Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
When it comes to fashion, there are two types of designers: those who make instantly identifiable, eye-catching pieces and those who tend toward an understated, seasonless, stealthily luxurious style. There’s no right or wrong way to dress, of course—it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.
The same goes for decorating your home: do you go for bold, eye-catching moments or prefer more subtle, in-the-know accents? Here’s how to hone in on the details that matter most to you.
I care about transitions, sightlines, and cohesiveness. I think there are a few different ways to approach decorating. One is to create multiple vignettes where your eye stops. In that case, the details are less important because you’re creating all these big moments everywhere. The other method is to evoke a feeling and never have your eye stop; you may pause, but something is not going to grab your attention from across the room. I’m in the latter group—I like little details.
I’m a huge hardware person, so I pay special attention to cabinetry pulls, furniture trim, door handles, anywhere you can really get specific about finishes, proportions, patina, and placement. It doesn’t need to be showy or attention-getting, but rather well made and quietly luxurious.
Custom framing makes everything look much more elevated, even if it’s just on family photos. Things like 8-ply matte instead of 4-ply, or having a deeper beveled edge—there are an endless amount of options that you can customize. The same thing goes for mirrors. If you’re not buying vintage, a custom size and frame make a world of difference.
I love to add oversized bun feet to sofas or anything that has legs. You can put them on a very basic piece and that makes it look much more unique. Adding copper feet to a bench or table is a really subtle way to customize your furniture too—when the light hits the metal, it just makes me so happy.
For rugs, use a binding around the edges. You can vary the size and stitching, and it makes a custom piece look even more special. Think of it like contrast piping on clothing. For pillows and throws, we spend a lot of time on sewing details. We’ll do a mix of textiles that go together but vary the edging—a mix of knife edge, self welt, and contrast welt—so it doesn’t look like they came straight from the pillow store.
These tend to be very personal, in terms of things that people collect and want to have on display. I am obsessed with footed bowls in alabaster, earthenware, wood, or metal. Also platters, especially antique Swedish ones with a good patina or anything handmade. There are so many talented artisans out there making really unique bowls, platters and vases. Think about using things in unconventional ways, like pitchers as vases—the application matters too.
It’s not a rule per se, but I do keep track of how many things are new versus old. The ratio is really important to me, and if there aren’t enough antiques, I will swap stuff out. In a perfect world, two thirds of your furnishings are antique. I obsess about the mix of old and new the way someone else might obsess about patterns.
Invest in the details that matter most to you.