9 Hacks to Make your Home Fit your Lifestyle

Tip #1: Throw out those stacks of magazines and Pinterest boards.

Gina Baran designs & photography

We read the magazines, fold over the pages that inspire us and add them to the stack of forgotten inspiration in the corner, or on the coffee table. But the first step in decluttering and organizing your home to suit your lifestyle starts with those magazines — and, according to interior designer Gina Baran, not what’s in them. “People keep magazines thinking they will go back to that recipe, that DIY — they aren’t going to — get rid of it, recycle,” she says. And that’s just the beginning of the advice I took away from this HGTV featured designer.

Baran is all about creating homes that reflect her clients stories. And what better way to reflect your story then to have your home reflect your lifestyle? I sat down to talk with her about the type of lifestyles she’s designed for, from the busy CEO to the single bachelor, to the multi-faceted family, in order to get her take on everything from organizational hacks to feng shui.

The Homebody

They prefer to stay home whenever possible and that means being surrounded by their favorite environment. Similar to empty nesters, the homebody needs to weed out a lot of what they don’t need. I love to design cozy spaces using lots of oversized textured baskets for throws and blankets, as well as interesting consoles and media tables that have drawers for games, movies and books. If there is a good location, a gallery wall with their favorite photos is the perfect addition to any large, blank wall in the home.

The Memory Keeper

I usually have clients talk to me about the story behind each piece they are holding onto. In terms of art, I usually pick it out myself based on color coordination or I’ll ask them to pick their top four or five pieces. If it’s a piece that may be a conversation piece then I know it will make everyone who sees it say, ‘Wow, what an interesting piece, where did you get it?’ then the story will come with it. If it’s a picture frame or mug, or something that’s not going to ‘wow’ me, or something I can’t repurpose or incorporate within the design, I say we keep it but focus on incorporating something else instead.

The Entertainer

Dual purpose seating. If you think about getting a console table for your TV to sit on, get one that opens underneath so you can keep ottomans in it — so you don’t feel cluttered when guests aren’t there. And stemless wine glasses so you can stack them, have way more, and they are less breakable.

Gina Baran designs & photography

The Hard Worker Who Needs to Leave the Day Behind When They Come Home

Have a place for everything and have everything in its place. When you walk in the door, have a place to put your keys down, have a place to hang your jacket. If you don’t have an entrance room, have a designated area where you can put that stuff down and keep it there until the next day. So you’re immediately disposing of your day’s activities right as you walk in the door.

The Victim to I-Haven’t-Spring-Cleaned-in-Years

Purge. The easiest way is to go room by room. Start with the room that you spend the most time in. Go through everything and purge if it no longer serves you. Even if it’s a throw pillow with a chevron style that you’re no longer into, donate the slip and keep the insert.

Magazines! People keep magazines thinking they will go back to that recipe, they aren’t going to — get rid of it, recycle. Sentimental pieces that you don’t use anymore but are just holding onto, get them out of sight and put them in storage. The more space you have for your eye to rest, will immediately make you feel calmer.

Baran is a Boston-based interior designer with over ten years in the industry. Photo Credit: Emily O’Brien
“The more clutter you have in your house, the more you have in your brain because you constantly see all of it around you” — says Baran on the need for more space, no matter your lifestyle.

The Family

Form and function in one — it’s still adult but very kid friendly. A lot of furniture that doubles as storage — so, again, ottomans that may have storage. Incorporating storage whether that be on the walls, or media stations, stylish baskets you can shove stuff in. Creating doors and drawers that have enough space so you can put things away really quickly and shut the door.

The Designer-Obsessed on a Budget

I like to do a lot of mixing with high and low. I like to incorporate items that clients are available to anybody, but I also like to mix in a few trade brands — such as Made Goods, Global Views, Palcek and for fabrics, Schumacher. The reason I like those is because their styles are very unique and different — and they can all pack a punch with the smallest item. So, even though they are trade, they are still midline in terms of affordability. Even getting an ottoman or a side table from one of those companies will be a focal point in the room.

The Bachelor

Everyone wants a comfy couch to lounge on, however, the hand-me-down from your parents has to go. You don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. I advise my bachelor clients to step out of their comfort zone, add a bit of the unexpected with statement lighting, a bold rug or patterned throw pillows. You can have fun, show your personality, while still giving the impression you have your “ish” together. If you can only do one thing to your bachelor pad besides making sure the beer fridge is stocked, please hide those unsightly electronic wires.

The Bachelorette

Many of my female bachelorette clients want to have a home that is feminine while still being comfortable. I advise them to have a neutral base and pepper in some color, even if that color happens to be any tone of the color pink. There is nothing wrong with pink but too much of any color can stop you in your tracks (and not in a good way). Instead, add femininity with your selections in art, textures and natural elements. Select soft touchable area rugs, mirrors with ornate frames for elegance and white candles. Instead of having affirmations framed and scattered on every wall about how wonderful you are, pick your favorite and put it in your bathroom — that you’ll see every morning when you wake up.

Gina Baran designs & photography

And although Baran recommends these as general hacks for these different groups, she concludes our conversation with the reality of creating a personal space, tying it to the infamous Pinterest board debacle, “People send me Pinterest boards and ask me to make their house like that, and I’m like, ‘But that’s not you,’” she says. “We can create something similar but it’s all about what works for the individual. It really is so personal.”

Like what you read? Give Jillian Dara a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.