Decor – Adding Personality to a Home

Many years ago I envisioned my home as a place filled with family photographs, travel mementos, a collection of interesting books and other various decorative items that would bring a smile to my face … and that is exactly how I would describe the home that I live in today with my family.

My approach to adding personality to a room is displaying interesting pieces and decorative items throughout a home that have special meaning to our family so that when guests visit these items will tell a story of our life or convey our personal interests and this can be a wonderful starting point for conversations.  Decorating a home with family photos and memorabilia are wonderful ways to remember the people and important events that hold special memories in our lives and they are an important way to surround ourselves with family love and heritage.  Displaying decorative items gathered throughout the years, such as travel souvenirs or themed collectibles also convey our interests and hobbies.  So, let me get started with some ideas and suggestions for adding personality to your home!

Family photos

Decorating with family photos is a perfect opportunity to add our family’s character and personality into a room.  Every year, just before my children’s birthday, I always schedule an appointment at the portrait studio at our local department store.  These formal portraits are displayed throughout our house; some are in the bookshelf in our family room, the upstairs hallway and in our daughter’s bedroom.  It is a wonderful way to show how our children have grown and changed over the years!

In a bookshelf to the left of our family room fireplace are a collection of family photos.  As mention, some of the photos are our children’s formal portraits but others include old family photos such as childhood photos of me and my husband and also my parent’s wedding portrait.  Other family photos are more informal and were taken at family events over the years.  I love the fact that when guests come to visit they are able to see in one place in our home photos of all of our family members taken at various times in our lives.

Displayed in another room of our house, in our master bedroom are formal wedding portraits of my husband and I and these are displayed on the dresser along with childhood photos of the both of us.  I really like the idea of displaying the childhood photos and our wedding photos together because there is such a lovely contrast of the past and it is fun to see how we looked when we were younger!

As you can see, I like to surround ourselves with photos taken over the years but not all of them need to be formal portraits.  Examples of this are the informal photos taken on family vacations and trips that are displayed in the bookshelves of our home library.  Our family loves to travel to places such as national parks or historic sites but we also enjoy getting out into nature by hiking or fishing. Looking at these photos always brings back wonderful memories of fun times and interesting places spent together as a family.

For more information about displaying family photos, please check out the following post, Not Your Normal Wall Art!

Family memorabilia

Over the years I have collected several items that can be classified as family memorabilia.  The idea for displaying these pieces throughout our home is to remember special events or important times in our lives.  Here are a few examples:

Displayed in the upstairs hallway of our home is a large wedding portrait with the date of our marriage inscribed on a small gold plaque and on the mat surrounding the portrait are the signatures of our wedding guests.  To the left of this piece is another series of four photos taken on our wedding day with our families.  These two sentimental pieces commemorate that special day at the start of our lives together as husband and wife.

Two more family memorabilia pieces displayed in our home are hung on the wall above the bed in my daughter’s room.  The two framed pieces commemorate her baptism and her first birthday, two important events in her childhood.  Using an uncut mat board and some special scrapbook paper that was signed by the guests that were in attendance at those two events and then later framed in matching golden frames I created these two pieces that will hopefully be something my daughter will treasure forever as a unique childhood heirloom.

Sometimes other important influences in our lives are the places we have lived.  In the dining room of our home I have displayed two framed pieces of sheet music.  The first one is “My Kind of Town” as sung by Frank Sinatra which is often referred to as the “Chicago” song.  Chicago is a special place in my family history because my mother was born there and my parents met, married and lived there before moving to California.  The other framed sheet music is of the song “San Fernando Valley” as sung by Bing Crosby.  This is another important place to me because that is where I was born and raised and I have very fond memories of living there as a child.

For more information about displaying family memorabilia commemorating special events, please check out the following post, Not Your Normal Wall Art!

Travel Souvenirs

Our family enjoys traveling across the United States and we also have traveled to different parts of Europe to see family and friends and my husband has visited parts of Asia while he was getting his master’s degree.  All of these travel experiences have provided us with interesting opportunities to learn about our country and the world and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time together as a family visiting these places.

During these travels we have collected various items and these are displayed in the library of our home.  The bookcases are filled with interesting souvenirs, such as a weapon made from sharks teeth purchased at the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii, Polish dolls and a city certificate commemorating our visit to Krakow in Poland, a piece of the Berlin Wall and framed Edelweiss from a trip to Germany, two jade lions displayed with a photo from my husband’s visit to Asia and a photo of our family taken at the Kennedy Space Center displayed with a model of the Space Shuttle.  All these unusual items are displayed as reminders of wonderful trip that we have taken over the years and are also great way to start interesting conversations with guests visiting our home.

The other parts of the bookshelves are also filled with rocks, minerals and fossils that my husband has collected over the years.  This interesting hobby is highlighted in a post that he wrote recently called “The Rock Guy”.  Please click on the link to check out how he started his collection and information about the different items.

On the opposite wall in the library is another bookshelf filled with beach memorabilia that I have collected throughout the years.  Living in California our family has spent many wonderful hours at the beach walking along the shore, playing in the sand and watching the waves and some very beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.  We have collected many seashells from the beaches of Southern California and on our visits to the east coast in North Carolina and Florida.  These seashells are also displayed with family photos from those trips and decorative pieces that tell the story of our love for the beach and the oceans.

For more information and suggestions on how to display these items, please check out the following posts:  Displaying Travel Souvenirs and Beach Memorabilia

Themed Collectibles

Over the years I have collected several themed items that are displayed throughout our home and reflect my interests and hobbies.  I have several different series of collectible plates that displayed in various rooms, such as Danbury Mint National Park plates that hang above the bookshelves in our library and within the bookshelves are several plates displayed on easels, two collectible nature plates of ducks and wolves and a Native American decorative plate we bought during our southwest travels.  These collectible plates are another reminder of our family travels and our love and respect for nature and animals.  For more information about the other collectible plates displayed in our home, please check out the post Decorating with Plates.

Living in California our family has been going to Disneyland since it opened in 1955 and we have spent many wonderful times together as a family enjoying the “happiest place on earth”.  Over the years I have started a collection of Disney memorabilia including Disneyland items, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio and Disney princess figurines and these items are displayed in a trio of glass door bookshelves in the basement of our home and reflect our family’s love for all things Disney!  For more information, please check out Disney Memorabilia Collection.

Another special collection displayed in our home is my Boyd’s Bear figurines and stuffed animals.  In the library of our home is an oak bookcase which displays some of my favorite Boyd’s Bear figurines, some of these items are changed seasonally.  Additional holiday Boyd’s Bear items are displayed in other rooms of our home.  My collection of the whimsical Boyd’s Bears items never fails to put a smile on my face and brings joy to my heart!  For more information, please check out the following posts: Displaying a Boyd’s Bear Collection Part One and Part Two.

In conclusion, decorating a home with family photographs, travel mementos, a collection of interesting books and other various decorative items is a wonderful way to reflect a family’s interests and hobbies.  For additional examples about adding decorative pieces that will add personality to a room, please check out the following Décor posts, Framing Small Items and Home Office.  In addition, please check out the Craft Section of this blog for some wonderful projects, such as Embellished Photo Frames.

Decor – Not Your Normal Wall Art!

When decorating our home, we have purchased several lovely landscapes by renowned artists but we also have many inexpensive pieces of art work hanging on our walls.  I think this balance of both types of art work keeps our home very interesting for visitors but more importantly these inexpensive and unusual wall art pieces express our family history and varied interests.

