Residential Interior Design: 10 Ideas for Creating Deeply Personal Rooms

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

May 17, 2021 - 5 min read

Residential Interior Design:  10 Ideas for Creating Deeply Personal Rooms

As an architect and an interior designer, this is one of my favorite topics. I love working with clients to create architecturally beautiful spaces. But that’s just one half of the equation. The other half is layering those spaces with the unique personalities of their owners. That’s what makes a house a home. At Morgante Wilson, we really enjoy the process of designing homes that reflect the interests, passions, and lifestyles of our clients. Here are a few of our favorites, with ten residential interior design and architectural ideas you can borrow to personalize your own home:

1. Shelve your interests

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it requires some planning and intention. For a client who’s an avid reader, we dedicated wall space during the design phase to provide easily accessible, front-and-center book storage. Anyone who walks into the room understands immediately the importance of reading to its owner.

2. Create a gallery wall

There are some who say family photos only belong in private areas of a home, such as bedrooms. We could not disagree more! If your family – and your family’s history – is your passion, we say go for it! This gallery wall in a multi-purpose dining/working/entertaining space begs for interaction from curious guests and sentimental family members alike. We can promise you there’s nothing like it for starting conversations, causing laughter, and walking down memory lane. And for making a loud and clear statement about who lives in this house, and what they cherish above all else.

3. Personalize your storage

For avid wine collectors, we had a number of options: we could have allocated square footage to a dedicated wine cellar. We could have built shelving to hold their bottles. Or, we thought, we could turn their collection into a symmetrical focal point in the very room those bottles would be uncorked. By celebrating their collection as part of their home’s architecture, and not as an afterthought, we were able store and showcase our clients’ wine by using it to define the space itself.

4. Display your favorite things

Again, this may seem like an obvious thing to do. But look carefully, and you’ll see the layers of thought that went into these custom-built display shelves. First, the walls behind the shelves are covered in wallpaper to provide a contrasting background that makes the items pop. Next, the objects – all of which our clients enjoy looking at throughout the day – are carefully grouped as mini-vignettes. They’re gathered by type – framed botanicals, blue and white ginger jars, treasured pieces of silver – and arranged so each object can be appreciated both singly, and as part of an assemblage. There’s a rythym to their placement, too – some groupings are centered on the shelves, others are weighted on either the right or left sides. Everything on these shelves holds some sort of meaning, and our clients are reminded of those memories each time they enter the room.

5. Think outside the box

A lot of people probably would have furnished this room with a pair of sofas facing one another. But our clients wanted the feel of a coffee shop – one of those places where you linger, deep in conversation, and hardly realize the hours have passed because you’re so comfortable. So they eschewed the idea of matching sofas, and instead gathered deeply upholstered chairs around a low table. They understood how they wanted to live in this space, and they were not afraid to be open-minded about its furnishings to make that happen.

6. Tell a story

You’d never guess the desk top in this octagonal office was reclaimed from a tree that once grew on the home’s property. We absolutely love this clever reminder of the tree, and its sentimental reuse. Always take advantage of an opportunity to tell a story through your interior décor, as this office does.

7. Show off your collections

If you enjoy collecting something, decorate with it! This pool room is defined by the collection of record album covers that fill one entire wall. Not only do they express what our client is into, they act as art and provide the color in the room. That’s a win-win-win.

8. Be brave enough to be bold

These clients love nothing more than to entertain. They wanted their dinner guests to feel pampered, and to enjoy the same dramatic ambience you might find in a very special restaurant. And so, to heighten the drama, they gathered no fewer than four different types of chairs around their dining table. It’s not a move everyone would feel comfortable making, but comfort was actually the point. Each of the four different chair styles in this room is equally plush, equally pillowy, and equally inviting. Personality-plus is the result.

9. Gather your favorites

The one thing these framed pieces of art all have in common is that their owners love them. There’s a lesson in that: gather similar items together from around the house, and they’ll form an instant collection that is unique to you.

10. Live with what you love

Avid gardeners who enjoyed tending their suburban yard, these clients brought their love of plants right into their condominium’s dining room! A custom-designed plant stand puts their green thumbs on display – with the added bonus of providing some privacy at the window. This is personalization at its finest.

Browse through our Facebook or Instagram feed, or check out our website, for more great interior design ideas. We’ve been at this for more than thirty years, so we have a lot of them to share!

Morgante Wilson Architects provides architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Ravinia, Wilmette and Winnetka – along with Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson