In Defense of Whimsy

‘Whimsy’ is one of those words you don’t hear that often. But when you do, chances are there’s no immediate visual, you probably have to take a second and (gasp) focus…

Starting out with a robust “WH” , it transforms, ending with a light-hearted ‘e-e-e-e-e’, the word itself evokes both range and promise.

‘Whimsy’ will make you smile-perhaps even inwardly-but you won’t laugh (it has a lighter touch than ‘humor’). It is clever, but you won’t struggle; and it will make you think at your own pace-but not dwell or obsess.

It engages, delights and amuses, and is often unexpected. It  captures your attention, and can change the channel. Done well, it stays with you.

Which is precisely why it is such a great tool in both Staging, and in Decorating.

It also cannot be done in a vacuum; for it to be effective you need to understand the motivation behind it, be clear about who your audience will be, and what you want to accomplish.

Which is precisely why I ask a lot of questions of prospective clients.  

A long time residential client needed help in ‘finishing’ his newly re-located law office. An aquarium in the waiting room was suggested, but with clown fish. (He’s been a successful RE attorney for over 30 years, his business is largely with people he knows or has been recommended to, and he LOVES irony, trust me, it was him).

Anticipating the maintenance, instead we went with an oversize clock, surrounded by scenic shots of his kid’s college campuses (his idea, great idea, you can see a photo on my website’s B&A).

It’s natural to feel  ‘stuck’ when you are starting to contemplate a long-overdue update, or clearing out decades of stuff in preparation for selling a house,  but some people  get really down on themselves.

I keep a small supply of ‘magic’ wands in the trunk of my car. Inexpensive, from the craft or party store, they are colorful and glittery, some with stars, other with spangles, ribbons, or even diamonds.

If the conversation starts going south- where the client is feeling overwhelmed-if it feels appropriate, I excuse myself and return with one for them, .  (Also useful in getting children on board with this whole editing-the-toy-bin-thing).

Rick Whelan, owner and creative guru behind Ditto! Design! is a master of connecting a visual with a soft-sell message.

Last year, during a particularly bad time in the economy, he sent out a newsletter that as a banner (skinny photo on top pf page) showed a cluster of open black umbrellas, with a single sunny yellow one in the middle. (Yes, I aspire to have something approximating that light touch, and yes, yes, he handles all my marketing tools).

Point being-selling, or staying-if your space isn’t sending the message you want, we should talk. REALLY.