Make a house a home - Furnish with texture and colour
There is more to turning a space into a home. Creating a comfortable home is a very personal process, and each home reflects the owner's personality and interests. Or at least it should. How can you create your own favourite place to be? When you furnish with texture and colour in mind, you create comfort. Add in a good dose of personality, memories and a bunch of your favourite things... That's what a home should look like.
This is a realistic guide to creating those spaces where you just love to sit. Whether it's a workspace, a place to relax or a place to sleep. You should love to be there. Here's how!
A home is not a perfect place
Nor is it always tidy
Don't get me wrong, I love a nicely styled home. It's great to take inspiration from glossy images where everything is perfectly placed and coordinated. But it's not realistic to expect your home to always look like that. A real home is a place where you feel relaxed. If you're like me, then you find it easier to relax when there isn't a pile of dishes in the sink, and the kids toys are out of sight. But these things are an easy fix. Give the kids a box, big enough for a few toys. Those boxes can live on a low shelf so that it's easy to get them out of the way. The washing up... Well, that's what a dishwasher is for isn't it! Our house is rarely tidy. We're a family of four, each with our own interests, one of the few things we all have in common is an ability to not see the mess until we're tripping over it. But our chaos is our home, and not the other way round. Those things are our things, they make our house in to our home.
Granted, when the kids are in bed we take 10 minutes to reset everything so that we can relax and enjoy a more grown-up space in peace. Then it all starts again at 7am the next day. The mess, the noise, the crumbs, the tripping over each other, that's what makes our house into our home.
My definition of a home is 'the place where you can really be yourself'.
It's a space that is filled with the things that make you most comfortable. Possessions can trigger our emotional memory and bring us back to events that had an effect on our lives. These memory 'triggers' are often items of little significance to others - an old ticket to the concert where you met your partner, a hand-written recipe for you Grandma's homemade raspberry jam, a handmade cup that you bought from a favourite artisan. I also believe that handmade items, be it ceramics, art, furniture or jewellery have a special energy to them. Buying handmade products gives an all-round more pleasurable experience, one that also lasts longer, especially when on display.
Your things & you
We all have items that we have kept for a long time, things that we just can't part with. Items with a story, that remind us of happy times, sad times, times when we learned, triumphed or made big decisions. These pieces should not be in a shoebox in the back of the closet. They should be where you can see them because they are part of your life story. Now, obviously we don't want everything on display. But decoration doesn't always have to be pretty, it can also be interesting.
Find those things!
Look for the things that mean the most and that really give you a sense of who you are when you look at them. These are the perfect finishing touches to a space that will reflect and embrace you. When you're planning your room make sure to include a place to put these items. This could be a shelf, a display case or you might choose to spread them out around the room. Maybe you can even frame some of them and hang them on a wall, or arrange a vignette.
Furnish with texture and colour, it's not just about rugs you know!
What else can you use to build texture into your room? When we talk about texture, we're talking about layers of furnishings, decorations and even plants that create the whole aesthetic. Below I have written up my Five Layers of Comfort which you can use to create your perfect space. Plan each layer, starting with your base layer of floor and wall finishes, then move through each layer, writing down what you already have, and what you need to purchase. Remember to look for local craft markets and vintage stores for unique good-quality items for your room.
The five layers of comfort
(Base layer: Floor, walls, wall colour)
Layer 1: Necessary furniture (room for room)
Bedroom - Bed, wardrobe
Living room - Sofa, TV-bench, coffee table
Kitchen - Appliances, bench
Entrance/ hallway - Shoe rack, storage
Dining room - Table, chairs
Office - Desk, chair
Layer two - Additional furniture
This is your extra storage if you need it, wall hung or free-standing shelves, cupboards, and extra tables.
Layer three - Soft furnishings
Rugs, cushions, footrests, wall hangings, plants and flowers, blankets.
Layer four - Decoration
Pictures and art, vases, ceramics, sculptures, collectables, memorabilia.
Layer five - Ambience
Lamps and candles.
An empty room is essentially a blank canvas. Even to a seasoned artist, being faced with a blank canvas can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Where to start? What's the theme? Where is my inspiration? Colour palette? Style? Mood? purpose? Function? Ahhhhhhhh!
Time to be pragmatic
These cushions are designed and handmade by Alexia Lundgreen
Unlike a canvas, most rooms have an underlying function. A sitting room needs something to sit on, an office needs a desk. Start with these pieces and work outwards. Use the list above to create a plan of what you already have, and what you need to supplement with. You don't need all the items on the list. Choose a few items from levels 2-5, working with what you already have first. Remember to include those personal pieces in your level 4 items.
If you already have a sofa that you're going to keep then what colour is it? What colour compliment that? Is it patterned? What colours are in the pattern? Is the furniture neutral? Or does it make a bold statement? It's not about matching everything to the same palette always, you'll need some focal points too, points of interest that draw the eye. These can stand out and be brighter, bolder and include contrasting colours.
A bright or interest painting on the wall that captures the attention as you walk in the room, or a set of cushions that contrast with the sofa. These are good examples of focal points. Check out local creative communities like Handmade in Norway, Blank Space and Kunst i Kvadraturen / Oslo Art District, where you can contact local artists and artisans to purchase bespoke design and art pieces.
the mess -hiding things when necessary
Ok, so this might only apply to me, but I do have to incorporate hiding places into each room. These are the baskets, boxes, drawers where I can quickly stash the mess when there's an unexpected visitor knocking on the door. If you understand what I'm talking about then make sure to include these in your room. You won't regret it.
The finishing touches
Adding personality to your room, whichever room it may be, will make it a place where you really want to hang out. If you have a favourite painting then put it where it will be noticed. Display that collection of favourite things and memory triggers where you can see them. Once your room is finished you will find yourself looking at them and reminiscing. You'll be pleased that they're there to remind you of your experiences.
Balancing your room is important - you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to interior design. So as you furnish with texture and colour, remember to practice a little reserve. You will find new favourite possessions as time goes by. So allow for the space to grow and evolve, just as you will.
A safe haven in a hectic world
Having places to relax and renew your energy is essential in this hectic and sometimes overwhelming society that we live in. Days are filled with so many things that have to be done, that we often forget that as sentient and emotional beings we need calm to process our experiences. By creating a safe haven for yourself you are giving yourself the opportunity to seize those precious moments more quickly and easily settle into a relaxed state.
I'm sitting at home. We're in our second week of Corona lockdown and I'm grateful for all the things around me that remind me of who I am. We're tackling a global pandemic that has a universal effect on our lives. We're cut off from society and our homes have become a sanctuary from an invisible enemy that lives all around us. My heart goes out to those that have experienced loss due to the COVID-19 virus. People are losing their lives, businesses are closing, livelihoods lost and uncertainty is looming upon many.
As I write I am struck by the thought that writing about interior design is maybe not so important right now. It's not going to make the world a better place. It certainly won't take away the sorrow and horror of what we are experiencing. Never the less I am choosing to publish this article. These articles are published to offer inspiration, and I feel that any positivity and inspiration we can put out into the world now is a good thing. I also use my articles to promote local creative businesses. So by publishing this piece, I hope that there will be a ripple effect. I hope that readers will utilise the links I have added here to go visit the makers and creatives that I feature and help to keep these small businesses alive in a time when many are closing their doors for good.
I hope that you have enjoyed ready this article, and that you feel inspired to create your own spaces using my five layer approach. As you hunt for fabulous things to fill your spaces with please remember to support local businesses wherever you live.
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