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Dream Home News, Issue #006 -- The Personal Issue
November 01, 2008

Hello, and welcome to the sixth issue of Dream Home Decorating News - THE PERSONAL ISSUE (November 1, 2008).


  1. Publisher’s Note
  2. Tip of the Month: Personal Touches for Your Home
  3. Legal Stuff

Publisher's Note

It's lovely to be writing to you again! And just in case you were wondering, this "Personal Issue" isn't about me, personally. It's about YOU, personally - except for a few short remarks at the start.

Biggest news first: My Dream Home Gift Shop is now in business, and made its first handsome sale within 24 hours of opening. Which was rather exciting (and I take it as a good sign as well). Have a look for yourself, and let me know what you think! I'll be uploading new goodies regularly between now and Christmas, and have a list of things planned for the New Year as well. If there is anything you would like to see in the shop, please let me know. (Except t-shirts. I do draw the line at t-shirts ;-)

Secondly, The Ultimate Christmas (Jeanne Bice) has now officially hit the shelves. From what I have seen in the pre-print (PDF) version, it is quite a heart-warming collection of stories, recipes, ideas & tips, and I am pleased to be part of the book. Apart from my "Craft Gift Ideas for Grown-ups" the publisher also used two of my photos, which made it even more rewarding.

But what about – thirdly - the site redesign? Well, my wonderful web designer is currently fighting for the health and future of his little toddler son. I'm praying for them, and I think we'll just wait until he can complete the work. It may take a while.

The following "Tip of the Month" is an afterthought to September's eZine topic. Inspired by the Terence Conran books I have just reviewed for the site, I'd like to add a few more ideas that can help make a home truly "you-nique".

Tip of the Month:
Personal Touches for Your Home

Terence Conran is one of my contemporary interior design heroes. His decorating recipe, in a nutshell, is this:

1. Think about who you are, and what you want to express of yourself in your personal environment.

2. Set the scene in your home with clear, classic, user-friendly furniture. Don’t skimp on things that are likely to see heavy wear or that need to function for a long time (like seating, hardware etc.).

3.Get these basics right, and then 'play' with stuff that can be updated fairly easily and inexpensively:
a) fabrics
b) wall paint
c) carpets
d) lamps

4. Fill out the framework with things that make your home come alive:
a) personal items
b) exciting stuff
c) 'fashionable' things.

Conran calls his decorating concept "rich abundance on a simple base" - much like Italian cooking, really.

So let's look at a few ways to decorate your home according to this recipe. We'll assume you have completed points 1-3, and are now looking at 4: Keeping your home fresh and interesting with things that excite you and express who you are.

Well – who are you, and what makes you tick? Do you …

… have a passion, like opera, motorbikes, wilderness hiking, cooking?
… collect stuff?
… make things?
… have a soft spot for flowers, horses, or the color red?
… dream of traveling to a particular part of the world?
… have children or grandchildren who give you pictures they have painted?
… jot down inspirational sayings whenever you come across them?
… love old china, outrageously beautiful stamps, gorgeous vintage books?

Any of these things could be turned into a way of expressing yourself "you-niquely" in your personal environment. And it's something that works for a contemporary interior design style as well as for country and period homes.

'Making It Work' vs. Exhibiting

In your home, the most organic approach to showing who you are and what you love is to use things that express it.

This is easy to do when you look at the 'china' or 'color' examples: you just create opportunities to use them. (If you're partial to a totally in-your-face color, use it to paint the guest cloakroom, or the inside of a cupboard, or buy yourself flowers/towels/a doormat in that color).

The approach also works with fabrics and other everyday materials, as well as with images (the September eZine covers several ways of doing that).

But a collection of thimbles? Drawings from grandchildren? That's clearly a case for staging an exhibition. So the next question is: How best to exhibit stuff at home?

To Group or Not to Group?

To group, definitely.

1. Group for Impact
Obviously, if you have a collection, the whole point is to see the items together. The most common way of doing that is to 'showcase' them - in a glass cabinet, a box frame, or grouped together on a shelf or cupboard. You could also consider creating a fun coffee/side table by arranging small items in a horizontal showcase (a bit like a drawer covered with sturdy glass). Mount the case on short table legs, or set it atop of a box.

But what if you only have one, or very few, items of a kind?

2. Group to Give Importance …
… and to draw attention to a prized possession. For example, display two Meissen plates together with several plain white ones. This adds necessary bulk to the display, but all eyes will be on the two stars of the show. Alternatively …

3. Invent A Group Membership …
… by combining similar, related, or completely different items.
For example, frame a few of your daughter's charcoal drawings and stir them into a mix of black-and-white photographs and/or black-and-white modern art of a similar style and spirit. If suitable prints are hard to come by, consider buying a book and cutting & framing some of the pages. I know it sounds sacrilegious to rip a book apart, but it can be an inexpensive and convenient way of doing things. The association will lift your daughter's work to the level of fine art and make her mighty proud. (You'll find more ideas on creating compositions on the page about contemporary interior design!)

To Mount or Not to Mount?

To mount, usually.

In design school, at the end of each project, we had to mount our samples on white card and exhibit them in our workspace. I remember standing there with my feisty classmate Jess, at the end of our first-ever project, surveying our less-than-astounding snippets of work. She shook her head, giggled, and then said matter-of-factly: "Even (*bleep*) looks good mounted."

Nuff said.

Large mounts can make small things look important. What if you mounted the Three Most Beautiful Stamps of your collection, with oversize mats and fancy frames? (Obviously, you should only do this if you're not expecting any visits from philatelists with a lawless streak)

Kids' crayon pictures look great when mounted on colored card. Take your color cue from the drawing, or choose a complementary color for the mount. Then group the pictures along a wall, or two above two.

Magnets & Metal …
… can be a good mounting device for lightweight artwork and photos. Go beyond the prefab, bare metal board – paint it, decoupage it, 'wallpaper' it with paper or fabric (you'll need stronger magnets in that case). Alternatively, paint a piece of MDF with magnetic paint and frame it. Magnetic paint is gray (because of the iron content), but you can paint over it with regular emulsion paint in any color.

If you want to use something a little more unexpected, think laterally: Anything with enough iron in it could serve as a mount. For example, a few old garden spades lined up & fixed to a wall, each with a beautiful snapshot 'magneted' to the blade could look rather cool (particularly if you're an avid gardener). Or you could take a collection of antique metal trays or enamel plates, and use those as magnetic picture frames.

My last idea (and then I'll stop, promise!) is to use the space above doors to exhibit something beautiful (or wise). This is an idea I've nicked from French country decorating. So imagine, for example, a small but perfectly formed piece of rusty & interesting, or painted & shiny metal, with a favorite meaningful quote stuck to it by magnetic means. No one in your neighborhood will have anything like it above their doors … at first.

Phew! Why is it that my newsletters are always so LONG? Please, if it's too much, DO let me know! Complain bitterly. I'll do my best to control myself better, next time.

Legal Stuff

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"See" you again on January 1, 2008!
All the Best to You,

Renate Hering-Shepherd
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