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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Think I am Too Old To Be CUTE!!

“A Study In Cuteness” 

When I think of cute I think of a darling child or the saying, “She’s a cute young thing.”

I am obviously not young therefore I don’t think I can be cute any more.

Cute is a word that I use from time to time, but when it is used in referring to me or my home it kind of makes me cringe a little.

I use to have people say my home was darling or cute and that bothered me. How about sophisticated, pretty or elegant? I liked those words better.

I had a friend that was also a designer and we had a discussion about the word “Cute.” She came up with what I like to call the adult word for cute.

Charming, now that is a word that I can handle. So why am I having a dialog about the word cute? Well, there is a pattern that I love and it is often looked at as being “Cute.”
I love checks or gingham. I always have and I would love to use it in a room I have planned for the future. I don’t want the room to look cute, but I surely would not mind it looking charming.

I did a little research on checks and saved some images that I found attractive and appealing.
 I started looking at how checks were used in these images and a couple of things stood out to me on why they looked sophisticated and charming vs cute and darling.

 Let’s look at some of the images I have saved and i will try to tell you  about my observations…………..

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There is not only one color of checks in this room, but two. I find this room charming but it is not cute to me. Why? because in this room the lines and the style of the furniture keep it more sophisticated.

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This image has furniture with a totally different style and lines than the first image and yet I still find this sophisticated. I think the grounding factor of the black and the addition of the nail heads keep this from being “cute!”

782762_brown_xl[1]Southen Accents (400x420)
via Southern Accents
This borders on cute for me. I think the trim on the pillows points it towards that direction. The use of color here makes it stay out of cute territory. The size of the check is also a noticeable element that makes it a bit more sophisticated.

CT0303030d_1_y[1] (450x600)
Color plays a big part here in keeping this from going towards cute for me. The scale of the check is large enough to make an important statement in the room and yet the subtle beige color keeps it from being cute.

6a00e54fccb6d2883401157022bf75970c[1] (465x465)
Hmmmmm? This is interesting to me. I am a lover of blue and white and pops of green. I have always found blue and white porcelain to be a classic accessory, so why is  this is looking a bit cute to me? Two things jump out to me. The scale of the check is smaller and the fun little church takes this into “Cute -land” for me.

DP01_07[1] (794x537)
Neutral colors and the style of the modern looking take on the wing chair is the driving force away from cute. Yet, this is a small scaled check just like the blue so maybe it is more color choice than scale that will make the difference to me.

CT0403116d_1_x[1] (600x450)
I like the large scale of the blue and white check here and yet it goes a little towards cute!! Why? Because of the colors it is paired with. The wall color is too matchy and bright. Adding the touch of shell pink on the inside of the shelf definitely takes it towards cute.

LW479_2[1] (368x368)
I am a lover of black and white as you all know that by now. I am finding this almost cute, and in this image it is because of the style of the over-sized chair. I think the larger rolled arm is what is making it almost cute, but I still really like this image. The black grounds it and the rope table adds a nice element of texture here.

hbx-decorating-barber-3-0709-xlg[1] (2) (360x460)
I like the larger scale of this check.  The golden-beige and cream color of the check are what keep this from being cute.

Picture-71[1] (412x508)
Although this is a bit too many checks for me I still find the color and scale of this check to stay away from cute.

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Simple lines and large scale make this sophisticated to me. Looking more closely at this room you will see stripes in the table and polka-dots in the cache’ pots  holding the topiaries.
 I will have to admit, it is hard to make a polka-dot look anything but cute, but I am sure it probably can be done.(note to self, good idea for a future post!)

SL0307102l_1_x[1] (600x450)
I am finding this to be a bit cute. The ruffled pillows and the overtly thematic sea-side room makes it go into cuteness for me.

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In this image we have the same scale and color of the previous image. I know the blue is a bit more grayed in this image, but it is still in the blue family.

 However, this room is so classically beautiful because of the amazing lines of the antique gold gilded bed. There are ruffles in the room and yet this room does not read cute at all.

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Red and white checks can read very cute to me and this one borders on cute. I think the lines of the furniture keep it from being too sweet. The bedding pushes it towards cute with its small scale and floral pattern.

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Color, scale, style and the lines of the chairs in this image make this anything but cute. This room is full of character and texture and nice neutral color palette. I love this room.

6via cote de texas (712x509)
via Cote de Texas 
Same room different angle.