When decorating your home consider special photographs to add a personal touch.  In the hallway on the second floor of our home are several framed photographs.  These types of wall art are a very traditional alternative to formal landscape or floral paintings.  When my husband and I married, it was a second marriage for both of us so we had a small intimate wedding ceremony and catered reception at our home in California.  Before our wedding, my husband and I had a series of formal pictures taken.  We had one of these photographs framed in an ivory mat with a brass plate engraved with our names and wedding date.  Instead of a guest book, our family and friends signed the mat and it is a wonderful remembrance of that special day.  Since our wedding was so small, about 50 guests, we decided that during the wedding reception we would have the photographer take our picture with each group of guests sitting at the reception tables. Hanging next to our wedding photograph is a collection of the family group photographs in an ivory mat and golden frame.  These photographs are an important way to remember our wedding day which was celebrated with our family and friends.  Recently these photographs have taken on a very sentimental purpose since my mother, my husband’s grandparents and his young nephew have passed away over the last few years.

Hallway wedding photos    Hallway baby photo

Further down the upstairs hallway, near her room, are several photographs of our daughters taken over the years.  These photographs will change from time to time but one that always remains and my personal favorite is a photograph taken when she was just a baby.  This cute photograph shows her wearing a pair of angel wings, but the best part is the expression on her face.  Tucked into the frame is a sweet memento of her hand print taken when she was in preschool and it is the perfect finishing touch to add to the frame.

Not all art work or photographs need to hang on the walls of a home.  In our master bedroom, on our lovely dark wood dresser, are two framed wedding photographs.  These photographs rest against the dresser’s mirror and as a sweet touch I added childhood photographs of both my husband and me.  All these framed photographs are flanked by two bronze lamps with ivory lampshades decorated with amber beading.  As I mention in another Décor post this month, Floral Arrangements, on the master bedroom dresser there is a beautiful floral arrangement of green and white hydrangeas with pale pink roses in an ivory vase tied with a pale green ribbon.

Bedroom photos 1    Bedroom photos 2

In our daughter’ bedroom I used this same technique of resting framed pictures on a piece of furniture instead of hanging them on the wall.  On her dresser are framed copies of two Marty Bell paintings, the Hansel and Gretel Cottages, with ivory mats and beautiful golden frames which rest against the dresser’s mirror.  In two different ivory frames are childhood photographs of our daughter and between them is a lovely porcelain doll that bears a striking resemblance to our daughter.  There is more unusual art work in this room and hanging over the bed are two very special framed pieces.  These two pieces commemorate our daughter’s baptism and her first birthday.  In the scrapbook aisle of the local craft store I found special paper for both events, for the baptism I used a scrapbook paper designed with a sweet baptism dress and for her first birthday I used a Winnie the pooh themed scrapbook  paper.  At both of these events, guests signed the paper and wrote sweet messages to her.  Later, after the parties, my intention was to frame both for her bedroom.  I started by centering the papers onto two matching antique gold mat boards and then framed them both in matching dark wood frames.  Both of these special pieces commemorate two of the important events in our daughter’s life and add the perfect personal touch to her bedroom.

Childhood events framed

In the dining room of our home there is a mixture of both traditional and unusual art work.  On either side of our china cabinet are two Marty Bell rose paintings.  When I first hung them on the wall above the two chairs flanking the china cabinet they looked so small on the dining room’s large wall.  To add a more substantial presence to these paintings I decide to pair them with framed sheet music that I found in an antique store and with these two pieces I was hoping to add a unique personal touch to the room.  The first framed sheet music is of the song “My Kind of Town” sung by Frank Sinatra, the song is better known and often referred to as the Chicago song.  My mother was born there and my parents met, married and lived in Chicago before my family moved to California.  At weddings and special events my mom would always request her “hometown” song. The second framed sheet music is of the song “San Fernando Valley” sung by Bing Crosby.  After my parents and their growing family moved to California, they settled in San Fernando Valley.  This is where I was born and raised during the 1950s and 60s.  I have very fond memories of spending my childhood there, so this piece honors my personal history.

