The Best Home Advice Designers & Makers Got From Their Dads

diy tips

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Designers say that when it comes to household skills, their dads sure taught them well. In honor of Father's Day, we spoke to pro designers and creatives who weighed in on the top tips they learned from Dad that they still reflect back on today.

Tips on Framing, Painting, and Classic Style

"My dad is British and very much has traditional taste. He taught me that framing is so important. How a piece is matted and framed can make or break the piece's moment. My dad had a little house painting company as a teenager, and I have a lot of memories of us painting together growing up. I am really particular as a designer about how painting is done and paint quality. I attribute this to doing so much painting with him!" — Julia Newman of Julia Adele Design

A Certain Vacuuming Technique

"Although my dad doesn't have the best taste in interior decor, he has definitely taught me the importance of visual presentation. My dad is uber clean and organized and has mastered the art of vacuuming. When I lived at home it was my chore to vacuum and the lines that the vacuum leaves on the carpet all HAD TO LINE UP and create a pattern where all the lines go one way, and I couldn't leave not ONE footprint in the room afterwards. It sounds extreme but I definitely practice that in my own home today. It actually leaves the carpets very clean and soft." — Oscar Bravo of Oscar Bravo Home

A Few Quotable Lessons

"A few of my favorite Dad-isms regarding the home:

  • 'Always buy the cheapest house on the best street.'
  • 'You have to live in a space before making final design decisions.'
  • 'Everything is fixable, a house is just wood screwed together. Don’t let it intimidate you.'
  • 'YouTube is your friend—you can learn to fix anything.'
  • 'Buy all your power tools in the same brand so your batteries can be interchanged.'"

Anastasia Casey of The Identité Collective

A Love for European Influences

"My dad has influenced my European style in many ways. Being raised in Naples, Italy, and growing up in an artistic family, he has always sought sophistication and had an eye for quality items. One of his favorite products to buy for the home has been glassware, and that influence has definitely rubbed off on me. He especially has taught me about a good espresso cup!" — Deb Foglia of Seeking Lavender Lane

The Importance of a Desk

"The best advice from my father was to always have a desk in every room. You never know when you might have homework to do! He was an avid reader and school was the most important thing outside of eating. He also knew natural light made for easier reading, so placing a desk by the window would guarantee success." — Nishi Donovan of Nishi Design Studio

desk in living room

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A Few Key Tidbits

"A few tidbits from my father: One, don't buy anything unless you really love it and feel a connection to it. Two, it's not just about the history; it's about loving the individual aesthetic of each piece in your home. If you can discover the history about an antique or vintage piece, spend time to learn about it and research it. Three, there is a lot of value the provenance plus living with a piece with history is an absolute joy. If something is offered as a pair, always buy the pair. Never split pairs!" — Sterling McDavid of Sterling McDavid Design

The Importance of Quality Materials

"My dad, always the handyman/DIYer, stressed the importance of working with quality materials. When it comes to any kind of home or reno project he was always the one to advocate for the highest grade paint, wood, or tools. His motto: 'Do it once and do it right.' It always pays off in the long run!" — Elaine Burns of Pistachio Designs

A Love of DIY

"Our dad has always been a big do-it-yourselfer, so he served as a great example of rolling up your sleeves and getting it done without paying someone else to do it. He always said there wasn’t anything we couldn’t figure out with the help of a good manual. Because of this, we’ve always had the confidence to tackle smaller projects without a professional. Even as a designer, it comes in handy to know how to use a hammer and screwdriver." — Leslie Martin of M+M Interior Design


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How to Read Blueprints

"My dad was in construction for both high-end residential homes and commercial buildings. He taught me how to read blueprints when I was very young. He was always fixing things and keeping everything in working order. He turns 89 this year, and we were recently looking at his tools and they were so beautiful and well worn." — Cami Weinstein of Cami Weinstein Designs

That Windows Should be Dressed

"My father loves the ritual of dressed windows. In our house, the drapes were heavily lined and pleated, in the English style. In the winter, they were closed at night and opened during the day. And in the summer it was the reverse. Due to that, I’ve always viewed dressing windows as something that is beautiful, functional, and a grounding routine. When clients resist dressing windows, it still discombobulates me!" — Adnan Anwar of Adnan Anwar Design

window dressings

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A General Love of Home

"My dad definitely passed down a love for my home. He was always working on something around the house, from putting up wallpaper and painting, to building a deck or landscaping. This is something that I find myself mimicking as an adult. I never leave house projects until they build up—I pick something every quarter to tackle so there's a constant flow of upkeep and improvement." — Amy Peltier of Peltier Interiors