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This image has curves and ruffles and yet the neutral palette and texture in the surrounding objects keep it from being cute.

via cote de texas (464x364)
This has more checks than I can handle and it it mixed with a darling Swedish floral stripe on the vintage bench. I think because of the abundance of the checks and the sweetness of the bench fabric this is almost cute to me. I am finding there is a fine line for me that will take a check into cute-land.

So, there you have it!! My study on why some checks look cute to me and others can still remain sophisticated and charming.

Here is what I discovered:
  1. Larger scaled checks look less cute to me.
  2. A small scaled check will be charming if done in a neutral color.
  3. By pairing a check to cute accessories whether the check is large or small it will still look cute to me.
  4. The lines of the furniture need to be more on the straight side if upholstered in a check.
  5. Upholstering a classic piece of furniture in a check will still not make it look cute.
  6. Furniture that is too curved or overly stuffed can tend to go towards cute more easily than a straight lined piece.
  7. Certain colors of checks will look cute to me. The color and the scale combination is what I have to be aware of.
  8. A red and white check will almost always feel cute to me unless it is in a large scale. The same thing with blue and whites or yellow and whites.
I am now very aware of what types of checks will remain sophisticated and charming to me for the future.

Thank you for taking this journey with me!!

Enjoy the Process Of:

Deciding what is acceptable to you when it comes to certain patterns and designs.



Anonymous said...

I love checks. I actually love the brown walls with the shelves... striking!! xo

L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys said...

I never thought about it that way! I guess I could look at the chevron pattern the same way. Some of it is cute...But it could also be sophisticated! That's what I like. We'll leave the cute stuff for the kids:)

Karen said...

Charming, yes, cute, no. (Although I've been known to use the word on occasion.) Growing up my best friend's room was exactly what I think you'd deem charming-green and white check bedding on a white four poster bed, a window seat and built-in bookshelves painted a crisp white. When I decorated my daughter's first big girl room I used a green and white check bed skirt as a nod to that room. I think it came off as charming, not cute.

Tammy@InStitches said...

I really enjoyed your commentary on cute ! I would have never thought that two checks could go together but that first pic is proof that they can.

Tote said...

Interesting. I am a fan of checks too, as you will see in my "Family Room post". We are in desperate need of new furniture, so I have been trying to come up with ideas. I know for sure that I want a plain beige couch that I can mix and change color pillows. Still thinking about the rest. Loved this post.


laney said...

...when i turned sixty... a few years ago... i decideded to become charmingly eccentric...it works...

Mary Ann Pickett said...

Great observations!!. Also, seems adding something with a bit of an edge or patina can "cut the cute"...so right about red and white check.

lizziefitz said...

Maybe we were separated at birth?

Muffy said...

I know what you mean! I would not describe my home as "Cute" at all, but a lot of people say that when they see it! They are not designers or interested in design, so I know they mean it as a compliment, and just didn't think of a better adjective...but it still grates me a bit. :)

Another word that really bothered me when it was used to describe my wedding pictures was "festive." ha! Festive???? Really??? I was thinking, chic, elegant, glamorous, high-style, etc. I just had to let it go. And, I did use some unusual colors & flowers...so maybe to some it does seem "festive." Oh well.

Melissa Miller said...

Oh my goodness you called me cute on my very first post Kathysue. LOL! I thought it was sweet of you but I do know what you mean. I'm almost 46 and hardly feel cute these days either.

Great post and gorgeous photos. I learned so much reading it. Thank you!

Have a blessed day.
~Melissa :)

Hamptontoes said...

I think we are related. Cute is for puppies, babies and little kiddies!

Sally@DivineDistractions said...

You're so funny!...ah...cute! I think personalities can be cute, but I don't want rooms to be. I think you have it just right on both counts!

The Buzz Blog said...

I've always been a check person and think many of the images you show are charming. The accessories and shape of furniture play a big role!

Susie @ Maddie G Designs said...

I agree....please don't call my home cute....I almost feel it is like saying something "nice" when you really don't have anything nice to say....

Linda in AZ * said...

* What a TERRIFIC POSTING today, Ks!!! Such WONDERFUL PICS of "checks done right"!!!

I fully understand where you're coming from, tho... CERTAIN/THOUGHTFULLY CONSIDERED WAYS of using checks just "WORK"... and NOT used "thoughtfully", they remind me of seeing a real estate add that touts a home as "cozy"... (Translation: it's reeeeally SMALL!!!)...

