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How to make interior design personal

Posted on 14 January 2017

A house does not make a home. A house could be defined as a building where people live, whereas a home has heart.


A home is comfortable for EVERY member of your family

This week I visited some friends of my Mum’s who had gone to teacher’s college with her; their friendship has lasted almost 60 years. It was the first time I had been to their residence, and what struck me about their home, was how welcoming, personal and comfortable it was; in fact I learnt as much about them from their home as I did from their conversation. There were the vases of freshly picked flowers from her award winning rose garden, the family photos showing generations of growth and history; wallpapers contrasting with strong wall colours, oodles of books, hand quilted table runners and even a picture of the royal family. (I know! How many Australian’s have a picture of the Queen in their house? I can only assume it is a hangover from their days teaching at Cambridge).

I am a modern designer who likes clean lines, not too much clutter and subtlety, so was my Mum’s friend’s house something I would design for myself? No… but it IS something I may design for my clients. The thing is, good design reflects the values, the needs, the interests and requirements of its user. This principle is no different if designing for a corporate office, a zoo, a university or a private residence – each design is created specifically for the client.


Be clear about all the uses you have for each space, and design your place to suit YOUR needs

Good design is personal, and your home should be too.

So how do we do it? How can your home reflect who you are, your history AND be practical and comfortable? Whether you are starting a new build, renovating or working with what you already have, it helps to begin with a Brief. This brief is personal, and should reflect your own unique style that:

  1. Expresses who you are and what you value
  2. Expresses your individuality
  3. Is a springboard to making memories


Be quirky. Add a sense of surprise like these Boskke Sky Planters available at Boskke

Some pointers to getting your Brief started:

Create a Visual Diary

If you are a visual person, or if you want to communicate ideas to a designer, your builder or to discuss with your family, one of the easiest ways to clarify your style is to create a Visual Diary. Rip through magazines, copy images from books, photograph with your smart phone, or draw sketches of the styles and spaces that inspire you.

Traditionally, my clients glued images to a scrapbook, but today I’m forwarded Instagram pics, given access to a Pinterest folder or Flipboard, shown an image folder in their phone or shared through many of the Cloud Storage programs such as Drop Box, Box, Google Drive, etc.


Love a texture? Photograph it and refer to it as you build your personalised decorating and design Brief.

Anything you love – keep it. In no time at all, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of the styles and décor that you love

Audit What You Already Have

My Mum recently passed away, and in going through her things, I discovered clothes I can’t ever remember seeing her in, plates sitting at the back of cupboards that probably hadn’t seen the light of day in 10 years – in short, a whole lot of things that took up space but didn’t have enough value to her to be visible and used. Let’s be honest, we all have bits and pieces that we keep, but don’t use, so why do we keep it?


Give life to the bits and pieces you REALLY love and make use of them

The most comfortable (and interesting!) homes, do not have perfectly matched finishes, and the latest look – they reflect the family who lives there. I tell my clients, “if you love something, keep it, because we can find a place for it”.


Eclectic works! Make a cluster of like items and they come to life

So get rid of all that clutter that you don’t particularly like and never use, and get out the finger painting your son did day one at preschool and frame it; reupholster the chair you inherited from your grandma; the cutlery set you lusted after for years that you finally purchased – use it.

If you love it, it has a place in your home.


'Tina Murray is a Melbourne based interior designer who believes good design (and life) comes from the heart.


Tweet: "If you love it, it has a place in your home" - Tina Murray


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