"With all the decorative ornaments available today—from the local dollar store to Sotheby’s, one would think that all homes would display interesting character. Alas—so often, this is not the case. Maybe one, maybe two or three living rooms along a whole block demonstrate a look beyond the ordinary couch / love seat combo. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily take much money to change your décor style into one that interests and enchants all who see—it takes transitioning; that is, funneling your own interests into the look of the house.
To help you get started, first consider your own collections, or rather, the stuff you’ve got. This might include an array of colored glass bottles, a half dozen bag of seashells, a couple beaded lamp shades, an alabaster bust of Abraham Lincoln, vintage tablecloths, china teacups, a farm’s worth of basketry and roughly thirty mismatched picture frames. Sound remotely familiar? No matter what you’ve got, all your stuff can help tie a room together to give it visual appeal and a character all its own.
Character may take time to evolve, but you can deal with it most easily going room by room. Begin with a small room like the master bathroom or a powder room. Bathrooms seem like the obvious place for those seashells, but before you line them along the window sill, consider a slightly different alternative to the expected “sea” theme with its fish print shower curtain and whale-tail toothbrush holder. Instead, think of other items you may have or may wish to purchase to transform your bathroom into a room with naturalist charm.
What, you may be wondering, constitutes naturalist charm? Why a wide array of props and pieces that might ultimately include: a free-standing bathtub on a platform of rustic wood planks, a glass frame of rare butterflies or autumn leaves, fossils in plaster or their images carved into countertops or tiles (great wall hangings too), rock crystals and earthy mineral stones, coral, driftwood and plants. The bathroom is a great place to introduce natural props and features—you may wind up feeling like you’re bathing in a forest stream if you stick to this theme and it’s far more elegant than decorating with plastic lighthouses and seashell wall paper.
Of course, you might want to begin at the beginning of your house, where guests get their first impressions of you home. The foyer need not go the expected route—welcome mat, table, picture, blah! Ok, maybe you really have a thing for Thomas Kinkade landscapes. So be it. However, if you want to spice it up and make your guests stop in their tracks simply to look around, consider a more interesting welcome for this area. Of course, there’s being brave and really going off the deep end—but either way, original character is what you will attain.
As this is a small area—think smaller collections. Instead of that single large picture, think of adding lots of small frames. In fact, deck your hall with all those mismatched frames you have in the basement and fill with antique postcards. Old foreign postcards can be found in stacks at local flea markets or online for a couple bucks. You can line your foyer from floor to ceiling with this most interesting collection of memorabilia. If this is too cluttered a look for you, consider something novel like a foyer in the Chinois Chinese) style—a black lacquer writing table, an Oriental tapestry or map of the South China Sea on the wall, a Taiwanese lantern and an imitation Ming vase.
You can spice up the look of your kitchen by focusing on a favorite era of style. This might be the 1950’s diner look or the 1900 cafes of Paris. Naturally, you’ll want to shop accordingly—a chrome kitchen table with vinyl topped stools for the fifties look and Moulin Rouge and French Wine posters for the Parisian showplace. Whatever you choose, have fun bringing out your personality with your design choices. If you are queen in your kitchen, hang a floor to ceiling print of Queen Elizabeth and ornament your realm with Renaissance ornaments like finely-wrought basketry, symbols of heraldry, tin dishes and heavy glass goblets.
Again, sometimes it helps to take your design cues from stuff you’ve already got. If you inherited a great Majolica collection, play up its colors—make it the grand attraction of the room. Bring your garden into the room with romantic sprigs of dried bouquets and vegetables hung throughout. Ornamentation that is interesting to you will inevitably prove interesting to others.
Larger rooms will simply allow more space for conveying your interesting style. Transform your living with your collection of pencil and charcoal illustrations, your Native American collection, your library of leather bound books. If the golden age of room is your thing—transform your T.V. room or basement with glamorous images of MGM. Character can even be had by sticking to one color and its varying shades. Have dinner in the red room—a dining decked out with ruby red dishes, garnet colored chandeliers and rose wall paper.
Decorating your home is all about surrounding yourself with a look you love. Character and personality come from you—a good designer may help you reveal interesting traits about yourself, but you and your tastes will ultimately be the best inspiration for décor that interests and appeals!
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