1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Lifestyle
  4. How Real is your Home and what makes it Undeniably ‘Yours’?
Indoor Plants - Indoro plant styling on TLC Interiors

How Real is your Home and what makes it Undeniably ‘Yours’?

I think we’ve lost the knack for celebrating the lived in home.

We’re so over-exposed to phenomenal photographs in magazines, catalogues and online (I’m looking at you, Instagram feed) that we’re spending a fortune – and a lot of our time – creating spaces that lack heart and soul.

It’s not entirely our fault, of course. We’re just so used to seeing artificial interiors moments that we’re forgetting what it’s like to see a space and feel the soul and story in it.

With each new day, we yearn to snap that perfectly orchestrated image of our home for Instagram, moving things around so it’s looks as impressive as possible before we edit the photo within an inch of its life and post it online.

schoolhouse electric eclectic kitchen with green and grey bench tiles and grey pendant lights above bench

Do you have a lived in home with soul?

I worry that mine is lacking a little in this department. And again, it’s not entirely my fault.

One, I’m a decorating junkie. Two, I’m an design blogger. And three, I’m an interior stylist. It’s safe to say that I cast my eyeballs over so much gorgeous imagery each day – put together and photographed on a set – that I’ve forgotten what ‘homely’ looks and feels like. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still a tough gig.

I’m on a mission to turn this around in my own abode this year. And I’d love to get your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.

vintage artwork by schoolhouse electric leaning against white timber panel wall | TLC Interiors

I can stand in the corner of my living room for 15 minutes, just staring at the room trying to figure out what’s ‘wrong’ with it. Perhaps it’s time to let go and just let all the pieces play together and sort themselves out.

schoolhouse electric living room with gallery wall and dark green sofa

My own home is lacking a bit

I think the main reason I feel my home is lacking soul is because I used to consume homewares on masse. Every season, I’d buy new bits and pieces and get rid of some of the old stuff.

I’ve come to realise that doing that has resulted in a home with little to no mementos. No special trinkets, no old collectables I couldn’t bare to part with. Just new and shiny things that hold no ‘heart and soul’ value. And those are not the things that make a house a home.

Have you fallen prey to this sort of consumption, too?

My partner is actually quite good in this regard. He tells me to just put everything out in our home regardless of whether I think it goes together.

See, I have a tonne of old art and frames and decor I worry won’t go together (again, the result of all that ‘perfect’ magazine imagery I see 24/7). But he says that I just need to get it all out, put it all up, and celebrate the eclecticism that it will bring to the room – even if it feels a bit mismatched to begin with.

He might be right.

Having been in my new home for a year now, I think it’s high time I start experimenting with the spaces a bit more, especially where personal mementoes are concerned.

schoolhouse electric black and white check armchairs in living room 1 | TLC Interiors

Celebrating the daggy moments

I also think there’s something really sweet about the silly or daggy moments in a home. I often think they’re the moments that make it feel like a lived in home with heart.

I need to start doing this a bit more in my own pad. I just find it so hard. I know I have issues, but I can stand in the corner of my living room for 15 minutes, just staring at the room trying to figure out what’s ‘wrong’ with it.

Perhaps it’s time to let go and just let all the pieces play together and sort themselves out.

What makes your abode a lived in home?

Would you say that these are the pieces that create that soulful, homely feeling? Have you been in my position before; questioning every little design moment and worrying it won’t all work?

The funniest part about this – and I think it’s true for a lot of stylists – is that I can easily put together a space for someone else, but when it comes to doing it for myself I hit a wall.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you create a home with heart and soul and what pieces you own that you simply couldn’t bare to part with.

Drop a comment below and let me know what you think.

schoolhouse electric credenza with vintage record player and world map

Join the TLC Private Facebook Group

If you’re obsessed with all things decorating like I am, you might wanna join my Private Facebook group here.

We discuss decorating and design on the daily. Members share snaps of their homes and ask advice. We support one another though shopping, style choices and more.

It’s loads of fun, so click the link above and drop me your email address.

Chris Sig

(As you’ll notice, I’ve included some photos in this post from Schoolhouse Electric that I think feel SO soulful and homely. It’s a great place to steal some ideas from!)


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

Related Posts​

19 Responses

  1. Chris, I need to send my kids and my rabbit over to your place. They’d make it look more homey in about half an hour lol

  2. Only just now come across your blog and have been going through it for more than an hour and I absolutely love it. This post makes some really great points. As someone who was bounced around from place to place through out my childhood, I’d always had ideals of what my first place would be like. As a result, my first apartment, that is all my own, is filled with sentimental pieces and the walls are a little smothered with framed photos and art. Within a month of moving in (it’s now been 5mths) all my friends said it looks as if I’d lived here for years, and it feels warm and inviting.
    I’ll also admit I work at IKEA, which is just around the corner, so naturally most of my furniture is from there haha however I’m an artist so I’ve taken the liberty of personalising all the of it as well. So the furniture may be mass produced, but it’s got my stamp on it 🙂

    1. Oh Tash I am so glad you found the blog and am so glad you’re loving it! Working at IKEA is like my dream come true. I’ve spent over 5 hours in there before and came out empty handed (and still elated), so I am sure it keeps you very inspired. Would love to see some photos of your place. Feel free to tag me into a pic on Facebook or Instagram. My username is @tlifecreate 🙂

  3. Oh my gosh I was nodding along the entire article.
    I’m so guilty of the staged home look and I think it was made worse by the fact we actually lived in our display house (husband is a builder – ecobuildqld.com.au) for 6months with a 2 year old at the time, so everything had to be perfect. Although we have moved from that house now, I find myself critiquing my style everyday as I’m not 100% sure that it actually reflects us the people who live here, and it’s not just an unintentional replica of what’s trending…
    Next years resolution – to only bring home items that are individually beautiful, not mass market, functional or meaningful to my family. Thanks for writing this article!

