What Makes a House a Home?

Do Try this at Home graphic

Inspiration, Enthusiasm, Energy, Creativity

It’s just days before the beginning of the new year and I’m reclining in front of a fire thinking about all of the things on my “to do” list here at home, when it occurs to me—I love my home.

I live in a #verybradyhouse. It’s a 1980’s contemporary with floating staircase, stone fireplace, elevated living room, sunken dining room, and glass as far as the eye can see. It’s the anti-colonial and as a child who grew up in a saltbox in New England, I just had to have it.

Despite its imperfections—the half-done projects, the dog fur on the couch, the light switches I’ve only partially updated with those pretty white rockers, the baseboards I’m currently caulking at the rate of one tube per week—I truly do love my home.

Why? Simply put, because it is mine. Most of us spend the bulk of our time and the bulk of our paychecks on our homes. We all see the #lovewhereyoulive tags on everything from pristine beaches to dazzling sunsets, but how often do we stop and take a moment to appreciate the nest we’ve built for ourselves?


It’s not you, it’s me.

“If I only had better taste, better ideas, more money, more style…”

I have a friend who is an intellectual, a free-range artist type, who lives in a house I admired long before I knew her and well before she purchased it. I love her house. Not because it is the perfect 1920’s Newport bungalow, but because it is uniquely hers. From the unexpected color on the front door to the “I have more issues than Vogue” needlepoint on the front porch, each element is uniquely personal, giving subtle clues about the family inside.

Your house should fit you like your favorite outfit. Comfortable and cozy, making you feel confident and attractive. It should reflect your personality and suit your needs. While a family of five is unlikely to function well in a pristine white and chrome environment, they don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort.

I sold my last home completely furnished—down to the sheets on the beds. I styled the house to suit its surroundings, the structure, and the needs of my family at that point in time. But what worked so beautifully at the beach wasn’t going to make sense in a contemporary house in the woods.

4 Ways to Develop Your Interior Decorating Style

  1. Consider your inhabitants.

I have two children (with lots of friends) and two young Great Danes. It is not uncommon for me to find 12 kids in my basement or the living room couch in a different location than where I left it. I require a bulletproof house that can take a literal beating. This requires a “less is more” style which translates to easily washable fabrics, lots of hard surfaces, and a minimalistic approach.


2.  Choose your furnishings to suit your lifestyle.

I will admit a tiny twinge of regret after ordering a custom-made, white leather, reclining, sectional couch. Was my end of day impulse buy going to end in a style disaster?  Thankfully, no. The purchase turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. The dogs use it as a race track, the kids eat Doritos on it all day long and at the end of the day, I can recline with my feet up, watch the fire, and be at peace knowing that a wet towel can erase all the day’s damage. And if I was concerned about style? After seeing it and then sitting on it, two friends went out and special-ordered the exact same couch!


Home Office — Walls: Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore, Wall art: “Blue Waters” on canvas by Lia Lanzo (Society 6), Orange work table: A favorite vintage Brimfield find

3. Personalize your space.

I believe that art is personal and taste is uniquely yours. Art shouldn’t match your drapes or come from a catalog. Only you need to like it. Last spring I took my kids to the RISD art show here in RI for the first time. I gave them each a small budget and set them free to purchase their first art piece. Am I in love with these paintings? Not entirely. But they are developing their own style and that alone makes me love the pieces.

Don’t have the cash to invest in art? Make your own. Use your cell phone to take an amazing photo and for very little money, you can print a canvas in an hour at your local pharmacy.

Remember that not all art lives on your wall.  My son loves to bathe in my bedroom because he loves the smooth rocks that we collected at the beach that line the edges of the shower.



4. Be fearless.

Guest Bath — Walls: Poppy Seed by Sherwin Williams, Photos: Taken on Nantucket, printed on canvases at Walgreens

I grew up knowing how to select a good thread count sheet set, yet we slept under flame retardant bedspreads. If the catalog sold it as a set, my mother bought it. Why? Because it took the guesswork out of decorating. Be your own designer. Try something new. If you hate it? Change it.

Go big, be bold. I always wanted a black bathroom. It’s a tiny space, not traditional, hardly practical, and I love it. And when I no longer do? It’s an easy update.

Developing your own style takes time, patience, and commitment. Let your home evolve with you and I’m sure you’ll love yours too!

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