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Home Decor | If it’s not you, don’t do it

Tommy Smythe comes to the Fall Home Show armed with suggestions for creating personal spaces

He’s a fast talker who’s passionate about what he does. Listen closely and you can’t help but be inspired to put some fun back into your home decor. (I know I was.)

When celebrated Canadian designer Tommy Smythe takes to the main stage at the Toronto Fall Home Show this weekend, he will no doubt make good on his promise to share fabulous home decor options for every space and budget. He also plans to learn a thing or two.

“My favourite aspect of speaking is the Q&A,” says Smythe, the enthusiastic television personality known for his work with Sarah Richardson Design on HGTV and whose guest appearances include The Marilyn Denis Show. “Everybody learns something, including me.”

Anyone who follows Smythe will know his approach to design is a balancing act. He has a knack for discovering the right mix of vintage and modern elements to deliver timeless comfort. And you can count on him to tell it like it is when it comes to colour choices and deciding between what to keep and what needs to go.

Find yourself dreading the return to indoors after summer? Here are Smythe’s top tips to “prepare your nest” for the fall and winter months ahead:

Arm yourself with courage

If you want to achieve the same result you drool over when thumbing through home magazines, you need to take some risks. “People tend to focus on the thing that’s expensive and not the thing which actually has the most impact, which are choices that have courage behind them,” says Smythe. In other words, if you love purple, use it. And if someone says they hate it. Well, then don’t have them over, he jokes.

Impatience is the mortal enemy of good design

The worst thing you can do is rush your design project. Settling on a piece of furniture instead of waiting to find the one you love, is like piercing your side with a thorn. “You thought the quick fix would be the best solution, and now you’re living with something in your most private and sacred space that you hate,” he says. “What could be stupider?”

Classic trumps trendy

Whether you’re a modernist or traditionalist, you can still be a classicist, says Smythe. Styles that are trendy will come and go. Learn to blend fine art and vintage pieces with modern furnishings and you’ll create a feeling of timeless elegance.

Make the ugly painting work

Should you part with things you love that belonged to a beloved family member, mentor or friend, or that you’ve collected over time? “I don’t think anybody should,” says Smythe. “You just have to make them work.” This tip is a tribute to Smythe’s friend who proudly displays “the ugliest little painting” in her home, not because it’s visually appealing, but because it has an interesting story behind it. “Suddenly that ugly little thing becomes the most beautiful thing in the house,” he says.

Buy the best you can afford

In Smythe’s design world, there’s no such thing as achieving the same look for less. “If it is not the look, then by its very nature it is less,” he says, referring to less expensive knock-offs as “diminished.” Instead, he encourages people to invest in quality design as well as workmanship. That way you should get a good 15 years’ minimum out of your purchase – if not a lifetime.

Don’t lose sight of you

If you’re rooms are feeling mediocre and you find yourself “embarrassed” to have people over, chances are the piece that’s missing is you, says Smythe. “There’s only one thing you should be embarrassed about in terms of your house and it’s not the quality of your furnishings, not the paint colour you’ve chosen for your walls, and not even whether it’s messy or tidy,” he says. “What’s embarrassing is if I walk into your house, and there’s no you in it … The more you that’s there, then the warmer I feel.”

Above all else, have some fun with your home decor and design. “We’ve always said when it stops being fun, we’re going to stop doing it,” says Smythe. “And so far, mercifully, it’s always been fun.”

With plan in hand all you need is some help to bring your visions to life and show your some of your personality in your decor. Start by using the eieihome easy to use directory or interior designers and decorators.

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