What comes to mind when you think of a hotel room? I travel a lot, and most rooms feel and look sterile, cold, and dark. Even with all the lights on – it still seems dark because most hotels use dark colors that won’t show the dirt. The good news is that it always feels good to get home.

So what makes the difference between the hotel and home? For me it’s just a few comforts such as my hand-knit afghan, the tapestry pillow that perfectly nestles my head as I rest on my favorite chair and ottoman drinking my evening tea. Of course, I would be even happier if I could add a few more treasures. I would add the abstract watercolor painting that reminds me of the Caribbean Sea. It sits on my mantle along with my shell collection. This is what makes my house my home.

Your home should not only reflect your personal taste, but it should be an expression of all those who live there. Personal mementos and family "hand-me-down" heirlooms can be the perfect touch to making a house feel like a home and not just a hotel room. Most people stop short of finishing their home. They get the major pieces of furniture and maybe an accessory or two and that’s it. Which is exactly what the commercial hotel designers do. The difference between a hotel room and a home is the little things – color, texture, pattern, wallcovering, an area rug, pillows, a soft throw, plants, artwork, and treasures collected throughout your life.

For example, I have clients that own a nice art collection. But what makes it special is that we have incorporated their children’s artwork in with their collection. Their living room walls are filled to the ceiling with Degas’ and other priceless paintings sitting side by side finger-painted masterpieces done by their children.

Where Do I Begin?

One of the most asked questions is "Where do I begin?" The answer is with something you love. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a rug, a lamp, or a chair, or even a piece of wallpaper, it doesn’t matter as long as you love it. Then build the space around that treasured item. Learn to collect things. The objects we collect tell stories and hold memories. Finding and living with objects that you love can bring joy.

The key is to make choices that make sense for you and your family. It’s about arranging or rearranging in a way that makes life simpler and easier. If your children hear the words "no" and "don’t" every time they attempt to enter or use a room, it means your home rules are overruling the possibility of living, and there is something wrong with the choices you have made. As Carole Mayhall says, "Being a keeper of the home is a big task, but it won’t be overwhelming if you keep trying to simplify your home as well as your life.

I have found that many of the things that we find ourselves arguing about, or frustrated by, can easily be eliminated with little changes in the way our homes function. For example, something as simple as where we drop our keys, handbag, shoes, and books, can clean up clutter and make daily maintenance much easier. Eliminating the need to nag the kids and your spouse. Creating a home of heart and harmony can be that simple.

Color Your Way to a More Peaceful Home Life

Color is one of the most important keys to making your house a home. And choosing the right color for your home is one of the most important decorating decisions you will ever have to make. That’s because in addition to making your home look beautiful, the colors in your home will affect your physical, emotional, and psychological well being. Did you know that a blue room will make you feel cold and a red kitchen will increase your appetite? It’s true. With so many options on the market and trends changing almost daily, how can you be sure that the choices you make will be the best for you and your family?

The key is determining what colors make you smile. I developed an "Ink Blot" test, which can help you discover your color, pattern, and texture preferences. It’s a simple swatch test. Using fabric and wallpaper swatches, quickly look at them one at a time and put the samples that make you smile into a "yes" pile. Then go back and analyze those "yes" samples. You may, for example, discover you are a plaid and floral person that likes greens, coral, and yellow. Or you may find out your best choice would be a monochromatic scheme with lots of texture.