One of the most important ways to manifest a sense of mastery is to suggest that you are not trying too hard. Like the swan, gliding over the water, and paddling hard below, your personal style should appear elegant, but nobody can ever know how hard you worked to achieve that look, because nobody likes a try-hard.

If you spend a lot of time on pintrest or instagram, or leafing through catalogues and magazines, you will see a lot of perfect interiors.

However the real beauty is achieved not by attaining perfect order, but by nearly achieving it, and swerving at the last minute.

This is a variation of what every high school art teacher will tell you: you have to know the rules in order to break them.

In 1528, Italian courtier Baldessare Castiglione said: 

I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above all other, and in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.

How is this to be interpereted in how you arrange your home?

Here are a few ground rules:

  1. What am I most ashamed of in my house? Make a feature of it. If you've got a wooden leg, wave it.
  2. Pair expensive with inexpensive, simple things, the rough with the smooth. You appreciate, but are not a slave to, the finer things.
  3. Don't apologize, don't explain.
  4. Embrace the Kon-Mari method (get rid of everything that doesn't spark joy, but then pull back from the brink, an leave some of the random stuff in the mix) - a nearness to order, but it's avoidance, is where the beauty lies.