Rich & Tacky in the Suburbs Is a Design Style?

06/28/2011 10:47 am ET | Updated Aug 28, 2011

Ever since last week's episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, I cannot stop wondering why anyone would decorate their home like the Palace of Versailles. Then I realized, "rich" people in the suburbs are guilty of a lot of other tacky decor, too.

Here are the top five tackiest decor trends I have come across in suburbia and my hope is you will try to avoid them. They don't make you look better, just cheesier.

Opulence to the 10th Power

Think Teresa Giudice's gold bathroom. Louis XVI on steroids with a side of Vegas. There's nothing wrong with a little opulence but must you emulate Liberace and Elvis' signature styles all in one room? Less is more, honey. Less is more. If you want to achieve a look of this type without it feeling tacky, all you have to do is edit. Edit, edit, edit and then edit a little more. One Louis XVI chair, one gilt mirror, mixing in a few more understated pieces.

Theme Rooms

I will barely let you get away with this in a Man Cave... barely. Theme Rooms are a no-no, OK? I was once in a home that had a theme dedicated to the country the owner's ancestors were from. An otherwise very well done home now became tacky and out-of-place in the affluent suburb of New York City it was situated in. Ugh, what a downer.

No themes anywhere, anytime. Even the whole "Down By The Sea" thing makes me ill. If you have a beach house, why not just do it up in a laid back style that evokes the same feeling you get when you're at the beach? See where I'm going with this? Country homes need not be decked out in plaid and cows either, ok? Themes are for children's birthday parties, thank-you-very-much.

Fake Anything

Why don't we begin with America's unwavering love affair with plastic plants. I've never seen this in a home in France or Italy or Spain. Yep, just here! The real thorn in my side is the fake ivy that I've seen draped over a canopy bed. Ooh, sexy! Blech! Those fake plants above your cabinets collecting dust are horrific too, darling. If you must put something on the empty space above your kitchen cabinetry, why not some pretty bowls or vases? Anything, just no fake plants.

Fake art is also annoying. If you live in a million dollar home, please don't put "paintings" on your walls that look like they came out of your doctor's waiting room. Nowadays there are so many better options that will cost you far less. Clearly, not everyone can afford fine art, I know. But, framing your kids finger painting project is cuter than that abstract blob in the black plastic frame that costs five bucks out of China. Old maps are cool. Meaningful pieces of anything, fabric swatches in a frame are cooler than those mass-produced wall hangings. Oh yeah, prints with inspirational quotes are better left to customer service departments, not in your den. Fake wood floors are gross. Wait till you can afford the real thing. Fake wood floors bring me back to the whole doctor's office again. I think you can afford it since your kids go to private school and your taxes are 18g's a year. Scale back on the Botox if you must.

Wall To Wall Carpeting
If you live in a rental apartment or home, as I have, you have no choice. I know this. But if you don't, I promise you whatever you have underneath is better than wall to wall carpeting. Clearly, the aesthetics are my starting point. However, most wall to wall carpeting is made of cheap, synthetic fibers that are really unhealthy for you and your family. If I got really deep into specifics, you'd be very grossed out. If your floors are not in the best shape, just try and work with them as best you can and cover the problem areas with area rugs. If you couldn't swing the add-on if and when you were building that monster of a house, you probably cannot afford to live there anyway. Go back to the townhouse, you'll be happier.

Window Valances, Wreaths and Most Wallpaper Borders

Ok, let's discuss this. Why is it when people move to the suburbs they feel the need to purchase these over the top, balloon like window treatments that come with the requisite valance, usually in some sort of floral pattern that reminds me of a really bad table-cloth at Grandma's. The suburbs also seem to make the ladies crafty. Ah yes, every holiday brings a new wreath to the front door, the back door and sometimes even the interior doors. Spring wreaths for Easter, Fall wreaths in burnt oranges and browns with fake twigs and at Christmas, they pull out all stops at Michael's! I'm almost gagging. Oh wait, I just gagged.

Apparently, when the suburbs get really boring, wallpaper (or peel and stick) borders are all the rage. Sometimes in place of the more expensive chair rail or as a decorative after thought in the kitchen. Wall borders are usually in the floral motif, as well. Grape vines are a close second. The combination of these little details can collectively ruin a home.

Like anything in keeping fresh, the line between tacky and trendy can become a delicate dance to the untrained person, no matter what your resources are. If you decide not to use the advice of someone who is more knowledgeable than you (shocker, I know!), make sure to do a heavy amount of research to guide your interior design ideas. Just because you moved to the 'burbs and bought a McMansion, does not always qualify you as a Tastemaker. Less is more, in spite of what a few housewives from New Jersey might think.

FYI: As a general rule of thumb, it's best to decorate your home like a palace only if you really live in one, you know?


Check your local TV listings for more of Courtney Cachet's style ideas and tips. You can catch her frequent appearances on NBC nationwide where she dishes out all the latest in home and lifestyle! Keep up with her on Facebook and join the conversation!