One of my fave designers is celebrity Thom Filicia, who you've seen on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Dress My Nest a& Tacky House television shows. Besides his adorable looks and fantastic sense of humor and style, Thom is amazing at breaking down a crude "design disaster" and rebuilding it into fabulousness. In my opinion, he is a master at blending texture, color, pattern and chicness.
On Thom's newest show airing on the Style network, "Tacky House" features DIY design disasters that usually highlight a theme-decor-gone-wrong (and I mean wrong!). This post is dedicated to decorating around a motif - and doing it in such a way that you won't end up being one of Thom's targets.
I think the most common error is that a theme design can end up looking like a themed birthday party, overrun with embellishments hanging from the ceiling and adorning every vertical and horizontal surface. More is not always better. The goal is to communicate a feeling to people when they enter the room, without hitting them over the head with a pinata bat to let them know you love Mexico and all things Mexican!
So let's use a Mexican theme as our example. I have had some really great holidays in Mexico and love the people, the weather and my memories of my time there. Now, let's say I want to impart that same love for Mexico to my visitors when they come to my home. My fondness for Mexico doesn't come from a sombrero on the wall, or free-pouring tequila bottles being passed around the dinner restaurant I frequented - so hanging a sombrero on my kitchen wall in California or assembling a collection of tequila bottles on my dining room sideboard is not going to accomplish my goal of re-creating a relaxed Mexican-holiday mood. Instead it's going to scream "look at the cheap junk I brought home!".
Instead, think about how people really live in Mexico; think about the textures, materials and colors used in their homes, their restaurants or the hotels you stayed in. Bring in natural and rough textures such as hand-carved unpolished wood, textured plaster walls, oversized pillar candles, iron light fixtures and furniture accents. Terracotta roof tiles are abundant all over Mexico, so utilizing pottery or painting a feature wall in that warm rusty color is a wonderful touch.
You get the idea - think about what materials and design style people live with where you want to re-create a foreign locale in your home, rather than thinking about what cheesy tourist loot you can nail to the walls that screams "I was in Hawaii and I loved it, so check out my plastic flowers and hula skirts hanging from the light fixtures!". So go ahead, express yourself through a design theme - just be sure to use some restraint and subtlety and you'll achieve a relaxed, classy theme instead of a theme-park!