Erin Napier says this nostalgic decor is the single most impactful way to make our homes more beautiful

'If you make one conventional choice, let the next one be something deeply personal': this is her key to a distinctly individual space

Erin Napier
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Erin Napier has long been celebrated for her ability to create the most beautiful yet personal homes, but her latest teachings take this another step further. 

The HGTV Home Town designer recently released her new book, Heirloom Rooms, which epitomizes her unique design ideology – focused on creating rooms that prioritize personality above aesthetics. 

The designer, who sat down with H&G, explains how she hopes we are 'less concerned with how our rooms look' but more focused on our family history. And it's this teaching that allows us to create the most 'beautiful' rooms of all.

While decorating with antiques is one way to pay homage to our past, Erin invites us to frame light-hearted photos of our ancestors around our homes – something Erin learned from her own mother.

Erin Napier

(Image credit: York Wallcoverings)

'My favorite tip, which I learned from my mother, is to include photos of our ancestors around our home,' Erin begins.

'When you walk in the back door of my mother's house, there is a wall of black and white photos of our ancestors, her parents, and their parents, and they're all doing funny, memorable things.

In my home, I have a black and white picture of my grandfather holding this giant watermelon and my grandmother posing on the hood of this pretty car beside him. They were young, they were fun, they were silly, and it was unexpected. I want to encourage people to embrace the unexpected in their houses and let it guide every decision they make.'

Interior Designer
Erin Napier
Interior Designer
Erin Napier

Erin Napier is a designer and entrepreneur with a fine arts degree who started her career in corporate graphic design before founding her own international stationery company, Lucky Luxe. She co-stars alongside her husband, Ben Napier, in HTGV's Home Town and has authored three books, including Heirloom Rooms (published by Gallery Books). 

The act of hanging pictures of the people who made us who we are may seem simple, but as Erin explains, it's the single most impactful way we can make our home more beautiful. Above all, our homes need to pay homage to ourselves, and there is nothing more personal than these mementos.

'If you make one conventional choice, let the next one be something deeply personal, something weird, even if it's something that someone else might think is ugly, that's okay,' Erin comments. 'It's this balance that makes a room interesting.'

'I love to include as many photos of our ancestors and our grandparents as possible when they were young, silly, and fun because it reminds us where we come from and who we really are.

One day, we will be pictures on someone's wall, and people will wonder who we were and how we lived. I hope they say we were authentic and that we enjoyed who we were. Our houses are fun and good places to express who we are and what we love.'

Heirloom Rooms: Soulful Stories of Home by Erin Napier | $23.18 on Amazon

Heirloom Rooms: Soulful Stories of Home by Erin Napier | $23.18 on Amazon
This collection of personal essays and photos reflects on what home means to Erin as her family has evolved over the years. It includes interviews with influential friends on what makes a house a home. The photos and stories throughout feature well-loved and lived-in homes that are aspirational, relatable, and imperfect.

If we take anything from Erin's teaching, it's that the best homes are those with our personalities at the forefront. Framing photos of our ancestors and placing them around our space is one simple way to bring this ideology to life, but we should also see this as our cue to bring out some forgotten heirlooms from our grandparents or handmade goods from our children from the depths of our cupboards. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.