May 3, 2011

How to personalize your home.

When you're looking for ways to personalize your space you think of 
accessories, fabrics, colors, and a particular style of furniture. These are the items that reflect what you like, who you are, and ground you when you look around. Here are some easy ways to create spaces that are uniquely yours:

1) De-clutter but keep the signs of life.  You don't need to HIDE all of the magazines, mail, and photos that you like and use.  Instead, keep them tidy and collected so that they look nice as well as usable.  I suggest baskets, wrapped boxes, magazine holders, and even wooden boxes to hold AND display these items well.  Since photos are a reminder of the good times you have, DO use them as decor. You shouldn't need to see 15 of the same trip, however, so limit the number you keep on display and place them in one designated area of a room. Use like frames in the same material or two materials, and stick to one palette to keep things uniform.

2) Warm it up.  Wicker and wood items are a great way to personalize your home.  Wooden candlesticks often show heritage. A great antique sewing table can inspire you every day.  Baskets on shelves, under console tables, a coffee table surface, and in storage areas are pleasing and organized.

3) Add architectural elements. One of the easiest ways to do this is with shelves. Shelves add detail and enable you to add other elements and items you collect.  In a bath, add a glass shelf with a towel bar and gather a favored collection...double-duty if they can store tissues, cotton swabs and soaps!  If you love cottage homes, collect books on the subject and use them on your coffee table, sideboard and shelves. Books reflect what you like and immediately personalize your home. Moldings are a simple way to dress up walls, and invite a sense of tradition and formality.

4) Make it comfortable.  When you add nurturing details, you and your guests feel wonderful.  Even if it's just for yourself, keep a drink tray handy for quick water, ice and other beverages. You can leave decorative glasses, an ice bucket, decanters or pitchers and even drink mixes on display for a welcoming feel.  Keeping your sofa cozy-looking is inviting for everyone,  Add a throw and pillows to entice people to sit down.  Bring in area rugs for seating groups to create warmth and softness. Inexpensive sisal in spring and summer pairs with almost any style furniture and a wool or wool-blend area rug in fall and winter will create a cozy, comfortable grouping.

5) Add scent. There are many theories on using scents in your home. The smell of freshly baked bread and cookies can be as appealing as a crisp, clean scent. Realtors often use scent to make homes more attractive. Burn scented candles - even flameless ones are now scented - spritz beds with some linen water, use room sprays and other scent products to capture your specific fragrance.  Fresh flowers are wonderful and bringing in seasonal flowers and boughs is as decorative as they are refreshing.

Layered lighting in a kitchen - pot lights, pendants and LED under cabinet.
6) Light creates mood. I have always been an advocate of great lighting design to bring the right look and feel to spaces.  Layering sources of light is a favorite of mine - even using LED and fluorescent for energy savings. Placing overhead lights - "can"  or "pot" lights, chandeliers, and pendants - on dimmers will create instant ambiance for about $20. Changing the shades on table lamps can make them more interesting, and adding lamps to dark corners is a good idea.  To keep energy costs down, be sure to use compact fluorescent bulbs!

7) Arrange it well.  When you create seating groups that invite conversation, you also personalize your spaces.  Angles give away your lively, creative personality while symmetric arrangements speak to a formal, traditional style. Be sure you don't have too many pieces in your grouping; it's nice to have more than one walkway to and from the area.  Tables can serves as a place to display selected items, and to place lamps for ambiance.