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Advice for HomeownersArt and BeautyColour TrendsDecorating Advice

The Secret to Feeling at Home

By 02/03/2016February 21st, 201744 Comments



Image via Design Sponge

I have a treat for you today! Our virtual Director of Customer Service & Delight/Event Coordinator Lisa Borton, based out of Naperville, Illinois, has written a guest post for us. We asked everyone who applied for this position to write a blog post and I loved hers so much, I’m sharing it with you!

Those of you who attended my Vancouver Specify Colour with Confidence™ event got to meet both Lisa Borton & Tricia Firmaniak my Design Assistant (from Edmonton). I was excited to have everyone together!


Lisa Borton (Here are her Pinterest Boards)

Here’s Lisa’s post:

Am I the only one? As soon as I finished painting over all of the swine pink paint left in our house by the previous owner, the color trend shifted again.

As soon as I completed my Tuscan color scheme: golds and greens with pops of red (example below), the rest of the design world had moved on.

3-Brasada-RanchDesign via JS Brown Design


Of course, since my husband and I do all of our own painting, it can literally take YEARS to complete all of our rooms, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised we are constantly running behind. It seems like my paintbrush and I are on a hamster wheel that just won’t stop.

Can any of you relate?

So, what are we to do? How can we be happy in our homes at all times, regardless of changes in style, color trends, etc.?

I believe the answer is to PERSONALIZE your home. In this day of Pinterest boards and Houzz Ideabooks, this advice may seem counterintuitive. Wouldn’t it be easier to just make your room look like a photo you like?

Well, those who know me well, know that I have an obsession with decorating. I read too many shelter magazines; I read too many blogs and spend a little too much time on Pinterest and Houzz.


Design by Lindsay Coral Harper

In my opinion, looking at all of those images can lead to one of two things: 1) You develop a bad case of house envy and want your home to look just like those in the polished, professional photos, or 2) You learn what you like and don’t like and can translate that to decorating your own home in your own style. I won’t lie – I have gone through both of those phases. But lately, I have felt a distinct shift in my thinking.

As I grow older – and hopefully wiser – I am beginning to take time to think about decorating our home beyond the trends. How do we want it to feel when we walk in? What impact should it have on our children? On our guests?

One of the most important things I have learned, and what I want to share with you today, is how to make your house feel like YOURS. Personal.


Image via Style me Pretty (I LOVE this coral shade)

Maybe this means your home won’t be featured in a magazine, but what is it you want from your house?

At the end of the day, I want it to be a sanctuary for my family. To be their favorite place. To be that safe place where they can relax and be themselves.

So, to that end, I have started filling our home with things we love. You may say, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”, but I know that in the past, I did not. I bought that black, wrought iron candlestick because it went with the Tuscan trend I was in, not because I liked it or felt a connection to it.

So now, I am decorating with intention. It is certainly a work in progress, but my goal is for each piece of art and accessory to be something meaningful to us. Because of who made it. Or because of the memories it evokes. Or because it brings a loved one to mind. Or simply because we find it beautiful.


Rodney Smith Photography

So, how do we personalize our home? Let me give you a few examples so that you can try it yourself!

A few years ago I decided to update the artwork in our family room. So, I bought a print that was filled with the colors of the room, had it framed and hung it on the wall. It looked FINE. But, each time I entered that room, I felt empty. That painting looked lovely with the color scheme, but it did not bring me any joy at all, because I had no connection to it.

We have since replaced it with a picture that was painted as a gift for us by my father-in-law. The subject might not be something I would choose, and the colors are more muted than I prefer, but it makes me happy. He made it for us and I treasure it for that reason.

My son’s bedroom is one of my favorite rooms in our house. Each item decorating the walls is something special to him. He has his plaques from playing on his beloved basketball team through the years, pennants from professional and college teams he loves, a piece of art made for him by his sister, and ribbons he has earned playing water polo.


Via EdithandEvelyn

He also created a collage using ticket stubs from events he has attended. When he is in his room, he is truly surrounded by things that remind him who he is. That is what I want for each of us in each room of our home. To feel warm, loved, connected to who we are and those we love.

Most recently, my daughter and I have started painting, drawing and lettering. We are in the experimental phase, trying acrylics, watercolors and pastels. Rather than stack our attempts in a pile in a closet, we have begun hanging them on clipboards for all to see. It brings us SUCH JOY to have our creations displayed. And, as we create something we like better, we can so easily swap them out!


via Pinterest


If you long to personalize your home, I suggest starting with one room. Take down the art and accessories you have in there. If you have lived in your home for years, you may have become immune to your surroundings.

