When I flick through home mags I always breeze over the styled sets. They grab my attention because that’s what they’re designed to do but I don’t want to linger there and absorb and analyse and daydream about the space. It is the real homes that hook me and have me hanging around because they appear lived-in, layered and indicate an evolving and natural decorating process, which is so much more fun than a curated set.
1. Collect and collate
Our own home is incomplete and imperfect. We don’t even have drawer fronts on all our kitchen cabinets and we have cables hanging out of walls but what I do have is interesting vignettes scattered throughout the home that visitors love to observe and take in.
I love displaying items I have picked up in my travels, even if it is merely an item I have nabbed from a flea market while camping a couple of hours South. When I look at these pieces they always stir memories of being in another place and time and always evoke a good feeling. It is so much more satisfying filling your home with objects that tell a story as opposed to what you may purchase, half price, from a large chain store.
2. Show your strengths
I am not crafty. I never have been and I don’t have the patience for fiddly projects. There are so many people who are clever and crafty so if you are one of them don’t take for granted your skill. If you own a staple gun update you bedhead, armchair, or dining chairs at the cost of the fabric only. Competent sewers should consider recovering lampshades, cushion covers and whipping up some curtains. You might have a knack at photography or be a gifted artist. Here again, don’t undervalue your skills (I draw like a 5 year old). Instead, consider creating some pieces for your wall. You will be updating your space at a low cost and can also have the satisfaction of knowing it is the result of your own handy work.
3. Personalise it
Displaying photos in the house is a no-brainer for personalising your home but how you do it can make or break your space. Group photos together to create a gallery wall for an effective contemporary look. Avoid using small photos which can get lost on the wall and create clutter.
Similarly, your book collection is uniquely yours so empty your books out of their storage boxes and display them in your home. Whether stacked on bookshelves, piled in a tower on the floor or plumping up a vignette, books are an ideal way to personalise your space.
4. Go green
Greenery in the home provides life and while some will argue this, we all need more plants in our interiors. A large plant is an ideal way to fill out a corner and there’s no reason to stop at one. A collection of different plants in varying heights and in varying pots creates interest, lushness, and vitality.
5. Be a big softy
A home to me should be a like a big fuzzy bear hug – a place you feel comfortable and at ease. Pay special attention to the soft furnishings in your home to simply soften up your space. Cushions, rugs, curtains, bed quilts, and towels, are those pieces that create a layered, welcoming, and homely look and feel. And strive for diversity in your materials and patterns to create added interest.
6. Play, play, play
When styling any space be willing to play around with your furnishings until you can stand back and feel a sense of pride and satisfaction. There are interior styling ‘rules’ which you can apply to help you in the process but it is largely intuitive and requires a lot of play. Add, delete, shift, delete, shift add, add, shift, delete. I suggest, waiting until you’re home alone, playing your fav tunes, getting in the zone, and then play, play, play away.
7. Shop far and wide
It might be time to step out of your comfort zone and seek out some new fun and interesting furniture and homewares retailers. Not only can discovering new suppliers provide a fresh source of inspiration but often the more diversely you shop, the more diverse your space becomes. And don’t be afraid of second hand stores and antique dealers, it is always the most obscure pieces in my home that make me happiest.
8. Hang it on your wall
You’d be surprised to know what I will hang on my walls. Art and mirrors are, certainly but I also hang much-loved pieces of clothing to create colour, interest and reflect a little piece of me. One of those pieces of clothing is a cherished red silk Kimono that the Michael brought me home from Japan, over ten years ago. I also display a striking ballroom skirt that I paid far to much for and which has been worn only once. In my children’s rooms, I hang pieces of clothing painstakingly and lovingly crocheted by my late Grandmother. You will never tire of items that you love for sentimental reasons.
Interior design imagery is so widespread and accessible to us that it’s not hard to be overwhelmed by the huge range of design styles and furnishing options available to us.
Your home is not a styled set and nor should it look like a show home. Your house is your home and it is yours. Let it be a extension of you and it will always feel right.