Although currently, I do not own or rent my own home, I have enjoyed learning and practicing the art of tasteful living in all of my past and present private spaces. Everyone’s definition of how exactly to live tastefully varies…however I feel there are some standards that should be followed…with wiggle room for personal taste, style, and (most importantly) cost.
First, in the bathroom:
- I prefer a fragrant and pretty bar soap. Most liquid soaps come in disposable containers that litter our landfills needlessly. You can get 3$ soap or you can invest in something nicer. Pictured above is the Pomegranate hand soap from Santa Maria Novella (17$).
- Before you host guests, however casual the visit may be, empty your wastebaskets (bathroom or elsewhere). No one wants to look at your old toothpaste and prescription bags.
In the closet:
- Uniform hangers are like soft-core porn for OCDs. They make everything look just a bit tidier, even if the clothes aren’t arranged in any special way. Ikea sells 8-packs for 5$. Hard to beat.
In the living room:
- I don’t understand people who have couches and no where to prop feet up. Do your guests (and yourself) a favor by finding a matching or endearingly un-matching ottoman or sturdy coffee table to place near your couch.
- You want to have a romantic movie night? You want to invite your mom over for dinner and Glee? Someone is bound to get chilly and need some warmth. Make sure you have an attractive, soft throw blanket big enough to cover two. Go with an alpaca throw from Crate & Barrel (170$) or a faux-fur from Z Gallerie (60$).
- Candles. This is a no-brainer, but there’s a fine line between assaulting stench (Yankee) and no scent at all (tealights). Go somewhere in the middle, preferably in a colored glass casing. Dayna Decker makes very nice (42$) candles with eco-wicks (less smoke).
- Art. Again, everyone loves art, but try to stay away from Pier 1, Ikea, or Z Gallerie art if you can. Unique or personal works are always preferred. Z Gallerie does have some good, cheap stuff, but you have to know 200 other people in your city may have the same piece. 20×200 also has great, cheap art that is less ubiquitous.
- Lighting. Never EVER use overhead lighting, except: when cleaning, when cooking, or in the form of specialized halogen bulbs or other focused lighting. Lights attached to ceiling fans are not attractive. Instead, pop into Ikea for a huge range of inexpensive, attractive desk/table/floor lamps.
In any case, you should feel free to experiment with ‘tasteful living.’ Try different types of art (mobiles, sculpture), invest in a statement lamp, and think about the kinds of things that can heighten the look and feel of a space while doubling for function as a laundry hamper, keys tray, calendar. There is taste in every buying decision we make.