As the saying goes, several things age like fine wine. For me, this reminds me of things, places, and people whose beauty flourishes even more as time goes by. The same goes for my time in decorating: the experiences that I have under my wing, the projects I have held, and the people that I have worked with only add to the beauty of what I do.

It’s my birth month: Another year when I become older and wiser. It feels like I’m kind of in the middle of everything in my life, everything within my arms’ reach, and all I have to do now is grasp it at my full potential. Doing what I love—which is decorating, spicing up my personal space with fashion and the arts, is something I have to share with you. So here are five design philosophies I have learned so far and where my design aesthetic is based on. 

1. Style with Substance

Style is not just about finding the right patterns, what catches people’s attention, or even what’s trending—it’s about telling a story, truthfully and creatively. Try to understand the space you want to create; be inspired, plan harmoniously, but don’t forget practicality. 

Decorating with substance also means functionality—a creative aspect that people underestimate when furniture shopping. We fall in love with furniture pieces that will look good on our Instagram feed and tend to forget that one of the most important aspects of furniture is its function in providing comfort. And so, we buy the fancy lounge chair that fits perfectly in the room aesthetic. But on Friday nights, you find yourself sitting on another comfortable chair and subconsciously avoiding the fancy one. An insightful method of styling will eliminate buying unnecessary furniture. 

Maintaining my role in motherhood changes the way I look at things around me. I used to look at shopping like a scavenger hunt, looking for the chicest ornaments to place in my space. But now, I find myself decluttering, saving what’s practical, and knowing it will be of great value for my day-to-day routine. It’s all about how you live functionally and not creating a home for someone who lives in a magazine. Once you master the art of defining what you need versus what you want, you can absolutely ace that inner Kelly Wearstler in your styling skills.

Channel your inner Kelly Wearstler by choosing stylish yet functional pieces. | Photo from Kelly Wearstler

2. Not to Sound Cliché but, Go For Quality Over Quantity

Years of taking down notes, observing design shenanigans from the Ikea hype, and appreciating Ben Cab led me to swear three years ago to spend my money wisely when it comes to fashion and the arts. Limiting myself to quality pieces that even Marie Kondo will approve of keeping.

Let’s face it, as much as you want to have everything that your heart desires in your space, you have to be conscious of the quality of things. It’s better to have one genuine version of something you love rather than buying a lesser version over and over again. Think of it as an investment, a piece of art or jewelry that gets more valuable over time. Design and curate your home with impeccable and genuine items.

These are some pieces I’m currently looking at and planning on investing, so I’m sharing them to help you get rid of that corduroy sofa from your mom. While I am open to having modern furniture in my house, this beauty from Casa Nuova is definitely something to splurge on for a good reason.

Casa Nuova’s Vibieffe Nordic 525 is a custom modular sofa equipped with headrest, ottoman, chaise longue, and a built-in storage box. It is luxury simplified. | Photo from Casa Nuova

Much like culturing my mind by putting basic clothes that will withstand time, or should I tell? (Not to tell, maybe for next time.) Something to relate with is E. Murio’s Apparatus chair. It is definitely the craftmanship—a rare, one-of-a-kind piece that certainly signifies a future heirloom, not guided by fad and trends.

The versatility and timeless quality of these two pieces of furniture stirred my mind, and I couldn’t help but wonder: What is the chair equivalent to fashion’s LBD? My thoughts came exactly to this, a must-have Casa Bella Cassina LC4 Chaise Lounge that will surely point emulation. And since investing in health is something to take seriously nowadays, the Chaise lounge was actually designed ergonomically. Hard pill to swallow but investing in furniture is actually investing in your health too.

3. Find the Perfect Balance

There are actually two ways to style using the concept of balance: symmetry and asymmetry. 

Symmetry is the idea of having a mirror image—it’s a great way to create a cohesive look. On the other hand, asymmetry is the idea of creating balance with items that are different while maintaining a good look. Either way, it is the idea that when you walk into a room, everything is pleasing—giving a visual calmness to the room. It is absolutely everything when it comes to the principles of interior design. Decoding a balance with symmetry and asymmetry is like putting on a perfect Dion Lee dress with mismatched accessories in heels but somehow, still rocking that glass of wine on the fourth round.

