Flicking through the pages of those lovely home mags, makes me appreciate how difficult personal finishing touches can be to get right. Some rooms are beautifully furnished with expensive sofas and fabrics, bespoke tables and have a few objects positioned here and there, but somehow the room is too perfectly staged and appears sterile. I’m sure you know the kind I mean. It looks like a set, somewhere that no-one uses or really lives in. Of course no-one wants to see feature where members of the family (two and four legged) have left a trail of debris and mess. So how do you create finishing touches that tell a story about the people who live there? Here are 5 ways to give your rooms personality, cohesion and a visual description of who lives there.
1. Gather up items that have meaning to you to display or put on a wall. This could be family photos, or pictures with similar colours or frames or places – like
seascapes or horses; or a collection of objects, for example, plates. Something that gives your memory a jog of pleasure when you look at them. Group them close together on the wall (5-10cm apart), either uniformly in rows or higgledy-piggledy starting from a centre point into an organic shape.
2. If you love books then display them! Whether they are there for reference or for reading pleasure you can inject some interest into your bookshelves in several ways. Grouping by colour of spines (yes really, once you start it is very addictive and known as colour coding – sadly even my recipe books behind a closed door are ordered this way). Grouping by subject, series or publisher – your Lonely Planet travel books, James Bond adventures, or penguin classics etc will look fab in a line. Finally alter how they are stacked – they don’t have to be vertical. Pile them up on the shelf or if one has an interesting front cover then lean it against its fellows with its cover facing outwards like a picture.
3. Varying the heights and scale (size) of your treasured finds creates interest on a table or shelf. Remember that discovering things you love does not happen overnight. Keep an eye out for items on holiday or at a market or auction, or in little independent shops or even charity shops. Display them in groups; tall next to small, pictures propped up against walls, with items overlapping each other.
4. Flowers – vases of real or fake will give a lovely shot of life to the room. I prefer to stick to one colour (or two at the most) and green foliage of course, to tie with in the hues in the room, or lighter or darker shades of those colours. You can vary the variety of flowers quite happily if the petal colour is the same or a close tone.
5. Art – a super sized piece of art will immediately make a statement about your style. It doesn’t have to be something by a top notch artist – sitting your kids down with a large canvas from the art shop and several pots of paints in carefully chosen shades of colours found in the room can produce some interesting and completely unique results.
Experiment with what you have and don’t be afraid to change it if you aren’t satisfied. Sometimes taking everything off of the table or out of the room and starting again gives you a fresh perspective.
Once you are happy with the result of your efforts, then you and your friends can sit back and admire your handiwork. Until, as happened to me, someone points out the abandoned rugby gum shield nestling amongst the candles on the coffee table.