Do You Have a Mollifier in Your Home?

“A what?” – A Mollifier – you know some decorative object or piece of furniture that you allow into your home because as awful as it may be, it makes someone else who lives with you very happy. 

I have one and you have been seeing a lot of it lately as I am trying to make it a Jollifier

“A what?”  – A Jollifier – you know that sentimental object in your home that spreads a little joy every time you cast your eye upon it.

I never heard the terms Mollifier and Jollifier before I read Deborah Needleman’s book – The Perfectly Imperfect Home, but knew exactly what she was talking about and loved the fact that she gave these items in our homes such endearing references.

I picked the book up because I love decorating books that are illustrated instead of having photos.  They are timeless – no trendy looks or décor to date them.  Just good decorating advice. I collect them.

Book The Prefectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman

In my next life I want to be able to draw and paint as well as the illustrator of this book – Virginia Johnson. I have a few posts where I did the illustrations here on my blog. You can see them here, here, here.  It is something that I enjoy doing when I have the time.

Sorry to get off course, but this book made me laugh, nod in agreement, and just tickled my fancy. 

I am not a formal decorating type person – I like to mix things up in my own style.  No formality and Deborah delivered.   If you have never heard of Deborah – she was the founding editor of Domino Magazine and the author of the decorating book, Domino.

Here was my Mollifier.

Brown Furniture - making it work in your decor

This piano means a lot to my husband, so we keep it. No one plays it, except when our youngest took lessons for a a few years when she was in grade school.

The piano was a hand-me-down and the biggest issue I have with it is  – it is brown.  It is not that I dislike wood furniture. It is just that I have hardwood floors now in this room and when brown wood furniture is placed on top of brown hardwood – both are just too much brown for my taste. 

There is no contrast.  I also don’t think I am a fan of painted pianos, maybe I will stain it black.   Jury is still out on that – so until the verdict comes in – I have been playing with ways to make this piano a Jollifier.


Last week, I showed you how I added some energy to the space by covering the bench in a bold color and pattern.  For the holidays, I painted a thrift store mirror white and added it to the wall above the piano. It looked festive and I liked it, but when it came down, the piano was still bothering me – the floor and the piano – both brown – no contrast.

Contrast is good for a room. I found an inexpensive sisal rug to break up the brown a bit.  When my budget allows I want to replace the big rug in this room with a sisal rug.  I have one in my foyer and kitchen so they not only add a bit of texture and visual interest, but they unify the rooms and create a nice balance throughout the first floor of my home. 

A nice colorful rug would look nice here too, since this is no man’s land between the kitchen and family room.  I will have to search to find one the right color and size – maybe like this Dash & Albert rug.

Dash and Albert Rug

My next plan of action is to add some molding and bead board to the short wall on the right side of the piano.  That might add some interest and contrast, also.  There is an air duct in the wall above the mirror that runs the length of the room.

My house was the builder’s spec house and they did things the easy way. It ruins the lines of the already narrow room, especially at the other end where it throws off the symmetry.  I have painted the walls many different colors over the years, but like the neutral back drop so I can add any color I choose to the space. I don’t want to be locked into a scheme because of the wall color.

Decorating the family room ideas

I do plan to add more grass cloth on this side of my kitchen. It is on the other side already, but I stopped on this side for some reason that totally escapes me now. I have the paper, I just need to hang it.


The grass cloth wallpaper in the kitchen.

Update 2021: I no longer live in the house in this post and was happy to give the piano away when we moved. We didn’t have space for it in our new home. “Oh… darn! “ :-)

Do you have a Mollifier in your home?  I would enjoy hearing about it and how you try to make it a Jollifier?

