The Sweetest Home

In an era where the Aussie dream of house ownership is a tedium, styling one’s current dwelling can inspire anyone to love their abode. When it comes to making a house a home, the options for styling are endless!

Decorative cushions, scented candles, funky framed prints, a ball of yarn, indoor plants, and a throw rug. These are but a few examples of home decor that were once in vogue but have probably already become dated as I finish typing this sentence. Trends come and go and designers and stylists do well to stay in touch with the latest in fashion. Some trends may appeal to your personal style, while others can be impractical or unaffordable.

The homewares industry is lucrative and statistics from Roy Morgan Research have discovered:

“Just over 1.6 million Australians 14+ buy homewares in an average four weeks, spending nearly $133 million between them (an average of $73 per person per four-week period).”(Morgan. April 07 2016. Finding No. 6751)

This data only took into account retail purchases made in-store; nevertheless it highlighted Australians’ love affair with styling their homes. Kmart and IKEA were named the most popular brands among Aussie homewares enthusiasts. It is interesting to note that both retailers have a penchant for producing affordable and trendy home decor.

A brassy Matt Blatt chandelier

Taste versus trend
For the non-fashionistas of the world (such as myself) developing a personal style is an easy way of spicing up your home without blowing the budget. My home is an eclectic blend of sentimental paraphernalia which will probably never make it into a magazine issue. It feels like home because l have filled it with collectibles that I love; it is a treasure trove of memories. However, I do enjoy the odd visit to Kmart and IKEA so I have contributed to their retail success.

One of my favourite pastimes is to scour Goodwill and vintage shops for unique home decor. I also enjoy second-hand bookstores because books with old hard covers are particularly beautiful. People’s tastes vary greatly, and because of my practical and frugal outlook, eclectic and timeless homewares are appealing. I do confess to buying a handful of decorative cushions, and my fair share of Home Beautiful magazines in my time. I admire the aesthetic and diversity of Aussie homes but personally cannot afford to style my home according to the latest trends.

Over the years, I found practical ways to make the most of my humble living space. One of the country’s best renovation experts, Cherie Barber, implements practical strategies when beautifying houses. In a feature titled 10 ways to add instant value to your property, she wrote:

‘the objective of any renovation is to improve the functional space within a property and its visual appeal. The premise of renovating is to make property look new again and in doing this add more perceived value than actual cost.”(Barber. 2015)

The last seven words of Cherie’s advice summarise my attitude towards home decor. Decorating one’s home provides the visual lift needed to make a tired space feel renewed. Splurging out or spending less comes down to choice. l think Matt Blatt’s Bella Rug is absolutely stunning and when I was in the market for a new rug, blue was in season, but I didn’t have a spare $695 to cough up for it. Instead, my living room boasts the Dragör flat woven beige rug from IKEA for $99. The IKEA rug was affordable; I like the neutral tones, and my greyhound wouldn’t appreciate the difference in price seeing as his bed is in the lounge room, and he often extends to the rug.

Appealing as the cheaper option may be, some people perceive trendy and less common homewares as a statement of individuality and style. Stores like Matt Blatt, Temple and Webster, and West Elm provide a range of individually-crafted furniture and home decor that oozes personality. During a recent visit to Matt Blatt I saw a chandelier made from trumpets and thought it was a quirky item. However, products from specialist stores also come with a hefty price tag. One of the things that draws would-be stylists to such businesses is their creative flair and the convenience of the online shopping experience. The Internet is a formidable part of consumer experience and the research from Roy Morgan states that retailers with a shopfront need to be savvy to remain competitive:

“most savvy bricks-and-mortar retailers tend to offer their customers an e-commerce channel as well as a physical shopping space…” (Andrew Price. 2016)

Colour my world

Top print by Jacek Gaudasinski and bottom print was a wedding gift

It may seem brazen to paint a feature wall in seventies orange for some added retro charm but one can quickly outgrow this phase. Without all of the mid-century interiors or designer flair, such a feature wall might turn out to be an eyesore. If you want the best of both worlds by combining your personal taste with something trendy and timeless, you ought to give consideration to a neutral palette in your decor. This will allow your most valued homewares to pop without feeling cluttered.

In the May 2017 issue of Home Beautiful, black and white were dubbed trendy enough to be a cover story subtitled, The classic palette reimagined with raw textures and collected treasures. The black & white palette is nostalgic and can be dressed up or down, much like your favourite little black dress. One of the beautiful things about a colour trend is that one can source materials from many places, including cheaper brands. In this case, there is no shortage of black & white inspired home decor online and in stores. The challenge of adhering to a colour trend is to ensure that things match so that your styling looks intentional.

Regardless of your styling choices, aim to make your home feel inviting and personal. In addition, make your styling functional by giving consideration to your lifestyle. For example, a Japanese-inspired minimalist approach would not be suitable for a busy family with three young children and an indoor pet. Besides, what makes it homely has a lot to do with its precious occupants, the bonds formed, and the memories shared. These elements never go out of fashion so my best advice to achieving the sweetest home is to fill it with love, conversation, laughter, parties, and baking; this is the best approach to home decor. How do you decorate your home?

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