Our homes tell the story of who we are.
Whether that home is a small rental apartment or a spacious home on a suburban tree-lined street, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been inside many beautifully decorated homes. It’s also my job to look at beautiful things all day long. My life and my brand are based on fabulous living. But, what about being interesting? How about that? Interesting is free. Some of the most interesting spaces I’ve been in have been those inhabited by unknown artists, design students and even a crafty single mom or two. Creativity can always find its way. And while I spend a great deal of my life focusing on the uber-fabulous and the aspirational, you can take your home — or any space — and make it more interesting for practically nothing.
It’s really quite simple; it all boils down to getting personal. When a stranger walks into your home, they should be able to tell something about you by standing in the middle of your living room (besides, “Whoa, their cleaning lady hasn’t been here in a while”). What can you do to make it feel more interesting? A lot, actually.
Something About You
When I say something about you, this does not mean you last week at a bar with your friends, or you with your kids and the mall’s Santa Claus. I mean, really something about you. For example, my husband and I are Armenian. We have a framed Armenian scroll hanging on a wall. Also, a few years ago I designed a furniture line and the couch is in our living room. Really, it could be anything. Try not to make it about a photograph, there’s room for that elsewhere.
Every room needs something old. It can be vintage, an antique or a relic from Mom’s attic. In every room I design, I try and add something vintage. You simply cannot create a truly interesting room without an old piece or two. If you think you can’t afford it, you’re wrong. Garage sales, Etsy and eBay and are teeming with objects that cost under 20 dollars. Recently, we did a home makeover for NBC’s <em>George to the Rescue</em> and it was a super modern design. I added some vintage decorative objects from One Kings Lane like books, vases, trays and a candelabra that were all surprisingly affordable. They were not free, but they were definitely in the inexpensive zone. This is your biggest bang of fabulous for your buck.
Where you travel is one of the best ways to add interest and personalization to your home. If trips to Paris, Bariloche or Phuket aren’t on your agenda this year, don’t sweat it. People always think you have to spend a lot of money. A kitschy postcard in a cool frame is chic. A scarf you bought on the street at a fair in St. Louis can be just as cool as one in Montmartre (OK, maybe not). Maps are free and very cool in other languages. Those are the little things that create conversation, that make a room unique. The things you cannot buy at Bloomingdale’s, Target or Horchow. And you’re documenting your history in your home.
There are two kinds of people: those who appreciate art and those who don’t know anything about art. I can’t educate you, I can only tell you that “Live, Love, Laugh” on a plaque in Home Goods is not art. Neither are photo collages of your children. Shocker, I know. Try and educate yourself a little bit about art and look for it. It can be free, it can be almost free and it can be millions of dollars. Your life and your home will be inherently better off with some art inside it. If you’re not “in the know,” don’t be intimidated. There was a time when I knew nothing and I educated myself, so you can too. I promise.
A home without books freaks me out. I mean, really freaks me out. The strategically placed de rigueur coffee-table books are no better. Warhol, Vogue, Chanel… I mean, really? So, here’s the deal. Everybody has an iPad, too. But, there’s something about books in a home that just feels better. Maybe I’m a little old school like that, but I don’t think so. I’m thinking if you don’t have books in your house you’re probably not reading this anyway so I’m off the hook!
Now, when you walk into someone’s home and there’s no art and no books and just lots of family photos and some tacky plaque that says “Live, Love, Laugh,” you’ll think of me.
And send them a vintage book. Or a painting. And they’ll be on their way.