Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creating an Authentic Home

When attempting to succesfully design a home, we all know that along with taking client's needs/ wants/ personal style into account, it's also important to examine the home itself and think of what type of interiors would be authentic.  Where is it located?  What style of architecture is it?  What's the age of the home?   How does the home fit within the land around it?  What's the level of quality?

{My old house that by Dad built when I was a kid}

The goal in creating a well-designed home should always be authenticity.   A home should feel appropriate and effortlessly fit into the world around it.  (I don't mean this in a rigid sense: the decor in a home doesn't need to "match" the architectural style of the home or be a historal reproduction frozen in time...  but it should take it into account everything around and work with it, carving its own personality that works within a greater patchwork "quilt" around it.)

{Design by Pheobe Howard and image via Cote de Texas}

A home should never feel like a staged set or forced.  For example, think of the person who loves Tuscany...  Does this mean that he/ she should now come home to Washington, DC and recreate a Tuscan villa in their Colonial?  Absolutely not.  Yes, she can bring things home from her travels and incorporate them into her her to remind her of her wonderful time there, but her home does not exist in Tuscany, so she needs to take its true location and architecture into account or it will feel contrived...  It's a very fine line and when done well, is incredbile.  (Now by all means, if you're someone who wants to completely pretend you live somewhere else and don't care about your home feeling authentic/ appropriate, then go ahead & do it.  All "rules" can be broken and if it really makes you happy, then go for it.  I would never recommend this, but above anything, people should be happy in their homes, so if you want to pretend you live in a vinyard, go ahead. ;)  And I can use this example because in our first home, I faux painted the walls in the basement a washed cream, exposed the beams and added wine and rustic items and I loved it!!  In a townhome in Northern Virginia, it was completely inappropriate. (total cheeseball, I might add) It was a good lesson for me.  Homes don't exist in bubbles.  Here's one of the real estate picture we used when we sold it and I can't believe I'm sharing this with you:

(I have to say, I still like the exposed I-beams but PLEASE remember this is before I did this for a living!!! ;)

Whenever possible, materials should be of the highest quality.  It makes a huge difference.  And notice I say, whenever possible...  In my own home, we still have the existing formica countertops in our kitchen.  I wish we could do soapstone, but for now this is what we've got:

{Our kitchen, photo by Helen Norman}

It's okay to know what you want to do and what the best course of action is and not be able to necessarily do it right away.  (or ever.)  I will tell you though in all honesty though, that these details make a huge difference.  Take the example of my kitchen above...  yes, I have the look I want and it fits my home & feels appropriate... BUT it doesn't feel as solid and as permanent as it would were the counters actual stone vs black formica immitating stone.  (I would rather they were solid black and not immitating stone or OF COURSE actual stone...   I'd take concrete too :)  The quality level is not as high as I'd like it to be.  This isn't anything I'm changing any time soon, and I am honestly happy with what I have, but I do know what could make it better.

One of the best books that deals with creating a home that is authentic & appropriate & that fits in with the land around it is Bobby McAlpine's The Home Within Us.  (As I've mentioned before, if you don't have this book buy it because you'll want to read it over & over):

{image via}

So what do you do with the home you've got now?  Maybe the mistakes you've already made?  I truly believe it's a bad idea to throw good money after bad.  If there is something wrong with your home or decor, don't continue on a path based upon that wrong item.  (I've seen this happen countless times.. maybe it's a wrong paint color or a bad sofa or terrible countertops...  It's always a mistake to spend money to make things work with something you don't like or that isn't you or that isn't appropriate.)  So fix that wrong item and suck it up because in the end you will have a home you love versus one that works with the $2000 "mistake" sofa you purchased.  It's really not worth it in the end. 

(image from}

When you think about adding things to your home, make sure you love them and make sure they work within your home.  Are the materials appriopriate & authentic?  Weed out anything that doesn't work with what you're trying to create and slowly add in what is real and what you love.  Create an overall plan for your home & do it right.  It's okay if you can't do it all at once.   Patience is key when creating a home because it's truly a never-ending process.  Enjoy it and be true to yourself & your home and you'll love it. 

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.