It does not matter if you are a new bohemian, minimalist, retro/vintage lover, traditionalist, boho glam or yet to define your interior style there are a few things that your home should have regardless of your taste.
1. House Plants
I am not sure how we all stopped filling our house with plant life, perhaps it was an era of loving the industrial and going out all the time but since staying in is the new going out and we are all nesting again plants are back. I for one never stopped despite the fact that my fingers are not the greenest in town. If you are like me and a taking plants home from the garden centre is akin to committing genocide take a look at these two posts where I recommend sturdy plants that are hard to kill, HERE
. Although faux botanicals are superb these days and are great for those dark spots, I myself am an advocate you also need plenty of the real deal in your home and here is why. Plants clean the air in your home, the environment in our homes gets polluted too, especially as we find new ways to insulate our homes and stop the flow of air and shy away from opening windows in the winter.
House plants can also help control the humidity levels in your home. There are also studies that show they improve your mental well being and reduce stress levels. It might sound odd that putting something in your home that needs regular care reduces your level of stress but we are constantly on the go and with mobile technology we are at work all the time. Slowing down and watering your plants allows your body and mind to slow down and switch off.
2. Lamps/Mood Lighting
I have no idea if the joke about putting ‘the big light on’ translates out of the north of England but I hope it does. The lighting in your room design is so often an after thought, a rushed decision in a DIY store at the last minute to get the room finished. That is the wrong way to think about lighting. You know when you go to a great spa or hotel or restaurant or store and the lighting is on point it instantly feels better to be there, that is because they probably had a lighting designer spend endless hours thinking about zoning, mood, colour temperature.
The truth is I feel bad for lighting as when it is right it often goes unnoticed how much care has gone into it. When it is wrong we all notice it. You know the store with the great clothes that you never buy anything in because you feel ill in there and nothing looks right when you try it on, they probably got the lighting wrong.
Although we are not trying to make a sale in our homes we are trying to create a nice feeling and sometimes a room needs to be able to change what it feels like depending on the time of day and who is using it. That is done with lighting it can make or break your design. Sitting with one big floodlight in the centre of the room is never the right option. Think about lamps, fairy lights even the type of bulb you use in them and the glow they will emit. Think about how they are angled and the shadows they will create, think about the mood you want to create in the room. Play about with it but don’t rush it.
Okay I am just going to come out and say it hygge, a concept I am two minds about. Part of me feels this is just the zeitgeist effect and most of the concept is common sense and something many of do naturally and have done for years but it does prove to be quite a useful adjective now as if I want to describe something I can use the word and people go yeah I know what you mean I recently read a blog/book/article about this.
Candles are an important part of my home for 3 reasons. Firstly it is another way to control the mood lighting in a room. Secondly the light emitted from candles has a calming soporific effect. I talk about the difference between warm and blue light in my post on insomnia HERE.
Last but not least you can get some lovely natural scented candles and you can create a truly calm home with scent. I would advise using beeswax or soy wax candles they are just healthier and only using scented candles that use essential oils, synthetic odours will not benefit you.
I have to say I am a bookophile, so much so I have granted myself the autonomy to create silly words such as bookophile. I cried hen they created kindles and e readers. Whilst not everyone reading this will spend time going around sniffing books and feeling happy at the mere smell of a book books are still an integral part of our existence and will never be fully replaced by screens. From airport page turners to art and design coffee table books or graphic novels everyone has a genre. I have very few dating rules but in my dating days I would never consider a relationship with a person who did not have at least one shelf of books, I also had a rule about people who only owned soundtracks and compilations but that is off topic.
Our homes should tell people a story of who the inhabitants are and books is one of the best indicators of that. Don’t hide them away, display your books whether you colour co ordinate your spines, (a look I love but cannot live with as I couldn’t find anything), or you go full on dewey decimal system show people who you are and give your home personality.
Almost every rom com/sit com likes to make cushions a men are from Mars women are from Venus issue but honestly I call BS on that. I have not met a human who does not like flopping on cushions. Like with so many things that are marketed as gender specific it turns out, again, that no comfort and cushions is not gender specific.
As soon as you see a room with cushions it instantly screams cozy and my dears regardless of your interior style, even in a minimal home comfort is key if your design is going to be a success. Cushions are also a great inexpensive way of completely changing your room. No one is crazy enough to repaint every winter and then again in summer but changing out the cushions is certainly doable. For those of you who are afraid of bold colours and design cushions are also a great way to add something a little more daring to your pallet.
6. Adequate Storage
Okay after my previous points this might seem a little dull but it is something that is very important to me. In fact if you want to find one sure fire way to get me shouting at the TV put me in front of a room reveal that takes a room that was filled with books/toys/records you name it and then the designer has given them a beautiful but entirely impractical room as they have removed all of the storage. I like my home to look great and I spend a lot of time thinking about the design of my home but I always think about storage when I do. We need to live in our homes and you need to be practical and truthful with yourself.
For example if you say hey I will just not have any of the children’s toys in the lounge ever, I will take them upstairs to their room every night fine, but will you really? If your room design only works clutter free you need to plan for that with storage. Or you can incorporate items that are going to be ‘out’ into your design.
This goes back to the whole comfort hygge thing again. In my house I am always colder than Joe so setting the room temperature is impossible, cue blanket. Even if you are not cold a lightweight throw is a great way of creating your very own cuddle therapy. Come on we have all had the bad hangover, bad breakup, bad day in the office and longed for a good session on the sofa wrapped in a throw or blanket. Again it turns out this is not gender specific either! Funny that.
I have some sort of box or basket in most rooms of the house that contains blankets. We are blanket heavy in our home and I make no apologies for it. I love that when we are reading books my little boy from age 18 months has has automatically gone to fetch a blanket and brought it over for a book snuggle.
As well as the comfort, warmth benefit of a good blanket it is also, like a cushion another great way to add colour to an otherwise bland design.
A home just feels more like home with a rug. They can be practical such as keeping your feet warm or can add depth to a design, especially if you layer them, yes you can do that. Think hard about rugs use the right size for the room, think about colour. Think about texture, if you are looking for a way to add texture and comfort to a bedroom, a low pile with harsh lines in the pattern is probably not the way to go.
Rugs can work anywhere, even outside. The addition of a brightly coloured rug to your garden is a great way to inject colour to your space especially as you wait for new plants to bed in and grow.
Perhaps it is because of my student rental days of having to live with blank magnolia walls that the idea of blank walls sends me into some kind of ptsd frenzie now. Art is a great way to personalise your home, so please avoid ikea posters at all costs! When I say art that could include hangings, framed art made by your children and family photos. If you are in a rental you can always turn to command hooks, oh if only they had command hooks in my day.
Anything from a gallery wall to a statement piece hung correctly. Remember you can always add holiday or family photos but shy away from the photo canvas, (it is a personal bug bear of mine).
This is the most important thing so I saved until last so that it sticks in your mind. Your home is unique because it is your home, it should be a reflection of you. When people come in they should not walk into a store room set or an overly styled space that has been lifted from the last hotel you stayed at. Those things can inspire you but you need to leave your personality in there. Some of the earlier things in this list are a great way to keep the ‘you’ in your home. Your home should evolve as you do and should reflect your story, your travels, your interests as well as your interior design taste.