It was a pleasure to meet and learn from renowned interior designer and author Alexandra Stoddard this past weekend. She began her design career in 1963 under the tutelage of none other than Eleanor McMillen Brown — a pioneer of 20th century interior design. Alexandra came to adopt this maxim from Mrs. Brown: "if you love beauty and create it for yourself and others, you will live a long and happy life." Mrs. Brown lived to 100!
Still believing beauty is "spiritual and uplifting", Alexandra eventually moved away from practicing interior design to writing about living a beautiful life. She believes happiness is "self-diagnosed" and should be incorporated by everyone into their daily lives. She advocates that an interior designer's first goal should be to "step into their clients' personal lives and try to make them happier." I could not agree more!
Alexandra believes that "so many people have trouble finding themselves in their own homes" because they decorate for others. She mentioned a client whose favorite color was red, a color she used to define her own personality, but red was completely missing from her home. When pressed, the client admitted her mother-in-law did not like red. For most people, only 5% of their homes' usage is dedicated to entertaining. The Stoddard credo embraces the idea of decorating for family, not the 5%!
Another wonderful maxim: "your home should be an autobiography". For many people, it's difficult to keep that top of mind, or maybe it's simply too revealing? Mrs. Stoddard recommends keeping personal and public spaces strictly separated. Private spaces are not for the consumption of visitors.
Above all, Alexandra advocates happiness: "people will run barefoot in a blizzard to be with you if you are happy at home". Interior design should reflect your inner soul and every aspect should hold a deep personal meaning for you. Keep your home current with the things you love today. It's okay for things to change — those that made you happy 20 years ago may not be the same today, or 20 years from now because you and your family grow and evolve.
From an author of 27 books on living a beautiful and happy life, one final bit of advice. "Make your life sublime". Words of wisdom we can all try to emulate.