|Austin Woman Magazine - January 2010|
Does Your Home Tell Your Story?
By Barbara Buyer-Ruiz; photos by Tony Ruiz
Tony and I were standing in the middle of a brand-new Dripping Springs living room, completely bare except for its “builder beige” walls, when our client handed us a mailing tube. “Can you design a room around this?” he asked. We opened the package to find a beautiful photographic print of a majestic tree standing before a gorgeous African sunset. Our answer came immediately: “Yes.” We used the entire room to tell the story of the print, from the violet hues of the wall color to a bold contemporary area rug that evokes the call of the wild.
Everyone’s home is a reflection of themselves and the things they love. We surround ourselves with the images, colors and family items that give us comfort and happiness. Sometimes we don’t recognize the simple things that can change a room. Family heirlooms that end up in boxes oftentimes make a great display, while creating a comfortable family room.
While installing a shimmery copper window treatment to complement our deep grape accent wall in the dining room of her new home, our client, still unpacking boxes, was standing on a small ladder stacking china plates into a narrow cabinet above her refrigerator. We instantly detected a story. “What’s that you’re putting away up there?” We asked. She told us it was her great-grandmother’s china! The plates were delightfully decorated with a pastoral scene ringed with floral edging. The even amber-glaze from years of warming on top of a wood stove made them a must for display with an antique marble-top serving piece.
Occasionally, even a hobby or a favorite pastime will come through while we are decorating a home. Another of our clients loved nothing better than to browse dusty antique shops, looking for bold, unique pieces. We turned one of her favorite finds, a big brass tray, into a one-of-a-kind coffee table by placing it on a rattan storage box and tucking it into another of her finds, a tree-trunk ring which we “secured” by filling it with river rocks.
There are many ways to instill your story in your home. Items that don’t seem to go together can be used with a little imagination and creativity.
Good design is form plus function…
and there is always a story! Does your home tell your story? You may already have everything you need to personalize your home with color, furniture and accessories that truly make your home uniquely yours. Here are few things to consider that may help you find your story:
The inspiration piece. A favorite print or painting can be the starting point for decorating an entire room! Transform your “builder beige” walls into a story by pulling out one of the background colors of your art work to create a supporting canvas.
Treasure chest. Do you have a large decorative chest that can’t seem to find a home? Show it off at the foot of your bed. It adds interest to the room and, best of all, gives you somewhere to sit down when you put on your shoes! An extra warm blanket can be stored inside for cold nights.
Old Plates. A collection of bone china makes a wonderful wall display in a dining room or even a guest bedroom. Hang in an arch or zigzag pattern with wire plate hangars for a big impact. If the plates are stained or glazed from hours spent warming on your great-grandmother’s wood stove, so much the better!
Invest in the spectacular. Art glass is a favorite collectible. Instead of accumulating “little bits” of it here and there, save your pennies for a large piece that perfectly fits an art niche. Or splurge on a spectacular blown-glass centerpiece for your dining table that delights you each time you pass by.
Upgrade your light fixtures. This is one of the most inexpensive ways to customize your home. Update and replace every single light fixture, one at a time as budget allows, giving your bathrooms, hallways, and entry a beautiful new identity.
Shelve it. Favorite candles and candleholders make a big impact when arranged on three small espresso-stained shelves offset above a bed. Romantic, too!
Warehouse finds. A big brass tray discovered in a dusty antique shop can become a one-of-a-kind coffee table by simply placing it on a rattan storage box.
Area rug impact. A small oriental rug inherited from a favorite aunt can be used to great effect next to a bed, alongside a piano, or on a bathroom floor to replace one of those fuzzy ones.
Reuse and renew. Reupholstering is the greenest way to a new sofa or chair. Older pieces in particular usually have strong, hardwood frames that are worth saving. Cushions can be re-built inexpensively and updated fabric breathes new life into much-loved and much-used furniture.
Hang ‘em high. Beautiful custom valances are often placed too low on the window, making a room dark and closed-in instead of light and airy. A valance best serves its purpose when it hangs only 1” or so below the top of the window to allow the most light and greatest view. A higher position also makes the room feel taller.