I can't even count how many times I have walked into a home that is more like a hotel room than a live-in space! The furniture, fashionable and gracious, the bed impeccably made and the bathroom luxurious... but absent are the personal touches, knickknacks, and most importantly, picture frames.
Decorating your home with snapshots of your life is the simplest and easiest way to bring some personality into your space. Place a few on an entrance table, atop your fireplace mantle, or peppering your bookshelves. Vary your display with different-sized photos and distinct frames. Think: sterling silver, beautiful mahogany, a mosaic of shells and coconut husks. I love to personalize my bedside table with a few photos of my loved ones -- nothing says good morning and bids goodnight more beautifully than wonderful images of my loved ones.
Personal Mementos and Collections
Another way to bring a sense of "you" into your home is by showcasing some personal mementos and collections. This can be daunting for some, especially for the non-hoarders (oh, how I admire you!) who like to purge seemingly superfluous trinkets they see as dust collectors. But to those readers, I urge you to keep (at least) a few personal effects that you absolutely love. Whether it's a collection of shells or stones you pick up on the beach, a glass jar filled with matches from your whereabouts, or hand-painted pillboxes and perfume bottles.
For the avid collector and builder, showcase your latest creations of model cars or sailboats on your living room sideboard or bookshelves.
Corkboards and Bulletin Boards
It's simple: Homes should look lived in. They should display the details in your life: invitations and postcards received, magazine cutouts and inspirations, and your children's calendars. My preferred way to display all my occurrences, events, and even cleaning invoices is a by pinning them up on a bulletin board. I love corkboards so much that I actually have two -- one hanging by my front door and the other by my desk. I can therefore separate my life and work affairs into two separate boards!
I absolutely love this idea of putting two large corkboard strips flanking a bed of a teen's room. It is such a fun and unexpected location for the board, but I think it works really well there. If you're looking for a next DIY project, consider creating a bulletin board for you or your child's room.
My mother used to tell me that I was a Gypsy in my past life -- anything bohemian, colorful, and full of pattern and texture always drew my eye. So as you can expect, my home is filled with lots of artsy accents: mismatching pillows and rugs, bold color walls, and offbeat lighting.
Even if you are not as daring as I, an easy way to incorporate some spirit and vitality into your home is with accent pillows. Brightening up your couch, reading chair, or bed with some pillows makes the space feel more lived in, more used. If using lots of color isn't your trait, you can use pillows made out of natural fibers and in natural colors.
Libraries are my favorite rooms in a home -- if you have the room for one. Being a twentysomething living in New York, I can't even fit all my shoes in my closet, let alone have a library! However, I was able to hang some floating shelves on an empty wall and fill them up with my favorite books -- and that's good enough for me!
Having books around the home make the space feel more personal and warm. The titles all speak about your personality, your interests and passions. My bookshelf, for example, is filled with a hundred pages of interior design, art, flowers, and travels. It is a real luxury to be able to have a library to showcase your favorite books, but if you're in a similar situation like mine, a DIY floating shelf works perfectly too.
I like to layer accessories on top of accessories -- bracelets on top of bracelets, place mats on top of tablecloths, and rugs on top of rugs. Area rugs bring lots of life into a space, and I especially love to put them in unexpected places. Rugs in breakfast nooks, entrance halls, or kitchens are a delight to see. In the living room, I like layering various rugs of different sizes. Rugs bring together all the elements of the space, allowing the furniture to seem grounded rather than floating in space -- that's why they are one of the most universally beloved home-decor ideas.
With interiors, a little greenery goes a long way. Adding a live plant into your home literally brings life into the space and, in my opinion, looks amazing. Maintaining plants indoors can certainly be tricky, but there are lots of varieties that thrive indoors. Even if you don't have space for a tree, a coffee table adorned with orchids or a snake plant looks much more... alive!
Everyone knows that candles create the most romantic, warm, and cozy ambience -- and who would not want that in their home? An arrangement of candles in places like the dining room, on top of your fireplace's mantle or suspended on a bathroom wall makes such a dramatic impact!
Mood lighting comes not from overhead lighting but from lamps -- floor lamps or table lamps -- that have a dimmer. I love when homes feature lamps made out of unconventional objects like old milk jars or tea cans, old Chinese blue-and-white vases, or even reclaimed pieces of wood. Etsy is a great resource for unique lamps.
Walls should reflect what's going on inside a resident's soul: her tastes, her passions, and her interests. I believe that there is no such thing as too much art on the wall, and I am particularly drawn to mixing periods of art -- contemporary drawings with seventeenth-century oils and even finger-paint masterpieces given to me by my nieces and nephews! Here are some gallery wall ideas for you to try.