Insta-Wow—Truly Personalized Spaces

Photo courtesy of Leslie May

Text: Leslie May

A house can be draped in the most sumptuous draperies or adorned with divine wallpaper but a house is not truly well-appointed unless it is a reflection of those who live within.

Creating a home that has genuine personality involves layering in those elements that evoke memories, reflect passions, and enable hobbies. A truly bespoke home is not just a realized design board of favorite paint colors or fabrics, but it is a livable collage of how one likes to relax, what is important to them, what makes them smile, and how they like to have fun.

Photo courtesy of Leslie May

Layering this together requires an intentional collaboration between an interior designer and a home owner. It is the art of weaving in their personality into the decor that completes a project and makes their house feel like their home. The most vivid way to tell the story of a home and its people is through photographs. Bookshelves and coffee tables can share memories of chaotic Christmas mornings, hot summer beach days, and messy birthday cakes. 

However, the frame is almost as important as the photograph. Keep all the frames in a single grouping with the same material, all silver or brass or wood, and vary the sizes of the frames to make the photographs pop.

Photo courtesy of Leslie May

Tortoise frames are an unexpected classic that mixes well with modern and more traditional decor. Coffee table books are also a tell-tale sign of who inhabits these walls. From fashion to sailing to art to coffee table books about coffee table books. The most important design feature of a coffee table book is the spine.

Varying the sizes of the books stacked together is important to avoid creating blocks of books dominating a coffee table and lets the personality of each book’s cover peak through. If the tomes selected are a true reflection of tastes and interests they will be more than just a pretty objet d’art, but these books will actually be read and enjoyed.

Photo courtesy of Leslie May

Bookshelves can be a curiosity cabinet of personality with wide expanses for multiple groupings of picture frames, thick spine-ed coffee table books, and volumes and volumes of well-bound pages. One very important note on books as decor, beach-read paperbacks are not bookshelf worthy. Limit titles to hardbacks and arrange books with similar colors or hues, varying their positioning with horizontal and vertical stacks.

Bookshelves also offer premier canvas to hang art, either set back within the shelf or on the spine of the bookshelf. It’s important to think not only of the grown-ups but everyone who lives under one roof.

Photo courtesy of Leslie May

Spouses, children, pets, anyone loved under one roof should have a voice expressed. A passion for travel can be encouraged and celebrated with framed antique maps from family vacations, sports fanatics can leaf through the pages of tasteful coffee table books about the history of NBA greats. Art lovers can have their own works framed in gold leaf with prominence. If Goldilocks walked into this house, she would know exactly what she was getting into. 

Eye candy aside, let the life that happens within a space be a part of the decor. Puzzle tables, card boxes, sewing baskets, or newspaper racks can all look on point in even the most be-decked living room and invite family and guests to have a little fun!

Photo courtesy of Karen Melvin Photography


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