"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." — William Morris
The fame of Morris during his life was probably somewhat obscured by the variety of his accomplishments. In all his work after he reached mature life there is a marked absence of extravagance, of display, of superficial cleverness or effectiveness, and an equally marked sense of composition and subordination. Thus his poetry is singularly devoid of striking lines or phrases, and his wall-papers and chintzes only reveal their full excellence by the lastingness of the satisfaction they give. wikipedia
In college in East Texas I was on the cleaning crew sent to spiff up the Vice-Chancelor's home prior to his arrival for Fall classes. The foreman of the crew showed me the ceramic rooster, whose colors had been used to decorate the entire house. It was my first experience in seeing a color-coordinated home--every item, no matter how small, had been chosen from the rooster's palette. Later in life I have come to see that it costs no more to choose a blue item than an orange item. The question is--which will go with everything else already in one's possession.
If you are just starting out in life, or training your daughters, gain exposure to beautiful things; china patterns, quilt designs, paintings, carpets and fabrics. Walk through designer homes, showrooms, and store displays and stand at the magazine counter and look through the magazines for months before you buy the one that has the items or overall look that has come to be you. Then consciously build your trousseau and hope chest with only those items that suit you. Not only will you save money, but you will be able to learn how to make many of the items you need and want; you'll be able to buy them on sale, saving not only money but frustration in having too much and not enough of the best and right things.
If you're older and stuck with a lot of mis-matched stuff, educate your eye and get in touch with your heart and choose what's really become you and sell or give away what isn't you. Simplify your life and keep or acquire only those items you need and love. Plain living does not have to be sombre to be simple, but it does mean living without excess. Enjoy getting to know yourself …