Do you ever pay attention to the homes on tv shows? Not home makeover shows; more like a regular series. Recently I started to notice the set designs. I saw family photos covering the walls. Trinkets and treasures lining bookshelves. And yet somehow these homes look lived in, not cluttered.

I’ve been in my house two years now and still have pictures stacked in the storage room. I’ve literally traveled the world for the shop and for some reason there’s no rug under my kitchen table.

Maybe it’s my aversion to unnecessary “stuff.” Or maybe making a place feel cozy isn’t a default—it takes work.

Sure, the staged homes on design blogs and pinned Instagram posts are amazing. I admire them and feel a tinge of jealousy as much as the next girl. But if you walked into that house would it tell you a story? Would you feel comfortable kicking your heels up with a glass of Cab, catching up over candlelight with your best friend? Could you host a playdate without hovering the whole time?

Viola Davis had a great quote in Architectural Digest. She said, “When people come to the house, I want them to walk into our lives. And our lives are much more expansive than just an Oscar or a Tony.”

How To Give Your Home Personality

I recently was talking to Elyse of Muz and Rose about sustainability and the fashion industry. One of the biggest tips she gave was to ignore trends altogether; buy what you like and you’ll always have a closet that makes you feel good. I’ve been wondering how that applies to how we fill our homes.

Part of what can make filling your home feel challenging is understanding what you like. Trends are powerful and can make us think we like something even when we’re ambivalent about it. I remember a few years back when combat boots were all the rage. They looked awful on me but when searching for boots that’s all I could find. If you need something it’s easy to default to what’s available.

That’s what makes buying special pieces so important. You may not need them at the time. But collecting treasures in this way allows for a considered home down the line.

If your rooms are feeling a bit sparse or you’re looking to add life to your home, here are a few of our best tips:

01. Color

A recent study showed that our world is becoming less colorful. About 60% of the items on the planet are black, white, or gray. Compare that with only 15% of this composition in the 1800s.

If you’ve ever traveled, you know that color dominates life in many regions. Take Rainbow Row in Charleston, Curacao’s architecture, or the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Iran. You don’t have to take it to these extremes to feel the effect of color in your home.

Some strong advice I once heard from a designer was this: Stay neutral with the big stuff—cabinets, floors, large furniture. Use color and patterns in pieces you can move around like textiles. Which brings us to the next point.

02. Textiles

Textiles may be the most underrated design feature. They provide texture to a blank canvas. They beg to be touched.

Unfamiliar with the term? Think of a textile as a woven fabric. Blankets, throw pillows, upholstered furniture, curtains—really anything that has threads.

Textiles can be layered—thrown over the back of a couch—or more purposefully pulled together. This is where you get to play. I have several shibori textiles that I hang on the back of my office chair and pull up over my shoulders when I’m cold. I use them as a more interesting alternative to a tablecloth and I’ve even seen fragments framed.

03. Greenery

Humans are naturally meant to be immersed in nature. Unfortunately many of us spend too much time indoors and in front of screens to take advantage of the full benefits of plants.

Biophilic design incorporates nature and natural elements within and across indoor settings. There’s a scientific reason we feel good in places full of natural light. I’m no doctor, but I’d guess we feel more at peace when surrounded by plants.

There are so many easy-to-care-for plants like the snake plant, monstera, and if you have the room and sun, a bird of paradise. Stock them on a weathered bench in front of a window or place them in a corner, using stands to give varying height. Don’t have a green thumb? Even faux plants can make your space feel more alive.

04. Shine

Overhead lights have their place, but have you ever thought about using lights to influence the mood rather than provide brightness to read? We’re big fans of hanging a swag light in a corner to warm up a space. As you walk around Range, you’ll see many different options for added lighting, including our woven Moroccan pendants and macrame fiber chandeliers.

On a smaller scale, check your room for metallic materials. Items finished of brass, copper, or chrome help round out a flat bookshelf or table and draw the eye in. Our asymmetrical brass mirrors or hammered brass votives work perfectly, as do picture frames and plant containers.

05. Books

Well-traveled, well-read people tend to be the ones with a story. We can’t help but be drawn in to how others live their lives and see the world.

From large-scale bookshelves to stacks on a coffee table, books are a conversation starter. Keeping your favorites out in the open also allows you to flip through whenever you’re feeling creatively depleted. With the gorgeous cover designs available, books are not just for reading—they’re part of a room’s design.

A great tip we learned from a friend: struggling to stack your books without looking busy? Take off the dust jacket. That makes it much easier to color coordinate without each individual title fighting for attention. You can also use a bookstand to keep it upright on a bookshelf or built in.

It’s no always about overhauling your whole house. Subtle changes can have a big impact on how you feel the second you step in the front door.