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10 Tips and Tricks To Make Your House a Home

by Carlene Duffy
Posted: October 25, 2015

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There is so much that goes into making a space truly comfortable and liveable. Our Interior Design expert Carlene Duffy gives us her advice on making your house a home. 

When I flick through interior magazines I always skim over the styled sets, which although effective, don’t represent spaces I would want to linger in. The real homes hook me in because they appear lived-in, layered and represent an organic decorating process, which is so much more interesting than a curated set. Your house is your home so let it be a reflection of you and it will always be unique.

1. Be a collector

In my home, I love displaying items I have picked up in my travels, even if it is merely an item I have nabbed from a flea market while camping a few hours South. Whenever I look at these pieces they always bring back fond memories of being in another place and time and always evoke a good feeling. It is so much more satisfying filling your home with objects that ignite a fond memory as opposed to what you may purchase, half price, from a department store.

Image credit: Kara Rosenlund

2. Get personal

Displaying photos in the house is an obvious way to personalise your home but how you do it can make or break your space. I always recommend grouping photos together to create a cluster wall for an effective and contemporary look. Make sure the images are large enough to make an impact and consider your frames well. The same theory applies to books. Your own personal book collection is uniquely yours so putting them on display in your home, whether stacked on bookshelves or piled in a tower on the floor is an ideal way of personalising your space.

3. Reveal your strengths

Work to your strengths. If you are crafty, work well with your hands and own a staple gun you are in a good position to easily update you bedhead, armchair, or dining chairs at only the cost of the fabric. If you are a sewer, consider recovering your lampshades, curtains and cushion covers. You are possibly a gifted amateur photographer or artist and might consider creating some pieces for your wall. The beauty here is not just that your updated items can be achieved at a low cost (although that is a bonus) but that the pieces are a result of your own handy work.

4. Be green

Greenery in the home provides an instant lift to any space and for the most part, we don’t have enough plants in our interiors. A large plant is an ideal way to fill a corner and don’t think you should stop at one. A collection of different plants in varying heights and in different pots creates lushness, interest, and life. They also provide colour without competing with other colours.

5. Show your true colours

We all incline towards certain colours, which is often evident in our clothing, accessories and also transfers to the home. It is good advice to choose two and no more than three colours that you would love to see scattered through your interior and add or delete accordingly to create balance. Limiting your colours is a good way to keep you on track. For some, you will know instantly what colours make you happy, for others, you may have to gauge that based on the colours that already appear in your home. Failing that, sift through your wardrobe for a possible indicator or colours you are drawn to.

6. Soften up

Pay special attention to the soft furnishings in your home as a means of achieving exactly what their name suggests, and softening up your space. Rugs, cushions, bed quilts, towels, and curtains are those pieces that create the cozy, layered, lived-in feeling in your home. Use a variety of textures, materials and patterns to create interest in look and feel.

7. Play up

It is important when styling any space that you are willing to play around with your furnishings until you get it ‘right.’ Sure, there are interior styling ‘rules’ you can apply to help you along (for example, when creating a vignette, group items in odd numbers and have variation in height and scale), but much of this is intuitive and is difficult to learn. Therefore the only way to create a successfully styled space is to either hire a pro or be willing to play. This will involve a lot of adding and deleting, adding and deleting. Wait until nobody else is home, put on some music, get in a zone, and play away.

8. Shop widely

It might be time to expand your horizons and seek out some new and interesting furniture and homewares retailers. Not only can discovering new suppliers provide a source of inspiration but often the more widely you shop, the more diverse your space becomes. And don’t be afraid of op shops and antique dealers. It is always the pieces in my home that show evidence of history that make me happiest.

9. Hang it up

You’d be surprised what you can hang on a wall to improve a space. Art and mirrors are, of course, no-brainers but I have cherished pieces of clothing that I hang on my walls to create colour, interest and reflect a piece of me. One of those pieces is a much-loved red silk Kimono that the hubby brought me home from Japan, over ten years ago. I also display a beautiful, multi-coloured, silk floral skirt and in my children’s rooms, I hang pieces of clothing lovingly crocheted by my late Grandmother. You will never tire of items that you love for sentimental reasons.

10. Do it for love

It makes sense that when you are shopping for pieces for your home you consider how the colour, size, shape etc. will work within your scheme. However it is such a shame if you are forced to leave behind something you love and is within your budget because it is emerald green and may clash with your blue and white colour palette. Buy because you love it and when you get home play around and make it work. If you compromise you will forever look at the piece and think about the one you left behind.

Interior design imagery is so accessible to us now that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the huge range of design styles and furnishing options at our disposal. Remember your home is not a show home nor a styled set, so do yourself a favour and treat your house like your own and you will forever feel at home.

Love Interior Design? Learn more about the industry by checking out this infographic with Trends in Interior Design in Australia. 



Carlene Duffy

Carlene is best known as one half of Michael and Carlene Duffy; the down to earth Gold Coast couple who shared their highs and lows with Australia on 9’s series The Block ‘Glasshouse’. The dynamic duo also featured in Renovation Rumble, and have together established their business ‘Cedar & Suede’.

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