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How to Turn Your House Into a Home: A Case Study

Posted on November 3, 2023 by KylieMawdsley
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5 WAYS TO CREATE A HOMEY-HOME: A case study of OUR house!

Between Pinterest, HGTV, Instagram, and design magazines, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s trendy and hip and forget what really matters when decorating a home.

So what does matter? 

It varies from person to person. Some care a LOT about decorating, design and keeping up with trends. Others don’t care at all and want a home that feels authentic to those living in it (two-legged AND four-legged). And then there are others, like myself, who dabble in both.

Open layout kitchen, dining room, living room, warm grays and greige. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Brittanica Warm quartz countertop, shiplap

However, regarding how we FEEL about our home, I’ve discovered two main categories: external and internal.

 

EXTERIOR VALIDATION OF OUR HOME

Relates to how you think OTHERS view your home.

Sure, I’d love to tell you that I don’t care what people think, but I do… a lot. While I’m getting better with age (in more ways than one), I can’t help but think about others when making decisions for our home.

EXAMPLES OF EXTERNAL VALIDATION OF OUR HOME

  • Feeling proud to have guests come over.
  • Have your guests feel comfortable in your home, even if it isn’t their personal style.
  • That whole ‘keepin’ up with the Jones’ thing (those Jones get around more than me in my 20s!)
  • Worrying about what ‘other people’ will think before making a purchase (which is what I do before buying underwear.)
  • Worrying about what ‘other people’ will think after making a purchase, aka: 2nd guessing your tastes.

As an example of how I need external validation, this is how the dining room looked when we viewed our house (there might be an ad between this info and our dining room – sorry about that, but MOMMA’S GOTTA PAY THE BILLS!)…

DINING ROOM BEFORE PAINT, DECOR, AND LIGHTING (3)

It didn’t have our personality (obviously, it wasn’t our home yet), it didn’t feel like ‘us,’ and the open layout (kitchen/living/dining) wasn’t homey. Even once we moved in, until some fundamental things were changed, I did NOT have company over for dinner (even though we knew they were coming for my stellar personality and epic cooking skills – wink wink).

 

INTERNAL VALIDATION OF OUR HOME

Internal validation is how YOU feel about your home.

While I crave external validation, it’s equally important that I feel good about our home for MYSELF – it’s a balancing act.

A FEW EXAMPLES OF INTERNAL FEELINGS ABOUT OUR HOME

  • Having an authentic home that is a reflection of who is living in it (human and furry).
  • Feeling comfortable so you can relax in your space.
  • Feeling safe and at peace.
  • Being proud of it (for yourself).

I desperately need an authentic, calming home where I am comfortable and at peace. At the same time, I want to feel proud of it (which comes with my job) so that when guests come over, they’re comfortable and impressed with my latest changes (which happen weekly, by the way) and ever-dwindling wine collection. Luckily, I’ve got the skills to manage both, and when those fail, I have wine and endless Ryan Reynolds reruns (Ryan Gosling will do in a pinch.)

As for our previously fugly dining room, check it out now – I LOVE it!

Open layout kitchen, dining room, living room, warm grays and greige. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Brittanica Warm quartz countertop, shiplap (2)

Our Kitchen & Dining Room Update  / Benjamin Moore White Dove & Urbane Bronze island

Even with the open concept floorplan, the space feels more authentic to our tastes and cozier to spend time in. I’m also way more inclined and proud to have company over…

Now, let’s get into the meat of it. And because this is a personal blog post, I’m using my home as a ‘case study’ to show you what makes OUR house feel like a home…

How to decorate, accessories, make your home feel yours and personal with home decor, artwork, Kylie M, decorating, design, update ideas

 

1. MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME WITH PHOTOS

Regarding family photos, ‘too much of a good thing’ only applies if you’re selling your home. If you are NOT selling your home and are decorating it for yourself and your family, there’s NO SUCH THING as ‘too much’ if it makes you feel good!

Here’s our living room before, too many empty walls and nooo personality…

BEFORE REMODEL, living room with open staircase that's dark

And here it is after new flooring, painted stair railing, new paint color, and our furnishings, and home decor – it’s like a whole new living space…

Open layout, livingroom, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing and open staircase. DIY Decorating and Design ideas

Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray 75% lighter

Your family is your home. Whether you like four photos or 40, how you pay homage to those you love is a personal matter and should not be subject to public opinion (even your sister’s – tell her to mind her own beeswax…).

