How To Add Personality To Your Home: An Ashlyn Gibson Masterclass

How much would you say your home is a reflection of you?

I think a lot of people would say that actually, they’ve just picked what they liked from a catalogue and not really thought about how those features represent who they are – if they do at all! Don’t feel bad, you guys – I’m certainly guilty of the same. But it turns out, it’s probably not making us as happy as we could be. Let me tell you why…

I went to a really fun interactive masterclass recently with Ashlyn Gibson, an interior designer, stylist, art director and owner of Olive Loves Alfie – one of the most gorgeous little lifestyle stores which celebrates individuality in London’s hottest new postcode, E20. It was all part of their #MakeYourselfAtHome campaign with Get Living London and East Village, turning the former Athletes’ Village (y’know, from the Olympics!) into trendy urban accommodation.

She talked us through some of her favourite projects and how anyone can add personality to their home.

Ashlyn Gibson

Ashlyn Gibson Interior Design

Ashlyn Gibson

Ashlyn Gibson

Ashlyn Gibson

My biggest takeaway from the session was just how important it is to feel like your house is yours. Not necessarily in the ownership sense, but as if someone were to visit and know immediately that it was you who lives there.

I’d like to think that if I was ever on Through T’Keyhole (yes the Keith Lemon version, shoot me), they would say:
“Hey, that looks like Karen would live there!”

It’s harder than it looks though. I flick through my old blog posts from time to time and I can’t stand how we decorated this house. I imagine so many people out there do exactly what Joe and I did; head to your local paint store (for us, it was B&Q), picked out a colour which looked inoffensive, and then just painted some rooms.

CRINGE.

Over time living in the space meant I grew to really loathe them, not because they were particularly bad-looking, but because I didn’t connect with it. We simply hadn’t reached the stage of personalising it yet due to renovations.

But slowly but surely, over the past 5 years, we’ve added trinkets, photographs, souvenirs from trips, items which are in-jokes, found colours that work with our home and personality…and they all mean something to us.

I wanted to share some of the key learnings from the session with Ashlyn which completely spoke to me:

  • Give your home a narrative which reflects your life. Don’t worry about re-decorating over and over. Your life changes, so let your house evolve layer by layer, too.
  • Take a more soulful approach to your home. Find out what speaks your language and allow yourself some space to do with as you please.
  • Don’t be afraid to move outside of the trend culture. The zeitgesit is to be authentic.

That last one speaks to me so much. I don’t like the idea of following trends…just because it’s a trend. I think we spend far too much time and money trying to impress others with what we think should look good, and when it comes to your house, it’s you who has to live in it every single day. So make it somewhere you love to be.

When I got home, I flicked through Ashlyn’s books and found them so completely inspiring that I’ve asked my mum to take a look too. She’s currently starting from scratch re-decorating her entire house and she’s looking at ways to put her stamp on the property.

Ashlyn Gibson 01

Ashlyn Gibson 05

She’s stumped, so I gave her these 4 questions to think about. They were asked to us by Ashlyn in order to figure out how where to begin in adding personality to our home.

Think of:

  1. A favourite place or somewhere that inspires us
  2. A person of significance in your life
  3. An item that you cherish
  4. A cultural experience of importance to you, such as a film or painting.

I’ll tell you what my answer was to an item I cherish. It’s my Lego figurines.

They were made especially as a wedding present by one of mine and Joe’s best friends. They’re colourful, they’re nerdy, and rather than keep them stashed somewhere as a souvenir, we’ve used them as a focal piece in our lounge. It’s something that I know is completely unique and it makes me feel like our living space is all for us because of them.

Blue Lounge 07

They’re not contrived. It’s not taken out of a glossy magazine. They’re ours and I love it all the more for that.

How would you answer Ashlyn’s questions? How do you make your house a reflection of you? I’d love to hear what you think and how you’ve made yourself a home.

Follow me on Facebook to hear about the rest of the masterclass next week on the psychoology of colour in interiors.

Ashlyn Gibson 02

Ashlyn Gibson 03

Further reading:

Home Etc

Related posts:

  • Rachel Newcombe

    It sounds like wise advice from Ashlyn and great points to take away and put into action.

  • I love your Lego figurines! I hope your mum finds the questions useful – I’m still pondering them 🙂 Was such a useful session, and I think it’s good to hear encouragement to go one’s own way and not follow the crowd/trends too slavishly x

    • Thank you Molly. The lego figurines were made for us which makes them so much more special. Adds a bit of quirk to the lounge too – it’s not just the baby who gets to have all the fun with colour 🙂 x

  • Ooh this is really interesting, I think I need to read it again and check out Ashlyn’s book as I still don’t feel we’ve put our stamp on our home properly yet, even thought we have been here 11 years! You’ve given me something to think about… so thanks! x

    • Thanks lovely!
      Hope you found it useful 🙂 I know what you mean though. We’re coming up to 6 years in ours and I feel like it’s really only been in the last 12 months that we really got a feel for what we like interiors wise. It’s an ongoing thing! x

  • I really enjoyed this, its exactly the home stuff I am absolutely passionate about, as you know from joining #happyandhome. I actually feel so much better reading this though, as I have printers blocks for me and the kids! Brownie points for me yay! People would definitely know who lives here too, but maybe not for all the right reasons yet (lots of creative mess!) Off to get my hands on the books!

    • Aw thank you – and thanks for sharing too!
      I can totally relate to what I like to call my “organised mess”! If the house is tidy, you can bet it’s not me living there haha! x

  • Caro Davies

    I think I’d really like this book! 🙂 It sounds like such an interesting session. I’m totally fascinated to see how people decorate their homes and love to think that it’s a reflection of their personalities. Everyone who’s ever been to my home says it’s ‘eclectic’ which I *think* is a compliment!! 😉 Thanks ever so much for sharing with #HomeEtc — Caro xx

    • I would absolutely take that as a compliment. That’s what I’m aiming for 😉
      Thanks for stopping by! x

  • Old Fashioned Susie

    So gutted I missed this- sounds right up my street!

    • I’m gutted too, would have been lovely to see you there! x

  • Stacey Sheppard

    I wish I had attended this masterclass, sounds really interesting. I really struggle to personalise my home probably because I struggle to form too much attachment to things. I love filling my home with photos and artwork that speaks to me but don’t think people would necessarily know it’s my home. I’ve actually got one of Ashlyn’s books. Might be time to read it again for a refresher.

    • Absolutely, give her book a read! I totally sympathise though. I’m a bit magpie-like sometimes, and if I collected everything I loved, it would look like a mad house. Sometimes it’s the choosing what to keep that’s hardest x

  • Carole King

    Sounds like a really interesting Masterclass. Wish I’d been there.

    • It was fab, Carole. Shame you couldn’t make it, would have been lovely to meet you x

  • It does sound an interesting class – and know you’ve got me wondering if Keith Lemon would guess if I lived here… An interesting thought to ponder 🙂 #homeetc

    • Haha I think photos are a big giveaway 🙂

  • Nick Clough

    I love you Kaz, this makes me feel so proud xxx

    • Ha, I love you more chummy for the amazing gift! xx

  • mummyofboygirltwins

    Love this – and I would have loved to have listened to this too. My style and home is VERY minimal and quite plain….oooops! 😉 Thanks for linking up and sharing, love jess xx

    #HomeEtc

    • Thanks for commenting Jess. I don’t think minimal is necessarily a bad thing if it’s somewhere you can go and relax 🙂 I think as long as people decorate for themselves and not just to be trendy, it’s always going to work for them xx