Even if my column name bears the word overdressed, which is quite the opposite of the word balance, I do think there is a balance in my style. The perfect balance doesn’t show in black and white, but it’s in the eye of the beholder. We all have different perspectives on the word balance, and that’s totally fine! It all comes down to what makes you feel content in the way you see your space, looking at it both as a successful project and a safe space where you can simply take a breather.

Find a way to master symmetry and asymmetry in working with your spaces. | Photo grabbed from Pinterest.

4. Create Your Own Aesthetic

As I said, balance differs between each person, so the challenge for you is to create your own aesthetic. Train your eye to seek one-of-a-kind pieces. 

Inspiration is everywhere; look through your favorite magazines, books, catalogs, websites, and blogs for images that inspire you. What gives a twinkle in your eye will ultimately give your own unique vibe. Not everyone may get your aesthetic. But whatever the case is, adding your own flair to a design or style makes it all the more pleasing to the eye, knowing your taste, style, and personality created it.

My aesthetic will always be developing over time, and it’s not something to be worried about. I went from aesthetically pleasing furniture based on its design and materials to still the same. But now, there’s a touch of comfort that brings satisfaction—not just for me, but for my household as well. (Pro tip: Kids and glass don’t mix well)

Make an impact, be outrageous, and have fun. The beauty of imperfections is that you get to be different from others. Take that lamp and overhaul its shade, repaint your nude-colored walls and start being bold with that Cerulean Blue (not everyone can get the right shade of blue)—that’s the idea. If you still don’t get it, add The Devil Wears Prada on your next Netflix night.

Discovery our own identity in decorating your spaces by being open to ideas. | Photo from Vogue Living

5. Be the Vision

I have come to realize that having the confidence to know the difference between designing a house and a home will not only make you savvy—it is also a personal venture with your loved ones. After moving into our house with my husband 6 years into our marriage, we were debating about that Fornasetti plate: whether to eat from it or to hang it. We obviously compromised since we don’t only own a piece now, but our dining room became a gallery wall for my precious plates. This is an excellent point on how having a different perspective can work so well if you inspire each other effectively.

Just like him figuring out why we don’t match our bedroom linen set all together or why we cannot chop on that gorgeous marble cheese platter for my flat lay. Or me wondering why this man has a knack for not overflowing his bar cart, putting only the essentials (lemons, oranges, my curated flowers, and sparkling water). And even his knives, bottle openers, and wine aerators that are either in our kitchen or inside a brass box he has in his nook. I have since began associating our home decoration with our state of marriage. You have to compromise, sometimes, but you never lose sight of what’s valuable, and you have to love every second of the journey.

More so, inspire. Show others that they can design and curate their own space as you do. Leave a mark—an impression that one can do anything that they set their minds to. Probably, interior designing is something that you weren’t planning on doing, or it’s something that sparked your interest in this ‘new normal’ set-up. This I think, is my job—to leave a blueprint for you to follow: on how to curate, style, and design your own spaces at home.

Make your spaces work for you and not the other way around.

These five design principles that I’ve mentioned I still apply every day of my life, and some of it I’m still learning. But I’m loving the journey because not only am I learning new things about design, but I’m also learning and developing my aesthetic. And honestly, style does change from time to time. Sometimes you can go all out, sometimes the simple things leave the biggest impression, sometimes your color palette is dark, light, or even a grand array of colors, but really, it all comes down to leaving a mark in your work, something that’s undeniably you no matter how different it was from your last design project.

Another 365 days of mine has passed, and I can say that I’m getting the best of both worlds—taking my design preferences into pen and paper. As I strut down this runway called life, I will be keeping these design principles with me. Oh! And one last piece of advice: (think of this as a bonus point) enjoy your own journey. Learn, make mistakes, but don’t forget to have fun in the process and always have a little balance of everything. With that, you’re all set to conquer the decorating world with your design aesthetic and your everyday life as an inspiration.