The 10 plagues of home decorating


H-swiss-coffeeThere are certain decorating elements that are a blight on style. They might not be as bad as locusts or boils, but they certainly would cause an exodus of anyone with good taste. So the next time you’re presented with one of these design choices, by all means, pass over them.

1. Swiss Coffee

I’m talking about the paint color, not the beverage. Swiss Coffee is the go-to color for contractors who want to cover the walls with the most neutral, bland color possible.  A shade of off-white with a brown tint, it just gets murkier with age. If you want white walls, select a shade with a bluish tint instead. My favorite is Frost, from Home Depot’s Behr collection.

2. Vertical blinds

Nothing says temporary housing like vertical blinds. They flap in the wind, get twisted up and break easily. The “clanking” noise also is really annoying. Replace them with curtains — even on sliding glass doors — and enjoy the silence.

3. Mason jars

Mason jars have become an overdone cliché. There’s a funny bit from the latest season of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” when Rachel Bloom’s character is planning her wedding and, based on Pinterest, stocks up on Mason jars. They are meant for canning — not for sipping craft beer or holding artisan candles.

4. Buddhas

I find it odd that people who are not Buddhist place Buddha statues in their home as if they were displaying gnomes. Appropriating this religious symbol does not make one more “zen.” The absurd equivalent would be people in Tibet suddenly decorating their homes with statues of the pope.

5. Decorator tables

These are the round particleboard tables with three legs that are meant to be covered with a tablecloth. Often used as an end table or nightstand, they are not only ugly but easily toppled by any heavy object sitting on them.

6. Contoured bathroom rugs

Why does a rug have to wrap around a toilet? Your feet really do not need to touch carpeting when you go to the bathroom. And if that contoured rug comes with a matching rug for the toilet seat cover? Forget it. I’ll use the bathroom at the gas station down the street.

7.  Aquariums

H-aquariumIt’s not that tropical fish are not beautiful, but rarely have I seen an aquarium add any style to a home. They are typically small tanks with dirty water, sitting on a shelf or table with little to no forethought. And after seeing “Finding Nemo,” I do feel sorry for those little fish.

8. Artwork that says “Home”

One of the most popular home décor items right now is artwork that says folksy things like “Home.” It’s kind of obvious you’re at home, isn’t it? I also have found in my unscientific research that people who display signs that say “Family” really do not like their children.

9. Glamour portraits

On second thought, keep that soft-focus photo of you with tons of makeup and big hair. It provides me hours of entertainment value.

10. Animal skins

It doesn’t matter if the animal skins are fake. Rugs that look like dead animals are creepy. Unless you’re taking a glamour portrait on it. In that case, yeah, go ahead and keep it.


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You  can see more of his do-it-yourself  projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.