When someone comes to our house, my hope is for the house and its contents to be another way to get to know us. This house is the furthest thing from a museum, because it’s the home of a family that includes two children under 3 (who like to eat ice cream on the sofa) and four dogs that range in size from 65 pounds to 125 pounds (who like to watch TV on the sofa). Keeping my historic home historic on the inside isn’t really an option.
Even without the kids and dogs, my home wouldn’t look like Atlanta in 1925. My home looks like me and my family. There are sofas with clean lines, contemporary light fixtures, Asian antiques and countless souvenirs from the 43 countries we’ve visited over the past decade. When people come over, they usually comment that the house feels warm, family-friendly and completely like us, which is the best compliment of all.
I don’t want to live in a historically re-created or preserved home, even if the home itself is historic. Those kinds of homes are living and breathing textbooks of the past and certainly have their place, but it’s way more fun to showcase your personality in a space that is as unique and timeless as you are.
Here are some general rules for decorating interiors — historic or otherwise:
• Make your home a physical manifestation of you and your family so that an invitation to your home is an invitation to get to know you. This place should be the most comfortable and desirable place for you and your family to be, and designing it to reflect you will ensure this.
• Make sure that you don’t overlook function. The perfect confluence of function and aesthetics for your specific situation is a worthwhile goal that will ensure that you’ll love and use your home to its fullest.
• Look for a common thread to tie together all the disparate items that coexist in a room. For example, if you have upholstered furniture from all different periods and of all different styles, look for a common fabric color to incorporate in each piece that will link them all together visually.
• Select families of wood tones without getting obsessed with making sure all your wood is the same color. You are looking for common tones in all the different woods that fall within a general family. Dark, medium and light versions of a wood color or tone can live together harmoniously to create a rich, vibrant and layered look.
• Most of all, don’t worry about ensuring that the style inside your home coordinates with its outside architectural style. The goal should be to create the ultimate home, not the ultimate museum.
Vern Yip is an interior designer and star of HGTV’s “Design Star” and “Bang for Your Buck.”