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  1. Monica Dameron says:

    Hi Diane, I am not a professional decorator but I think if you put some greenery or some fall colors on the top of the piano it will give it more life in the room and fall candles, candle rings, vase of berries and leaves etc will pull it all together with your beautiful piano bench cover. Love your blog. And I have a mollifer! I just didn’t know what it was called!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Monica – Thanks for the idea. It is a good one. I moved from the house where I had the piano. There was no spot for the piano in our new home so we gave it away. I do not miss it at all. :-) I do have a new mollifer in my new house – actually two – they are recliners that my husband wanted. At least they are comfy.

  2. I just discovered this post from your ‘books that inspired you’ post and The Perfectly Imperfect home caught my eye. There used to be many Mollifiers in our home but over the years, they have mysteriously vanished! ;-) I love your blog Diane. Whilst not a ‘book’, it is one of my decorating inspirations. Thank you! Sue

  3. Diane, I love, love, love your blog! I discovered it yesterday and was up half the night exploring! I will definitely be adapting your turquoise dresser for my own home!

    Just wanted to mention for your readers that (sadly) painting or even staining a piano is not a good idea. It degrades the quality of the instrument, because it has a negative effect on the sound produced.

    So your solutions to integrate it into your home are perfect!

  4. I don’t know why I didn’t comment on this post when I first read it. I came over today from your painted sideboard post. My mollifer is a lamp that hangs in our dining room. It was my husband’s grandmother’s and it is SOOO ugly–but my husband loves it. I made it a jollifier when I saw a post by Beachcomber in Australia. Here is a link to her blog. She has lovely photos: Anyway, one day she took a trip to Ikea, and posted some photos. There was the most darling lamp “slipcover!” And yes, Ikea in San Diego had it. It is now gracing my grandmother-in-laws lamp–and makes me smile whenever I look at it!

  5. This is a great post! :D

    I have a mollifier (and let me chime in on saying what an awesome term this is for it), and unlike yours it is not only unmatching but really hideous. When we first moved in together my husband somehow got this plastic Ikea office chair for free. Since we don’t have a lot of money nor furniture, it has stayed, our dining table is surrounded by three perfectly lovely white wooden chairs — and then this thing. I have exressed (probably much too loudly even) my dislike of this chair, not only due to it’s appearance but also because it’s horrible to sit on, heavy to move around and thus no one ever even uses it! But my husband gets very offended. You see, “this is the only/first thing I brought to the house”, he will say. And: “besides, we don’t have anything better”. We would, if he would let me get something better!

    But I have had to come to terms with the fact that this horrible piece of uncomfortable and impractical furniture will have a prominant place in our house until a) we get rich enough that my husband doesn’t care about spending money on “luxury” b) it breaks. My husband would never believe me if I said I broke it on accident, and it is very heavily constructed, so I think option a) is my only hope..

    You’ve done good work with yours. I wich there was a way to modify this beast, but I don’t even think there is. That colour would shine through any amount of spray paint, and there is no way to hide the hideousness of the design. Sigh.


    1. Hi Raya –

      I feel for you and totally understand how you must feel every time you walk into your dining room. Perhaps with time and a little more coaxing – it will be history. I laughed that you can’t even say it broke if it really did because your husband would not believe you. :) I know even if you cover it with fabric and paint it will still stick out like a sore thumb in the room. Just know whenever you agonize over it – you are not alone – there are many of us dealing with the same thing – a mollifier! Hope you enjoy your weekend.

  6. I have the same mollifier as you, but I am the mollifiee :^) I also have about 3000 pounds of music since I am a professional musician. Whooee…it’s a headache!! When you come up with a solution for making it all look wonderful, please let me know!!
    Thanks for posting..I am enjoying reading your blog backward. I just found it this morning!

    1. Hi J –
      In your case it makes total sense to have a piano in your house – you play it. No one plays it it mine. It justs sits there :( If I ever come up with a plan I will be sure to share it with you.