 

2. MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME WITH WELL-CHOSEN ART PIECES

Whether it’s Grandma’s old needlework or your collection of waterscapes, what you hang on your walls speaks VOLUMES about your tastes, hobbies, and history.

I’m an Island girl, on the West Coast of Canada. Therefore, it makes sense that I love paintings of waterscapes and forests, as shown by some of the artwork in the dining room…

artwork by Ronei Faganello, dining room, Westcoast art, acrylic. Benjamin MOore White Dove walls (1)

Benjamin Moore White Dove

And this isn’t just ‘any’ art; it’s created by my dear friend and INSANELY TALENTED neighbor, Ronei (find her website here and INSTAGRAM here.)

Here’s another one of Ronei’s stunners at our lake home. Even though it’s used as an Air B & B sometimes, I still want it to FEEL like us…

Ronei artist, acrylic westcoast ocean landscape painting. White oak flooring, Benjamin MOore White Dove walls. Open layout dining room and kitchen, Kylie M

Benjamin Moore White Dove

While I certainly tread that line between what is personal and what is ‘decoratively appropriate’ (and no, I don’t mean nudes), I don’t have ONE SINGLE piece of artwork in my home that I don’t love. In fact, I have a strange obsession with trees for some reason, including images of things that USED to be trees, like the totem pole below. I can’t explain or rationalize it (fascination with hardwood, I suppose – wink wink).

Benjamin Moore Cheating Heart painted glass door, White Dove walls and Benjamin Moore Smoky Ash brown . Kylie M Interiors Edesign, home office.

Benjamin Moore Cheating Heart painted office door, White Dove trim/walls

In one of our VERY old homes, I loved to display my kid’s artwork and did so via a gallery wall. While they aren’t pumping them out like they used to, my heart still smiles every time I see this photo…

Ideas to personalize a home with a kids art gallery wall above a painted church pew. Kylie M Interiors

Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream

BUT (Kardashian-sized), just because I’ve permitted you to hang your paint by number doesn’t mean you get to go all willy-nilly and hang whatever wherever – there has to be SOME method to the madness!

Why?

Because if you have the RIGHT piece in the RIGHT place, the result is simply magic!

 The Right Height to Hang Artwork

 

3. MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME WITH MEMORABILIA & SENTIMENTAL PIECES

These are the pieces that tell a story. And while memorabilia is often old (like Grandma’s old china cabinet, Grandpa’s fishing rod, or childhood pieces), it can also be more recent. Maybe it’s your heart rock collection (the girls and I have collected hundreds) or that crystal vase from your third wedding. Whatever it is, if it’s important to you, it matters.

It doesn’t need to be an epic story – it just needs to be yours.

Living room, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, DIY Decorating, color ideas (1)

Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray 75% lighter

 

WHAT HAS SENTIMENTAL VALUE IN THE ABOVE PHOTO?

  • The yellow canister has Big Grandpa’s ashes in it so he can hear the hockey game.
  • While it’s hard to see, the long, narrow wood piece on the console table has sea glass, heart rocks, and a rock/twine thing my friend Ang made for me.
  • The framed photo on the console table is of Tim and me, as well as part of the previously shown family gallery wall.
  • See the door in the upper hallway with the little hot pink things on it? I wrote on post-it notes for the girls four years ago, stating why I love them. We still have them up!
  • The books in the basket on the coffee table are ’boutique-style’ books from my friend, Ang (she’s super thoughtful and knows my heart so well.)
  • The toss cushions are from Home Sense – no feels whatsoever other than LOVING them when I saw them!
  • While you can’t see it in the photo, I also have a ten-foot-tall indoor plant – a ficus tree. Getting it was an adventure, and we all love Fred the Ficus! Adding natural elements and texture to our home is a BIG part of feeling AT home.

What makes YOU feel at home?

And then there’s Doug, who makes any space feel like home…

Doug the Golden doodle on gray stairs, Kylie M Edesign

 

4. MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME WITH BOOKS

I am a reader and a book hoarder. I love the smell of books, the feel of books, and the look of books. I went out looking for a few of Amy Tan’s books (having just read one and loved it). I found them at my favorite used book haunt and didn’t buy them because the covers were ugly. That’s right, I DO judge a book by its cover.

