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I recently came across an interview with designer, stylist and author Shanna Salk on the topic of displaying our favourite items and was struck by this quote

it takes fearlessness. It’s about not worrying too much about the rules, or what you think you should do, or the value. Decorators talk about great rooms having something a little “off” in them. If you do something too smooth, the effect is too perfect, lacking in personality, like a hotel.

This final sentence really made me think. In particular, because we often come across the phase “boutique hotel” style or “hotel chic” as a style to emulate whereas the comment is quite negative . In general, when planning a design scheme, whether for a single room or an entire property, are we looking for perfection, a particular style or  a trend? Is it fair to say that when we strive for perfection the effect can be sterile? If you insist on everything matching then certainly the overall effect can seem contrived.

When planning a design we should always remember that ultimately we are creating a space for living in, somewhere where we are going to enjoy spending time and that reflects who we are. So I would certainly recommend not following trends or “looks” too slavishly, after all there may be certain elements of that trend or “look” that don’t appeal. Take those aspects that you like and combine with other elements. A classic example of this is combining antique and modern.

The key to making a mixture of styles work is to find a common link such as colours or the use of natural materials. It is the mixture that provides personality. I love travel and for me, one of the pleasures of a holiday is to bring back an item that reflects the local culture. In the past this has included a bright striped cushion cover from Morocco, a rug from Dubai, a wooden carving from Cape Verde and a glass vase from Jordan. Including such a piece in your scheme is what can give the “off” and personality. Besides every time you look at that item it brings back those happy memories of the place where you bought it.

A final word about hotels lacking personality. Yes this may be the case with the chains but less so with what we call the boutique hotel which, by definition, are smaller and tend to be pitched at the higher end of the market. If you are a fan of boutique hotel style simply add those quirky touches. If it isn’t something you have brought back from your travels then just include a piece that stands out from the rest of the scheme.


Image of a light hotel sitting room

For help creating your own personality filled space contact me on 07745 876182,  e mail me on or complete the enquiry form below. We cover Cheshire and the North West.

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