Principles of Design – Mark Hampton Part 1

Hellosie Design Aficionados!

When you really love something, don’t you just want to know everything about it?!  I realize that this need to know everything is not always the best way to go about a love affair, but when it comes to design, yes, go all single white female on that B. (And when it comes to lovin’ your significant other, maybe tread lightly when you’re studying the inner depths of their psyche.)

I’ve come to believe that learning about the history and principles of design is just as important as actually practicing them.  It will ultimately make us better at what we love and (bonus!) we’ll sound very smarty-pants at parties.  For that reason, I’d love to share some tidbits that I’ve found interesting in books that are currently on my nightstand.  Today, I’m just finishing up Mark Hampton Decorates, which actually began as a collection of essays that he put together for a magazine and later turned into a relaxing, insightful read.  And although I can’t say that I favor his traditionalism, I have found some nuggets in there to take to heart.

Mark firmly believed that decorating is fun and that it should be enjoyed; The thrill of the hunt for the perfect piece is the best part.  Agreed!!  Here is a space he designed which looks like it just came out of Architectural Digest!


Hampton also heavily advocated small sitting areas within larger spaces.  He says that it’s more comfortable for guests when they can have a variety of seating options (like higher chairs for older people, or deeper seating for lazing) and have the ability to move seats around to create pockets of conversation.  One thing that got me, was that he recommended using those “off-limit” rooms to make them more, shall I say, enticing.  Once a year for the holidays is not enough!  I have a living room that rarely gets used by guests, probably because it seems restricted – we don’t use it on the daily, so why would our guests go in there?  The kids run all over it, so there’s nothing too fancy schmancy in there (well, not anymore!) but Mark’s commentary made me see that when a room is not used it looks/feels stagnant and lifeless.

*Homework for me – Use my living room to see what I can do to make her more inviting!  Crudités anyone?!


“The single greatest vulgarity in interior decoration is pretentiousness.  Understatement is a pain in the neck sometimes, but it is a good thing to keep in mind even when you are contemplating some ravishing excess.  Where rich materials are concerned, good judgement is required.”  Mark Hampton

The dining room is from 1989, so clearly Marky-mark knew what he was talking about.  Good design, stands the test of time.  Have fun, enjoy your spaces!  But don’t be all pretentious about it, sheesh!

So, let’s us pour a glass of whatever in our forbidden rooms to him.  He certainly made traditional cool.


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