Essentials Of Effortless Style From Our House Tours

Many of our most popular house tours are ones that exude a sense of casual comfort. They looked "lived in" and inviting, not staged or sterile. If you're hoping to cultivate that feeling in your own home, there are a few helpful tips to glean from recent house tours.

Before we get started, I wanted to dismantle a myth. Time and travel are great allies when you're going for a collected, casual look, but they are not the only ones. I think it's worth mentioning, because through my work I run into people all the time who are disheartened by the fact that they haven't left the continent or lived in their homes long enough to know what they need to make it feel comfortable. You don't need to be a world traveler with five hundred dhurries or live in one house for a thousand years to break it in and make it great, but you do need to spend some time thinking about your personal style. As you realize and develop your own style, items will start jumping out at you, and sometimes they may be from places as exciting as a big box store. My favorite side tables are from Target, but they get tons of compliments because they fit into the style of my home. What surrounds them makes them feel personal. However, if you don't take the time to find your own style, everything will look like it's from a generic big box store even if it's not.

Ok, now that we cleared that up, I'll get to the point: Effortless Style. While the images here hail from stellar homes created by talented folks, all of these tips can be incorporated easily into any home to great effect. The key is thinking about how the tips fit into your home style.

• Mix rustic and refined. Balance something glittery or sleek with something natural or with something that shows a bit of age, like the chandelier and table in Adir & Marcello's Worldly Retreat.

• Layer textiles. Use fabric remnants and throws like you do scarves. Some are plush and functional, some are just pretty. An interesting table cloth or a linen towel can make a boring chair look like it has had a rich history, and they can also soften the effect of a big couch. The ones draped over the arms of the matching sofas in Paul's Artistically Scavenged Apartment give each sofa a distinct personality and also help set the casual tone for the whole apartment.

• Mix in personal artwork. I usually advise people to invest in good artwork before furniture, because it helps set the tone. However, art doesn't need to be expensive to be great. It just needs to be personal. Children's sketches like the colorful painting in Julie's Vermeer-Worthy Apartment in Paris, snapshots, a print from your favorite Master, they will all work if they mean something to you. Mixing them in among "real art" creates a collected and casual vibe.

• Display inspiration. This could mean creating a spot for a nature collection or an inspiration board made of magazine clippings, but dedicating a spot(s) to visuals that inspire you will give your home true personality that's unique to you. The board bursting with inspiration in Shiva's Eclectic, Romantic Modern Ranch informs the whole room.

• Create a spot for relaxation. Nothing will seems effortless if everything is stiff and polished. Even one cozy chair with a blanket, a spot for a coffee cup, and some books within arm's reach will bring a sense of ease to an entire room, as in Mark Maček's Modern, Warm & Woodsy Home.

• Throw in at least one piece of furniture from a different era. A mid century chair in a Victorian apartment or an antique table in a modern loft can relieve a space of its tightness and give the eye something to mull over. I love how the old vanity in Aubin & Florice's Curiosity Fueled Home is like a little surprise, letting you know that there's a lot going on in the neutral room, maybe more than you notice.

• Bring in some green. A living plant will do wonders in softening the hard edges of your home and bringing in a sense of life. The organic forms of plants, like the ones gracing the dresser in Carly & Chip's Resourceful & Refined Home, banish the generic even if they are placed amidst run of the mill furniture. I am the ultimate plant killer. If there was a Plant Protective Services, I'd be under serious investigation, but even I have had some success with a few good ones: Long-lasting, Easy Care Plants for Black Thumbs.

• Create a variety of display surfaces and styles. When art and decorative objects are arranged with variety the actual display becomes another piece of art. Having some pieces propped, others resting on shelves, some hung, diminishes the sense of preciousness. I know that when I visit homes like Adir & Marcello's Worldly Retreat where art and special things are displayed in a variety of ways, I feel like I've been invited in to explore and enjoy.

What would you add to the list?

(Images: as linked above)