One Word You Don’t Want

formal dining room, unsourced on pinterest


You thought I was gonna tell you what that word is, right?


Nope, once again you get to decide.  I’ve loved this post Darlene wrote about how she figured out she didn’t want her home to be cute. She likes cute things in other homes, but it wasn’t for her.  And Cute is even on her “Don’t Buy List”, it’s a fantastic concept and one that she’s already written about so beautifully that today, I encourage you to stop by Darlene’s blog Fieldstone Hill and read what she has to say about Don’t Buy Words.

I like how that helped her narrow down what would and would NOT be in her home.  Knowing what not to buy is just as important as knowing what TO buy.

I don’t really have a “Don’t Buy” word, but I do have a word that I don’t want my house to FEEL like. That word is Formal.  I think formal rooms are pretty and have their place but they just aren’t for me.I don’t want my home to feel too formal.  I’m not a formal person–at all.  I have chippy toe nail polish, loosely fitting slipcovers and a head planter wearing a pink moustache.

Now, I’m a little different and even though I don’t want my house to feel FORMAL, I still might mix in a formal item or two because I love to mix up unexpected things.  So for me, it’s not a Don’t Buy word, but it’s a “Watch out for” word.  I don’t think one formal item will make my house formal, but, I don’t want the over all feeling to be formal.  Is formal even a word?  Suddenly it sounds like I just made it up.

Anyway, what’s your word?  And you know what the best part is? There’s no wrong answer!


  1. Sharp. I don’t like sharp things. No sunburst mirrors. No glass tables w/ sharp corners. No pointy objects on the wall. No sharp-tongued people. I like rounded shapes…oversized wall clocks, oval mirrors, rounded corners on tables. People who speak kindly to each other. Round feels like home. Sharp doesn’t.

  2. “Minimalist”. I recently had to go to my new neighbours who just built a brand new house. The lady was very friendly and asked me if I wanted to come in. “Yes, yes, yes, I’m dying to” was the answer coming to my mind but I chose to politely say “If you don’t mind”. Her living-room is probably what you call picture perfect. A sofa and a coffee table with nothing on it. A table, chairs and a big white armoire. Perfect, but not for me at all!!!

    • My neighbor is minimalist, too. I adore her style and envy her self control with editing but I know it would never work for me…I love stuff!

    • Mine is minimalist too; I couldn’t be minimalist if I tried.. and I’ve tried! NO. It doesn’t duit me, I love pretty things and comfort and books and photos and elegance and warmth. To me, minimalist is cold. Sorry to all you minimalists!

  3. “Complicated.” I want it to feel unfussy and natural and a little unmatched and effortless.

  4. Unlived in.
    You enter my home and it is certainly lived in. You’ll find a little dust – tho I love to clean.
    You’ll have to step over dog toys – I have a new puppy.
    You’ll have to move couch pillows – I love too many.
    You have to force yourself to not look at my books – I am an avid reader. I love my books better than anything.
    I always have 2-3 things that “need to be done”. — I like to stay busy.
    I have a homey house – not real picture worthy – but it sure is HOME.
    Come on over – you can actually put your feet up on my coffee table.
    I always have the beverage of your choice within my fingertips!

    • I would love to come over. What a nice feeling – and I always forget to offer guests a beverage because I get so busy talking to them.

  5. Handsome.
    Many of the homes around here go for the formal look, with heavy draperies, dark upholstery, subdued artwork, neutral colors on the walls. Very tasteful, very expensive, and very handsome. Not for me. I want cozy, colorful and relaxed. Maybe even country. Yesterday, I had eight middle school girls over for a birthday party. I overheard one of them saying “I like this house! It’s so cozy.” Thank you, middle school girl, that is the finest compliment anyone could give my house.

  6. Fragile — I have young kids, and it makes me worried when I go into other homes where everything seems breakable. It’s been a shift for me figuring out how to make my house feel pretty and intentional, but not so much that you can’t tell kids live here. I do a lot of decorating with books, natural objects we find in the yard, cozy blankets, and things like that.

  7. Every aspect of life is sifting through choices. I like the idea of figuring out what you DON’T want as well. I Don’t want GLITZ. Yuck (for me). And really am not into SPARKLE unless it is sea glass sparkle.

