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Choose basics like flooring first, then add personality in home design

May 17, 2013

People can have vastly different taste in how they decorate their homes but still co-exist peacefully if they outfit their rooms with classic fixtures such as hardwood floors. The Lincoln Plank collection by Anderson Floors, for instance, is a traditional oak floor in a selection of wood tones that will work with any decor.

Two people who make a living designing homes but don't necessarily agree on style choices are Robert and Cortneyu Novogratz, hosts of HGTV's Home by Novogratz. She likes Southern charm, he goes for downtown cool. But they agree on the basics when it comes to the advice they give to would-be decorators.

For a start, they're big on choosing a focal point. They believe that photographs - and they have plenty of their seven children - add personality in decorating. And they counsel people not to buy everything in one place to get the best of what's trending.

Eye-catching art
On their show, the couple focuses on a creative individual in each episode, from a furniture craftsman to a street artist.

"[Art] helps people push their home's potential," Courtney Novogratz told The Washington Post.  "I always say, 'If you're going to put something on your wall, tell a story.'"

She tells clients to start with an eye-catching piece that they love and work their room design around it. It can be an antique dresser or modern, neon-colored chairs or an interesting mix of fabrics in a window treatment.

Diverse selections
Gathering decorative items from various sources also gives a room character. Robert Novogratz told the newspaper that too often people buy everything from one place and their homes end up looking like a furniture showroom. If it's not unique, he said, it's not "you."

Making a room "you" means bringing in personal items to define who lives in the space, and no item creates that quality better than photographs of loved ones, places visited and the work of a photographer that a homeowner admires.

Special interests
Drawing upon the special interests of everyone in the family is a good way to arrive at a look that has personality. Robert Novogratz likes to create his own focal points by designing them with a mix of wallpaper and paint.

Homeowners can draw on their own interests in their choice of wall colors, wallpaper patterns that replicate other items they love in their homes and accessories taken from a personal collection or hobby.