The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, bonus track

When the SIXTH client told me about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I knew I had to read it.

Japanese cleaning up book

I’m a believer in the deep clean. And this book has been sweeping the country, no pun intended.

It’s not about cleaning, though: it’s about tidying.

There’s a little woo-woo going on here — thank your socks for holding you up all day, greet your house when you get home, I know, I know — but I love the premise: have nothing in your house that doesn’t “spark joy.”

Hm. Spark joy. Kondo’s not so far from William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

William Morris floral wallcovering

William Morris. Beautiful colors, but this scene could use a little life-changing magic, no?

But Kondo suggests skipping the “useful” and focusing on the “beautiful”-slash-joyful. She believes in assessing your belongings by category: clothes, books, papers, Komono (small miscellaneous things), and sentimental items.

But what about the big stuff? What about furnishings — furniture, lamps, rugs, artwork?

I’m sure every one of us owns a piece or two that we actively dislike. Right? The sofa you bought on sale? The almost-new rug that was perfect in your old house but looks puny in your new one? The ancestral portrait Aunt Selma willed to you?

Painting of older woman in a field of flowers

“Lucy in the Sky with Flowers,” artist unknown, from the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville, Massachusetts

I’ve realized that there are at least 3 things in my home that nag at me every single day. So as soon as I get back from vacation, out they go.

1. Our bedroom rug.

It’s Flokati. Remember Flokati? It’s more blanket-like than rug-like. Shaggy, wool, hard to clean…I was so into Flokati 10 years ago. It seemed like the answer to everything. The sisal of the aughts.

Galbraith & Paul headboard with Flokati rug

Our bedroom. Nicole Crowder for Apartment Therapy

Well, our Flokati rug is tired. It’s served us well — it started out in our Living Room, as a matter of fact — but now it bums me out. All the more so because every time it’s vacuumed it gets pushed farther off its rug pad, so I have to re-stretch the rug or (worse) keep cutting the pad.

Danish modern cabinet with oil paintings

Our bedroom again. Nicole Crowder for Apartment Therapy

I would rather NOT HAVE a rug in our bedroom than live with this for one more day. Goodbye.

2. The coffee table in our Family Room.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this to you, but it’s IKEA. Do I need to say anything else? We have side tables; let’s try living without a coffee table for a while.

Metal and glass coffee table

The Klingsbo coffee table from IKEA

3. The lamp on our Foyer table.

It’s mercury glass and has a dark green shade. I loved it…for about 3 months. I’m done. It’s gone. I’ll steal a lamp from another room in the house, or I’ll fumble for the light switch when I come home late.

Foyer with peacock wallpaper and blue mirror

Our front hall. Nicole Crowder for Apartment Therapy

The whole reason I’m IN the interior design business is to make people happy. Truly. I believe that when your home reflects who you are — your passions, your interests, your priorities — you are invincible. Invincible. I’m due for a little dose of practicing what I preach.

Let the life-changing magic begin.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is based in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color. 

Bossy color hearts Anna French

I arrived home a few hours ago to an empty house. My husband and daughters are still in St. Michaels, where the girls will go to sailing camp this week. Usually I love chilling by myself at home; it’s so rare that no one else is here. But it was a really fun weekend, filled w/ amazing food, bike riding, and hair dyeing

Girl's long hair with red dye at the tip

…so I wasn’t as excited as usual to come back.

I threw down my bags and tackled the mail. All of the Bossettes were in a fabric and wallcovering frenzy last week, and swatches had arrived.

My spirits lifted immediately. Thank you, Anna French!

Gray and blush floral drapes

Songbirds fabric on drapes. Anna French for Thibaut for Duralee

Pink, red, and yellow floral wallpaper

Ash wallcovering. Matches Georgie’s new hair color!

Light green and white embroidered drapes

Arran Embroidery on drapes

I saw Anna French’s latest and greatest collections when I was in the Duralee showroom recently, Thibaut section, Anna French division (whew!). I was in heaven. The designs are exquisite, the embroidery divine.