This is our bookcase from a few years ago…

Ikea Hemnes white bookcase hutch with books and novels, Benjamin Moore White Dove and Graystone board and batten. Kylie M Interiors online expert

Family room, gray sectional, white oak home bar cabinets, Benjamin Moore White Dove cabinets, ikea bookcase. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, north and south facing

Benjamin Moore White Dove walls, trims, and Graystone on the board and batten lower walls

If I enjoy a book, I want to keep it forever. I don’t want to loan it, trade it, sell it, give it; I want to KEEP it – I’m like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings – MY PRECIOUSSSSS! I only keep my faves, and I have a few of those…a few hundred. One of my life/house goals is to have a personal book den or library where I have a fireplace and can curl up all day with my favorite read and a bottle glass of wine.

 

4. MAKE IT FEEL LIKE HOME BY DISREGARDING ‘STYLE’

I have style, alright – MY style, which is called ‘whatever strikes my fancy!’ That’s right, I don’t have a specific personal style, or if I do, it would be called ‘West Coast, homey, organic, modern, with a touch of eclectic’ – that about covers it.

If I had to match everything I bought to a specific style, our home would be a false representation of the people who live in it,

And while I’ve always wanted fake boobs, I don’t want a fake home.

Kitchen with warm gray, Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter cabinets and Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze painted island. White oak wood flooring. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, blog and colour advice online

In the above photo, you see Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter 25% darker cabinets, White Dove walls and trim, and Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze on the painted island. Find out how I REALLY feel about our gray kitchen cabinets HERE.

Benjamin Moore White Dove, bright living room or family room, gray sectional, tv above painted cabinets. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Benjamin Moore White Dove…of course.

Best dark room paint colour, Benjamin Moore Knoxville Gray, blue green gray color blend. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint

Benjamin Moore Knoxville Gray

Small bathroom or powder room. Black fixtures, concrete look countertop, penny tile, gray hexagon floor tile. Benjamin Moore Stormy Sky best dark gray color. Kylie M Edesign

Benjamin Moore Stormy Sky

Living room leather accent chair. First nations indigenous carving by Noel Brown. K2 stone fireplace, white oak floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour expert and DIY decorating tips

Living room, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, DIY Decorating, color ideas

Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray is 75% lighter in the above two photos

By the way, the frames on the gallery wall are ALL from Walmart – style doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

 

WHY I BUY THE THINGS I DO

  • Because I love them. Because I go to a store and slip on my drool as I walk by them. Their color, function, or overall look catch my eye.
  • Because if I don’t, they will haunt my dreams…for real (I have ADHD, and it’s crazy in there sometimes).
  • I like change. While I have my constants (family, dogs, and wine), I love changing my rooms and getting excited about new ideas and treasures, whether from the Thrift shop, Home Sense, or a garage sale!

This set of croquet balls in our bar area in the family room (below)is a good example of, ‘buying something because I love it’. Let’s be honest: I love a nice set of old balls…

old croquet balls on dark charcoal quartz countertop with white vein, looks like marble, bar fridge, white oak. Kylie M Interiors. Home decor.

 

MORE TIPS FOR MAKING A HOUSE INTO YOUR HOME

Aside from the touchy-feely stuff (which Tim ALWAYS loves), here are a few ideas to consider…

  1. While the color of your front door on the outside needs to MATCH the outside, it’s awesome if it winks toward the color palette INSIDE your home, too!
  2. Pay attention to your entryway. It often reflects the mood/vibe of the rest of your home.
  3. Add textured pieces, including area rugs, toss cushions, and drapes to soften spaces. Rooms are FULL of hard edges, and these pieces help soften them and absorb sound.
  4. Consider the TEMPERATURE of your light bulbs – Kelvins can make all the difference between a cold and uninviting space and one that looks inviting!
  5. Add artwork, but the odd bare wall is important, too – let your eyes rest. And don’t forget to hang it at the right height!
  6. ADD PLANTS. I don’t have a green thumb, but a few key plants make ALLLLL the difference for a lived-in look (go fake if you have to.
  7. Don’t let the dumb stuff detract from the important stuff. Sometimes, the important pieces get buried in the ‘every day’ of papers, Kleenex boxes, remote controls, and more. Once in a while, visit each of your home’s surfaces and see if the things that matter to you the most are in their glory or halfway to their grave.
  8. A little clutter goes a long way. This is one I struggle with. I love minimal clutter; however, when I go to friend’s and family’s homes, I actually feel pretty darn comfortable when there’s some clutter around – when everything isn’t perfect! I mean, there’s DEFINITELY a tipping point, but a little mess can be endearing – you have to LIVE in your home!

