This is an extract from My Bedroom is an Office & Other Interior Design Dilemmas by Joanna Thornhill.
It’s very easy to be impressed by a beautifully executed interiors scheme, with nothing out of place, but it does not necessarily mean that the owner or designer has turned the house into a home. Often the most successful schemes are those with something raw, even ‘wrong’: a few wonky pictures, a mishmash of tableware, the odd casually clashing ornament. These can be the missing touches in a home that might look perfectly pleasant but not feel homely.
This can be a fine line to tread. You want a curated, coordinated look rather than a jumble of styles and ideas, but do keep that line in mind. Generally, you start to cross it when you begin to prioritise style over function, or conversely – cover the basics without giving any thought to finishing touches. Take the coffee table: leaving it entirely bare when not in use can look a bit stark, so adding a couple of plants or a stack of your favourite books can help bring things to life, but don’t get too obsessed with creating the perfect Instagrammable vignette of over-curated objects; you will inevitably end up kicking over coffee cups that you’ve put on the floor lest you unbalance your tabletop aesthetic.
Consider all the senses, not just sight, when styling your space. Tactility is crucial, so aim to include a good proportion of warm wood or chunky knitted textiles to add physical warmth. And we all know how enticing the smell of freshly baked bread is in a kitchen, so – while clearly you won’t be rustling up loaves constantly – don’t overlook the comfort that sweet-smelling candles, incense sticks or flowers can bring.
Adding objects that are connected to you personally can transform the way you feel about your space. Apart from the obvious, such as family photographs, make sure there’s a liberal scattering of things you love or that evoke happy memories, regardless (within reason) of whether they ‘go’ with your interior scheme. That old 1970s ceramic horse figurine that you inherited from Granny, a naff fridge magnet from a holiday resort many moons ago, an artwork featuring a favourite quotation – all these will add more to your home than a perfectly coordinating run of specially chosen ornaments ever could.