For the interior design obsessed who find professional decorators to be too invasive (not to mention expensive), but lack the know-how (and courage) to do it themselves, DwellStudio founder and creative director Christiane Lemieux and writer Rumaan Alam have provided a collective sigh of relief with their recently released book, Undecorate.
Exploring the residences of twenty individuals who champion, as the book’s sub header reads “a no-rules approach to interior design,” Undecorate gives permission to leave the professionals at the door, so to speak. Over 200 photographs give readers an intimate peek inside the eclectic selection of homes that fall within categories such as “The Decorators Without Borders,” “The Incurable Collectors,” and “The Imperfectionists.”
Alam, who has written about interior design for Domino, O at Home and Lonny magazine, and currently works for Target’s home division, is himself a self-professed collector of “too many things.” We asked him to share with us his personal “undecorate” philosophy as well as some of his favorite interiors from the book.
The Inside Source: How did you become involved with the book?
Rumaan Alam: Undecorate was Christiane’s brainchild, and she turned to me to help her bring it to life. My role was to really help Christiane articulate her thesis and explore how each of the different residences in the book are, in their own way, undecorated.
The Inside Source: “Undecorating” is a departure from more traditional ways of thinking about dcor. What is “undecorating” to you?
Rumaan Alam: As you say, it is a departure from the traditional ways of thinking about dcor, but that’s not to say it’s about abandoning tradition for its own sake, or disregarding the importance of expertise and training. There are many great interior designers whose work I love, and I know the same is true of Christiane. “Undecorate” is about upending the value judgment that good interior design is professional interior design; homes that are kooky or break the rules can be beautiful, too.
The Inside Source: Do you collect? Do you use eBay?
Rumaan Alam: I collect a lot of things. Too many things. I have so many saved eBay searches it’s sort of embarrassing. I collect vintage jigsaw puzzles. I have about 40 by now, I think, and every last one of them is from eBay. My husband collects reproductions of Gilbert Stuart’s unfinished portrait of George Washington. We have about 15 of those, several of which are from eBay. I’ve also amassed a crazy collection of paintings almost all from eBay-mostly oils, mostly portraits, though I have also bought watercolors and a really lovely architectural pen and ink drawing.
I also collect promotional posters for the Smiths singles and albums-I’ve tracked down several really incredible originals on eBay. I’ve used eBay to amass an almost complete run of the seminal interiors magazine Nest, and I’m currently trying to compile a library of World of Interiors and Elle Decoration back issues. I’m really embarrassed by this list, and it doesn’t even include my fashion-related searches!
Meredith Barnett is the Editorial Director for The Inside Source, a digital style magazine presented by eBay. The Inside Source writer Chris Frey authored this article in its original form. Click here to read it in full and to check out Alam’s eBay picks along with more images from the book. (images courtesy Christiane Lemieux, Rumaan Alam, Undecorate.)