By Bianca Tzatzagos
Don’t let your home succumb to fashion fads or cliché or mediocrity – make it a space that thrills you to the core. The best part? It’s sure to cost less than you’d think.
- Reclaim, reuse, repurpose. We’re not just talking about building furniture out of shipping pallets (almost a cliché itself nowadays!) or recycling jars as food storage (the hallmark of every current hipster café). This is about taking a look around your home and reassessing each object for its worth, its appeal, and its function. Maybe you can’t bear to throw away your ancient library bag from primary school – why not hang it from a hook in the kitchen and use it to store the shopping bags? Or what about that soup tureen you received as a wedding gift and never used: why not plant it with succulents or herbs and display it outside? Take simple steps to reimagine the things you already have filling your precious storage space. Bring them new life and in turn they’ll bring new life to your home.
- Avoid theme decorating. “French Provincial” is fine if you live in a villa in Provence and have access to scores of genuine antiques. Likewise, an all-out mid-century home is great if you are living in a mod bungalow – in the 1950s! But in any other scenario, it’s definitely best to pick and choose. Life isn’t a theme park, and nor is your home. Most of us have to accept the architectural period of our homes, whether it’s federation style or art deco or contemporary. And while it’s great to embrace those original features, don’t to be too rigid with carrying that theme into your decorating – or you’ll risk tiring of it quicker than you can say “shabby chic”.
- Mix it up. See point 2 for why! Don’t just mix decorating eras, but mix vintage and new too. If you only have old things, your place can end up looking like a junk shop (or your grandmother’s house). All new, and it will look like a furniture catalogue. Crucially though, you should only choose pieces that feel right to you. “Eclectic”, after all, has become one of the biggest decorating clichés of all. Don’t choose an ultra-modern chair to pair with your antique desk just because you want a dramatic contrast. Mixing can be as simple as pairing a classic bentwood dining chair with a simple flat-pack desk.
- Be authentic. Learn to listen to your gut (or your heart – whatever’s speaking the loudest). Ask yourself: do I love, love, love this wall art, or am I just excited that it’s trendy, that the colours match my décor, and that I can afford it? Will I love it in 2, 5, 10 years’ time? Is it unique? Does it enrich the story of my home? If not, go to point 5.
- When in doubt, under-decorate. Unless you’re competing on a TV show, there’s no need to completely style your home in a single sitting. Take your time to consider purchases, understand the way you live in a space, and recognise those things that really make your spirit sing. Know that there’s nothing wrong with a blank wall for now. (Tip: an oversized arrangement of foliage from the backyard can make a stunning and free placeholder while you search for that perfect piece.)
- Always opt for quality. Hand-in-hand with points 4 & 5 goes this mantra: buy less, buy better. Let yourself fall in love with things, then save up for them and buy them once you can afford them. You’ll always love them more than those things you compromised on.
- Be realistic about your lifestyle. Decorate for the life you lead, not a magazine photoshoot. Are you a secret “maximalist” trying to live a minimalist lie? If you love your stuff, don’t hide it away, just learn the art of display. Do you dream of owning a chic white suede sofa even though you have four kids and two dogs? (Try slipcovered cotton instead for now.)
- Never apologise. Tell your story proudly and in your own way. Love your grandmother’s crochet rug? Give it pride of place on the sofa. Can’t afford to replace the 1960s pink tiles in the bathroom right now? Celebrate their retro charm by adding a jug of pink flowers to the windowsill. If you find yourself worrying what other people will think of your decorating, or if you constantly compare your home to your friends’ or family’s places, then you’re doing it wrong. Does your place give you a thrill every time you enter it? Home should make everyone who lives there feel calm, safe, inspired and happy. People who visit should feel welcome. All it takes is a little TLC, and your home will love you right back.
—Bianca Tzatzagos is a freelance copywriter and former magazine journalist who works from her Sydney home (which she is endlessly restyling).