Former The Block contestant and owner of Cedar + Suede interior design studio, Carlene Duffy, knows how to stylishly incorporate your personal items into a chic living space.
Whether you’re trying to pick a colour scheme, incorporate souvenirs or display family photos, consider these tips for seamless and stunning integration.
A personal colour scheme
When decorating your house, avoid picking colour schemes just to placate others. This is a sure-fire way to end up with something you don’t love.
“I do think it’s important to stay true to the colours you keep coming back to,” Carlene says.
Stay true to your style. Picture: Taubmans
If you’re struggling to choose, Carlene recommends looking to your wardrobe and seeing if there are any shades or palettes you’re naturally drawn to. Try the Taubmans Coloursmith app to create a paint colour of your favourite hue.
“You can take a photo of a colour you like and then play around [testing it in your space],” Carlene notes.
“You can create your own shade or manipulate the colour you’ve chosen and then order samples.
“I will always make sure I order samples of multiple shades because it’s not until you get it up on your wall in the exact light, in relation to your carpet colour or flooring, that you’re able to see if it works or not.”
Time to throw some shade. Picture: Taubmans
When it comes to colour scheming, Carlene also recommends “saturating” a space with various shades of the same colour or two, as opposed to trying to match it with a contrasting colour.
“I like to repeat my colours and saturate a space, using various shades of the one colour,” she explains.
“In my own home you see a lot of greens and blues. I’m just sure to choose the greens and blues according to each room and the quality of light that each room receives.”
Display family photos
Family photos say a lot about who you are and where you’ve come from. So, if you’re going to display them, make sure they look great.
“I tell clients that it’s always nice to collate your family photos and do a gallery wall in somewhere that’s a little more discreet, like a hallway or stairwell, rather than having them scattered throughout the whole house,” Carlene advises.
“I would avoid blowing up photos and putting them on canvases — this can cheapen the photo. I think framing them is the way to go.”
Carlene suggests framing your family photos. Picture: Getty
Furthermore, to keep spaces clean and clutter-free, Carlene recommends placing lots of little framed photos on consoles or tables.
“Anything you can get up on the wall and off your flat surfaces to avoid clutter is a good approach,” she says.
Show off souveniers
Souvenirs don’t just say where you’ve been, they say where you love to go — and what you love about those places.
When it comes to displaying mementos of your travels, Carlene recommends avoiding clutter by only buying and displaying pieces you love.
“It’s about choosing things you love and never choosing something for a specific space or a specific colour, because our tastes change,” she finds. “If you’re buying something you love, you can always move it around the house and you’ll never get sick of it.”
How to style kids’ spaces
Of course, showing a personal touch in your home design isn’t just about you — other people in your home want to show off their style too!
When it comes to helping you kids personalise their spaces, Carlene recommends restricting the colour palette to no more than three colours. Then you can repeat these throughout the space.
Carlene recently helped create a savvy kid’s bedroom makeover. Picture: Hannah Photography
“You want them to feel like they’ve had some control over it,” Carlene starts.
“Give them the opportunity to perhaps pick a general colour, but I would say choosing the exact shade should be in your hands and it will come down to a lot of sampling.
“Then, it’s just about them adding personality in other things, like hanging their artwork or things they’ve made. Maybe add a pin board so they can add and change things as they go.”
Make your own art
Art is subjective — your taste is highly personal. What you choose to display on your walls and around your home should be a reflection of what you love.
However, great artwork can be very expensive (and not many of us can afford to shop at Sotherby’s), but bare walls can look a little stale.
Filling your walls doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. You may just need a good frame. Picture: Pexels
Carlene’s solution has often been to display mementos and other unexpected items for decoration.
“I’m known to frame things,” she says. “My grandma used to crochet little jumpers for the kids and I hang them on the kids’ walls. I’ve been given scarves as gifts that I’ve had framed and hung — it personalises your walls.”
If you have fabrics, mats or sentimental items that can go in frames, why not take them to a professional and see what they can do? Furthermore, Carlene encourages folks not to just fill a wall gap with any old thing.
“From experience, the art I’ve had made or things I’ve found at a flea market, those are things I never get rid of.”