I’ve used Deilen Embroidery on some Roman Shades recently. Subtle yet stunning.

Embroidered leaf pattern on linen fabric

Deilen Embroidery on pillows

Cream and slate blue chair and drapes

Deilen Embroidery on drapes

And I’m using French’s Rue de Seine fabric for some wonderful, long-standing bossy color clients right now. It’s gorgeous — and it comes in the loveliest colorways.

Yellow, blue and white silk floral fabric

Rue de Seine

Cream and Pink floral silk fabric

Anna French, Rue de Seine on drapes

I’d love to get to know her wallcoverings selection better, too (although Anna will have to line up behind my main man, Manuel Canovas). I mean, this Eglantine wallcovering is pretty stellar. (The Matisse-esque painting ain’t bad, either.)

Pink and red wallpaper bedroom

Anna French’s Eglantine wallcovering

I’m so all about wallcovering right now. Thank you again, HuffPost and Bonnie McCarthy, for that fun interview about wallpaper!

Butterfly wallpaper

Seraphina wallcovering

Gold, teal, and light green wallpaper

Anna French’s Lavinia wallcovering

You’re fantastic, Anna French. Perked me right up and got me ready to return to Bossyland.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is based in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color. 

Summer, in color. My favorite colorful things for the outdoors

Do you hear that, Gentle Readers? No? Exactly. It’s the sound of summer.

Brightly colored toy boats

Boats painted at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s annual Memorial Day festival

My daughters finally got out of school last Friday, we had their birthday parties (please note the plural; no shared party for THESE twins), and on Saturday, we drove them to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they’ll spend the week with friends.

Last night, back in DC, I was wandering around the house, marveling at the quiet, and I decided to do a bit of mindless tidying. Bossy color’s Katherine has been telling me about that all-the-rage book about Japanese decluttering she’s been reading, so I moseyed over to the front hall table, that dumping ground for mail, keys, earbuds, library books, and homework assignments.

And catalogs.

Crate & Barrel yellow outdoor sofa and pink ottoman

Crate & Barrel’s Morocco sectional

I started strong, Gentle Readers! Out went the homework (was it ever handed in? Too late now!) and into a tote bag went the library books. But I was powerless to resist the catalogs, which seem to be more fun, more colorful this year. Down the rabbit hole I went.

Here are some of the liveliest, most fun, colorful things I found.

You know I’m a fan of Dash & Albert rugs. Well, I’m happy to report that they’ve expanded their indoor/outdoor offerings dramatically — and in such amazing colors! (These are terrific for dining rooms as well as porches, by the way…) Put this rug in front of Crate & Barrel’s yellow-cushioned Morocco sectional and call it a day.

Red patterned indoor/outdoor rug

Dash & Albert’s Coco indoor/outdoor rug

Missoni Home’s outrageously colorful outdoors collection doesn’t disappoint, either. Imagine how THESE would brighten up bleak teak garden furniture.

Wild crazy colors and patterns on outdoor pillows and rugs

Missoni Home

Colorful crazy patterned Missoni outdoor pillows

More Missoni Home

I’m always a fan of bringing indoor dishes outside, and I fell in love with these sweet plates from good old Sundance.

Sweet colorful summer plates


To augment those, there’s no store better for simple, colorful (and, as a bonus, inexpensive) ceramics than Fish’s Eddy. My favorite serving bowls are from there.

Brightly colored dishes at Fish's Eddy in New York

Fish’s Eddy in New York

And finally, look at these Tamiami Chairs from Brown Jordan! How fun! How unexpected! How bossy color! Obviously you choose the frame and webbing colors, and they have tables that you can match…or not…

Outdoor porch chairs in vibrant colors

Brown Jordan’s Tamiami Lounge chairs

Brightly colored garden chairs

Colorful lawn chairs from Brown Jordan

Bottom line: there’s no excuse for a color-free summer this year, Gentle Readers. None at all.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design creates outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color. Be sure and read our recent interview with The Huffington Post about wallpaper!