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Friday, April 15, 2011

Frugal Decor

I haven't written much about my treat for 2011: making my living room nicer. I have engaged the services of Susan Heller, a designer who owes her start in business to my mother. Because of her gratitude, she's making recommendations by email for a small hourly fee. I feel so lucky! This woman really knows what she's doing.

I will report back when I'm further along. Still, I love reading about thrifty beautification. Recently, the New York Times featured an article about Katrina patina: a couple (with the woman now a designer and shopkeeper) lost their house and rebuilt and refurnished thriftily. Love it!

There are pics of a plastic Dollar Store mirror, with the look of an antique. There are pictures of rooms filled with fabulous thrifty finds.

What often strikes me about the homes of designers is how often people make frugal choices for themselves and pricey choices for their clients. Like financial advisers, designers often charge based on a percentage of purchases: the more you spend, the more they make. I am lucky that Susan is charging me for only three hours of work. Of course, I have to do a lot of the work myself.

Back to designer choices. I noted, in the days when I was doing my kitchen, how often the homes of designers and architects featured Ikea cabinets. For clients, custom is often the order of the day.

Back to Katrina patina. The story links to the designer's wares on 1st Dibs. A rather pricey group of items. One item--now sold--is a painting by Amanda Stone Talley. Paintings by Talley run in the thousands. But a look at slide 5 shows a painting on a drop cloth from Lowe's done by the designer that looks a lot like a Talley painting.

I don't want to discuss the ethics of this painting. But note how thrifty practice is celebrated in the article. I was quite inspired by the story. In fact, it reinforces my belief that there is always a frugal solution for whatever it is you desire.

Any thoughts? Aesthetic or ethical?


Shelley said...

Love her house and her attitude, not to mention her courage: never mind rebuilding after Katrina, to go from art to law to art is pretty amazing. As to prices in her shop, well, perhaps she values her time in finding the pieces(I didn't go look) and knows her market, which may not include you or me. Her story is inspiring, I agree! I read several decorating blogs in hopes of developing better taste, but can't say I'm there yet. As to the ethics of her 'art', she could say it was Talley-inspired. It would only be unethical in my view if she tried to pass it off as an actual Talley work. I'd ask whether it was ethical to sell children's scribbles as art, but again, people have their own views about art and are free to buy - or not.

Duchesse said...

"Imitation is the sincerest form..." and I agree with Shelley, she is not misrepresenting the work. I've seen kid's art, ephemera, tattered old flags and a wall covered in vintage National Geographic covers.

A good designer knows where to spend and where to save and makes the most, even magic out of a client's budget. Those who "make pricey choices for their clients: have clients with money to burn.

The few times I've hired a designer have been unquestionably worth it.

Good luck with your project!

Olivia said...

Great story -- i saw it in the Times, too.

As for the Talley knockoff... C'mon. An elephant with a paintbrush could've done that thing.

Legally, it doesn't matter whether she's "misrepresenting" a copyrighted work. You're still not allowed to copy it without permission, even if all you're going to do is hang it over your bed. Letting the NY Times publish it to the world as an example of how clever she is...that's pretty dicey. I expect Talaley could come after her.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--She has a beautiful aesthetic--very New Orleans.

@Duchesse--Where to spend, where to save. That's the hardest part, isn't it?

@Olivia--Well, it's not EXACTLY the same. There's plenty to emulate, I guess. Thanks for stopping by.