Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

by Tiffany Edison

In the new year, my phone starts to ring off the hook without fail. I have come to anticipate these calls — I relish them! The reason I am inundated with pleas for assistance is largely due to what my clients describe as the ‘lack of cheer’ in their homes once the holiday season comes to an end. A frequent grievance I hear goes something like “We realized after we took down the decorations how ‘blah’ and ‘drab’ our home actually is.” Please don’t get me wrong, I love to decorate for the holidays as much as the next gal, but when does my home actually feel like me, I asked myself? The answer is simple – all year round. And I’ll share with you the reason why: I don’t follow trends.

I know what I like. I know where my favorite spot is, and I know just what blanket to take there with me. I know which items in my home make me smile. I guess what I am trying to say is, I know me, and it’s a wonderful feeling. You can do the same, and the truth is you don’t need to be an interior designer to make it happen.

Follow Your Instincts

To get started, try this exercise: enter each room, making a slow and deliberate circle to take it all in. Let your eyes see every surface and wall and shelf. What pops out at you? Is the space comforting? Or jarring? Where does your eye go first? 

Recognize How You Feel

Are there beloved items that draw you in and immediately flood you with memories or emotions? It could be a Kuba cloth from some time spent in Africa, or your children’s artwork lovingly framed on the dining room wall. If we surround ourselves with objects which hold meaning to us, we are comforted and content in our surroundings. Keep the items which bring you joy and make you feel good. Let those possessions be your guide while you design around them. Remove the items that don’t work in tandem. In essence, edit each room accordingly. Balance beauty and function from space to space. You will be amazed at how revitalizing this will be.

Showcase a Collection to Transform a Room

Case in point: years ago, when I was newly married and moving into my first home, I hired a friend who had a successful framing business to come to our home to hang our recently-acquired art collection. I had arranged it on the family room floor and stood deliberating over what piece might complement the other, and most importantly, where each piece should ultimately rest.  When my friend arrived, she pondered all that I had so diligently laid out for her — there was a lot of artwork! Dare I admit that my husband and I bought a full art collection before we purchased a sofa! I was obsessed with beautiful things, and art seemed to be a great investment. As far as I was concerned, we could eat Chinese take-out on the floor while admiring our beautiful collection — utilitarianism be damned! 

What came from this meeting was an organic exchange of ideas and the ultimate discovery that in addition to collecting art, I had, in fact, become a collector of primitive wooden objects as well! I was stunned that I hadn’t realized this, yet my friend had keenly picked up on it right away. She got right to work arranging the framed pieces by flanking the fireplace with them stacked one on top of the other. Following this, she did the most amazing thing and displayed my primitive art collection on the mantel. I was beaming with delight from this simple act. She had transformed my family room in an unexpected way to my sheer delight. To this day, I cannot explain my obsession with primitive wooden artifacts. And you know what? I don’t have to. It makes me happy. You, too, could have a collection right under your nose deserving of mantel space. Now, when I enter my client’s homes and they sheepishly ask me “Do you like this?” My answer remains “Do YOU?”

Be genuine in this new year. Follow your designer instincts; recognize how you feel in each room, showcase a personal collection to make a statement, and celebrate the authentic you while transforming your home into your haven.

Birch Design Associates

Tiffany Edison has been an interior designer since 2002, and specializes in both residential and commercial projects. She holds a Master of Social Work degree (ACSW) and utilizes interpersonal relationship skills on a daily basis with her client base, largely comprised of Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit residents. She has a wonderfully large blended family residing in the city and enjoying the comforts of home. When she’s not fully immersed in client projects, you can find her active on the golf course, a favorite pastime.


Tiffany Edison, principal designer

Birch Design Associates