Create a home with character & personality

When I’m designing for a client, I spend a lot of time really listening to them to understand what they love, how they want to live, and how they want to feel in their home.  I listen to their lifestyle desires, dreams and really try to get inside their head.  Nothing is worse than a professionally designed home that lacks the personality of the owners! I know a lot of designers read this blog, and I think you would agree.

When you use a designer the result should be your dream home, with your personality and ideas aided by the vision and experience of a designer whose esthetic you share.

I’m a big believer that things in your home should be meaningful, so I never create a design plan overloaded with “fill up the space” accessories. I  incorporate most of the clients existing inventory of beloved pieces in to the design plan. I also think there should be some space left for future treasures the client might find as they go through life. A home is always evolving.

Using my own home as a guide, here are some thoughts I have on creating a space that has character and your own personality.


All images and designs Marmalade Interiors

I stress about this over and over. Your home is for YOU and should bring you happiness. In my opinion there is no bigger mistake than to go out and buy that “Pottery barn” interior or whatever design idea retailers sells you. It’s not that they don’t have great ideas, but they should be just that – IDEAS for your home. You are unique, so figure out what you really love and focus on that.


Nothing is perhaps more personal, or says more about the person(s) in a home than the art that hangs on the walls. What you love someone else might hate, and that’s just fine.  I always review the entire art inventory for my clients and make sure each piece is shown to it’s best advantage, whether hung alone or as a collection. Often a favorite painting can give me the color cue for a room.  You’re the curator – personal pictures, flea market finds, expensive art – it all will make up who you are.

This is a painting I bought years ago at an auction in Stockholm. Although my house now is more modern I work them in to our interiors. This lady was the prettier one of the two sister’s who were painted in the 1600’s.

On the back of the painting you can read about her life. She was born 1684, married and died 1712.

Her sister had less “luck” on the marriage department and lived forever as a spinster. You might have seen her in this picture…

This painting came almost for free with the purchase of the other one.

How could I ever split up two sisters??

Their story entertains me.


Sure I purchase a few accessories that will help a table scape or a fire mantel, and I’m guilty of a few Homegoods runs. But my home is filled with quirky items I love that have a story to tell, or a motif that speaks to me.

My big damaged panther sits prominently on the fireplace mantel in the living room. I went through a period of loving broken things, and I never get enough of animals in any shape or form in our house.

Some people hate it, but I don’t care. His imperfection suits me just fine.

On the mantel above sits my…

… “pretty lady head” (in lack of a better name). Here she is on my desk and styled for a recent magazine shoot. I bought her on a trip to Colombia, she is staying with me forever.


I don’t think I have a single client whom I haven’t revamped one or several pieces of existing furniture for. This is a surefire way to add character and personality to your home. You’ll have a piece that has history, yes given a whole new unique look that no one else has. Please don’t get rid of your old stuff before you have seen if it can be reinvented.

My purple mirror was once gold.  It makes me smile not just because it’s large and purple, but because I actually had the guts to paint it.

Really….paint something an outrageous color.

All you can do is go wrong, if so just repaint it.

The result can be awesome.


One if the things I tell my clients is it’s very important to stray outside your comfort zone. If you never stretch your vision you’ll never get the best result, because you will stick only to what’s familiar to you. Keep an open mind when creating your home. I think not just design, even life is better when you open up your world.

Step outside the comfort zone with color, form and patterns. Be willing to explore what’s unknown to you.


What’s surprising to me is how many spaces people consider dead spaces and are left to be just that, a good for nothing space.

I love to maximize a useless spaces. On almost every job a dead space has become my clients favorite new space with some new idea of use or design.   A hallway corner becomes an office, a dark bathroom gets painted black with bold accents and becomes a favorite.

In my home I wallpapered a small hallway with a bold graphic wall paper that would easily have been ignored. It’s my favorite spot in the house.


Don’t throw away your granny furniture. Well SOME might need to be donated, but some can be put to good use. Reinvented or not it’s really you if it has some family connection.

For you who are followers of the blog you know that Luke’s dad passed away last year. He used to play chess with his dad at his house, so now we have his chess table behind our couch. Not a great design layout, but it’s a spot that makes Luke happy.

Creating happiness in the space should ALWAYS override “design rules.”


Yes decorating is not brain surgery and should not be taken to serious. Allow your humor to come through.

This is a medieval armor from my old house that was vastly different than this. When Luke was little he called him the Tin man form the Wizard of Oz. The rickety tin man is still with us and guards the basement steps!

Do you have any great suggestions on what you do to add personality to your space? Please share.

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16 thoughts on “Create a home with character & personality

  1. I love this post! They are all such great tips and I live by many of them in my home. In my past homes, I always kept things beige and bland because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. Now, people walk into my home and say "Wow! Color!" like it's a novel concept that never occurred to them! I would also add: Take your time because finding all the little treasures that make it "home" doesn't happen in one day.
    This kind of reminds of my Design Manifesto. You can read it here:

  2. Hej Jill !
    Halkade in på din blogg för ett tag sen och måste säga: Vilka fina inredningar du gör ! Så fräscht !
    Hoppas verkligen det går bra för dig "over there" !
    Jobbar själv med sömnad och inredning och här kommer jag hitta mycket inspiration. Måste prova att "banda" mina hissgardiner nästa gång – det är ju så snyggt !
    Ha det bäst från en Karlstad-tjej

  3. Wonderful home decorated furniture is available here. Looking all of those home goods is gorgeous and significant. I'm sure if any women would look those goods might be sure they are enthusiast of those home decorated goods.

  4. The beauty of knowing how to upholster furniture is that you have the power in your hands, of transforming any piece from a dull, worn look into a colorful and lively one. You simply cover the piece with some fabric that you like together with some stuffing and that’s it! furniture stores brentwood tn

  5. This blog is amazing. I hope to use it as an inspiration for mine, as there is so much personality in here.

    On the topic, the owner's personal tastes should be present more than anything else seen on tv, popular, etc. Of course it is all about you – it is your home, and you are the one responsible.

    Great work! I just found this blog and I am keen to learn more about it. Hope to soon engage in more discussions.

    Best regards,
    Barry from Go Cleaners London and

  6. Hey! I loved this post. You have some of the most amazing Vintage collection. This must taken a lot of time. Truly, one of the most beautiful posts. Good Job!

  7. This is a veritable lesson to learn in home design and decor. I am glad I found it, you've been really inspiring even form my school project in interior design. I can find some brilliant ideas using this starting point.

  8. I used to have a glass dining table a little while ago and once the table got broke it was a very
    tough time obtaining a replacement one, in the long run I
    bought a different sort of kitchen table as it worked out more affordable

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