Keeping It Real – Make Your Interiors More Personal in 2022

Well, we have made it through the second week of 2022. How many of you are still keeping true to your resolutions? Statistically most people don’t make it to the end of the month, with many supposedly giving up by the second Friday in January.

How many people do you know who have ever kept their new year resolutions past January?

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. Anything that needs to be started should not wait for the new year. It’s a lot easier to begin at any time with small intentions and easily attainable goals than to get in over your head with highly unrealistic standards.

Still, if you are just about to give up on those overly ambitious resolutions–or would just like to live a more intentional life–you cannot go wrong with the goal of injecting more personality into your interiors. 

When you walk into a showroom or scroll through a social media feed, you will come across any number of enticingly decorated rooms that will very likely impel you to copy what you see. Of course, those showrooms and social media posts—however subtly—are trying to sell you on whatever is on offer. 

Showrooms are not real life. Floor models are often manufactured in bland neutral colors and finishes to appeal to mass audiences.

Buying all of your furnishings from a single source or copying what you see in magazines or on Instagram is the path of least resistance to a finished interior space. It avoids all of the hard work of introspection. 

Introspection is hard and messy work.

But doing things the quick and easy way when it comes to your interior decor is not any different then indulging in those unhealthy behaviors that many of us resolve to change come January 1. 

Stop Conforming

This image of sea lions at a card game (“Go Fish”?) is quirky and the kind of artwork I would definitely use in a design, but the message here is that these creatures here all look the same!

I suppose conformity is an urge common to social animals like humans. It takes courage and conviction to chart your own course, while success is never guaranteed. Much easier to keep your head down and go along to get along. 

But your home is your most intimate space! Why would you want to keep conforming even behind closed doors? 

While it is certainly true that many people have not had the time or inclination to cultivate a strong sense of style, that does not mean that they do not have a personality. Everyone has a personality. We all have our likes, dislikes, preferences, and quirks developed over a lifetime of experiences.

As a decorator, it is my job to channel the personalities of my clients into actionable creative visions. This requires that I get very familiar with my Personalized Design clients through a very comprehensive pre-design process. Ultimately, it is the personal that breathes life into your interiors. Your life. 


There’s a lot of personality and warmth in this image. What stories does it tell?

So what can you do to make your interiors more personal? Well, you should understand that while major furnishings are important, they are only a foundation. I mean, have you ever noticed how all hotel rooms, no matter how expensive, all seem to have a sterile, soulless quality? That’s because they are lacking something very important: accessories. 

Hotel rooms may look fine, but they lack personality.

Now, accessories in hotel rooms present a number of liabilities and so are most often avoided in hotel interior design—but in your own home, they are the icing on the cake and the cherry on top. So make them count! 

Below are things from my own home as well as of others that imbue joy and meaning:

The Texas Room, above, at the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens in Houston is designed in a rustic fashion to evoke the early settlement period of Texas. The cedar paneling lends a casual warmth, which is elevated only slightly by the gothic arch motif which was popular in the mid-1800s. The furnishings here were made by 19th-centruy German immigrants to Texas, including the distinctive cattle-horn-and-jaguar-pelt chair in the corner (jaguars once roamed widely in the American Southwest and were extirpated in Texas only in the mid 20th-century). The transferware ceramics displayed here are English but depict scenes of Texas military campaigns. This is a scheme clearly rooted in place and history.

I designed the casual workstation below in an attic corner to provide space to write and reflect away from a separate home office, thus providing much-needed work-life separation in the COVID era. The larger graphite drawing of a Plains Indian was a childhood gift to my husband from a family friend and is framed in rustic fashion. The smaller artwork of a barn owl is a print from Target and was selected to continue the rustic frame theme until more permanent fine artwork can be found. The desk accessories, such as the leatherbound pencil cup, are my husband’s from his college years.

While objets d’art may serve no practical or functional purposes, they inject beauty and wonder into interior spaces. Above, a fine porcelain swan from Meissen is bracketed by a pair of sculptural candlesticks in sterling silver. The candlesticks–caryatids–seem to serve as sentries for the delicate bird.

Below, an assortment of objects I have collected from travels around the world. Each has its own story and attendant memory.

Above, a fearsome and fabulous scene captured in porcelain of a crayfish vanquishing a frog. Though frozen, these characters–also from Meissen–tell a compelling story through their expressive poses which incite both curiosity and alarm. This piece was acquired at auction by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Surely, the subject animals in real life would make most people recoil in disgust, so I am curious to know more about the original purchaser(s)–they would certainly have been people I could be friends with!

Below, a grouping of orca (Orcinus orca) curios. Here in Seattle, Washington, the orca has achieved emblematic status owing to the plight of the endangered, piscivorous Southern Resident population which, until recently, spent a significant amount of time in our inland waters. However, in the last 10 years, it seems that the so-called “Transients,” which are generalist hunters and feeders, are becoming more common.

I have long had a fascination with these animals. Quite frankly, they absolutely terrify me! Whereas most people might see them as giant sea pandas, I see them as being the oceanic apex predators they truly are. There are no documented cases of wild orcas killing humans, but they are known to actively hunt and kill great white sharks! Either way, the thought of being thrown overboard into the murky, open waters with these animals gives me nightmares. I suppose that these objects, much like the frightful battling Meissen creatures above, are a way to contend with fears.

Blue and white pottery has been a popular decorative feature for centuries. Originating in the Near East, it eventually made its way to China and later Europe and the Americas. Blue and white porcelain pieces were once widely manufactured and sold in groupings called “garnitures,” though these days it’s more likely that you will need to purchase separate pieces individually.

Below, I have assembled a group of porcelain items into a make-shift garniture. A pair of egg-shaped modernist Rosenthal vases designed by Lino Sabattini bracket a pair of blue and white scallop taper holders by Luke Edward Hall for Ginori. In the center, a giant clam (Tridacna gigas) shell sits agape, executed in porcelain by the talented Seattle artist Jake Corboy. The artwork, displayed in a Dutch-style ripple frame, is by the incomparable Kermit Oliver.

Above you see a collection of mantel clocks displayed upon and within a breakfront Sheraton-style cabinet. The warm woods of the vintage clocks echo the tones of the cabinet itself, their haphazard positioning lending a casual elegance. I particularly love the simple fretwork on the top lights of the cabinet doors. No fuss here, just easy living.

Below, a casual bedroom with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The bookshelves have not been styled, nor the books organized by color. Again, no fuss–just a collection of cherished items that may or may not be redundant. This lived-in vibe works well with the simple Craftsman architecture of the house.

It’s important to understand that your home is yours and it should reflect your personal interests and life story. It’s easy to buy an entire suite of furniture and accessories from a showroom floor or to copy trends on Instagram, but in doing so your home will have an extremely cold and impersonal quality. The absolute best interior designs are personalized and meaningful; they convey the characters of the people who live in those spaces.

The best way to infuse personality in a space is with meaningful accessories. These can be treasured heirlooms, unique souvenirs, fine artwork, or personal collections amassed over time. The pertinent consideration should be that your accessories communicate your own story. Isn’t that an achievable goal for 2022?


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