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How to: Create Deeply Personal Spaces

The most delightful rooms to live in are deeply personal—beautiful, relaxing, filled with cherished objects and not overly “decorated.” While there are no hard-and-fast rules for creating deeply personal spaces, these eight guideposts will steer you on your way.

Joe Murphy is head designer at Safavieh Home Furnishings.

Embrace the harmony of opposites.

You can make visual magic by mixing different styles and unexpected objects. Try topping a classic mahogany chest with an industrial-looking lamp and a showy Venetian mirror. Use the fanciful, the historic and the humble together.

Give your space rhythm.

Mix the scale of furnishings and mix their placement. A playful combination of small pieces and large ones helps create rhythm. Be organic, not mathematical: Place some pieces parallel to the walls and others angled.

Sitting room furnished with Safavieh Couture.

Treat space as a visual luxury.

Empty corners and empty walls can create a luxurious sense
of space, so make some big decisions on what to eliminate. Replace heavy cabinets with uncluttered open shelves. Paint the walls, the base molding, door and window moldings, and the crown molding all the same color to foster a sense of height and volume. Painting the ceiling in high-gloss enamel (in white or a tint complementary to the wall color) will boost the effect.

Value small things.

I once spent a week arranging the top of my desk. It’s how space becomes personal and useful. Attend to bedside tabletops, vanity tops and living room tabletops. Artfully decorate them with well-designed objects you love and want to touch every day. Small, treasured pieces tie our homes to our everyday lives.

Sitting room furnished with Safavieh Couture.

Let nature in.

Avoid heavy objects and solid-back chairs in front of windows. Instead try a chair with an open back, a low bench or ottoman, or even a clear acrylic- backed chair. Keep your window treatments as soft and translucent as your life allows.

Design for emotional warmth.

Each room should be calming, welcoming and intimate. In very large rooms, I like to create small private areas. These cozy spaces are perfect for conversation and relaxation. Recently a design partner of mine remade the dining room in a 50th floor apartment with stunning vistas. The room became a spectacular lounge for a quiet drinks with friends, where they could contemplate the view—a much improved use of the space.

Sitting room furnished with Safavieh Couture. A dining room by Thom Filicia.

Explore the fine line between harmony and disharmony.

I’m sometimes confused about what’s ugly and what’s beautiful. The line between the two is where the action is. We once placed a bright automobile- yellow lacquered chest in an otherwise calm entryway. It made all the difference.

Don’t go it alone.

Putting together a truly personal interior is best done with teammates, and not in too serious an atmosphere. I invite you to take advantage of Safavieh’s free design services. The process is fun, joyful and collaborative. We dream together, draw together, design and sometimes build together, creating deeply personal spaces that enrich our client’s lives.

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