Learning to Take Risks - Lessons from Iris Apfel

Learning to Take Risks - Lessons from Iris Apfel

Make a powerful statement.


In life, and in design, it’s so easy to get complacent.  To get bored.  To settle and let things just get so bland that we kind of forget to try something new.  To put some effort in.  To live a little.


I know what that’s like because I do it, too.  There are those parts of our home that get ignored, put on the backburner for years.  Or rooms that we were inspired to get just right, to adjust and perfect until we fell in love with them… only to let the years slide by while things got stale again. 


Sometimes it just feels like a lot of work to rethink things, to choose and rearrange and make it fresh when things are ‘good enough’ but after watching a documentary on Iris Apfel again recently, I got thinking about inspiration and passion and how that translates to our homes.  A happy, rich, interesting life should translate into a home that looks and feels the same.  It is worth it to feel good in our places and spaces, isn’t it?

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Iris and I, we also agree on another aspect of style:  there are far more important things in life.  Education, charitable work, doing a good job at whatever your craft is.  Being happy.  One of my least favorite type of question from clients centers around what is ‘in style’… because, well, who cares?  What an industry deems on-trend has very little to do with good, meaningful interior design that is going to feel good and look good to *you*.


So, what can we learn from fashion icon, and general profound badass, Iris Apfel about interior design? 



Be bold.


Don’t be a sheep.


Choose what you love.


Break the rules.


Put things together that make you happy.


Don’t seek trends to follow.


Choose classic and traditional.


Mix up color and pattern and texture.


Use the items in your home to compose the story of who you are.


Have some excitement about what you are doing.


Develop a signature style.


Curate your life.


Have some common sense.


Take risks.



Iris Apfel, in her mid-nineties, is wise and bold and an absolute inspiration when it comes to the business of getting clear on your style and just going for it.  Lessons we all should soak up.

Want to learn more about Iris Apfel?  Check out the links below!

Starring Iris Apfel, Carl Apfel

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Hi, I'm Tara.  I'm a professional interior designer living in rural Canada where I help the practical & down-to-earth to love where they live.  I offer professional interior design services in person and online and am the author of a design & style guide to Living With Oak.

I believe you can become a happier person in a more beautiful home and I’m here to guide you in creating a practical plan to pull it all together. I’m here to offer interior design advice and inspiration to help you make that happen.