Surround Yourself With Love

I’ve always admired friends whose homes were professionally decorated, right down to the custom drapes; however, a home should not be just a showroom. A comfortable home should express who you are and where you’ve come from — and I’m going to show you how to do it inexpensively with things you already own and love!

Photos One way to achieve a connection to your past is to display family photos, both old and new. Don’t be afraid to hang black and white photos alongside color photos. In fact, doing so creates more interest. Unsure of how to display your photos? Pick a theme. One of my favorite creations is the “baby wall” in the entryway of our home. I started with a large portrait of our firstborn son in the middle, then worked outwards from all sides. The baby wall is multi-generational, going back to my grandparents as babies. I feel such a sense of belonging when I walk through the front door now. Sometimes I catch my son Michael staring at the faces on the wall, and I wonder if he sees his likeness in their faces.

Meaningful Objects In my china cabinet sits a blue glass salt shaker that belonged to my grandmother, still full of salt. My husband tried to clean it out, but the silver cap was practically cemented shut with the 25-year old salt. I was disappointed that we weren’t able to clean it, but then I thought about the fact that in it was the actual salt my grandmother had used. It is a beautiful piece on its own, but its history is what pulls at my heartstrings. Don’t keep these special objects squirreled away. You’ll be surprised how much attention they garner from guests.

Collections Collections also make for interesting displays and come with a built-in story. You have the story of where, when, and who you were with when you found a piece. If you don’t have a collection, it’s easy to start one. Books are a terrific place to start. Look at what’s on your bookshelf. Does a theme emerge? I have a book collection on Maine history that began with one title: St. Croix: The Sentinel River by Guy Murchie (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1947), a book that originally belonged to my grandmother.

Mother Nature Seashells, stones, seeds/pods, and feathers make for inexpensive, yet beautiful, collections. Other items you may have around the house include ribbons, pencils, tins, tiles, beads, maps, and other ephemera.

Artwork Artwork, by definition, is a form of expression. My husband picked up a signed print of a watercolor by Tony Diodati called “From the Udder Side” for $5 at a yard sale. It’s an odd piece, done from the perspective of looking under a cow’s legs. It hangs on a wall in our kitchen. As it turns out, Diodati is a Canadian artist and this particular print sells for $100. Great story, great painting.

Again, I love to mix the old with the new. A small terracotta flower pot decorated with my youngest son’s fingerprints sits alongside my great-grandmother’s silver teapot in my china cabinet. Our family story continues with each generation, so displaying these items together makes perfect sense to me.

No matter where you live or what your budget is, you can create a home that is both distinctive and full of warmth. Look around your home with new eyes and identify the objects that hold special meaning for you and your family. Use them to sprinkle your home with a personal touch that reflects your life and loves for all to see and enjoy.

Jill Prouty

Jill is a reader, writer, and professional librarian who enjoys spending her free time with her husband of twelve years and their two sons. She has an MSLS from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.