On her witty Instagram feed, interior designer Dina Holland points out the absurd, but her day job is showing people how to create spaces they love, not hate. How can you avoid decorating fails? Dina's lessons will help.

By Diana Dickinson and Jessica Delaney
August 06, 2019

When Dina Holland posted a roundup of 2018 trends she wanted to go away on her Honey & Fitz blog, friends started sending their favorite ridiculous designs. Overwhelmed with photos, Dina began sharing them on Instagram via the account @pleasehatethesethings. "I never thought I could fill an account with just things I hate," Dina says, "but I was wrong."

As an interior designer, she knows there's a fine line between creative and bizarre. "My home is not super original," says Dina about her 1914 Victorian-Craftsman place in Needham, MA. "Sure, an orange kitchen would look amazing in photographs, but I'm living here for 20 years. It needs to function for me and my  family."

Dina's best decorating advice? "Give it thought. It's your home and your decision, but take time to think about what you really want." That, and a little taxidermy goes a long way. See Dina's top tips for decorating your home with style you'll love for a lifetime.

1. Painting Trim

When it comes to trim and other architectural features, paint them a color that contrasts with your wall if you want them to stand out. Paint them the same color if you don't want to draw attention to them. Our guide to painting trim can help.

2. Choose Neutrals for the Big Stuff

Start with a basic, solid foundation then add color and patterns in small ways. Oriental runners are timeless. "The busier the pattern, the better it hides spills and stains."

3. Lights, Please. And Lots of Them

"I think every room benefits from multiple light sources," says Dina, who can't walk away from a beaded chandelier. "No lights are more front and center than kitchen-island pendants. Use them to make a statement." Dina rewired a pair of 1940s brass-and-copper lights off a New England fishing boat.

4. Not Every Trend Works in Every Home

What works for a home filled with midcentury treasures might not translate in a country cottage. "Cement tile is everywhere," Dina says. "I love the cool, graphic Mediterranean feel. It works in a Spanish Colonial home, but not in my New England Victorian-Craftsman-style place."

5. If You Want Unique, Go Antiquing

For one of a kind, go with an antique or vintage option. It could be furniture, accent rugs, lighting, or dinnerware—wherever you want to make a personal statement.

6. Forgo Formal

A formal dining room can work for any occasion with the help of casual styling. "People think they don't need a formal dining room because they only use it for holidays, but when you ask what's the plan for the holidays, they reconsider. The key is the make the dining room casual for every day," she says.

7. Accessories Make It Look Lived In

Well-dressed shelves and coffee tables prevent a home from resembling a showhouse. "If something looks good, it will look even better in a basket." Dina's essentials: Trays for corralling, pottery and bowls in organic shapes, framed artwork and pictures, plants or flowers, and books—lots of books.

8. Drapes. Just Do It.

If you live without them long enough, you might think you don't need them, but drapes finish a room. "You can never go wrong with white linen," she says.

9. Clean, Classic, and Creative

Dina's philosophy: Use inexpensive but classic materials creatively. For the family bath, Dina started with a clean subway tile backdrop and hex tile flooring with an intricate pattern then added brass fixtures and a little color.

10. A Bit of Bold

Be fearless in small spaces. Go for that '70s-style rug or neon wallpaper. If you can't go big in a 5x5-foot space, where can you?

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