From Jenny’s Heart: How to Create an Intentional Home
I believe your home should be a reflection of who you are. This is why it’s important for Dave and I to create custom pieces and incorporate personalized design elements into all of the work we do. Because, at the end of the day, a beautiful “magazine-worthy” home is wonderful but an intentional home full of warmth and personality is always my goal.
The great news? You don’t have to tear down walls just to add a personal touch to the spaces where you live. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite ways to make a home out of your house—no renovation required.
Tips for Adding Custom Elements to Your Home
Preserve artifacts. Do you remember the Brewer family in season two of Fixer to Fabulous? I framed family memorabilia, including a photo of Doug’s father, a hand-drawn survey of the property, an article with a headline from D-Day (his grandfather was a veteran of World War II), and old electrical and plumbing bills his grandparents had saved: simple pieces that represent their family’s past. I arranged them on the wall in the entry hallway as a tribute to the family’s history for anyone to see right when they walk in the front door.
When Lisa Crowder showed us her grandpa’s journals, I knew I had to incorporate them into their home. He wrote a journal entry EVERY SINGLE DAY of his adult life and Lisa and her family have dozens of these precious family heirlooms. I was so inspired by the legacy he left for his family and knew the gold foil-pressed print of the journal entry from Lisa’s dad’s 4th birthday was the perfect addition to the restored farmhouse walls. When her dad saw the framed print and exclaimed, “Well, all be!” Dave and were brought to tears. That was an expression Dave’s grandma had so often used and his graceful and overwhelmingly kind stature reminded us of her in many ways. I actually had the idea for this print because I had created a similar gold foil gift for Dave of one of Grandma Marrs’ handwritten recipe cards. The print hangs in our kitchen in her honor and beloved memory.
Pick a piece of art with sentimental value. You don’t need to bid at a New York auction on a piece by a famous sculptor. When we renovated the house for Jae and Jasmine, I commissioned a piece from Jae, who is an artist, to coordinate with their new home. Curate your kid’s artwork or take a weekend and work on your own drawing or painting. The important thing is to display something that resonates with your family and fits your space. You’ll be surprised how just adding a frame to a piece of art really sets it apart!
Think outside the box when it comes to art. For the Newberry family, I created a map with the words “Home Sweet Waka” painted on to represent their ties to home here in America and in Uganda, the birth country of two of their children. Waka means home in Luganda, their kiddos’ first language. It was so important to me to make this first home in America representative of their entire family and to honor the birth country of their adorable little ones.
Hang a historic marker. One of my favorite touches was the plaque that I hung by the Brewer’s front door. I wanted to honor the many memories the house held since the family history there dated back to 1926. For your own marker (which can be ordered from a sign or monument company), have an “established” date as well as a motto, Bible verse, or phrase that encompasses something meaningful or significant for your family.
The Gheens found the original property abstract for their lot dating back to June 16, 1841. (An abstract is a collection of legal documents tracking ownership for a parcel of land.) So I HAD to display it in their home. I found a cool clipboard at a local antique shop, attached the abstract, and hung it right by the front door. A simple display for a meaningful piece of the home’s history.
Create dedicated spaces. Also in season two of Fixer to Fabulous, we turned the Rush’s family room into a creative place with a musical nook by putting a few instruments in the corner and hanging cymbals on the wall. In my parents’ house, we made sure my dad had a well-lit, dedicated place to listen to his music by setting up the record player on a shelf near a bay window.
It doesn’t take any more than simple, small touches like these to turn the house where you live into a warm place that really represents who you are. When you add design elements unique to family in the spaces where you all do life together, you create a warm, intentional home that welcomes most of all the people who live there.