  7. Omg do I have a mollifier! My boyfriend is military and I’m prior, and when I got out, we moved in together. He has this HUGE entertainment center. It’s from when he was stationed in Okinawa, and it’s handmade. It’s beautiful, and is stained a dark cherry brown, and has gorgeous carvings and little lights and glass shelves and stuff… it’s really a work of art. My problem is that the thing is GIGANTIC. It literally takes up an entire wall- no exaggeration. The stupid thing cost him like $7K, and he’s in love with it. It takes up a third of my living room, and we live in Hawaii- housing is not very spacious here. Everything else we have is bright and cheery, and then smack in the heart of our home is a monsterous hulking brown beast. We’re going to be buying a house in the next 5 years, and I’m hoping for one with a basement I can turn into a man-cave… that way I can give it it’s own very special home. Because it’s so… special. I’ve even tried to put colorful sculptures and pictures of his kids and stuff on the shelves, but it’s still quite overwhelming.

  8. I came across this article that made me think of your piano mollifier:
    I think if you picture the mantle in the background as a piano, you can kind of picture a nice way to merge the piano into your home (set against a wall, “window” mirrors on either side, seating in front of it – not necessarily facing it). Not sure if it’s for you or if it would even work out how I’m imagining it, just saw the photo and thought I would pass it along. Maybe, too, it’s just the colors that aren’t working out. All of the white you have on the piano makes the piano stand out as very brown. Perhaps the ashy-tan/stone colors (as in the link) would make the wood tones blend more? Just a thought.

    At any rate, you have a lovely home. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  9. MelissaJane says:

    Oh, I love this post. My husband’s entire studioffice (also a fantastic word, thank you; he’s a musician, artist, and professional tech guy, so it’s ideal for his man cave) is my mollifier. It’s all ugly boxes of electronica, ugly shelving, ugly pragmatic furniture, and wires and cables EVERYWHERE. Oh, and boxes and boxes of crap that he refuses to sort or unpack. We’ve lived in…seven (yikes) houses together in the ten years we’ve been together, and his studioffice has sometimes been the first room you see in the house, and I’ve bitten my tongue so hard it bleeds, but he lets me do anything else I want AND he’s the sweetest man on earth, so yeah.

    I am working on jollifying this one, though. We’ve got some IKEA
    Expedits in there instead of the wire shelving, and some of the crap is in bins that fit in the Expedits, so that’s a huge improvement. (Yes, imagine a room where out of the box IKEA furniture can be called a “huge improvement”!!) Gonna paint, hang some stuff up, and honestly I might just put a big divider up so you don’t see as much of his stuff!

  10. Catherine In NJ says:

    Dear Diane- In HGTV magazine (Feb/March) two decorators painted a piano white. Well…..please don’t do that. I laughed so hard at the slipcover idea! I wonder how long it would take me to slipcover my horrible brick fireplace? It took me 4 months to make a Halter top for myself back in the 70’s! I am so glad I’m not alone with my mollifer.

  11. moonsword says:

    ohyeah…a house-full of them! A big ole wooden chest in one room, exercise equipment in another, a baby grand in a third…that’s just the first floor!
    So there are plenty of diy tutorials around the net for making couch slipcovers (or maybe you know how to make them)…how about a piano slipcover? No one’s using the piano, right? So make a nice neutral cover, simple lines, maybe in classic off-white, white-on-white stripes or florals, or…? Then display photos on top or just one simple decorative piece. If hubs questions it, just tell him it’s a practical solution to keep harmful dust out of and sunlight off of the piano. ;)

    1. Thanks for the idea. I am not sure I have the skills to sew that much detail and still have it look good. :) I do wish I was a better at the sewing machine. I did make a slipcover for a chair once – it came out great, but took me forever.

  12. frugalscholar says:

    I’ve just finished this book. Another I like a lot is an older one: Diana Phipps’s Affordable Splendor.

    Love your blog.

    1. Thanks so much. xo I think I read Affordable Splendor years ago too. I can even remember the cover. I used to keep a list of all the books I have read. I can’t seem to find it. The next time I am at the library I will check to see it they have it to refresh my memory.