    Slowly, slowly my home is turning into the home that is best for us. It’s by paying attention to who we are and what we like that is helping me move from the immobilized spot we were in. It was horrible! Now my living room is the place we actually want to go.

  8. Extra…as in I already have enough of “fill in blank” and don’t need more of it. Leads to clutter.

  9. I’m so indecisive, therefore my style is whack. I mean I’m so slow at deciding what I truly like that by the time I start pulling something into my home the style has changed or it’s not “in” anymore. So I guess I’ve decided on a word. My word would be stylish. I don’t want stylish in my home. I want what I like because I like it not because it’s in every magazine out there. Those magazines are working to change the style as quickly as the seasons change and I can’t keep up which makes me feel like a failure. What’s the opposite of stylish? Frumpy? Nah, that’s clothing. Yikes. ;)

  10. Jessica Denny says

    STUFFY! Ick… i want people to come in, ding up the hardwoods with their “life”, put their road-weary feet on my makeshift coffee table that is beautiful but can’t be “ruined”, open my fridge and get their own glass of sweet tea… I want people to know that this is the LORD’S house, and they are WELCOME in it.

  11. ohhhh, I’m SO loving reading all of your words-you-don’t-want-in-your-home!

  12. Messy! My mom was a terrible housekeeper and I never felt comfortable to have friends over. Nothing was put away and there were piles everywhere.

    Having a tidy house makes me feel safe and welcoming. That’s my goal. Note–I don’t define messy as sanitized and uber-clean. My house definitely would not pass the white glove test but no one from the Health Inspector’s office is going to yellow tape my door either.

  13. While I buy most of my funiture off Craigslist and at Garage Sales…and make most of my decor, I dont’ want my home to feel like I’m AT a Garage Sale. So I suppose “Garage Sale” would be my word. I love a good deal if it fits with the overall flow and feel of my house; however, I don’t want to step into my home and feel like everything is $5 and you can take what you want.

  14. Un-loving.
    I want the people who come to our home to know that they are loved beyond belief. By me and by our Lord.
    I want them to know that there is a safe place to come and heal, hangout and just be who they are. To be accepted and loved as they are.
    If you come to see me, come anytime. If you come to see my house, make an appointment. :)

    I love this post and answers!

  15. I love reading everyone’s ‘words’. They help me think about mine which I’ve decided are ‘formal’ and ‘cluttered’. When we first got married we inherited a bunch of hand-me-down furniture, which I totally appreciated because it meant we didn’t have to spend money we didn’t have furnishing our home. However, over time I realized I never used the large formal dining set in the red formal dining room with the brass chandelier becuase it felt too formal, which we are not. We really needed a home office b/c we both work from home, so we ended up selling the dining set and turning the ‘formal’ dining room into a home office and we use it every day.

    As for cluttered, my grandmother and mom both had/have ‘collections’ which overran their homes. My mom has this huge armoire full of little hand bells from places like Dollywood and my grandmother had dolls. I wonder if those bells really bring my mom joy or if she decided, because my grandmother had a collection, that she needed one too. I can’t help but associate collections with collecting dust.

  16. Well my word is probably like yours…FORMAL. Which is a topic for one of my 31 Days posts that I am working on. The need for a “Formal Room, Dining Room, Living Room…” would never be in my home!

  17. Dainty! I don’t want my home to have fragile objects in it that people can’t touch or can but won’t because they are too scared to break them.

  18. Stiff. We have lived in/on leather sofas, near our fireplace. There is a huge basket with blankets nearby for cuddling(we just moved to MN and it cooler here than where we came from). We are a group snugglers so we go for squashy, not stiff.

  19. My word would probably either ‘stiff’ or ‘stuffy’.

  20. Cluttered. Which mine is, but not with my own stuff. . .

  21. This post stopped my breathing for a moment … then totally set me free. The take away message I’m getting is that it is okay to be me. Tickling in the back of my mind is my house doesn’t have ___ like so-and-so, it should have ___ like so-and-so. The ideas will become so conflicting I do … nothing. Blogs like yours have given me confidence. I live in a small house in a fairly wealthy, old money suburb. We moved here for the schools and quality of life. We do not have the money to “Keep up with the Jones’,” but I too often yearn to. Your post helped me feel that I don’t have to have a posh bath, like the ones your friend Darlene has on Fieldstone Hill, to be okay in the world. My tiny, flawed house and family are enough. THANK YOU!

