Friday, December 21, 2007

A house should be an expression of your soul, an extension of your personality

This article give an interesting idea.. that our home is to reflect our soul -- who we are -- is to be a place where we LIVE, versus show off.

Does your home reflect the way you live?

A house should be an expression of your soul, an extension of your personality

FRIDAY dec 21, 2007 -- Kelly Deck

I have a recurring dream: The world stops moving and everything freezes in time. Everyone but me disappears and, miraculously, I'm free to roam, home to home, revelling in the exploration of people and the spaces they create.

Now, ask yourself this: If I stole into your home, what would I learn about you? How would your home describe the way you live, the things you love? Is it a unique expression of you and your family? Dare I ask: Does it have soul?

Many homes do not. These days, the average interior is unfortunately (and unnecessarily) suburban -- that is, homogenous, bland and conservative.

So, at the risk of offending, let me describe to you what you probably think when you walk into one of these homes.

Hmmm, this is pretty good: glossy hardwood floors, warm neutral finishes and ivory crown mouldings. In the living room a beige sofa, chocolate leather chairs, a faux Persian rug, an ottoman, dark wood side tables, glass lamps and a silver fireplace mirror. Pale blue and green cushions.

"Hmm," you say to yourself. "Nice house."


Nice is, at best, a middling virtue. But it's not wow! It's not ahhhhh or yummm, or anything else you'd say in a moment of ineffable appreciation. Nice is how you describe your best friend's plain boyfriend. Your home has more potential.

A house becomes a home when it's filled with authenticity, history and personality -- all of which are unique to you. Don't rush -- these qualities develop over time. The defining aspect of a home is that it's a work in progress. It's an entity that breathes and lives.

Remember also what a home is not: a showroom, a formula or a storehouse for items that signify status.

Let's start with the idea of authenticity. Ask yourself: How do I spend my time here? What hours of the day am I at home? What do I do in this time? What do I need to enjoy these tasks and experiences fully?

Me, I'm at home evenings and weekends. My days pulse with the lives and needs of clients and staff, and so, in my downtime, I require a quiet, restful retreat. I read, listen to music, and watch TV, so lots of comfortable seating is important. Most weekends, I have a friend or two over for dinner, and we never sit at a table.

For me, home means relaxation and ease. Nothing is precious: feet can rest anywhere, and no surface is inhospitable to a glass of wine. The informality of my home reflects one basic assumption: that my friends and our time together are more important than the items that occupy my space.

In contrast, I have many clients who love to formally entertain. These are people who have glamorous and sometimes extravagant tastes. They favour lacquered finishes, crystal chandeliers, and dramatic accessories. I revel in the play of designing for the privileged and their well-heeled needs, but their experience is distinct from my own.

Next, let's talk history. It's difficult for people to properly revere the historic in a country where few buildings are more than a hundred years old. I find our Western indifference to history disheartening. Culturally, we constantly pursue newness. Our homes are filled with the trendy, the poorly manufactured, and the designed-to-be-obsolete. As a result, our spaces often feel contrived and impersonal.

Don't get me wrong: We don't need to be neo-classicists. I love modern interiors. But people, places, and things have their own unique and intimate history, and a home should reflect that.

Incorporate family heirlooms or antiques into your furnishing plan. Paired with contemporary or mid-century modern furnishings, aged pieces can make a dynamic addition to the home. Consider painting or lacquering the pieces if their original finish lacks lustre.

The patina of weathered or distressed surfaces creates a reference to age and history, without the actual presence of them. Oxidized metal, chiselled stone, and earthenware ceramics are materials that bring sensuousness to any space.

Most importantly, look to your own history--to the objects you've saved, to the items you cherish and pack away. Is there a way to celebrate them in your home? Such items create a connection between you and your home. They're wonderful pieces upon which to build collections or create decorative vignettes.

This brings me to my final point: personality.

What is your favourite item of clothing? What colour do you like best? What is your favourite food, wine, or dessert? Where have you travelled? Why did you go? What is your most cherished memory? At what time of year do you feel most alive?

In creating a space that's an authentic expression of you, these are not arbitrary questions. They are your inspiration.

Here's what I mean: My favourite shirt is linen, my favourite colour white. My comfort food is Indian and I prefer to eat it at the beach. I like spicy, earthy wines, and I'll always take a mango over a fancy dessert. In addition to Canada, I've lived in England, New Zealand and Australia, and I've travelled in Europe, the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica. New York is my favourite city and summer is the season in which I feel most alive.

Could a beige sofa, chocolate leather chairs, and the rest of the standard kit ever be an expression of me?

And you?

So, here's my appeal: Forgo safety and predictability, unless, of course, those are the adjectives you'd use to describe yourself. Create a home infused with your personality and inspired by your needs. Do this by identifying what you love and then celebrating the colours, textures, and experiences that move you. By your labours, you'll impress yourself and all those you welcome into your home.


Assess your needs: Think how you need your home to function to support your lifestyle. Shape it accordingly.

Don't forget history: Incorporate furnishings, finishes and objects that have history and texture. They'll add visual tension, sensuousness and warmth to your contemporary home.

Celebrate you: Make a list of your favourite ideas, memories and experiences. Then collect a series of your favourite objects. Collectively, these ideas and objects make up a "pallet" that will inspire a unique look for your home.

Experiment: Don't be afraid to try different groupings and furniture configurations -- move furnishings from one room to the next, try colours and textures together that you're uncertain about. The only way to learn is by trying.

Don't aim for perfection: The imperfect, the weathered, the delightfully mismatched and the tarnished can all add character to any home.

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