I like checks... there are none in my house (except for some buffalo size check on some napkins), but I've always thought the smaller checks are "cute/ fun/ delightful/ happy/youthful" etc., UNLESS... they're BIG CHECKS~~~ BUFFALO CHECKS to be exact, which I ADOOORE, especially in a FAB FABRIC like silk~~~ THEN I find them UBER DELIGHTFUL & SO CHARMING, SO ELEGANTLY CHIC n' SOPHISTICATED! (And by all means, avoiding ruffles, tooooo curvy furniture pieces, etc)...

This was SUCH a FUN READ! Many thanks!

Linda in AZ *

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Some very 'pretty' rooms and some 'charming' mixes of patterns. I am a fan of checks and stripes, I never really thought of them as cute.

Carol@6WilsonBlog.com said...

Checks. The (textile) love of my life. I have always loved them. I always will. This post was written just for me, I know it! I have to pry myself away from them at every turn. I now only have one check in my home, but I am hoping to add some buffalo check drapes to my living room. I can't help it. Thanks for these gorgeous images. Cute for me, hands down, is ruffles. I just can't go there.

lvroftiques said...

Oohhhh I just hate that "cute" thing! It's no compliment! And somebody told me they loved all my "shabby chic" decor in my livingroom...I wanted to cry.....Sorry back on post *winks* Great observations Kathysue! A little more masculine flavor cuts a lot of the cute.
That must have been a long time ago that somone said your house looked cute or darling? Probably back when you were ten and cute and darling too? LOL! Because your home looks elegant and sophisticated to me! Vanna

pat said...

Well Kathysue you know that you are speaking my language with this post. My love of checks is not a secret. I have been "told" that they are out of style. So do I care, not a bit! I love the way I feel when I walk into my room full of checks and ticking stripes. All of the rooms you pictured made me swoon.
I get a lot of comments too that my home is cute. It grates on my last nerve but than realize they probably don't know what else to say and they are being polite.
Darn, these days I wish some one would call me cute, that is a lot better than "do you have your senior citizen discount card today?" LOL!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

Count me in...I hate the "cute" factor! I'm originally from New England and the houses and towns have charm...but no one would ever say they are "cute"! I love checks and you have shown us some wonderful examples. I especially love the room that you showed with two views.
Very interesting post, Kathysue!

managed exchange hosting said...

Aww!! All of them are just so lovely! Amazing!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I could not believe this post ! My very next post was going to be on checks! I have already been getting my photos together... I love them and want to add some to my computer room, next on my list of room re-do's. Also, I had a college gal over to help me with a computer program last week. She walked into my house and said, "ahhhh your house is so CUTE !" I have never heard that before and I did not like it. I know she meant well, but CUTE... Yes, this post was a slam dunk for me.

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I wanted to add that this lucky gal is marrying a guy with millions in 2 months and she did say she wanted me to do their house... so I know cute was a good thing . lol

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Really enjoyed this charming post! :) Great pointers about what keeps things from moving into the cute arena.

Unknown said...

This so made me laugh. I will never forget my mom telling me a story of moving into a new, rather large house and her friend coming over and saying, "oh, it's so cute." She was so offended. I have since tried so hard not to use that in those types of situations. I love it, Kathysue!

Carol@TheDesignPages said...

I have been called cute all my life and have longed to hear the words voluptuous or sexy instead. Ah well, what can you do. Love your conclusions and I concur.

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Just gave you a shout out !

Marcus Design said...

Wow, this is a great study in all things 'charming' and 'cute', I wouldn't like to have my interiors referred to as cute! I think it's something I haven't even thought of before! Hugs to you Kathysue :)
Nancy xo

Karena said...

Hi Kathysue, this is a great comparison and your observations are super. Often it is the style of the furnishings that make the difference!!

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Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

What an interesting post. I would agree with your assessment, but for me the amount of check was also a factor. The rooms that had more gingham tended to look more on the cute side, while if there was only a touch of check (say in one chair) it was less likely to look cute. So true about the neutral colours being the best way to go, to avoid cuteness.

Anonymous said...

This post really hit home for me. If someone walks into my shop and calls it cute or some element of it cute I will look really hard and see if I agree bucause cute is a dirty word to me when it comes to design. However, some people use the word for everything. Children and animals are cute, everything else should be charming, beautiful, chic, anything but cute. I loved this post and really identify. Thanks! Barbara