Geri and Lamar Cecil, owners of Lynchburg’s Silver Thistle which specializes in interiors, antiques and fine gifts, share a passion for designing home interiors. Here, Lamar shares his expertise on how to determine what pieces are most important in making a house a home.
The first piece of furniture I ever bought was a couch, which I kept for almost 50 years. Along with a bed, the couch is a critical element in any house. Don’t bargain here; a couch will get lots of wear, so you want it to be well constructed and comfortable. Your decorating career can begin with deciding what kind of cushions to choose. Assuming, then, that you have a couch and bed, you’re ready to press on to acquire things that are not quite so vital: tables, chairs, lamps, chests and more. The thing to do now is to go shopping, not for one or two specific things, but for items that strike your fancy and seem advantageously priced. Bring them home and find places for them. If you keep on making these shopping forays, you will gradually accumulate many treasures, and chances are these things will be eclectic in style, design and color. This will make your house interesting and personal—it will have no one’s touch but your own. Your stamp will be on it and it will express what your vision for your house is.
Or perhaps I should say “visions.” There is no rule that says each room must have the same character. Why not a relaxed, comfortable living room adjoining a dining room that is markedly more formal, or a living room that has a good quality couch but maybe a dining room in which the furniture, although formal in arrangement, consists of a table, chairs and a sideboard bought on the cheap and then painted?
Once you have some furniture, you can move on to decorative objects, with endless choices to be made. As for rugs, begin with something simple and inexpensive. Nothing beats sisal; it won’t compete with your other possessions, and you can wait until your rooms have begun to come together to invest in a handsome Oriental rug. As you go through this process, think carefully about where you can economize (on rugs for example, since there are innumerable inexpensive, attractive carpets to be had) and where you can be extravagant (like a sofa, where quality and comfort are critical). As you scan the market for furniture and decorative objects, you will surely find pieces that are expensive, maybe even astronomical. But remember that these are almost certainly one-of-a-kind articles, so what confronts you is a
now-or-never proposition. Don’t get consumed about where it will go in the house; if it’s beautiful, it will find its place. And don’t forget that handsome things, if prudently chosen, can be fine investments for you to make and your heirs to enjoy.