Welcome to Design track mind by Melissa Gulley

I am an interior designer from Newton, MA having a lot of fun writing this blog between client appointments, kid stuff, kid school stuff, dog stuff, husband stuff, husband's company stuff (http://www.fueldog.com/), life stuff, old house stuff, family stuff, extended family stuff and the rest of the detail stuff. I am not a writer (clearly) so please ignore the typo's, spelling mistakes and desperate need for proofreading.

Enslaved by Possessions

So who wants to be held hostage by your possessions?  I think no one!  No one enjoys worrying 24/7, whether the silk covered sofa will survive another day. 
What about the white carpeting? (I’m enough of a stress case, that would put me way over the edge!) 
The kids, the dog, the sun- oh my!

If you’re like me (I need to think someone is), you yell at your kids enough.  Some days more than enough.  Why add unnecessary things to yell about (silk sofa, for example).  We do have rules in our house, all food stays in the kitchen or dining room, no arts and crafts in the living room and NO SPORTS in the house. have-children-or-get-a-dog-kids-and-tv-covered-in- Other than that we are pretty lax (the house is drip dry)- my kids have lived with beautiful things all their lives and have a healthy respect for them (read: fear of me) as long as most of the stuff in our house is more carefree.
The things kids, dogs, and in my case messy husband, tend to stay clear of are: Window treatments, light fixtures, art, mirrors, accessories on mantles (occasionally on tables) and case goods (side tables,bookcases,secretary's,sideboards etc.).  These are areas where I can have my Interior Design fun and splurge.
With all this said, to keep stress to a minimum and not sacrifice style, here are some areas where you should consider going almost industrial: Coffee tables, carpets and upholstered furniture.

Coffee tables

These vital pieces should not be so precious that you can’t put your feet on them, my advise is to look for something upholstered (ottoman with tray), weathered, painted (you can always repaint), metal and defiantly distressed.  Wear and tear on distressed furniture only adds character but a scratch on a slick piano finish table – it’s ruined!  Don’t set yourself up for constant care and militant discipline of your family if you’re not that type of person. This is also a piece that does not need to “match” the other tables- it should be interesting- have fun with it.  Even if you already have polished wood just accept that you will have to refinish and let it go- Live!
elle decor leather sofa


1. Sea grass- durable, chic, affordable and can be layered upon with other area rugs like zebra hides or orientals (certainly to hide stains if they occur, but no need admit to that motivation).  It also looks great and takes on character when worn. 
2.  Another work horse is hand-knotted, 100% wool carpets.  The more pattern the better, but stay away from adding silk to the pattern (cleaning nightmare).  These carpets have been getting the job done for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Literally, you can’t kill-em. 
3.  My last suggestion is something for traditionally more casual spaces –  (However I used really fun ones in my formal foyer- LOVE THEM) they are Flor carpet tiles.  We live in New England so there’s always mud, snow, rain, etc. (plus I have two dogs in addition to my kids) and these carpet tiles kick serous New England Butt!  You can even pull one up and wash it in the sink- really!  I chose a great texture and colors and threw them under formal antiques and love the playfulness.
zebra stairs

Upholstered furniture

The big one - sofas , chairs, ottomans etc.… these get major abuse!  Some hints to help are:
1) SLIPCOVERS that can be washed- ok really this one is huge and has saved my house.  Slipcovers are no longer big sloppy loose, baggy sacks over furniture, but tight beautifully made covers that fit like gloves.  You may not even be able to tell that something is slip covered anymore.  This may seem crazy but the real work-horse of slip cover fabric is pure white denim or linen.  It can not only be washed but bleached as well (think of the possibilities).  If you used yellow or green or blue you can wash but we all know some stains just don’t come out- UNLESS you can bleach it.  If you plan to wash your slipcovers please be sure to wash and dry the fabric prior to having them made in order to pre- shrink it.  There is nothing worse than slip covers not fitting after washing.
country_living yellow LR
(country living)
2) Leather!  Leather is so great and if already slightly distressed it will only take on more character when used.  You can wipe offending spills and dirt right off and dog hair doesn't stick- hooray!
dog on leather tufted sofa
3)Other fabric options some more and/or less expensive and fab than others: wool mohair (you can find antique chairs with the original wool mohair still intact- seriously tough and deliciously fabulous stuff), Toray Ultra suede (the real ultra suede- not the cheap micro suede version) and finally some manufacturers are introducing indoor outdoor fabrics that are finally not like sand paper- these do the job incredibly well.
Ryan Korban leather sofa
(Ryan Korban)
When I grew up my parents didn't decorate the way people do today and I dreamt of the beautiful house in which I would someday live.  I love beautiful things and need spaces that are visually appealing to mostly adults but not at the cost of my kids and dogs not sharing them with me.  Keep some things easy care and go fabulously nuts with the rest without the stress of being held hostage by your things.


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