Right On William Morris!

I love the oft-quoted William Morris line: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  It’s been a guiding principle for me…a litmus test for things that are in our house. But a lesser-known quote has had a powerful impact too…“If you cannot learn to love real art, at least learn to hate sham art and reject it.” 

On a subconscious level I suppose that’s why I didn’t like the egg thing I bought recently to resell. Hand-painted butterflies and bugs on a big ceramic egg? It seems gimmicky and wrong somehow.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized there’s so much sham art around! Maybe you wouldn’t call it art, but it is designed and people buy it and display it. For example, for $99 you can get this weird crystal snowman with a city in his belly or for $22 this ridiculous singing fish plaque. Both make me cringe.

Then I got thinking that maybe most sham art is just in a certain price range to appeal to a certain type of person…then I found this box. It’s made by a famous designer and costs $15,500. At this price it must be good. But I keep looking at it and looking at it, and, it just looks wrong. To me this is just as sham as the snowman. I’d rather have all these stones in a bowl on a table.

To be honest, I’m not sure I know what real art is, but I am drawn to items that show a level of craftsmanship, quality and enduring style…whether it’s an antique embroidered piano shawl, a handmade wood bowl or a well-designed sterling silver purse.

These are the things I want in my house. So thank you William Morris for your thoughts and inspiration. (If you’re not familiar with his work just google “William Morris textiles.” You’re in for a treat.)

Would love to hear your thoughts on real art vs. sham art!


  1. Wholeheartedly agree. Too much sham out there. Its always up to your own instincts to decide what is actually worth it.


    1. So true Eugenia! 🙂 – Karen

      Liked by 1 person

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