9 things William Morris has taught us about decorating

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  • He was a huge figure in the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, but William Morris's legacy still lives on. Here are some timeless tips from the master himself

    Known for his fantastic floral prints, William Morris designed tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics and furniture during the latter part of the 19th century. He was also a celebrated artist, poet and social activist. His designs are still widely used today and so are many of his ideas and decorating principles. Here are just a few that resonate with us…

    1. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”
    One of Morris’s most famous quotes is perhaps the most simple. It’s also a useful prescription for avoiding clutter in your home.

    2. “The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life”

    Savour some of the simple details that make life lovely. This beautiful laundry storage cupboard shows how everyday tasks can be rewarding.

    3. “It took me years to understand that words are often as important as experience, because words make experience last”

    Words are powerful, so why not bring them into your decorating scheme? Here, several lines from a poem have been stencilled onto a striking blue wall – their meaning can be enjoyed for years to come.


    “A good way to rid one’s self of a sense of discomfort is to do something”

    This is a great mantra for everyone. While most of us need some downtime occasionally, it is often when we are at our most productive that we are happiest. So go on, hang that wallpaper, paint that item of furniture or do whatever it is you need to do!

    5. “It is the childlike part of us that produces works of the imagination”

    Don’t go for the safe option, channel your creativity and create something amazing. Whether it is a bold look for your decorating scheme or painting your own mural, embrace the childlike part of your imagination!

    6. “Give me love and work – these two only”

    While you can’t change your work environment, you can create a fantastic home office which is the perfect place to feel productive and ‘love’ your work.

    7. “The reward of labour is life. Is that not enough?”

    Enjoy life – whether that is by relaxing in your newly-planted garden on a hot summer’s day or enjoying a fantastic dinner party you have spent ages prepping for.

    8. “Nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making”

    Nothing can be more satisfying than making your own curtains/blinds/item of furniture. Even if it’s an entire renovation, there is nothing more rewarding than sitting back and looking at the fruits of your labour.

    9. “I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few”

    William Morris was an advocate for art – not only did he create his own, but he also championed many artists from his era (the Pre-Raphaelites). Whatever art you have in your home, show it off and let it be enjoyed!

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