John Wheatman’s “A Good House is Never Done” offers timeless inspiration and lessons

March 3, 2022

Every now and again, I publish the top half-a-dozen lessons (or so) I’ve learned from a master: be it a designer, organizer, scientist, and so on.

John Wheatman’s A Good House is Never Done

John Wheatman’s excellent book, A Good House Is Never Done (not an affiliate link), elevated my compulsive nesting to new heights and it continues to inspire me today.

A good house reflects its inhabitants.

It’s OK and desirable to be always growing, and therefore tweaking your home.

Here are 6 “Save for Later” lessons I learned from John.

1 / [coffee table ] SIZE MATTERS

It took me more than 2 years of design angst (and many returns) to grasp this lesson on my own.

After agonizing over style, color, material, texture, shape… it turns out that the single most important attribute in a coffee table is its size.

“I’ll fight for big coffee tables until the day I die.”

John Wheatman

2 / Less [HARDWARE] is More

In a kitchen, if you don’t skip upper cupboards altogether, skip the hardware.

John’s kitchens are all different, but all the same. Wether traditional, rustic or modern on the bottom, they’re all modern on top.

John expertly dresses upper cabinets with plain slab doors to deliver all the refinement with none of the (storage) sacrifice.

3 / Tear down those closets

And reclaim square footage to living space.

Armoires can add character to your room, and built-ins can do the job more efficiently and elegantly than a framed-in closet ever could.


Dark walls can look stunning, especially when white floating shelves run across them.

I’ve been playing it safe for a long time, but John’s work has given me courage to stain our sunroom pine paneling black.

Oh, how it quickly became our favorite room in the house! It’s even been nicknamed “The Scotch Room.”

5 / Mirror, mirror on the wall

John expertly places large mirrors perpendicular to a wall of windows, inside glass door cabinets, in a niche above the fridge, and across the entire vanity wall in the bathroom.

The outcome is always a win.

6 / To be [Quirky], or not to Be

John urges us not to wait for perfection, whether we’re working heirlooms or hand-me-downs, treasured acquisitions or ‘good enough for now’ pieces into your homes.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes, and a truth I return to time and again:

“It’s not what you have… but what you do with what you have that counts.”

John Wheatman

Enjoy the ride. Look at what you have in a new light.

This is the one time where you want to invite and create drama. Make your everyday special! It’s free!!

Scroll to Top