  13. Mine is a piano too, it doesn’t go with my other furniture at all. I finally moved it into the guest bedroom. It’s my mother who won’t let me get rid of it and she doesn’t even live here! Great post, I was watching a rerun of “Frasier” the other day and it was about him wanting to get rid of his father’s ugly recliner!

    1. Hi Dawn –
      I feel for you about the piano. It is a large piece and has to go against a wall so it limits what you can do with it in a room. In my first house after I got married I made a wall of bookshelves around it. It looked pretty good. In this house the wall is too small. Best of luck trying to make it a Jollifier.

    2. Unreal, Dawn, but I actually REMEMBER that episode from when it was aired the first time! Wonder when that was? Oh, I loved that show. …and I love this blog! I’m so glad I discovered it! So much fun to browse around and find wonderful surprises. Diane, thanks for the *specifics*! Very helpful and inspiring!

  14. I have what started out as a mollifier but became a jollifier. We inherited a piece of artwork from my husband’s dad. He died before I ever got to meet him. I know that he was a pretty wonderful man from everything I have heard about him. But even had I not heard any stories about my Father-in-law, I would know that he was a wonderful man just because of what an amazing man/husband his son is. This piece of art is not my taste at all. A woodsy picture of a pack of wolves. The colors are fine so it works. At first I really couldn’t stand it but I knew it meant so much to my husband I didn’t have the heart to not hang it. He lives here too and I want it to feel like his house; like he has a place and isn’t just living in MY house. Well, the more I walk by that painting, the more I look at it and think of my Father-in-law that I never met, the more I love that picture. Now I look at it and say a little thank you to him for raising the man of my dreams.

    1. Hi Sandy – What a wonderful story. I can see what it became a Jollifier for you. What a nice way to have a connection with the father-in-law you never had the chance to meet. I am sure he is smiling down at you from heaven :)

  15. Oh, too many mollifiers in my home to mention! My hubs is stingy when it comes to letting me do our home the way I want to, he feels I need his input (I don’t). I have to say my most hated mollifier is his office right off the kitchen. He works from home full time and the office is always a wreck. I feel like my home has become his shop!

    1. Hi Patti –
      My husband works from home, too until he get re-employed. He is pretty neat, but has taken over the kitchen with all his stuff. Do you have the option to close the door when you don’t want to look at ii?

  16. Catherine In NJ says:

    Dear Diane- Do I have a mollifier?! I have a brick fireplace that begs me everyday to paint it. However, the hubby and kids made me promise never to paint it. Hubby lets me do whatever decorating project I wish, with the exception of that darn fireplace. Anyway, I have a thought. I had seen on a decorating blog a wife who made a sortof “slipcover” out of an inexspensive wood- maybe MDF board or something. You are so talented could you not do the same thing in some way? GOOD LUCK!

    1. Thanks Catherine-

      Sorry to hear you can’t paint your fireplace. I painted mine about 10 years ago. My hubs didn’t even notice :) Maybe your hubs and the kids will understand if you show them lots of beautiful images of painted fireplaces…or have you done that already? Thanks for the idea – I will think on it til I come up with something.

  17. I see I’m not the only one who has a Mollifier TV stand. Mine came from Ikea. I’d love to score an old Asian style armoire. I have seen them reconverted into media centers. I keep my eyes open every time I go thrifting, but no luck yet. I don’t lose hope…

    1. Hi Gloria –
      Don’t lose hope and don’t settle. It will show up when you least expect it -so be ready :)

  18. Hi Diane, thankfully I DO NOT have a Mollifier! Apparently, that makes me a very lucky woman!!! I have friends who have Mollifiers!!!! Okay so now you got me thinking…..maybe my husband has a Mollifier?????

    Tell your husband that I vote for the stained black piano :-).


    1. Thanks Mandy –
      He wouldn’t care if I painted it pink, he justs wants to have a piano in the house because it makes the house feel like a home to him. It does sound nice when someone who knows how to play visits. You are a lucky woman.

