17 Tips for Personalizing Your Space & Making It Functional

May 4, 2023

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Personalizing Your Space

If you’ve read my “About Me” page, then you know that decorating my home proved to be very challenging for me for several years.

My sister and my mom were my go-to’s when trying to figure out my interior design process. It just wasn’t my thing….until my husband’s wakeboarding accident.

I know, that’s a really weird seg-way. But this life-altering tragedy changed the trajectory of not only our entire lives, but also, my willingness to step out of my comfort zone.

Header image

Following my husband’s accident, I spent many days, weeks, months in waiting rooms while he was in therapies re-learning every daily life skill. This allowed for a lot of free time on my hands.

When I wasn’t journaling and praying for restoration, I was perusing Pinterest. I know, another crazy seg-way.

While on Pinterest, I was amazed by how many women were taking on huge home improvement projects. Long story short, when time allowed for it, DIY and interior design became my therapy.

(You can read my entire story in this post) 

Fast forward several years later and what was my therapy, has now become my passion. I absolutely LOVE all things interior design and more than that, I love sharing current tips and trends with you.

Having come from a background of not knowing where to even begin when it came to decorating my new home. I can so relate to that feeling of overwhelm, anxiety and fear of failure when it comes to the interior design process.

Hence, why I started my blog. Where I give you the confidence to find your interior design style and inspire you to decorate your home reflecting your personality. I also encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and take on DIY home renovation projects.

A Scandinavian minimalist interior design look with a large dining table and modern chars..For personalizing your space post.

Nailing the Interior Design Process

Identifying your style and personality

Color palette. Personality in interior design is key. You want your living space to be a reflection of you.

A great way to determine this is by looking at your wardrobe.

Strange place to start? But wait, think about it. Do you tend to wear bold and vibrant colors? Or do you prefer a more neutral palette of blacks, grays, whites, tans?

Your closet is a great reflection of your personal taste when it comes to not only fashion, but also interior design.

If you are more comfortable in a specific color trend of clothing, then you will be more comfortable in that same color scheme for your home interior.

So, looking at your wardrobe is a great place to start when personalizing your space. Interior design style. Once you determine the color palette you lean towards, you can explore interior design styles.

By learning each style and their unique characteristics, you can identify which ones align with your personal taste and preferences.

For example, if you prefer a minimalist aesthetic, you might be drawn to Scandinavian or Japanese interior design.

On the other hand, if you lean towards a bold pop of color and patterns, you might prefer Bohemian or Moroccan interior design.

Understanding the characteristics of each style allows you to create a cohesive look that reflects your personal style. This, in turn, will make you more comfortable in your space.

Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love. -Nate Berkus

Sometimes we can’t nail down one style, and that’s ok.

Mixing and matching different styles can create a unique and eclectic space. My friend, Amber, does this so well. As is evident in her living room below….

Boho/eclectic decorated family room with fireplace and sofa. A great representation of personalizing your space

Still having a hard time figuring out your style? I have an entire series dedicated to finding your interior design style. 

In this series, we explore several different styles on trend with modern day design. It’s a great series to learn more about the most current evergreen styles of today.

Of course, Pinterest is a great place to explore your design style. I have a great collection of my favorite styles over on my Pinterest account. Be sure to go check it out for more inspiration.

If all else fails, (or even if it doesn’t haha! After all, they’re fun to take!) take a quiz to find your interior design style.

Havenly.com has a great quiz to really get the wheels spinning and point you in the right direction of your interior design style preference.

A family room area with 2 neutral colored chairs flanking big picture windows

Incorporating Personal Touches in Personalizing Your Space

As I mentioned before, personalizing your space is key in interior design.

Incorporating mementos in your interior design process

Mementos. It’s also important to pay attention to the stage of life you’re in.

For example, if you have young children, then going for a showcase home is not feasible and will drive you crazy.

Making your home style cohesive to your life style will make for a much happier home.

Don’t be afraid to add items that hold sentimental value and tell your personal story.

For example, displaying your kids’ artwork can be done in a fun and unique way. By using frames that match your decor and style, you can display your kiddo’s work with elegance. Not to mention, it becomes a conversational piece too. :)

Displaying other artwork and personal photos can of course, showcase your personality and interests too. For example, if you love nature, you might hang your favorite photo landscape or textured wall art.

I have a few landscape arts from Juniper Prints…They’re so good!!

Personalizing your space with a large Juniper print and wooden frame

The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them. -David Hicks

Adding your favorite colors, patterns and textures

Colors. We discussed earlier how to find your favorite colors. Checking out your wardrobe will lead you down the right path to a color palette that fits your likes and dislikes.

Do you lean towards bold and bright colors that make a statement? Or, do you prefer muted and understated hues? Whatever your preference, incorporating your favorite colors into your decor can add a pop of personality and create a consistent look.

The best way to bring in your favorite different colors is through an accent pillow here and there, throws, rugs and an accent wall.

Patterns. Personalizing your space in patterns. Whether you’re a fan of stripes, florals or geometrics, incorporating patterns into your home can add depth and visual interest.

If your style is more bold, mix and match the different patterns and create a more unique and eclectic look.

Textures. From soft and cozy fabrics to rough and rustic surfaces, incorporating different textures into your decor can create a tactile and inviting space.

Whether you love the feel of plush velvet or the rustic look of reclaimed wood, don’t be afraid to experiment with different textures to add dimension to your space.

Sitting area with a chair, lamp and large floating shelves

Using decorative items and accessories in your interior design process

Decorative items and accessories. Decorative items and accessories are great options to add character and charm to any space.

