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On My Dream Home, and on Creating Your Own

People often ask me where I would live if I could choose anywhere in the world. I've lived in Brooklyn for eight years, and I love it, but my favorite features of the apartment I'm renting — a covered porch and skylights — hint at my fantasy living space. I crave nature, regular access to fresh air, and tons of natural light. My decorating preferences lean toward the handmade and reclaimed. If you haven't already guessed, my dream house is a treehouse in Oregon.If you haven't already guessed, my dream house is a treehouse in Oregon. After spending part of my summer relaxing around Portland, I'm pretty sure that this part of the country has the most amazing nature — and people — I've ever seen.

My dream home's wraparound porch — because no matter where this house is, there is definitely a porch — would have a hammock so I could read and nap outdoors as much as possible. There's something about reading (and dozing) outside that does more to revive a tired mind and body that crashing on a bed ever could.

Because this is my fantasy, my dream house would also have a dumbwaiter to go between floors so I could cart pitchers of iced tea to myself on the roof deck. (You can take the girl out of the South, but never the South out of a girl). After spotting roof gardens on just about every building in Portland (including a beautiful one on top of the recycling center at Fred Meyer), I'm convinced that my home should not only be filled with and surrounded by growing things, but it should also be topped with them. Not only would it keep my dream home energy efficient, but it would provide somewhere soft to sit while star-gazing at night.

Most of my dream home décor revolves around embracing the natural world. But not everyone finds the same inspiration in trees and plants.Most of my dream home décor revolves around embracing the natural world. But not everyone finds the same inspiration in trees and plants. If you're trying to create your own dream home, I always suggest starting with something you already love. People often overlook family heirlooms, treasured flea market finds, or handmade artwork because it's not what's on-trend or in magazines, but I think it's those pieces that tell us what our homes should really look like.

If you want to create a little bit of your dream home now, before you actually move in, gather (or photograph) all of your favorite things at home or around you. What do they all have in common? A color palette? Textures? A pattern or specific style? Whatever connects those items is the key to getting one step closer to your dream home. Locate and record that common denominator and start decorating from there. If your objects all embrace a rustic, lived-in look, try shaping a single room around those objects and fill in the gaps with pieces that share the same style or mood. The more you allow your favorite objects to guide a room's stye, the closer you are to building a space that feels more like a dream home and less like a house you happen to occupy.

Describing my own dream home makes me hungry to move already, but until that day when I (win the lottery and) move in, you can find me in Brooklyn heeding the only decorating advice anyone really needs: Decorating is second to the company you keep. Whether your home is a crumbling tenement or a Neutra masterpiece, you'll achieve true happiness by filling your home with the people (and animals) you love. Great company — including beloved pets — is the best way to make a space feel warm and welcoming. I know I'd choose my cat over a fancy chair any day — as long as he's there with me, my dream home can wait.

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Grace Bonney is the founder of Design*Sponge, a daily Web site dedicated to home and product design. Design Sponge at Home is her first book.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Design*Sponge at Home
    Used Hardcover $16.50

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