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AT HOME WITH MARNI JAMESON: A Look Back at 2016 Lessons Learned


As I wind up the year with my traditional consolidated replay of column highlights, I have selected what I think are the best lessons from the 2016 line up – one for each month. Last week I shared advice from the first half of the year. Here are post half-time tips.

IN JULY, my happy yellow house got a lighting makeover, enlightening me. I threw spotlights on artwork, adding drama. I put dimmers on almost every switch in the house, controlling mood (wish I could add them to people), and I converted every light into an LED, ceremoniously ushering out the CFLs, fluorescents and incandescent lights. The move toward LED marks a tidal shift in the lighting industry, experts told me. LEDs offer better light quality, efficiency, and lifespan. And now they are cost competitive, too.

The Lesson. When decorating, don’t underestimate the power of light. Add it layers: accent (art spots), task (reading) and ambient (overall).

IN AUGUST, I flew to Houston to help my daughter decorate her first post-college place. When kids leave college, their décor level graduates, too – one hopes. They shed dorm décor — futons, milk crates, posters taped to the wall, and fraternity emblazoned glassware – and shoot for something more adult. The problem, most young adults, like my daughter, still have a milk-crate budget.

When I arrived to Paige’s duplex, I looked around, and felt a dizzying clash of emotions: pride (she’d done a great job), and hurt (she didn’t need me). Sniff!

“The place looks terrific!” I said, hoping I didn’t sound as shocked as I was. Then I grilled her for these frugal-furnishing tips: See what you can rustle up from friends and family for free. Check your local university for sites where moving students post furnishings they are giving away. Shop Craigslist and Goodwill for steals. (She got a solid wood coffee table and side table at Goodwill for $15 total). Add some sweat equity. She and her boyfriend refreshed old items by sanding and paint tired furniture, and recovering seats on a well-worn, hand-me-down dinette set with inexpensive cotton.

The Lesson. You can decorate an entire place without ever going to a retail store. That’s my girl.

IN SEPTEMBER, I learned something about taste. See, to home designers, taste means one thing. To chefs, the word means something else. But when I talked to Celebrity Chef Art Smith about his newest restaurant, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen & Southern Shine, in Lake Buena Vista’s Disney Springs, the two meanings of taste collided. Or rather they fused like butter and flour in a good béchamel sauce.

“I wanted to taste Florida in the design,” Smith told me after I’d visited the place-inspired restaurant.

He wanted to capture Florida — the meandering rivers and lakes, shacks on waterways, Spanish moss dripping from trees, barnlike buildings, fish camps, and deep porches — so you could taste it. Food and place are entwined, he taught me. Think of eating cookies out of the oven, dining on fresh oysters by the sea, sipping a dry martini while overlooking downtown Chicago from a high rise. Place infuses taste.

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Barry & Diane were so considerate of our time frame.  We had only a few weekends to find and buy a house and they rearranged their schedules to help us.  It paid off because we are very happy with our new home and neighborhood.  Thanks!!
John and Katie