Accent pieces can pack a big punch and make a big difference when it comes to personalizing your space.

  • Vase filled with fresh flowers
  • Stack of books
  • Unique trinket you found while traveling
  • Woven basket
  • Vintage globe
  • Colorful Moroccan style rug

Live plants. Live plants are great for personalizing your space.

My favorite way to add color and texture to a space through accessories is live plants.

My theory is: every space needs a live plant. I love the touch of green they bring and how they add new life to a room.

If live plants are somewhat scary for you. Not sure you can keep them alive? Haha! I understand! That was me for the longest time. Faux plants are great too. Just make sure they look real.

Large sliding door with plant for personalizing your space post

Eclectic look. Once again, if your style is more bold, mix and match the different styles and textures to create a layered and eclectic look.

For example, you could display a collection of quirky ceramics on a rustic wooden shelf or add a bold graphic print to an otherwise neutral room.

You can also use accessories to add depth and dimension to your decor. Try layering different textures with throw pillows, blankets, and area rugs to create a tactile and inviting space.

Customizing the design in personalizing your space

Customizing furniture and decor pieces

Customizing furniture and decor pieces. Customizing furniture and decor pieces is a fun and rewarding way to make your home truly your own.

Here are a few of the easiest ways you can go about doing this:

DIY furniture building. Before you say, “No Way!” and move on. Hear me out. Building a piece of furniture is so much easier than you might think.

Next to interior design, my blog is all about building furniture and entire room renovations. I have several easy to follow furniture building plans available. Book shelves. Dining tables. Coffee tables. To name a few.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to step back, look at your handiwork, and say, “I built that!”It is the best feeling ever! Not to mention, you get exactly the design and finish you want, when you build it yourself.

Painting or refinishing furniture. If it’s still a hard no for you though, that’s ok. Painting your own furniture and giving it the look you desire, is an easy way to customize furniture pieces and make them truly your own.

A fresh coat of paint or a new stain can transform an outdated piece into something modern and stylish.

Reupholstery. If your furniture piece is structurally sound but needs a fresh look, reupholstery is a great option.

I am loving boucle fabric right now. The texture and dimension it brings into a room is breathtaking. I love how it looks in my kitchen and am on the hunt for another one for my living room.

Boucle chair in a kitchen nook for personalizing your space post

Artwork. Another way you can add your own personal touch to your interior design process, is by creating your own artwork.

This can be as simple as, taking a blank canvas and slapping black paint on it. This simple change can make quite the statement. Or using joint compound to create texture on a blank canvas and then painting it to add more interest to the piece.

I have examples of different canvases I created in this post.

So easy to do and so much fun! But this piece here, is probably my favorite! It’s a great focal point for my foyer. And definitely the one that sparks the most conversation.

You can check out exactly how I did the picture below, in this post….

A beautiful modern foyer with a sideboard table, pictures and a large black vase

Vases. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on decor? Easy! Grab a vase (or a few) from Goodwill or HomeGoods. Paint it with primer. Cover it with joint compound. Let it dry. And paint.

Full tutorial on how I change ugly vases into beautiful textured pottery-esque vases, in this post.

If the vase already has its own texture, simply paint it with primer and then with the paint colors of your choice and you now have a gorgeous vase to display.

Another trick I love to do, is grabbing just regular bowls from my local grocery store and doing this technique to them. So good! So easy! And so fun! A great DIY project!

2 custom bowls for personalizing your space post..inside two above the fridge compartments

Working with a designer or contractor

Working with a designer or contractor. Still not sure you have the time or the desire for the expertise to create your own pieces?

Working with a designer or contractor is an almost certain fail-safe way to get what you want. Just be sure you’re working with a designer who’s style and expertise align with your vision.

Once you and your designer have devised a plan, they will help you choose the right materials, finishes and colors for your project.

A great designer will also ensure you stay within your budget and timeline.

Balancing personalization with functionality

Functionality. Personality and style in your decor is important. But even more important is that your space remains functional and easy to navigate.

You will be unhappy with your space, if it feels too cluttered or if all the “stuff” makes the space feel too small. Remember less is more when decorating a room.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. -Steve Jobs

Multi-functional pieces are a great choice for small spaces. Some examples are:

  • An ottoman with storage space can provide a place to sit, while at the same time providing a spot for extra blankets
  • A desk can double as a vanity or dining room table
  • Books can be stacked with a vase on top to provide visual appeal
  • Utilize baskets and shelves to house your items out of sight and off the floor.

Full view of diy kitchen island with baskets, a plant and modern light pendants

Wrapping up the interior design process

Alright, we’ve covered a lot of ground talking about the interior design process and tips for personalizing your space.

I hope you’ve gained more confidence, as I’ve shared, how to find your personal style and how to add personal touches into your decor.

We’ve explored different simple ways to customize furniture and decor pieces. (I really do hope you’ll try your hand at building your own custom furniture piece. I promise my plans are super easy to follow!)

When it comes right down to it, the most important thing is ensuring your space feels comfortable, unique and functional.

Creating a space that tells your story and makes you feel at home is the goal we are after!

Fireplace in master bedroom with chair against the wall

Remember, don’t be afraid to take risks.

Mixing and matching different styles and textures brings in your personality and provides interest to the room. Incorporate personal touches.

Embrace your style and personality. Create a space that makes you feel happy, inspired and at home. You got this!

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Be sure to Pin This Post to your Pinterest Board for later…


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accent chair
Macrame mirror
dining room chairs
black and white striped blanket
floor lamp
abstract landscape art
Vintage rug
wingback chair-cream color
Vintage rug
accent chair

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