How to Personalize a Home without Breaking the Bank
“Great design describes inanimate things (objects, spaces) that inspire human attachment,” says Marco Pasanella, designer, teacher, and author of Living in Style without Losing Your Mind (Simon & Schuster).
“It’s personal. It resonates. It enthralls. Truly great design is what you would carry out of your house if it were burning down.”
To illustrate, the book includes a photo of the author’s mantel that holds a photograph of the author snapped moments after his birth, a glass urinal that actually could be mistaken for a vase, and a stuffed goldfish mounted on a piece of wood.
Perhaps some of those personal items that are packed away or hidden in photo albums could be brought out and displayed to give the home a personal touch that no one else can claim.
Items that Resonate with Personality
- Family photos in interesting frames, grouped together or hung together on the wall
- Trophies won in high school, whether academic or athletic
- Knick-knacks bought at now-defunct theme parks that were visited whilst in elementary school
- Favourite childhood books
- A favourite chess or checker set, or a Scrabble board set up on a dedicated table with chairs, ready for play
What great design is not is a lot of clutter around the house. Great design displays those items that truly matter to the owner and reflect that person’s life and loves and yes, even losses (for example, a writer might have a notebook or display of rejection letters).
“Great design, one should keep in mind, is often so well designed as not to seem designed at all,” Pasanella says.
He suggests that William Strunk and E.B. White’s classic Elements of Style (Allyn & Bacon, Fourth Edition) applies to great design just as easily as it applies to grammar.
For example, the book suggests working from a suitable design.
“Do the same at home,” Pasanella says. “Decide what’s important and go about it in a methodical way. Style is important. A style is not.”
Mixing Practical with Personal
Also, do not be afraid to mix the utilitarian with the decorative, or make furniture multitask. If there is a pot rack in the kitchen, hang photographs up along with the pots, Pasanella says.
“The practical doesn’t have to compromise the personal,” he adds.
Great design is not limited to high-paid designers or a few exceptionally talented individuals. Everyone can have a home that reflects their personality and their life if they do not try too hard.
The key is to focus on what is important, on what is loved, and then highlight that, without a thought or worry for the opinions of others.
Great design takes a chance, but living a life full of meaning also means a life full of chances taken, opportunities reached for, and lessons learned.
Fill rooms with beloved, mismatched furniture, a few special items, and no one else in the world can claim it. It will be unique, and it will be beautiful to behold.
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