Etsy's trend expert, Dayna Isom Johnson, shares her tips for making a house feel like a home.
For most of us, our house doesn’t feel like our home the second we move in. Gradually over time, as we bring in our own furniture, paint the walls, hang up artwork, and make new memories in the space, our home starts to feel more like us. But what if you move into a new house and are eager to jump-start the process? Or what if you’re in a builder-grade house that lacks personality? That’s where Etsy’s trend expert, Dayna Isom Johnson, comes in. At Real Simple’s Time for You Weekend, Dayna joined a panel of home decor experts to discuss ways to make a home feel custom (even if it’s not). The big takeaway: customization means a lot more than just monogrammed linens!
“Your home should be a reflection of you—it should be a reflection of your journey, of your story,” Dayna says. There are many different ways to achieve this, whether who choose to decorate your space with cherished family mementos or DIY your wall decor. In her own home, Dayna has done both. To fast-track your way to a home that feels like you—yes, even if you just moved in or are living in a rental—consider all the expert-approved tips below.
Make Your Own Artwork
When Dayna and her husband moved into their home, they decided they weren’t going to spend a lot of money on art—they’d make their own. “We went to the arts store and got canvas, picked out the paint colors that we liked, and we spent the entire day painting the artwork that’s hung in our dining room,” she explains.
If you’re not sure your painting skills are display-worthy, try curating your own art gallery instead. Dayna recommends searching for digital artwork on Etsy that you can download, print, and frame yourself. Digital art you print yourself is surprisingly affordable—all five prints in the colorful gallery wall pictured here can be purchased for less than 10 bucks. Because digital artwork doesn’t require a big investment, you can switch up the display whenever you’re ready for something new. “Who cares if you’re inspired by yellow today and blue tomorrow? You can swap it out easily,” Dayna says.
To buy: Gallery Wall Set of 6 Digital Prints, $8, etsy.com.
Decorate With Meaningful Mementos
“I love to cook; it’s a major part of my everyday routine. So when my great aunt passed away, I found some of her recipes cards, I got them framed, and they’re hung in my kitchen,” Dayna says. If you love to cook and have a collection of favorite family recipes, borrow this idea for your own home. But if cooking isn’t your forte, adapt this idea to reflect your own interests and family history. Frame a piece of sheet music inherited from your grandfather who played piano, or display a photo snapped by your aunt who loves photography. Not only do these personal items create one-of-a-kind decor no one else will have, but they also help tell your story and provide a conversation starter for anyone visiting your home.
To buy: Framed Recipe Artwork, from $24, etsy.com.
Consider Custom Furniture
When many people think about custom home decor, monograms are frequently the first thing that pops to mind. Dayna’s advice: go beyond the monogram. “Customization means so many other things, especially when you’re working with a small designer who can customize in many different ways,” she says. Dayna makes the case for custom furniture. By working with makers on Etsy, you can determine the color, shape, size, and materials used. Custom furniture is especially helpful when decorating small spaces. A maker might be able to shave a few inches off a dining table design, or you can order banquette seating for a kitchen that’s too small to accommodate a traditional table. Once you find a maker whose work you love, start a conversation to see how they can adapt a piece to fit your space and style.
To buy: Side table, from $180, etsy.com.
Try Temporary Solutions
In her guest room/home office, Dayna applied peel-and-stick wall decals that look like confetti. The stickers turned the wall into a design statement, but without the commitment that paint or wallpaper requires. The renter-friendly decals can be removed when it’s time to move, or whenever she’s ready for a redesign. Personalize your own space with peel-and-stick wallpaper, a removable backsplash, and zippered throw pillow covers. These temporary design moves let you play with trends and express your style, while giving you the freedom to change your mind.
To buy: Line Wall Decals, from $7, etsy.com.
DIY Your Decor
You don’t have to be an artist or woodworker to craft your own decor. DIY kits that teach you how to natural-dye pillows or crochet your own plant hangers have become more popular in recent years. Using these kits, Dayna learned how to dye fabric using avocado pits (which dye fabric a pale shade of pink) and turmeric, which produces vibrant shades of golden yellow. Try dyeing a set of bed sheets or solar print some throw pillows.
To buy: Turmeric Natural Dye Kit, $42, etsy.com.
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