Because we all buy home furnishings from many of the same retail stores, it can be a challenge to make your home look unique. Sure, those pictures in the Pottery Barn catalog look nice, but who wants to live in a catalog? I believe your home, like your wardrobe, should be a reflection of your unique personality and style, so that when someone walks in they know exactly who lives there. So how do you accomplish that? Here are some ways you can create a space that is unmistakably you:
1. Screw the trends – The life cycle of home decorating trends is becoming shorter and shorter as retailers push cheap, disposable products on us. Gone are the days of buying one high-quality living room set in a lifetime. It’s easy to succumb to shiny object syndrome when shopping, but resist the temptation to buy things just because they are new. Instead, take the time to make a design plan for your home and evaluate each new purchase to make sure it fits.
Even though I design for a living, I make new purchases for my own home very infrequently. When I do buy something I make sure it is a piece I love and can see myself keeping for many years. For example, I was in need of additional lighting for my living room for some time, but I held out until I came across this pair of vintage lamps that are perfect for my space. Because I am really happy with the items I have, I’m less tempted to buy all the new stuff I see when I’m out shopping.
2. Use your favorite colors – Colors in home decorating go in and out of style quickly, just as they do in fashion. There is an entire industry dedicated to predicting and shaping the palettes that will be coming soon to a store near you. If you enjoy the colors that are currently in vogue, by all means use them, but know that there will be something new coming down the line in a few years. Why not buck the trends, though, and just decorate with your favorites? They might not be "in" at the moment, but they will make you feel good in your space.
I love the color orange, so much so that I chose it for my business branding. I have a little bit of orange in every room in my home, and I appreciate the bright pop it provides. A client of mine loves purple, and she decided on a custom sofa for her living room in a gorgeous dusty purple fabric. It is beautiful, and there is no mistaking that it’s her house when you walk in!
3. Display your sentimental items – You know all those mementos that are tucked away in a closet somewhere? Why not bring some of them out and let them be a regular reminder of the people and places that are most memorable to you? Photos are an obvious way to do this, but you can think outside the box and display objects from your travels, heirloom pieces, and even everyday items that remind you of special people.
I keep several things on display that belonged to my dad, including his Army-issued hat and a framed first day cover honoring Vietnam veterans (he was a stamp collector as well). He used to tell me he was the only one who looked good in that hat because of his huge head, and his drill instructor gave him a hard time because of it.
4. Celebrate your interests and fandoms – You will almost never see a photo on an interior design website that includes a collection of Star Wars action figures or Harry Potter books, but I think it’s important to celebrate those pieces of pop culture that you love. To keep your home from looking like a theme park, try mixing in a few items here and there or limit your collection to a single shelf or tabletop.
Most people who know me are aware of my love for 80s music and especially the band Duran Duran. I keep a few of their buttons on a side table and have one of my old posters from back in the day framed and on display in my powder room. My guests might think it’s weird, but it makes me smile in the mornings to do my hair and makeup under their perfectly-coiffed gaze.
5. Shop secondhand – I talk about decorating with vintage furnishings often, and that’s because there are so many good reasons for it. You can get better quality pieces for a fraction of what they would cost new, and you are keeping them out of the landfill. Mixing some secondhand pieces into your decor means you will always have a space that is uniquely yours.
When I was moving into my current home I scoured local secondhand shops and online sites for an unusual dining set. I was thrilled to discover this chrome and glass number that had been reupholstered in leopard print on Craigslist for a great price. I have yet to see anything similar in another home, and I probably never will!
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Make it fab!