By actually handling each item and deciding if it makes us happy or not, we can begin to transform our home into a place that is truly reflective of who we are. As you go through the process of removing things you don’t feel connected to, you will make room for the things that actually bring you joy.

Just a warning: this may not be a fast process. I currently have a few empty walls because I am waiting to find something personal to hang; something I feel a connection to.

Once you go through this process in one room, it will begin to feel much more natural and you will automatically begin to examine the accessories in ALL of your rooms.

But be patient. Give yourself grace as you go through this process slowly, room by room, to ultimately transform your home into a personalized sanctuary you love.

Thanks Lisa! Don’t you feel empowered after reading this? You can see why we’re so excited to have her with us.


If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

7 Ways to Make the Most of What you Already Have: Before & After

10 Styling Necessities to Transform your Home ASAP

A Shocking Way to Get The Art You Want



  • Lisa says:

    Oh this is so exactly my philosophy. Great post! Thank you!

  • Martha says:

    Love this post. Many of the things in my home have been collected on trips, pieces handed down by relatives, some antiques, something handmade by myself or someone special, or photographs taken by my husband. My home is not on point with the trends, but I feel joy whenever I walk in to this inviting space. It’s warm and cozy to me.

    On the other hand, I enjoy seeing all of the beautiful photographs of more modern homes and designs and colors, but they do not sing to me.

  • Brenda says:

    I couldn’t agree more! A home should reflect your personality not a hotel room. Great post Lisa, you are a keeper!

  • Julie S says:

    This is great. I’ve had a large empty picture frame on my living room wall for a year. I have carted pieces of art that were the right colors, but something (lack of personal connection!) kept me from the final purchase. I still struggle with wanting decorations because they are on trend but I’m making progress!

  • BillP says:

    I recently moved to a new home. It was a wonderful time to take a look at some of my favorite items and paintings. They took on new life as I found new places for (some of) them. When I want to change things up I have a few packed boxes to pull from.

  • Cathy says:

    Really enjoyed reading this, wonderful post.

  • Norma says:

    I love this! It reminds me of the Marie Kondo approach to organizing. I love how Lisa sees decorating in that same way. Finding joy in the pieces that fill our spaces. It may sound hokey to say hold each piece and tune in to its meaning to you, but it works. I struggle with both organizing and with decorating. But I do feel a guidance from allowing myself to tune in to whether or not the different pieces of art or decor bring me joy.

  • Lynn In Victoria says:

    Lisa – Bravo, Bravo, Bravo to you and yours. Beautiful post.

  • Richard Douglass says:

    What a great post, Lisa. I seem to recall Maria saying that the only way to not be trendy was to fill your house with antiques (Maria, correct me if I misstated you.) Lisa has it right, too. Fill your house with things you love and that have a personal connection. Will that become the new trend??? In any case if you have a house like that already, or a house full of antiques, choose the colors that bring it all together and to heck with any trends.

  • mairi says:

    Congratulations Lisa on both your excellent post and your new position! Thanks for sharing it Maria.

  • Lauren Tyson says:

    A good reminder that bringing our personal values (e.g., nature, family, whimsy, or something else) into our lives and our spaces will help create a feeling of joy, peace, and fulfillment! I’m married to a life coach, and this is something I learned from him.

  • Robin says:

    Nice! Great post and fits right in here. So many of my favorite blogs have slowed down or stopped, so I am really glad this one is going strong.

  • This is just what I needed to read this morning! Thank you!!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Great article, Lisa. And welcome to the Color Me Happy family.
    It seems like anything that has past the test of time in my own home were the things that had a special place in my heart. Everything else was just “stuff” & was easy to part with when I was bored with it. And as I was taking the latest batch to Goodwill, it finally occurred to me how wasteful I was being. But it can be hard sometimes when HomeGoods is right up the street.
    Also…I live in Naperville! I hope I run into you at Jewel so I can say “hi.”

  • sandyc says:

    Lisa, you are not nearly as old as I am but you definitely have achieved wisdom and you are working with the best in Maria. I’ve been following Maria since 2009, I’ve lived in my forever home for three years, it’s not finished and won’t be for another year or two, and I haven’t yet done a formal consult with Maria, but “my home fills me with happiness every time I walk in” and I learned that from her. Congratulations on your new position – you are so in the right place and you already have the beginning of a tagline – “Give yourself grace…” Thanks for your delightful post and thank you, Maria, for introducing Lisa to us.

