Design Hints

No-Rules Decorating

Joy Campbell, who lives in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, isn’t one for pigeonholing her style or for following decorating rules. “I’ve never been one to go with the flow or follow what’s in,” she remarks. Instead, she believes her living room should reflect the people who live in it. She recommends the following tips for crafting a home filled with unexpected (and individualized) appeal:

Decorating Hints

  • Bring in the outdoors. Barrels, buckets, corn threshers—all usually found in barns and exterior buildings—can move inside. In her home, Joy turns sugar barrels into conversation-starting side tables.
  • Rethink, repurpose, relax. Approach antiques with attractive patina and consider how to use them in your space in fresh ways. Joy’s living room coffee table was once used for rocking babies but now holds a wooden box filled with pinecones and greens. A reclaimed window and well-worn door contribute salvaged style. Their scrapes and dents make her love them even more. “I love imperfection,” she says. “Dings add character.”
  • Abandon strict seasons. Instead of changing your accessories with the calendar, choose everyday items that can be enjoyed year-round. Gourds and dried flowers are constants in the Campbell family’s home.
  • Set the tone. Muted hues can work in concert across a large room, with accessories bringing in a wider variety of harmonic color. Joy explores color with a blue coverlet on a rustic basket and an enviable red cupboard she purchased for just $50.
  • Buy secondhand. Peruse social media and websites to see what is for sale in your area. Joy bought her living room sofa, which is covered in prim fabric, on Facebook Marketplace. “I don’t think anything in my house is ‘new!’ ” she exclaims.
  • Be willing to evolve. Move furnishings around as your collections grow, and let some things go on to live another day—somewhere else. “I get pieces that speak to me and I find a place for them, which normally means playing the dominoes game. You move one piece in a room and that trickles into moving pieces into other rooms. I have an agreement with my hubby that if I bring a large piece into the house, then I need to reciprocate by ensuring that I remove a piece of comparable size. You can’t keep everything, I guess!” Joy shares.

Written by Khristi Zimmeth
Photographed by Gridley + Graves