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Tips For Adding Local Flair To Your Home From A Philadelphia Designer

February 12, 2013 7:00 AM

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Home décor is a highly personal matter, but many people don’t know where or how to start. With over 10 years of design experience, local interior designer Bernadette Lawler says that there are a few simple ways to spruce up any home or apartment in Philadelphia to give it your own unique, personal touch, as well as incorporate some Philly flavor. Make your space dazzling yet comfortable, no matter what part of the city you live in.

If you live in the Art Museum area – or even if you’re just a lover of art – take advantage of the museum gift shops at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation or the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. At these shops, you’ll find an incredible array of artsy posters by the masters that these world-renowned museums house. Think a still life of a bowl of fruit by Paul Cezanne for the kitchen, or Monet’s famous water lilies in the hall. Maybe a whimsical Matisse would work in the living room.In addition to posters, you’ll find unique miniature tchotchkes, like several famous sculptures found inside these museums. You can fill your home with elegant, beautiful art at a mere fraction of the original price.

The Italian Market area is no longer solely Italian. Today’s Italian Market, near 9th Street, is also home to a large Hispanic population, as well as Indian and Vietnamese people. However, it’s still an area known for terrific food. Therefore, Lawler recommends window gardens with brightly-colored flowers or vegetables. Decorate inside with terra cotta pots of various sizes full of bright red peppers, herbs or cacti. Paint the rooms with bold ethnic colors that are bright and noticeable, but keep the furnishings and fabrics simple, minimal and modern.

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Of course, Philadelphia is the birthplace of our nation and there are still plenty of traces of our founding fathers in the Society Hill area, from cobblestone streets to Colonial-style brownstones. If you want to decorate in the same style of home décor that Benjamin Franklin probably did – Colonial furniture in rich woods with detailed carvings – start by placing an antique wing-back chair on either side of your fireplace. A blanket chest in the bedroom is not only a lovely touch aesthetically; it’s also useful for extra storage. Staying in the bedroom, lay a colorful quilt on the bed for visual interest and, of course, warmth. Frame a copy of the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights and hang it on the wall. Lastly, ornate iron candlestick holders – either authentic (if you can find them) or replicas – will add a nice Colonial touch throughout the home.

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Philly is also home to many great sports teams that have had numerous famous – and infamous! – moments. Some were good, some were bad, some were even ugly. But, for better or for worse, we own each and every moment and are proud of them. So for the sports fan in your home, decorate with vintage team photos or pictures of famous instances in Philly sports history. Of course, the photos can be in color, but for more interest, try playing with either black and white or sepia tones depending on the color scheme of the rest of the room. Mural arts are huge in Philadelphia. In fact, because of all its outdoor murals, Philly has been dubbed the “City of Murals.” That said, paint a mural on your wall. Murals are not only more interesting and unique than regular paint, but you’ll have an original work of art right there on your wall, with no frame needed. Choose a Philly theme – complete with the Rocky statue, soft pretzels, the Liberty Bell and the like – or design something more in keeping with your theme and décor.

Bernadette Lawler has over 10 years of interior design experience. She has worked extensively locally, as well as in the Caribbean, England and France. For many years, she had been an Old City retail staple, having owned and operated her own home furnishings/accessories store called The Mixed Company. She presently also works as a personal and photo shoot stylist, along with real estate staging. Lawler can be reached at (215) 680-9227 or bern.lawler@gmail.com.

Pamela Dollak is a freelance writer covering all things Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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