  • Caroline-SoCal says:

    Now that I have grandchildren, their early exuberant paintings, framed, often find a place on my walls. It is amazing how framing gives a picture additional importance. Also, I just framed the cover of
    a recipe book I got when I was a student at the U. of Wisconsin-Madison, circa 1955, “Bucky’s Favorite Recipes”, with a picture of Bucky Badger on the cover. I wouldn’t cook any of their recipes today, but I think of all the long-gone deans, wives(!) of professors, and even the UW president’s wife, who took the time to contribute their favorites. The meaningful framed cover greets me every morning in my kitchen.

  • Carlyn says:

    Welcome Lisa,

    I loved reading your post, I too, only decorate with things I love. When decorating trends come along, sometimes I like certain things and others I don’t like any of it. My home isn’t trendy at all, but I don’t think it looks dated either. It’s pretty classic with some artwork from my travels and everyone who comes in the door loves it. I also agree with taking each object out of it’s space and holding it to see how it makes you feel. It really does work.

  • Fran says:

    Great post, Lisa! Congratulations on your position. Maria is the best!

  • mrsben says:

    Congratulations on your new position, Lisa. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and completely agree in ‘decorating beyond the trends’ as IMHO that is what distinguishes a house from a home. -Brenda-
    P.S.: Like yourself, I have also always done my own painting and plan to do so as long as I can.

  • Lisa Porter says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful post! I also appreciate your thoughts on creating a home that the whole family can feel comfortable in. My older children still live at home and their spaces have evolved over the years into places that both my husband and I enjoy spending time in. I can sit in a wingback (Suddenly one day she asked if she could have it. Yes!) in her bedroom and look around at her life, thoughtfully displayed, keeping living a REAL life in mind.
    Thought I was the only one who painted my own rooms!
    Great post!

  • Wendy says:

    Great post! The pressure and influence of trends in decorating has gotten stronger, and the time trends last has gotten shorter. Hard on people! Lisa, your idea is the perfect tonic – pay attention to pieces with meaning, and things you love. In addition to the family-made, and mementos, I’d encourage people to look for original art that sings to them. There is so much good accessible art available now- much easier to find than it used to be! And consider keeping some pieces of beautiful old wood furniture that have memories and meaning as well! The trend away from “browniture” will swing back, but lots of marvelous antiques will have been thrown out by the next time people look for them. End of rant – welcome Lisa – beautiful introduction!

  • Kathi says:

    What a great post-you will be perfect at your new job-congrats- This is actually important about making spaces personal and a cautionary tale, when we moved into our new home last year, I went to Home Goods ( I have a serious addiction to that store, I actually know their trucks delivery days and when they put the new stuff out) and bought everything new -it looked awesome, so stylized and like a picture on houzz or pinterest ,it took me about 2 months to realize something just felt off, it looked beautiful, but it was like I was a visitor, I went up to the attic and dragged a few favorite items, that made me happy (like my elephant collection and a mosaic lantern that belonged to my best friend who passed away 4 years ago) back down-now, it feels like home and it all mingles with my new items just fine.

  • JaneBIVL says:

    I love this post! It makes me feel better about that my house doesn’t look shelter-y, but has big focal points I totally love. Ahhhhh! Taking in that I’m not “wrong.” And taking in why it always leaves me so empty to browse through Home Goods (Home Sense in Canada, I think)…because mostly they’re generic pieces. THANK YOU!

  • barbara says:

    thank you and welcome! I agree! Most of my accessories and home “objects” have a story. My coffee table ” magazine tray” for an example, is my husband’s grandmother’s blue willow turkey serving platter complete with crack line. It sits on a table that was handed down from friend that was uglee dark stained oak, parquet top and cane shelf below but it was the perfect size/shape for my sofa … it is now turquoise except for the top ( need that contrast!) that I refinished in natural wood tone. My vintage teak parquet floor may be “out” by some standards ( hgtv?) BUt it is SOLID teak from Bangkok and demands I put put BOLD color and lots of white with it…. a case where a “bossy floor” works…. trend proof in this case. I have never decorated to the trends nor made a single purchase from Home Goods ( but I have looked!). Vintage lamps from my family, handed down furniture that was well made….. lots of love here! ( and a lot of work needed also….HVAC, windows, etc ) thanks for a thoughtful post.

    • barbara says:

      PS: sounds like you are doing a “kondo” project… just don’t start talking to your stuff ..haha

  • Nancy says:

    What a awesome post.
    Nothing better then being true to yourself and your family.
    Painted the picture perfectly what a home really is
    It truly is about the family in that house.
    When you apply those basics you will truly love your home !!!!
    Thanks for sharing that with us !

