE–– Is my style in good taste?

There's another point that people sometimes fuss about. Some people are concerned that if they are too free about using their personal style, someone will think that they have bad taste. If taste, or the lack of it worries you, please keep in mind that taste is a matter of opinion. The sense of what is proper varies with cultures and customs. As we become more global, cultures mix and taste evolves.

Not all designers would agree with my opinion that “tasteful” is an idea that is past its sell-by-date. And even I object to interiors that are too over the top to be comfortable. But I prefer the fun styles that stretch the envelope of good taste to those that take themselves too seriously.

There's nothing comfortable about the stuffy houses that try too hard “to demonstrate the owner's faculty of making discerning judgments in aesthetic matters.”

You might more comfortably break the rules of good taste if you know what they are. Or it maybe that your personal style is best expressed by adhering to the generally accepted rules. But if these rules conflict with your self-expression, feel free to disregard them.


Think white.
Use white linens, sheets and towels, without monograms although some white on white embroidery is acceptable. I'm not sure what the problem with monograms is, but white linens do have a practical aspect. You can bleach out stains and wash in hot water without fearing fading.

The white rule also applies to candles, soap, plain paper towels (No printing or pattern allowed.), tissue, toilet paper, tablecloths and napkins.

The same kind of thinking applies to tableware. It's okay to have ornate silverware, but never gold flatware or silverware with gold on it. In fact anything that is too shiny is suspect --see the rule regarding “too” below.

Glassware can be a solid color although clear crystal or glass without ornamentation is preferable. Never multi-colored. Etched ornamentation, that is frosted on clear follows the same rule as white on white -- if not overdone and not a monogram it will likely be acceptable.

Use natural materials.
Fabrics and carpets from natural fibers such as wool, silk, linen, or cotton only. No synthetics. I kinda like this one if you include fibers made from renewable sources such as bamboo, but solution dyed synthetic carpet is by far the most practical, durable and cleanable carpet for families who wish to have wall-to-wall carpet. Area rugs are generally considered in better taste than wall to wall, and are certainly more paractical.

Think simple.
Lose the ruffles, fringe, and frou-frou. Keep it plain, simple, no frill, soft colors. No sequins or shine. (Except that outrageously expensive shiny chintz that's coated is probably acceptable because of its English roots. Which brings us to the next rule.)

Anything Anglo-Saxon in origin is acceptable.
Anglophiles rejoice. Anything Anglo is correct in America. Even if it breaks all the other rules, although if its truly Anglo-Saxon and not some corrupted derivative, the item will most often be within the rules.

Avoid anything that is “too”.
The too gaudy, too colorful, too cluttered, too over the top, too flashy, too shiny are all in dangerous territory. And lead to the next possible infringement.

Guard against being too matchy-poo.
I have to admit I agree with this one not out of concern for tackiness but because rooms in which every element matches perfectly don't feel artistic. There's no fun in a room that looks like the furniture was bought as a suite. But the reason it's not tasteful is probably more along the lines of if all the wood matches, the furniture looks cheap as opposed to unique, custom or antique.

Keep to one design period.
This point may seem to violate the matchy-poo rule, which makes it tricky and requires some knowledge of design history. It's probably considered tasteful because it takes a professional designer to pull it off. Sticking to one period does guarantee a timeless result. If it hasn't been in style since Louis XV was alive, it's not in danger of going out of style.

If you give your home a timeless style, it won't go out of date. Clichés or the latest trend become passé so I suggest you avoid them --unless you plan to redo your home every few years. Or wait twenty years and the style will return.

Please do not feel that you need to be be so true to the period that you fail to provide comfortable seating. Simple upholstered pieces can be mixed with period tables, side chairs and accessories without distracting from the period style.

Well-done originality in any art form guarantees long-term appeal. And that's what this guide is all about. Please keep in mind that taste is a matter of opinion.

To decide what you want in your house, look for these clues --does it perform a function? Is there a good reason for having it? Does it make you feel good when you see it? Is it beautiful to you? The real bad taste would be to have an item in your house which is neither useful nor beautiful.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Drawing of an Estate Living Room in Summer Slip Covers