How to personalize home decor

HGTV Canada host Sabrina Smelko’s four tips for adding a personal touch to your palace


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Smelko, star of $ave My Reno, suggests using pop culture references and materials like glass or metal to add personal flair to a space

© Images courtesy of Sabrina Smelko

Whether you’re an interior designer trying to add your signature flair to every space you touch or you’re a designer at heart, finding your own voice is a challenge.

Design is a saturated landscape, and thanks to blogs and platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, we’re surrounded by image after image of other people’s work. 

Although being aware and inspired by the work of others is awesome, inspiration-intoxication can be debilitating and leave you more confused than ever as to what your signature style should be.

As a designer, I’ve been down the frustrating road of discovering my personal style, so here are some tips on how to establish your own unique voice.

Diversify and hoard
Gain inspiration from as many sources as possible. Hoard anything and everything that piques your interest — the more varied, the better. And look beyond your favourite five! The more sources you get inspiration from — and the more you gather influence from other avenues like movies, pop culture, fashion, fine art, etc. — the more likely the resulting work will be unique and signature.

To use an analogy, think of a meat grinder: if all you add is pork and beef, you’ll be able to pinpoint the pork and beef within the sausage. Add in chicken, turkey, herbs, vegetables and spices — so to speak — and you’ll end up with a complex but complementary result.

Define similarities
After you’ve gathered a library of inspiration, sift through it and search for threads of continuity. What do all of your inspiration images have in common? Maybe it’s the colour blue, maybe it’s the use of glass or metal, maybe it’s a bohemian flair. Defining what it is you like gets you one step closer to defining your own unique style.

Recall your roots
What makes you tick? Where did you come from? What makes you you? If you try to run from your roots you won’t create something authentic, so discover and embrace your own special sauce.

Stay curious
They say curiosity killed the cat, but it has also killed many creative blocks. Explore and ask more questions! Even if you nail a certain style or approach, divert from it — if only for a while. Question your process, toy with your comfort zone, fall but get up again. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the result every time, but I can guarantee you’ll learn something, which can sometimes bring you even closer to defining your personal style. 

Sabrina Smelko is the co-host of HGTV Canada’s $ave My Reno, designer of pixels, places + things and creative director at Wild and Light. 

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