It’s an exciting time to be alive. The internet teems with ideas and worldviews that surprise and delight us constantly.
We’re in the age of open individualism. We see so much into average people’s lives now, and their lives are so different from what we’d been shown in oh-so-white traditional media before the web’s explosion.
Now, individualism is almost omnipresent. Everywhere we go, people are “characters” and spaces are becoming more unique and funky.
Quirky, creative homes now capture our imagination and give us permission to break a few rules and explore new styles. More of us are inspired to live in homes that evoke our personality.
Now, the home is becoming a reflection of who we are, not just where we are, and we’re almost beyond old style boundaries, in a new world where creativity is sought and celebrated.
Snapshots of Who We Are, Even for Just a While
Before the web really exploded, I was a bookseller when the book Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living came out. I’d never seen such creative, personal-looking spaces, albeit spaces that weren’t necessarily for me, but they made me think I too wanted something that similarly made people feel like they knew me better just by entering my home.
My home became bright, chaotic, filled with whole worlds of ideas, and really reflected who I was. Now, it’s all neutral sand tones and subtle art, because that’s the place I’m in, emotionally, these days. Both homes have said a lot about who I am, and that’s what personal decorating should do — unlike traditional decor, which is mean to speak to a style and a history rather than a person.
To approach decor in a personal way, you really need to know what you like. You’re the star of this show.
Coming Soon: Style by Narcissus
Who are you? Are you an eccentric person with a penchant for collecting, a large book collection, and a ‘50s furniture fetish? Well, things might seem a little unruly to the outside observer if you really decorate in a way that speaks to you, but who cares? You’ll probably enjoy being surrounded by your books, collections, and fantastically pop ‘50s stuff, so that sounds like a win to me, and we like winning.
Your home is for you. Only you. Not your guests. Screw ’em! They’re lucky if they get a clean chair and a tasty cheese plate. What is this, the Best Western?
Decorate for you. Period. And you know what the amusing byproduct of a truly personal-looking home is? It’s GREAT for conversations if you’re hosting parties. When you design more for you, it draws people in with questions and comments.
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Besides, there’s another great thing: It’s risk-free. If you don’t like it, you can always buy another can of paint. Big whoop.
While you can redecorate if things go awry, it’d be ideal if you got it right on the first try. The best thing to do is to know your space, and to look for ideas.
So, what works for you? What colors wake you up? What kinds of spaces make you go “Ooh”? Do you know, or do you need to find ideas?
Movies and TV are a great place to start. Pay attention to set decor, look for design ideas, how they decorate around select items. Check out magazines that suit your style, search the web.
Pay attention to the kinds of places that make you feel like you’d like to drink tea in that chair, have a meal in that dining room, or a long tub soak in that bathroom.
Decorating affects us on a visceral level. We can feel it. A room can be calming, relaxing, inspiring, frustrating, distracting, or engaging. It’s up to us to set the mood.
We have to figure out how we want to feel at home, and it’s time we stop worrying whether works for other people, when it’s us who’s living in it.
Embrace color. Shun color. Fill your space with fabrics and textiles for a rich, elaborate feel, or embrace minimalism with wood, leather, and steel. Make your place timeless and flexible, or celebrate ‘60s counter-culture.
Go with the Gut and the Heart will Follow
There are no rules anymore.
There are philosophies, but not many rules.
Probably the most important philosophy to respect, while embracing who you are, exploring colors, mixing textiles, combining eras, is how important it is to remember that function matters as much as appeal. Today, spaces are tighter and/or more cluttered. Design can solve so many space issues through clever products. Use smart products and space-saving solutions to at least give yourself more flexibility for handling the remainder of the project.
The rest of the time, it’s pretty simple. Surround yourself with things you love, and you probably won’t go wrong. Besides, going wrong means knowing how to get it right a little more easily next time.
If you’re not confident, then there’s no need to dive right in. Maybe pick a wall color that’s evocative for you, do the painting, and live with it while you look for accessories to play off the wall color. Or do the reverse — find a set of curtains that BLOW YOUR MIND and then decorate around it and pull details from those curtains or whatever your mind-blown item is.
Similarly, a childhood photo or an artwork that really makes your heart sing can be a focal point from which you can draw inspiration for colors and accessories too.
Just One Thing
Start somewhere. Find one item that really, really connects for you — a memento, a book, a photo, a pillow — and build out from there. It’s easier when you grow into a personal design rather than trying to solve it all at once, especially if you’re somewhat intimidated by the task.
We’re only now really embracing personal decorating in ways that make us feel alive, safe, inspired, and comfortable with who we are and where we are in life. So many of us are unsure of what (or who) that means, but there’s no reason to be scared of it. We can learn a lot about ourselves while trying to find our true decor passion. It’s a journey, so seize the moment and enjoy the ride.
This age of the individual is a really fun time to be alive. Embrace it, play with it, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll love living in it, since it’ll be one space on the planet that truly is entirely about you.