Making yourself at home
How taking a more personalised approach to your decor will bring harmony to your space
Whether you're aware of it or not, your home is shaped around your personality - and those of the people you live with. The arrangement that works for you may be very different from the one that works for your neighbour, even if you happen to live in identical houses.
Unfortunately, it seems that this fact is something that the interiors industry is only just beginning to wise up to. There are signs of a more personalised approach to interiors, one that's less about generic trends and more about celebrating the differences in the way that we like to live.
The trouble is that self-awareness isn't easy to achieve. All too often, people leave the house with a very clear notion of their aesthetic, only to have it abandon them on the shop floor. Befuddled by choice, they panic and buy whatever the sales assistant tells them to buy. When that happens, they're handing over a decision about their home to someone who doesn't know anything about them.
Nina Kati (above) is an interior designer and a practitioner of authentic feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice that's all about creating harmony between people and their environments. She's totally accustomed to the notion that people's design needs vary according to their personality.
"Using feng shui is much more accurate than picking a trend," she explains. "Companies are basing their information on trend-analysis. I'm looking at the person, matching their energies to the space that they live in."
Like a Western astrologer, a feng shui practitioner will begin with your date of birth and draw up a feng shui horoscope. I'm fairly sceptical about feng shui but I don't dismiss it entirely either.
And I'm interested in the notion an interior can be right for one person and wrong for another. So I gave Nina Kati my date of birth. Several days later, she came back to me with a feng shui horoscope and an outline of what would and would not work in my home.
"Home is very important to you and has a direct connection to your soul," she begins. "You don't like to spend too much time away from it. You will want it to be filled with love and harmony." That's definitely true for me, but it's probably true for a lot of other people too.
Then, she got more specific.
"You have a good sense of humour and like the odd quirky piece, something a bit frivolous and fun, perhaps a little kitsch to add the element of surprise and keep the interior from becoming too serious," she explains. I'm impressed. Her description of my home, and what's important to me in it, is as accurate as it would be if she'd visited the house (which she hasn't).
"You will want to live in a light, bright, lightweight interior in an uncluttered and organised home, but you won't want it too neat and clinical," Kati continues, pointing out that I like natural materials like wood, seagrass, and cork. "You can easily mix styles and can add a touch of glamour to your schemes such as a piece of furniture with a frame of polished rose gold metal or a stunning ornate mirror that hangs over a minimalist piece."
This set me thinking about the Regency round gold mirror (€220 from Dust, pictured above). It's a piece that I've had my eye on for a while, mainly because I love its simplicity. It wouldn't be for everyone but, with feng shui design, that's kind of the point. It's a highly individualised, personality-based approach to interiors.
Things to avoid, for me, would include "light/dark stripes or spots, or overwhelming patterns, too much glass/gloss and anything that doesn't look, feel or sound right to you." Once again, this is something that I know intuitively, but it's good to have it confirmed. And the interesting thing about it is - for someone else - a glassy, glossy interior with bold, stripy patterns would be just the thing to make them happy.
A feng shui horoscope from Nina Kati costs €250 for a single person or a couple, with an extra €50 for each additional family member. An interior design consultation, which involves a house visit, costs €425 and takes about three hours. But, since all her services are tailored to what the client needs, she suggests that you begin with a phone call to see what would work best for you. See dulux.ie, ninakati.ie, dust.ie
Find your interiors personality
If you don’t have the money, here’s a little personalising exercise inspired by those people at Dulux who have created a range of colour palettes for 2018, based on three personality types.
(a) Minimise the amount of technology in your home?
(b) Use communications tech to keep touch with people you care about?
(c) Own the latest device before anyone else?
(a) Take refuge at home from the outside world?
(b) Like to gather friends and family around you?
(c) Think of your home as a launch pad for new ideas?
(a) Buy Slow Food from the local farmers’ market?
(b) Spontaneously cook for whoever turns up at dinnertime?
(c) Often use ready meals and takeaways?
(a) Like vintage hardwoods, leather and velvet
(b) Prefer an open-plan home with lots of natural light
(c) Enjoy clever design hacks (and have a bicycle hook on the wall)
If your answers are mostly (a): you’ve got a warm-hearted persona and you’ll be happiest in a ‘Comforting Home’. That translates into warm earth tones like terracotta and blush pink, with plenty of handmade texture. If your answers are mostly (b): you’ve got an open-hearted persona and you’ll thrive in an ‘Inviting Home’ — think easy-going neutrals, high windows, and a giant sofa. People who answer mostly (c): have a light-hearted persona. They need a ‘Playful Home’ with sparky colours and wall-hung plants.
On one level, this is just a fun way of selling paint. On another, it’s a bit more perceptive than most research. That’s because it’s based on an understanding that people’s tastes are steered by their personalities. The more awareness of your personality, the more successful your interiors will be.