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you for this post! I, too, love to decorate with meaningful things. We haven’t had a lot if money most of our marriage so most of the furniture in our home are pieces I found second band and beautified myself. They make me smile and I see the effort I put into those as a reflection of the love I have for my family and my desire for them to have a home where they want to be. Our home is beautiful and the decor is peaceful, but it is meaningful and full of love and memories as well. Some of my favorite things are pieces my grandfather made me and pieces my husband made me.

  • Carol Landt says:

    I have always tried to do this! Currently we are working on the entry/formal living/dining/bar area – a lot to take on! Thank you for reminding me it can be a slower process that I think, every time. I’m trying to avoid that “snowball rolling down a hill” feeling! I mostly love items and art that we have selected and purchased in our travels: happy reminders!

  • Kay says:

    So true, and so important. It takes most people time to realize the truths expressed in this post. Sounds strange to say, but I’m fortunate that I lacked the time, means, and skill to renovate our house until I was in my middle sixties. We had done smaller things, but we had never even bought a piece of new furniture and lived with thrift store finds and hand-me-downs. An inheritance enabled me to create a house that expresses who we are, filled with things that are important to us, but also beautiful. Recently I found a painting my husband had stowed away, painted by his sister before her tragic death many years ago. It is not particularly good, but it is important, so it now hangs in a prominent location.

  • Deb says:

    I am so glad you posted this! This expresses how I feel perfectly. I always tell my clients and friends…buy the things you love and you will find a place for them in your home….rather than buying something to “match” or fit in a specific spot. Thank you and Lisa for putting this into words!

  • Excellent blog Lisa and very true! Home Sweet Home is a reflection and expression of who we are to ourselves and our guests. I’m very much looking forward to meeting everyone in Vancouver!

  • Judi says:

    Great post. Thank you and look forward to future posts from you on Maria’s blog.

  • Bethany says:

    I loved this article so much I referenced it on my blog in my post from today! 🙂 Thank you for the post!

  • Lorri says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with this post. Along with all the items that touch your soul, the real decorating comes when you introduce your favorite colors into the mix.

  • Ange says:

    What a great post, it certainly resonated with me. I have had Pinterest-Houzz envy more times than I can count. Our house is dated, think jewel tones. Since we are not in a position to update all the rooms, this article makes me feel so much better about our house. THANK YOU!

  • Judy H. says:

    What a great post to ponder! Decorating truthfullly, what a simple but complex idea. Many times, I’ve found myself looking at paint, fabric and art trying to think of how I can MAKE these trends be a part of my home. It’s hard to do and I’ve just now realized why it’s been so hard; it’s hard because I wasn’t trying to be truthful, authentic to myself, my family and my home. Thank you for showing me the light!

  • Trudy says:

    Wow, what an awesome addition Lisa will be to your group! I LOVE this post, some of the best decorating advice I’ve heard, I’m starting as soon as I get back from Dubai!! I definitely think she’s a keeper!!

  • Ann says:

    Beautiful post! I can’t wait to read more : ). One of the problems I have with not having an “on trend” home is finding things that work with my home. I like a sense of history and I’m attracted to antiques but those are harder to find in my area. Your post explains why I always leave Home Goods empty handed even though I have a store credit! While I think beach house decor is rather cute, it doesn’t have a place in my home. I feel like the store alienates a lot of customers with a “one theme” and trendy decor. I wish they would expand their options!

  • Cope Kamlowsky says:

    Love, love, LOVE this post!! We’ve got a house filled with things that are personal and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing irritates me more than to walk into a home and not see anything that tells me something about the owner! Or…maybe that alone does reveal something! 🙂

  • AmyB says:

    Wow! This an incredible post and you can see from the depth and quantity of heartfelt comments how much that it is needed. We live in such a fast-paced disposable world that many have lost sight of what matters. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to decorate, design, recreate my spaces but I couldn’t have articulated why: to make my home more comfortable for the me and the people who live in it. (Note: I sure wish the people who live in it could find comfort in having the throw pillows and blankets back ON the furniture when they leave the room. 🙂

    i teach in elementary and middle school sometimes and I never miss an opportunity to teach kids to be wary of magazines/media… all of which exist for the sole purpose of trying to sell you something. Be it new make up, hair, body, outfit, sofa, wall color, tile, car, phone … all designed to move product and make you feel like what you are doing is out of style.

    I love Maria’s philosophy. Thank you for this incredible post.

    • Meger Anski says:

      Thank you for teaching this. I had teacher who would do the same. We need more like you!!

  • AmyB says:

    PS: With that said, I’m going to go buy vintage clipboards right now! Perfect idea. ( Note: this isn’t against mod decorating. If that’s your style, buy acrylic clipboards rather than old wood. I think interesting might work too.) See… A sale can still be made for somebody.

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