Accentuate the personal: decorating your home

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
January 15, 2006

Decorating your home in 2006 will be a cinch, according to experts. Just remember to stay away from matchy-matchy sets and concentrate instead on bringing out your home’s individuality. This doesn’t mean you can’t have the same furniture your neighbors have. You can. But you may want to present it differently — accenting a warm chocolate brown sofa with a vibrant red pillow. Or if you can’t stand clutter, opt for dramatic wall colors instead of home accents.

“Personalization is big in 2006,” says Sarah Medford, Town and Country magazine’s architecture & design expert. “You want to incorporate a few pieces that look as if they are hand made, whether it’s a vase or a throw or even tile. Having something a little uneven and not so perfect gives the piece a unique quality. It’s a reaction against the minimalism of the ’90s where it was minimal to the point of being almost sterile.”

Home decor today is about style, function and comfort. Ironically, what can make some homes look contemporary today is the liberal display — and use — of pieces from the past.

“Using your grandmother’s linens or patchwork quilts are going to be very big this year,” says Laura McDowell, home decor spokeswoman for T.J. Maxx. “Certainly those who have a lot of money to decorate their homes can afford to buy the one-of-a-kind pieces that will make their home unique. But for the rest of us, we can do it, too. And using things like linens and pillows to decorate your home is an inexpensive and easy way to update your home’s look.”

Author and Domino magazine decor columnist Marian McEvoy says as we grow older and earn more money, we can lose our sense of whimsy. Thinking back to our way of decorating back when we couldn’t afford to pay the down payment on a piece at Room & Board may actually help us decorate our current homes.

“I do think younger homeowners have a more relaxed feeling about decorating,” says the Glue Gun Decor (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $19.95) author. “They’re not afraid of what their house is supposed to look like. They’re more interested in furnishing it in an affordable way, and that often makes for some of the coziest, most chic homes.

“The home should reflect your personality and the younger homeowners are less afraid of showing that. They’re not afraid of things that don’t match. They’re not afraid of admitting they got something at a garage sale or a flea market. And they’re not too proud to display things that had been handed down from their parents or grandparents.”

Adding warmth to your home in this manner can be kind to your pocketbook as well. As McEvoy points out, having a spartan living room with a few pieces can actually cost more to decorate.

“I’ve always said the plainer a room, the more expensive it is to decorate it,” she says. “With so few pieces in a room, you concentrate on what’s there and have more time seeing its imperfections.”


Need a little help jump-starting those decorating ideas? Here are some tips on giving your home a fresh and easy makeover:

WASTE NOT. So the experts are saying that matchy-matchy sets are out, but yours are still in good condition and you don’t want to replace them just yet. Have no fear. Keep the set. But add a few elements to differentiate them. For instance, one homeowner asked all her friends to bring her back a piece of inexpensive, colorful fabric from their travels. She made these into functional and decorative throw pillows that now adorn her sofa set. They don’t match. They’re not all the same size. But each tells a story.

START SMALL. Don’t think about redoing your entire house. Concentrate on one room. A pair of vintage candlesticks might add a new aura to your living room. Giving your walls a splash of color is a simple and effective way to modernize your room. Hang a new painting or print. Or, paint the wall in a bright, bold color. (Purse designer Kate Spade had her library painted lipstick red, and she loves it.) If you absolutely hate it, you’re only out for a couple gallons of paint.

SUBSTITUTE. Yes, we know that grandma’s quilts can be an asset to our living room. But what if we don’t have any in our own homes? Then try a colorful chenille throw instead. You can pick one up at discount stores such as T.J. Maxx for under $20.

LIVE WITH IT. Don’t be so concerned about perfection. As in people, imperfection is what makes a piece unique. So if you find a table you love at a flea market but are concerned about some of its dings, buy it. Remember, in its own way, it’s a one of a kind.

GO RETRO. Stay away from the gaudily ornate. “Last season, extremely beaded and opulent pillows were the big thing,” says T.J. Maxx home decor spokeswoman Laura McDowell. “They looked almost like fancy evening bags. That’s on its way out as we revert back to a more comfortable feel. If you see something that looks vintage or retro and it’s a good price, snap it up.”

SNUFF THE MATCH. Town and Country’s design expert Sarah Medford adds, “Matched sets of anything are not in right now. And the moment has passed for ebonized wood or any very dark brown wood on the floor. The furnishings that have that slick, contemporary European look with spare shapes also are a little out.”   Glue Gun Decor author Marian McEvoy says that anything that looks like something everyone else has is out. “Your goal isn’t to have a piece that everyone will love so much that they’ll run out and buy it,” she says. “It’s to have something everyone will love but can’t run out and buy ’cause it’s a one-of-a-kind item. “

Comments (1)

  1. sandy jastiva says:

    i like very much the , a sun go jae house in perfect match … i wish i have a house model like sun go jae……..

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