How to create a decorative vignette, accessorize, decorate a countertop, shelf, mantel, bookshelf. Kylie M Interiors Diy design ideas Cambria Brittanica quartz

WANNA READ MORE ABOUT DECORATING YOUR HOME?

I have a great series of blog posts about Creating a Timeless Home. For those inclined, most of these are more design-related and are full of GREAT tidbits and tips.

 

OUR PAINT COLOR PALETTE

Thanks to one of my readers, I realized I FORGOT TO ADD MY PAINT COLORS!

Here we go…

  • WALLS: Benjamin Moore White Dove, although there’s still some Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray 75% lighter left in a few areas (entryway)
  • TRIMS: Benjamin Moore White Dove
  • KITCHEN ISLAND & PAINTED STAIR RAILINGS: Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze
  • KITCHEN CABINETS: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter 25% darker
  • GRAY PAINTED DOORS: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter 50% darker (yes, I’m clearly a weirdo who likes to mess around with colors)
  • BOARD & BATTEN: Benjamin Moore Graystone
  • POWDER ROOM: Benjamin Moore Stormy Sky
  • GUEST BEDROOM: Benjamin Moore Knoxville Gray
  • DARK PAINTED DOOR: Benjamin Moore Cheating Heart

 

READ MORE

The Ultimate Guide to Paint Colors & Undertones

6 Budget-Friendly Home Update Ideas

The Best Medium-Depth Blue Paint Colors

The 6 Best Warm Off-White Paint Colors

NEED HELP?

Check out my Online Colour Consulting Services

E-design, virtual online colour consulting expert. Kylie M Interiors. Paint color ideas. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams circle (19)

I originally wrote this blog post in 2018. I ripped it apart, rebuilt it, and updated it in 2023 based on our home now!



Comments

    1. Post
      Author
  1. Love your home, paint choices and of course your sense of humor! I’ve read many of your blog posts and watched several YouTube videos but this one about Edgecomb Gray 75% lighter was like “bazinga” in helping guide me to the right ceiling paint! Planning to paint living/foyer/hallways EG but was stumped as to what ceiling color. We have crown molding painted Dove White throughout our house, so I would like to paint it a shade slightly darker than DW. At first I was thinking Classic Gray but was afraid the violet would peek through too much. So slowly getting to my question, would EG 50% lighter be a great (or good) choice for ceiling? Having slight doubts bc someone else commented that its violet undertones peeked out too much when lightened, but your walls look dreamy & creamy without the violet. (Side note, we have cherry floors throughout most of the home, so trying to stay clear of shades with green undertones- thx to your videos and blogs!) Thanks for any input!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey, I’m so glad you love my home AND my humor. Can you please tell my husband that I’m funny? 😉

      And it sounds like you found what you’re looking for! Now, I’m going to assume you mean White dove on the trim (not Dove Wing, which is another shade). IF SO, you can also consider White Dove on the ceiling, which is what I did in our home and i LOVE LOVE LOVE it :).

    1. Post
      Author
  2. You have a beautiful home. It’s definitely looks comfortable and homey to me. I also love that kitchen backsplash tile. Hard to tell from the pictures but looks an off-white/cream color to me, which I’ve been looking for. Do you remember where you purchased it, brand name?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sonia, thank you! It’s an Ames tile, that I know for sure. It was in the Soho collection, but last time I looked I couldn’t find the exact color (in real-life it’s more of a warm putty gray with a touch of green undertone) 🙂

  3. Do you happen to remember what the name of the carpet you used on the stairs was? I have a dog household too and LOVE it for the practical color and how well it goes with the Urbane Bronze on the stairs which I copied in my house after seeing yours. I see so many designers homes but yours is one of the only ones I could live in without changing a single thing.

    1. Post
      Author

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