How to Steer Clear of “Catalog Living” Design?

It seems like more and more design magazines seem to reach my mailbox these days. Twice a month I collect “the newest look” from Potterybarn, Crate and Barrel, and West Elm.  But the fact remains, these “new looks” are far from new. I like to classify this cheesy non-personal look as “catalog living,” and boy is it tired.

But, this obvious and empty look can be fun and easy to fix with a professional designer on your side. We can help you avoid the every-day look and bring out that creative side you have been hiding. Here are three important tips you can use to help you steer clear of “catalog living.”

Twine balls, empty birdcages, and sea-glass bottles are some examples of boring home decor that every magazine seems to classically integrate into their look. But these type of additions only seem to collect dust.  For example, WHAT are those tree truck statues?

The fact is, your home should be a vessel you lavishly decorate with personal memories, expressive art and functionality. The fireplace mantel of all places is a great canvas for you to decorate with such items, not fake flowers and unambiguous clutter as you see here.

Now here is an example of a well accessorized home that is inviting and warm.  You can see how important it is to incorporate personal items, and pictures. Setting up a picture motif like that can be daunting, which is why its also important to seek a designers eye.

Thought these family shadow portraits were inspiring. Cuing in the colors from the couch and rug into the artwork really blends the look and makes this living room feel homemade.

Don’t forget to add a focal point to your room, or a few! Funky, textured wall-coverings can add pzazz to something dull and vanilla. There are several types of wall texture you can use such as fabrics, tile, plaster or paint!

LOVE this stylized dining room wall! This type of pattern is so expressive you don’t need to adhere it to a large space. A small wall in an area that needs it will do the trick.

Find work by your favorite artist. I found this room to canvas these two unique pieces very well. The burst of color parallels the dark gray tones of the cement walls so well it almost looks as if the whole wall is the piece.

Something I love to do is find work by a local artist of monuments or buildings from your hometown. Westport is a wonderful little town I lived in Connecticut. The area was laden in galleries displaying work by locals. There, you could find beautiful watercolors of the beaches or historical downtown.  It adds lots of charm to your home.

Avoid matchy furniture sets! Setting up your home with eclectic furniture pieces gives the illusion, whether its true or not, that you collected each piece over time with love. Stroll in and out of your local antique dealers shop or peek into an estate sale here and there. It is a beautiful thing when fluidity can be constructed out of miss-matchy furniture.

3 thoughts on “How to Steer Clear of “Catalog Living” Design?”

  1. Stunning interiors! Wonderful use of space! Your advice is both practical and very creative! I also like your idea of using local artwork to enhance a space. As a NY architectural fine art photographer, I have been contacted by designers for photographs that either incorporate images of architecture or neighborhoods into an interior or offer memorable views of NY and other cities to clients. Again, lovely design!


    1. Ellen, Thank you for your interest in Holzman Interiors. Quite a few of our clients are from Manhattan and I always find one or two pieces in the house of NYC Photography. If you have any inquiries or art collectors that need help finding the perfect place to display your work please keep us in mind!


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