    I’m thinking my “word” might be to not buy anything just because I think will impress others. Which leads me to a question I’m hoping you can help me with. I have gorgeous china and Waterford crystal that we got as wedding gifts 18 years ago. They have been used MAYBE ten times. My parents even bought be an expensive china cabinet to display this stuff that I don’t use. Should I hold on to them? I feel very conflicted.

    • I think that’s a great question, do they bring you joy? If so, USE them! If not, give yourself some time to think about replacing the china with something you’ll actually enjoy, maybe that’s not even dishes!

    • I was where you are 10 years ago, but it feels like just last week! I made an effort to use my nice stuff. Valentines and Christmas day but also on nights when dinner seems boring. Like the other night I thought this crock pot roast seems so blah, so I served it on the nice dishes and put milk in crystal and my family felt like it was a special occasion! I would keep it and make an effort to use it. I have a $300 bowl on my counter top for bananas, but it’s being used and loved. If it breaks no biggie, because we’ve enjoyed it and used it! I would be sadder if it were tucked away and then broke, if that makes sense.
      Also, we’ve turned into ‘the Joneses’ but in a different way. Our kids friends are here often, and want to be here, which means my kids are here and I’m involved in their lives and relationships, etc. We regularly are asked how we have made our home so kid friendly and inviting. I think some parents wish they have what we have, not stuff, but memories in the making!
      Do what’s good for you and your family, you know what’s best!

      • Colleen P. says

        I love this! Your “things” should be used, because that is what they were meant for! They shouldn’t be tucked away and never touched, and if they are what is the point of them? I totally love the idea of the $300 banana bowl, not because it cost a chunk of change, but because you are using the bowl. Even if it breaks, you have gotten your money’s worth out of it because it has been used for what a bowls intended purpose is-to hold things! THAT is the attitude that ought to be in all our homes-there shouldn’t be anything so valuable that it is no longer acceptable to use it for what it is designed to do. Because really, if it’s too valuable to make use of…does it really have much value?

  22. Breakable. Or formal too. With three boys and a daughter I learned years ago the importance of having a child friendly home. If anything I have ‘out’ gets broken or painted on or fingerprints all over it it’s all right. My home is no decorators paradise but my kids and their friends feel welcome here. Bonus, if it’s raining and cold out or more commonly 105 outside they can play inside without me worrying. Less mess equals less stress in this home! And by mess I mean fancy things!

  23. Untouchable. I want guests, including the little ones to feel free to sit where ever they want, touch and examine most of my stuff, be comfortable just living in my house while they are here whether they are overnight guests or just dropping in for a few minutes or coming to tea. I have hutch passed to me from the Biker’s mother that show cases my real china tea cups which get used for tea parties all the time. My style is rustic, and eclectic. Working on less clutter but definitely not a minimalist.

  24. Trinkety-ish. Too many trinket items starts to make your home look like a store. And that maybe you should start putting price tags on everything decorative in the house and open up shop!!

    • AMEN to that–no “trinkets-ish” for my house, too. I think it makes the space look tacky, cheap, and cluttered.

  25. ohh this is a really good question. i think my word would be Boring. My mom is a pretty good decorator but so much of our house is the exact same color palette. Keeping things color related is smart, but you can count on everything to be beige and moss green. To me it’s pretty but boring. I want my house to be a warm, comfortable place with pops of color! And comfortable enough for people who are over for the first time will want to sink into our sofa and relax with us.

  26. My don’t want word: Timewarp. I love LOVE 50s-60s decor. I don’t paint it because I like the orangey wood. We live in a 1958 bugalow so it’s fitting. To keep our house from looking too kitschy or retro, I try to balance it with something a bit more modern. I’m going for a retro global feel which can get really heavy really fast. It’s been quite a challenge!

