If yesterday’s tragic bombing in Boston teaches us anything, it is that life is too short. You don’t know exactly how much time you have on the planet, and the saddest thing of all is that it could only be eight little years. When you have the luxury to have many when some have so few, it seems like a waste of a gift to not try and squeeze as much fun out of daily living as you possibly can.

Before yesterday, I had already been thinking about this, thanks to Jonathan Adler and his husband Simon Doonan. I watched Bravo’s 10 Things that Make Me Happy featuring Jonathan’s own top 10 list and it was the first time I’d seen video of the couple’s dynamic. They’re unbelievably cute with one another. I worshiped them both professionally already–Simon’s the infamous Barney’s window designer and Jonathan is, well, Jonathan, but watching them together put it right over the top on a personal level as well.

One of Jonathan’s top 10s is Simon’s collection of floral print shirts. As they showed Simon in his swank closet, he pulled a few out one by one and mentioned that “everyone should have a signature look.” His suggestion was to pick something and go over the top with it. Become known for it.

Simon Doonan’s floral print shirt collection, as seen in Jonathan Adler’s book, Happy Chic Colors.

Well, shoot, I used to do that. Once upon a time, I had a signature look that I was known for. I have collected hats since I was a sophomore in college and I used to wear them all the time. I even took classes on how to make them at FIT when I lived in New York City. This is what I used to look like, on any given day:

Photo by Sarah Joy Jones.

Wearing the kind of hats in my collection takes commitment. I have one with a bird perched on the front with long tail feathers that frame the side of my face. I have a very Jackie O black fez that I made in my first wool blocking class that got me in trouble at a cocktail party when I mouthed off to someone I overheard criticizing it. You can’t throw any of them on with your average outfit–these hats demand a certain look in the clothing and shoe department. And I had all of that together until I started gaining weight a while back. Once I grew out of the jackets and even the shoes (who knew your feet also get bigger when you gain weight?), I didn’t have anything to wear these hats with. Between the dismal wardrobe options of fat lady clothing stores, total denial that I was going to stay heavy (and therefore, why “invest” in expensive funky stuff), and old lady foot problems that forced me to wear sneakers every day, I kind of lost touch with my hat collection. Combine that with a sensitivity to making design approachable and not “stuffy” and I actually started avoiding them altogether.

But I’ve lost nearly 100 pounds over the past eleven months and after hearing Simon preaching about a signature look and seeing he and Jonathan having so much fun with their home decor, I’m thinking two things:

1) As a people, we’re being too “safe” with our home decor, and

2) It is a stupid lame-ass thing that something like my hats–which give me so much pleasure–are packed away in boxes.

So I bought a new one this weekend, for the first time in over a decade:

While I hunt for funky-looking comfortable black shoes that make me feel like I’m wearing sneakers and re-imagine my wardrobe options so I can bring mon chapeaux out of retirement (shoe recommendations appreciated), let’s talk about the home decor thing–after all, that’s why we’re here on the Room Fu blog in the first place.

I have noticed that as my clients’ home values have increased over the years, they are more and more scared of their home decor. It’s only natural–the higher your investment, the more you want to protect it, right? Along the way, fun is flying out the window. Oh sure, there are plenty of you who embrace the weird and wacky where home decorating is concerned. But your numbers are shrinking and I’d like to reverse that.

Before I go any further, I do want to say that there are plenty of people who love and adore neutrals. You’re out there celebrating texture and really luxuriating in your earth tones. If that applies, then I’m not talking to you–if browns and grays are your thing and they make you happy, then of course that’s what you should surround yourself with. The people I want to address here are the folks who want to enjoy more color or do something wildly eccentric in their homes but shy away from it out of fear.

YOU are the people I want to hear my plea:

You CAN have fun with your home decor without wrecking your investment.

Yes, you can.

I’m serious as a heart attack.

Your home should make you happy, end of discussion. It can make you happy no matter where it is, no matter what kind of budget you’re dealing with, no matter what is going on at work–especially considering what’s going on at work. Whether you have one day or 100 years left, if you live in a brown world when you really want to surround yourself with peacock blue and tangerine, you’re doing your life wrong. I may not be able to help you create a signature look, but I can damn well help you bring more happiness into your home decor.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to show you how.