  19. Debbie-refreshrestyle says:

    Yes, it’s the exercise equipment that doesn’t get used, but he wants to keep! I cringe!

    1. Hi Debbie-

      That is a big one,especially if it gets in the way or becomes a place to hang clothes. I had a client a few years ago whose husband had a huge treadmill right in the kitchen so he could see the TV when working out. Know that you are not alone.

  20. Carol-Anne says:

    My husband loves this wood office chair….and really, it’s not a BAD chair…but I hate it! Or at least I think it would look great if it was painted and he won’t hear of it!

    So for the moment, I’m putting a lovely colourful pillow on it. Which he throws on the floor ever time he sits on the chair.

    Luckily he’s such a good guy, he’s worth the ugly chair.

    1. Hi Carol-Anne-

      Mine is worth the piano, too. Is the wood chair like the kind they sell in Pottery Barn? That fact that it is brown probably throws off your cheery color filled home.

  21. ha ha ha ha I laughed so hard at this! Mollifier!! What a lovely name for something you hate! ha ha ha ha I do have Mollifiers….my husband wanted to keep pictures that use to hang on his wall when he was a teen and single! There is only one left in sight….The others have some how found a new home behind the couch! (wink) I am not sure how???? ha ha ha ha ha We are renting now, but soon enough I am hoping we will have our own home and they could go in his space…like the garage or shop or even an play room??!! (wink)

    1. Hi Lisa-

      That sounds like the perfect place – the garage, basement or shop. Tell him it will make the area more homey :) When I first got married my hubs had all his golf trophies lining the mantel. First thing I did was box them up and sent them to the attic. Later I took all the little metal plaques off of them and make a scrapbook for him so he would have a keepsake. The trophies then went into the trash.

  22. Our tv stand!! Ugh I’ve been searching and thrifting high and low for a replacement but no dice yet. This book is on my wish list!

    1. Hi Holly-

      We need to plan a thrifting day soon.

  23. Erin @ Out on A Limb... says:

    I most certainly do have a mollifier! I was just trying to convince my hubs to send his beloved espresso leather (possibly pleather) love seat to the basement when it gets renovated soon. I’d much rather have a white slipcovered or beautifully upholstered pair of club chairs its place, but no dice. He makes so few requests, it must stay, therefore, it’s my mollifier.

    I loved this post, because in real decorating, in our real homes, these are our challenges. I also loved what you did with the piano bench!

    I will share pics of my mollifier! Thanks for keeping it real. I may have to put Deborah Needleman’s book on my wishlist.

    Have a great week.

    1. Hi Erin –
      Thanks. Maybe when your hubs sees the basement all finished, he may love it so much that he wants the chair down there. I would keep my fingers crossed.

  24. Staining Wood says:

    Not in our home but as a yard ornament we have a wishing well. Its huge and although our yard space is as well I really just cant stand it. My husband made it and although I tried to sell it (yup I really wanted someone, anyone else to take it) but like I said its not one you can just throw in the back of a car trunk. So Ive installed a rock wall around it, Ivy, a fence, cute DIY bird house and many, many other plants and such to try and make it Jollifier! I’m the one doing the upkeep and still I’m not in love with it yet:(

    1. It sounds like you are doing your best to make it a Jollifier by adding the plants and birhouses. Do flowers make it look any better?

  25. Paula Pierce says:

    My husband has an office space now, so all the mollifiers get to go in there. . . where someone can really appreciate them! ( I guess I’m sort of cheating there). Thanks for the ideas on creating contrast. I’m really struggling in my cream on cream on beige living room.

    1. Hi Paula –
      You are lucky that you can channel all of your mollifiers to one room. :) As far as working with the neutral color scheme I would search for images of neutral rooms on sites like House,, and I am sure you will find the inspiration needed to help bring the room together. When decorating a neutral room try adding lots of different textures – rough, shiny, metallic, stone, woven, glass, etc. That is what will help make it all come together.