  27. After reading everyone else’s words I have settled on exclusive. I have tons of stuff from 4 decades of home keeping, there is always a messy corner, an ongoing project, an embarrassing moment but our home is stunningly beautiful on many levels. I never, ever want another woman to walk into our home and feel less…I hope she will be inspired, comfortable and feel included in our lives. I have intentionally nurtured our lives and try to use all we have to bless others. I take no credit for my gifts and talents. All is by God. I adore your blog with so many others…this one word concept is very thought provoking…the comments inspire me…the ideas validate my choices every day. Thank you.

  28. I think my word is ‘cluttered’. Nothing makes me crazier than little knick-knacky things cluttering up surfaces, or making areas difficult to use.

  29. “Dark”. I do not want my home to feel dark at all. I want it to feel warm, light, and comforting. Walk in the light people! :)

  30. DARK… Growing up from humble beginnings, we lived in a mobile home that my mother decorated beautifully. However, the walls were made of DARK wood paneling. I don’t want my home to ever look or feel that dark again. I like light, bright, and airy!


    Relaxed. Fun. Restful. Welcoming. Personal. Those words I like.

  32. TENSE!

    i’ll never forget being in a ladies home where i literally felt she followed my kids around w/ a broom and dust pan. i was afraid myself to even scoot all the way back on the couch and mess the pillows up. her home was gorgeous.. but i’ve never wanted to get out of a place so fast!! i think of that often when company is over. do they feel relaxed, at ease. and of course.. want my family most of all to feel that as well. ~

  33. Frilly and cute. I’m not into either one of those, but I like it in others’ homes and spaces. I’m a little more Plain Jane Practical (or simple) with splashes of color. I like old chippy enamel, bright serving bowls, rustic wood and throw rugs. Comfortable & welcoming. You can actually wipe your mouth on the cloth napkins — they’re nothing fancy and they are washable.

    This was fun!

  34. I think my word would be “interesting”. But not the real, genuine, that-peaks-my-interest meaning of the word, but rather the connotation it’s given when you can’t really find anything nice to say so you just say “oh, that’s…interesting!” Know what I mean?

    Today we were garage sale-ing and found a really “interesting” old concertina. It also happened to be broken and completely unplayable. (I play the accordion, so that was disappointing.) The owner wanted $3 for it. It was tempting. It was…kind of cool looking, in an old broken concertina sort of way. I knew, though, that it would sit on our bookshelf and look interesting but be completely useless and gather dust and just be extra work and take up space. It’s not useful, it’s not beautiful, it’s not even really whimsical. It’s just…interesting.

  35. Jamie Rowe says

    My word is Cookie Cutter. Some people’s houses are like a catalog for Target, Ikea, West Elm etc. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just not for me. I do not want my home to look like a showroom. I love to go to garage sales and thrift stores to find unique things. I enjoy furniture that has history. I will throw in new items too, I don’t want my house to look like a thrift store ha ha. I guess you could call my house eclectic vintage with a touch of industrial.

  36. I have to tell you I read this right before I headed to a craft fair this morning! I was much more careful of not buying too many “cute” things. I am definitely drawn to cute. Like Hello Kitty cute. But my trying to be a grown up self has realized I need to tone it down a bit! So I stuck with cute pumpkins that had swirly stems today. But kept away from all the stuffed pumpkins with cute faces. When something cute has a face…I am starting to walk down Hello Kitty lane again!

  37. My word would be perfect. I like lived in and cozy instead.


  38. Typical…I don’t want anyone to feel that my home is what they expected before they walked in. I want it to be special, to speak of the people(and the animals) that live here. I want comfort and beauty, but I want our personalities, our wants, needs and desires to shine through. Those things change with the seasons…the seasons of our lives, the seasons of the year, and the seasons of our whims.

