Many people give their homes some individuality by proudly framing their children’s art or upcycling their thrift shop finds with eclectic inventiveness. But it’s a slippery slope if you’re determined not to add clutter to your décor. When DIY efforts go overboard, they can detract from your carefully cultivated décor. However, there are ways to give your home a personal touch while retaining its sophistication.
There’s nothing like a wall of your favorite books to add some meaning to your décor, but store-bought bookshelves can stick out and look awkward. Building shelves that acknowledge a room’s architecture can increase the value of your home—and you aren’t limited to a personal library. You can design shelves with varied spacing to accommodate vases, awards, and objects, and you can even add spotlights.
Too much upholstery can have a pre-fab, matchy-matchy feel, but you can be discriminating for a more thoughtful effect. Backyards, for instance, don’t need much decoration—all that greenery is too majestic to compete with—but you can make it yours by upholstering patio furniture with some colorful personality. Indoors, you can set the tone with a custom sofa in an unexpected pattern or individualize the furniture by upholstering a single, comfortable chair in a favorite shade.
Any valuable antiques or inherited items are a part of you that deserve center stage. Some attics are full of family photos from past eras, and even if they depict the humble beginnings of your family, they celebrate your personal history. Choose a frame that stands out—but nothing too ostentatious. If a small perfume bottle just looks meek, group it with others to display, or create a tableau such as a small writing station featuring a treasured old letter. A great-grandmother’s tiny leather gloves or a journal from another century have meaning and create interest, and they won’t intrude on the overall sophisticated décor.
Showing off your African safari with tribal masks has become a cliché, but anything that invokes memories of a favorite trip can ground you or start a conversation with guests. Inject a graceful setting with a hint of adventure, whether you pay homage to a grand tour or a day trip. Small, blank walls can accommodate a few watercolors from street artists. Plus, you can always use what you learned about custom upholstery above: re-cover a bench with a sari you thought you would wear more, your family’s tartan plaid, or a scarf you picked up at some out-of-the-way place.
If you want your décor to bring to mind dignity, not a dorm room, choose accents carefully. With a little thought and a lot of restraint, you can learn how to give your home a personal touch without sacrificing your taste.