I've been photographing house tours for Apartment Therapy for years (I'm the House Tour Editor now). And I've been able to walk through and capture homes with beautiful, inspiring and bold interiors. But all the homes I've photographed have had more than just good style in common. Many of them have had elements that make them not just beautiful to look at, but enjoyable and comfortable to be in.
The homes I was instantly comfortable in were the ones that the homeowners were most comfortable in themselves.
Being comfortable in your home when you have guests over can be a difficult life skill to learn if you weren't born naturally good at it. But it's an effortless, "come on in" attitude — an instant calmness — that can put a guest at ease. (Works on me at least). It's not about doing anything special; it's just being your own awesome self and letting that set the tone for guests in your home.
Everyone has dust bunnies
I don't say this to shame the people who have let me photograph their homes. I share it so you know that your dust bunnies are perfectly, reasonably normal. Whether I'm moving some cords out of a frame or shoving something under a bed, no matter how clean the rest of the home is, there are always some dust bunnies somewhere. And that's okay. I imagine having a perfectly dust-free home 24/7 would require constant cleaning dedication, a full-time maid or magic.
Even the most perfect-looking places can usually be improved upon in small (but powerful) ways
If you've ever been curious about small things that could instantly improve a home — both on camera and in person — it'd be (hiding) cords and (paying attention to) plant pots. The wires in your home may have become invisible to you the longer you've lived in the space, but they stick out like a sore thumb to guests in your home. Visible cords aren't a death sentence for design, but taking the time and energy to hide or disguise cords will make a space seem more sophisticated. The same goes for your plant containers. Pick pots that look great and work with your overall design. It's a small but vital detail that makes a difference.
It matches if you think it matches
Confidence in your design decisions is key when designing a space that feels good to you and others. And sometimes that confidence is best exemplified by a no-apologies approach to mixing and matching the things you love in one room — even if they break design "rules" or don't seem to "go." If it works for you, it works.
That je ne sais quoi some places just seem to have?
Even the most gorgeously decorated space can feel stale, cold and static on the screen, as can a home in person, too. People, pets and plants —life — are what bring energy, vitality and joy on the screen and in a real space. You don't have to entertain all the time, but a meaningful conversation, good laughs, or a cat stretching in a pool of sun are better accessories than coordinated vases any day.