Dining room framed sheet music 1    Dining room framed sheet music 2

On the other side of the dining room is an antique tea cart and on the wall above handg two framed art works.  The first is a copy of a Marty Bell painting called, “Sweetheart’s Gate”, this is a nice complement to the two Marty Bell rose paintings across the room.  (During the Christmas season I replace this print with a framed sheet music of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer decorated with several pine boughs and red berries)  Hanging below the Marty Bell print is a framed personalized label from the wine we served at our wedding.  Before our wedding we took a pre-honeymoon trip to Napa Valley in northern California and when we were there we ordered the wine and champagne for our wedding reception from one of the wineries that we visited.  It is a very sentimental memento of that special day and this personalized piece represents a special event in our lives and is always a great conversation starter at our dinner parties.

Dining room framed wedding label    Dining room framed sheet music 3

The library room is our home is filled with several bookcases of books and travel souvenirs from our trips around the United States and Europe.  As mentioned in a previous Décor post, Decorating with Plates, this room is also filled with different collections from nature, such as our National Park plates, a couple of other wildlife plates as well as my husband’s rock collection, ostrich and emu eggs, abandoned bird nests, etc. are displayed in the library bookcases.  (Don’t laugh about the rock collection, I know it sounds like very strange items to collect, but my husband has done several presentations at our daughter’s school for her science class.  He does a very informative lecture on all the different types of rocks and minerals from his collection and he has become known as the “rock guy”!!)  Anyway, on one wall of the room there is a framed painted feather that we got at the Illinois State Museum and a framed owl butterfly that was a birthday present for my husband a few years ago.  Recently on a road trip to North Carolina, we stopped in West Virginia at an artist studio and bought a framed bear painted on bark.  All these items reinforce the nature theme of our library room decor.

Library butterfly and painted feather    Library Hawaii print and sheet music

On another wall of our library near the bookcases are two framed souvenirs from our trip to Hawaii a few years ago.  The first is a framed sheet music cover of “Aloha Oe” I had at the small gift shop at the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii.  This song was written by Princess Lili’uokalani in 1877 and has become synonymous with Hawaii.  The second piece is hung below and is a beautiful print of the Hawaiian Islands (formerly known as the Sandwich Islands) that was purchased at the Polynesian Cultural Center located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  Tucked under the framed “Aloha Oe” music cover is an interesting item from one of the demonstrations at the Polynesian Cultural Center, it is an intricately woven palm leaves shaped into a bird.

Travel items purchased during our road trips make wonderful and unusual art work to hang in our home.  Downstairs in our basement, which we call the “California Room”, is a framed print of a map showing the 21 California Missions which was purchased in one of the mission gift shops.  When we lived in California and during our travels throughout the state we loved stopping at these iconic and unique destinations.  At each visit to a mission I would purchase a small metal mission charm.  These charms grew into a collection and when I framed the California Mission map I thought it was a great opportunity to displays the mission charms.  As you can see from the photo, we have visited 16 out of the 21 missions and we’ve got 5 more to visit on future trips back to California!

California Mission print   Fruit crate labels - framed

On the wall near our kitchen’s pantry are two California fruit crate labels.  The crate labels have become very popular collectible items and can be purchased easily online from Ebay or other websites.  The two framed labels are from a lemon packaging plant located not far from my childhood home near the San Fernando Mission in California. The packaging plant had been converted into retail shops and recently on our last visit the facility now stands vacate.  The crate labels are a nostalgic piece of California history and they make very interesting art work to hang in our home.

Finally, whenever I am antiquing during our road trips I always look for beautiful Audubon wildlife prints.  These can be relatively inexpensive depending on the size of the print so I always try to purchase a couple of them whenever I see them in the antique stores.  The art work is beautiful and the colors are usually very vibrant.  We have several of these Audubon wildlife prints hanging in our master bathroom.

Wildlife prints 1    Wildlife prints 2

Art work for a home does not always have to be expensive paintings or lithographs.  Consider unique items purchased during your travels or nostalgic items that have personal meaning or family photographs that mark special events in the lives of your family.