  4. I love this post, Chris. I like mixing old and new. I have a gorgeous old timber First Aid box from my mother. That’s my fave piece along with her old books. But I mix it up with some modern accessories. I hate the looks on The Block this series. Every room is so similar. Same curtains have been used for a few series I think. Would love to see them decorate a little more eclectically. Your old frames etc sound great

    1. Thanks so much Jenny – I definitely have to pop them up now. Loving your ideas and would kill for an old first aid box – sounds divine. Time to get mixing and matching I reckon. See you on Weds for next week’s conversation series 🙂

  5. I’m so glad you wrote about this! I just had a discussion about this with my bestie last week about seeing perfectly styled homes with the most trendy things ( oh btw im totally guilty of it, just so u know). I was telling her I was gonna strive to make my home look like my personality, and get on a trend if I love it, not just because it is trendy!

    1. I am so glad you agree Vin. I think the key is finding items that aren’t in stores. I’m going to explore some vintage stores in Melbourne and visit markets – so my home can be filled with a really interest mix of new, shiny pieces and some left-of-centre items you won’t see in other people’s homes.

      Let me know how you go on your mission for an eclectic home 🙂

      1. I totally resonate with what you told!!:) About visiting markets and antique stores. I even told my husband last week that I am not getting into Target. There’s no way I am coming out of Target without something. Even though I love all their stuff, sometimes I want to be unique and interesting. I think Etsy stores and small business that you can shop online are also great stores to find unique stuff! 🙂

        1. Oh I totally agree Vin – online stores stocking quirky and interesting things from local makers is a good idea too (hint hint – have you checked out the TLC Shop? ;)). But I definitely need to go to some local markets down here in Melbourne as well. Gotta mix the old and new I reckon. See you next Weds for another Conversation Series post 🙂

  6. I view Instagram photos of beautifully styled rooms with envy knowing that with a family of 2 boys under 6, my home will never look that gorgeous. However despite the constant chaos and picture frames that never seem to sit straight on the wall, I have created my own space where I gladly call my home.

  7. Chris, I understand your concerns. I’m setting up a household in the San Francisco area having moved with my husband from an incredibly cluttered house in the Boston area. So I am looking forward to actually having some style. But I notice how easy it is for me to create some manufactured mid-century modern look just by opening a few furniture catalogues. I don’t want to become a cliche. One big advantage I have is my husband’s photography (robertschneider.com) which we have never adequately displayed at home. I’m really looking forward to having his photos enliven the walls of our rental.

    One thought along the lines of schoolhouse electric is to look at more photos of artists homes. I love the stories they do in the Dutch magazine, Flow. Very funky places.

    1. Oh Laura that sounds like an awesome idea – thank you! I do see artists homes online and in magazines at times and they always seem to nail that balance between stylish and eclectic, staged yet lived-in.

      And thanks so much for sharing your husband’s website; I’ll definitely check it out.

      I’d love to see some snaps of your home once you’re set up. Did the move kill you? I find moving usually makes you want to murder your partner in cold blood lol. #Stress

  8. I totally agree with your comments Chris. I have just qualified as a designer after being in other less creative careers most of my working life. I thought with my new skills I would know how to put aside the perfectness of the images we are constantly looking at for inspiration but that doesn’t seem to be the case! What irritates me the most is the impractical styling we are encouraged to copy – the gorgeous chair at the end of the bed that you know would be ridiculous in a real situation, or the perfect stack of books in matching colours with a designer mug and light on a bedside table that would fall over as soon as the cat jumped up. Because we can’t recreate these perfect images for ourselves or our clients we feel like failures and run the risk of creating rooms with no soul. Did we do better creating homes with soul in the 70s and 80s before home magazines and social media told us how things should look?

    1. I hear you, Janet. I also totally understand that not everything ‘reads’ well on camera. So an arrangement that looks amazing in-person looks odd or out of proportion for a styled shot. It does make it hard, then, for real people to interpret and recreate these looks.

      I also see photos on Instagram where people are “just chillin” at home etc, and you know it was a 3 hour shoot lol.

  9. Hi Chris,
    I’m so glad you wrote a post about this!
    I tend to agree with you about the Instagram thing, don’t know about you but I see the same style over and over again with all new sparkling on trend homewares. I think it’s a very hard thing to pull off a soulful interior that completely reflects you instead of a home that looks like a display home.
    I guess the trick is to decide on your style type, what makes you feel inspired & creative? Obviously it’s eclectic for you – so you should own it. We shouldn’t worry (but we do) what others think – your home should reflect you. Go crazy please, there’s no rules☺️
    For me art from my favourite artists is a great foundation to build soul into a home. In fact anything hand made is perfect.

    1. Thanks for the tips Melinda; my partner is going to be very happy to have everything up and on the walls lol.
      And I agree re seeing the same thing over and over again. It does get tiring, doesn’t it?
      I love seeing something a bit odd and left-of-centre on social media when it comes to homes. And preferably not edited within an inch of its life! 😉

  10. I buy my decorating pieces and artwork when I travel. It means that everything clashes just the right amount and I have a good memory about every piece.

    1. That is such a good idea Justine and I think travel mementos are a great way to bring soul into a home. I will have to rummage through some of my old boxes and see what I have to display. Thanks for the idea 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

Latest Articles