How Your Refrigerator Door Can Help You With Your Home Decorating

Posted by: Gail VanKleeck  |  Date: 07/10/2014

How Your Refrigerator Door Can Help You With Your Home Decorating

Years ago when I started my home decorating career, I worked almost exclusively with women.  Back then, most people simply assumed that the “woman of the house” was the expert on home decorating.  Very often that assumption caused those women to feel guilty, inadequate or apologetic because they needed someone like me to help them.

The truth is that none of us can be an expert on everything. 

Many of the women I worked with during my early years in home decorating are similar to the women I work with today.  Some of them were experts in computer technology, English literature or special education.  Others could make a soufflé that looked and tasted absolutely perfect, hit a tennis ball their opponent couldn’t possibly return, teach advanced economics or become a partner in a well-respected law firm.                       . 

Even if the person who is primarily responsible for home decorating has a good basic sense of color, texture balance and style, she is often faced with a truly difficult home decorating dilemma, because her home is usually a shared space. 

This means it needs to reflect and respect the feelings of everyone living there, even if those people have a very different sense of what they need from their surroundings or how they would like their rooms to feel.

Although some of the women who are charged with their home decorating may think they know what would make the individual members of their family feel comfortable and happy … home decorating decisions need to be based on more than assumptions.  They require the kind of communication that can empower you to create surroundings that will give every person in their family home the feeling that their needs and dreams are worth consideration.


When our children were younger their father and I bought a new puppy.  Naming the puppy soon became a serious task, because each of us liked a different name.  In an act of desperation, I propped a white-board on our kitchen table and filled a mug with an assortment of colored dry-markers.  The white board had the advantage of being larger than a piece of paper and harder to misplace.

Using one of the markers, I wrote down three names I liked. 

Our son looked at the names I’d listed, wrote ”disgusting” after two of them, then added three of his own.  Their father shook his head and then added three more names.  Our daughter was away at college and didn’t care much  about being involved, but she gave us some suggestions and we added them to the list.  I thought of a few more names and wrote them down.  Our son thought they were even worse than the first ones.  Their father was still shaking his head.

We were a busy family.  Although it would have been nice if we had been more like the Walton family, who always seemed to be gathered around the kitchen table having deep and meaningful conversations …the truth was that we didn’t always make the time to really talk with one another.

The white board became our “communication board”.  It took a long time.  I had visions of a full grown 110 pound black dog still being referred to as “Puppy” but slowly, slowly we started talking about the names we’d written and what they meant to us.

 Our son wanted something that sounded strong and tough.  “Brute” and “Savage” and “Fang” were on his list. Their father wanted something simple and short.  He had written “Blackie”, “Inky” and “Night”. Our daughter still didn’t care and I wanted something unusual.

We named our puppy “Levy”, like the jeans.  We all agreed that it was unusual, short, simple and tough.  Our communication board had served us well.


As a way of beginning your home decorating, I suggest that you gather together a pair of scissors, some tape, a few magic markers and a collection of home decorating magazines.  Put them on your kitchen counter and then ask your family members to cut out the pictures of rooms or parts of rooms they like.  Then ask them to use one of the markers to write an adjective on each of their choices describing how they “feel” … and then to tape them to the refrigerator door …  Like a white-board, the refrigerator door has the advantage of being large and difficult to misplace.

It may take a while, but be patient.  Talk about your pictures and the adjectives you are using to describe them.  Take your time.  It’s important.  These moments of communication will be well spent.  They can become the invaluable guide to creating a home that is uniquely, wonderfully and magically your own.


Gail Van Kleeck is the President of Dover Interiors and author of The Magical Interior Design Guide.  To learn more about her home decorating services go to  You can see her home decorating video and her Magical Interior Design Guide by going to

You can contact Gail by phone at (781) 762-6151,  or by email at


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