  39. Clementine says

    I don’t want my home to feel “unnatural”. I live in the country with two toddlers and a sweet but messy husband. I’m the only one of them who cares if there’s dirt on the white, slip-covered sofa, or if there’s ash in front of the wood stove, or if someone tracked chicken poop in on the dining room floor. I know in my head that I want my husband to invite people over for dinner, give me 30 minutes heads up or none at all, and I’ll be able to say, “Great! I’ll get dinner going,” without worrying about the state of my house. But when it comes down to it, I spend that time cleaning and freaking out that they’ll be judging me for the grape that’s smooshed into the rug, and by the time they get here I’m stressed out and the house looks unnatural. Like I took all the personality out of it in anticipation for their arrival. Obviously, I don’t want to live in a mess, but I have two toddlers… my house is messy. If I can keep up on the hygiene of it and throw in a few pretty pillows, throws and a comfortable furniture arrangement, it should be perfectly fine to have guests over without being stressed. And if they step on a toy I overlooked… oh well. We live here, and it’s natural.

  40. Trendy. I want my house to be unique, cozy and a little bit on the cutting edge. I don’t think i always acheive it, but I want people to come to my house, be comfortable and always see something different and yet still have a traditional feel. (No contempory edge for me)
    At the last shower I hosted at my house, a young girl said….” I don’t know what you call this Style of decorating, but I like it”. To me, that was the ultimate compliment. I don’t want my house to look like anyone else’s.

  41. I want quirky and informal and art studio-y, but not IMMATURE and COLLEGE-GIRL. It feels like a fine line to me. =)

  42. don’t want oak cabinets..sorry they do nothing for me..going to paint mine ASAP……

  43. LOUD. I’m striving for cCalm, warm, comforting, relaxing.
    Sure, we gt loud while playing board games or Mario Brothers…but that I completely different from a room being VISUALLY LOUD – which to me can be disturbing.

    Little by little our home had become more natural. More woods. More books. A few plants. More photos. Less holiday items that are crap-tastic…and more pinecones and holly. Nowadays it more about how we use the space. More about people, less about stuff.

  44. I love this angle of thinking about it! I guess my word is whatever is the utter opposite of UNIQUE. I already live in a cookie-cutter tract house in a planned development, but hopefully my aesthetic is all my own.

  45. Drab.

    Gimme some color!

  46. Colleen P. says

    I think my word is a phrase “Just in case…” I don’t ever want my home to have things in it “just in case” we need it. Sadly I think we do have a few things but I am actively campaigning for their removal! I don’t want to keep things I find unattractive just in case we need them-I can’t think of a worse reason to hold on to something you dislike.

  47. i avoid “FRAGILE” — it keeps our home more ‘liveable.’
    gives me less to freak out about, also.
    good for the whole family. :)

  48. “Fussy!” I don’t like fussy pattern, fussy texture (although I do like fuzzy texture ;-), fussy artwork or fussy styling. Anything overly-fussy makes me feel totally off-kilter. I’ve never had a “Do not buy” list, but it’s a great concept! ~Kerri

  49. DECORATED…I really don’t like to go into homes where it’s obvious a professional decorator has “done” the house. The drapes coordinate with sofa and the floral arrangement has the same feel and color as the rug and all of the table accents speak the same language as the art. I take a huge risk by saying this as my daughter is a professional interior designer, a very good one, and reads this blog, but she knows what I like. I’m not bashing interior designers, they are talented artists who enjoy creating the decorative needs of their clients I like homes to look like the people who live there styled their homes with things they love. I believe when one thinks creatively and carefully, finding things they truly love, their homes look comfortable, lovely and very much like the people who live there.

    • Jamie Rowe says

      I so agree. I think what separates great interior designers is the fact you can’t tell they were there. It just looks like the homeowners have really good taste and put their rooms together over the years. I hate rooms that everything is perfectly matched and super symmetrical.

  50. Unnecessary . . . Our house is small. Every room is small and must be functional. We are constantly purging unnecessary things for donation. We consider if it is useful and if it will have a proper home in our house.

    For example, we have a formal dining room. I never wanted a formal dining room but we loved the house otherwise. But for 9 years it was the most unused room in the house. Then it became the catchall for the overflowing library, the coloring books, etc. So instead we thought about what we needed–storage and bookcases. We put in wall to wall bookcases in the dining room, replaced the large table with our small round kitchen table and created a reading room. We can put the leaf in the table and still use it for a dining room when needed, but it now houses hundreds of books, which my children treasure. They have their own library!

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