If a home design reflects the people who live in the space–their tastes, desires, and day-to-day lives–than an interior outfitted solely by big-box stores should be a no-no. What about, instead, opting the unusual and distinctive items? Whether you choose to hunt down unique items in an antique store or custom-create new ones yourself, staging your home can help you learn to embrace your personal aesthetic.
Finding eccentric items is treasure hunter Konstantin Golovchinsky’s forté.From a genuine human skull to a 19th century samurai sword, Golovchinsky’s quest into the unknown has yielded some fantastic results. Much of his collection was amassed during road trips to flea markets. Though he has found quite a few gems by sifting through junk, he didn’t always have the detection skills. “I ‘got the eye’ from visiting art museums.” Knowing the historical significance of an item can be helpful but Golovchinsky’s advice is to follow your gut. “More often that not, instinct will lead you the right way.”
His penchant for the bizarre led him to launch an antique store, the Los Angeles-based Object Quality Antiques. In Golovchinsky’s mind, there’s plenty of reasons to seek out the rare when shopping for your home. “You should want to design with the things that are meaningful to you. You’ll be able to enjoy the artistry and craftsmanship of a fine item every day,” Golovchinsky muses.
Golovchinsky’s key advice is to avoid buying pieces that are either too large or too small. “Tiny items tend to disappear into the landscape of your living room, or require an explanation. Too large and it can overpower a room, or make it difficult if you have to move,” he says. In addition, he cautions to avoid items too similar to one another: “Opt for contrasting shapes. Set something smooth next to something textured, round next to rectangular. It doesn’t have to be a collection. Pick the one you love and move on.”
If rummaging through dusty estate sales and antique stores to find unusual gems doesn’t sound like a good time to you, there’s also an option to explore home stores with new, albeit rare, pieces. David Alhadeff is the founder and owner of one such store, The Future Perfect–a place that also functions as a de facto art gallery. Each of carefully curated items are a combination of luxurious aand fantastical carefully-curated items are fantastical, rare, and built to last longer than a lifetime. With stores located in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles (by appointment only), it’s no wonder why the shop is favored by celebrities and artists alike.
For Alhadeff, it’s all about savouring the search. “It’s about buying selectively and pacing yourself through the process, saving room for splurges along the way from special places.” Alhadeff insists he was born with an eye for interior design, but since we all aren’t so blessed with such an innate gify, his wish is for people to be surrounded by what they truly love. “Hopefully you’re not bringing basic work to bed so why should the bed be basic? In seriousness, there’s room for the basics, but if you want to love where you live you need to love what you live with. And hopefully some part of what you design your room with, you will love,” Alhadeff says.
A house decorated with exceptional pieces is a home that can transcend any era or style, but it’s important to keep it personal. If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a specific chair or wondered how you can fit a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in your small home office, finding a furniture maker that accepts custom specs may be the best option.
“Having customized furniture creates a unique ambiance that no one else will have. It’s your accent piece and personal touch,” advised Sara Palacios, Founder of SPD Custom Furniture, a furniture manufacturer that specializes in clients custom-designing their own pieces. “There’s a sense of satisfaction that come with being creative and showcasing your creations. I encourage people to start with a smaller piece like an ottoman or credenza and they will see the excitement that piece brings to their space knowing they designed it,” Palacios says.
An advantage of custom-designing pieces yourself means that you’ll have something special to pass on through generations. “A custom furniture piece can easily become a family heirloom.” Palacios continues, “Many of my clients started with one unique idea and then have easily become returning customers because they become passionate about the art or creation of their furnishings.”
A made-to-measure home design allows you to curate a space with your distinct preferences but it’s important to keep in mind that customizing your household doesn’t mean buying all new furniture. Alterations to outdated upholstery, or transforming an erstwhile desk into a dining room table can be as easy as a trip to Home Depot or a how-to video on YouTube. If you’re handy and want to change the look of your home, evaluate what you already possess to see what you can upgrade on your own.
Once you’ve sharpened your individual style and can envision a specific home design, interior design can be a form of self-expression. It’s valuable to invest time and energy into changing your space. Rather than spending your days meandering in the table aisle of a retail store, choosing between black and brown versions of the same wood veneer table, allow yourself to venture into the great unknown. Doing the minimal effort in any part of your life will not do you any favors. If you have the chance, refining your home’s distinct aesthetic is a powerful way to upgrade your life.