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February 20, 2023
My home, just like my life, is continuously changing and evolving. Some things come and go, while others always have a welcomed presence. The purpose of a collected home is to enjoy the process of allowing your home to evolve alongside yourself and your life experiences. It tells a story of who you were, who you are now, and who you are becoming. A collected home allows yourself permission to display and use the pieces you love simply because they are meaningful to you.
We all have pieces in our homes that speak to us. No matter how long we’ve had them, they are our go-to pieces that always feel like an extension of ourselves. Ideally, our homes would be filled with these types of items.
I always know when I find those special pieces that feel most like “me,” there’s an instant connection and I know they will be a part of my story for many years to come, if not forever. Don’t ignore those items. Those are your true “collected” pieces.
The simplest way to create a collected look is to actually collect the items in your home over a period of time. Because your taste, style, and interests change with time, history lends its hand in creating a collected look simply because the pieces in your home will represent different periods of your life.
However, of course there are times when you don’t want to wait years to finish decorating a space (more on this later!). Whether you are looking for general guidance on how to create a collected look, or a quicker way to make it intentionally look like it was put together over time, I’ve compiled 10 tips to help you achieve your goal.
Try to refrain from buying complete “sets.” By all means, buy matching dishware! But when it comes to furniture, try to be a bit more adventurous.
In a bedroom, rather than buying a full matching set (end tables, bed frame, and dressers), try selecting a different bed frame. If you are not partial to symmetry, you can use two different end tables instead. Decorating with distinct pieces suggests that you found items you loved at different times in your purchasing journey.
In the living room, choose accent chairs that are a different style than your sofa. Integrating different textures and styles will instantly contribute to a curated and collected space. Same goes with end tables and coffee tables. Selecting a different material or style creates interest.
In the dining room, choose a different dining chair style to anchor the heads of the table. This helps your seating arrangement stand out and feel more special and curated. Or choose dining chairs that contrast with your table.
Embracing a mix of heirloom favorites with fresh new finds is an important part of creating a collected home. The thrill of finding something new that reflects your current taste is exciting. And there are the older pieces, the heirlooms that are wrapped in family memories or stories that are as rooted in our hearts as they are in our homes.
Both old and new pieces have their place in a collected home and that is the beauty of it.
When decorating a room or space, be sure to occasionally take a step back and observe the pieces. Does the whole room or space look all old or all new? If so, try making a few item swaps to see if you can create a look that’s more integrated.
Bring in pieces that express who you are: artwork that inspires you, books that have influenced your life or reflect your hobbies, sentimental family photos, and special keepsakes. Surrounding yourself with truly meaningful items is the true essence of creating a collected home.
The pieces we collect while exploring the world are so special. They represent a moment in time when we saw or experienced something new that made our lives richer. This is something that I personally love to do. Finding items that speak to the location visited—a hand-crafted vase, a piece of art, or special textile—will provide meaning in your home and help you to remember the places you’ve experienced.
Some of the most impactful spaces combine elements from different design styles and eras to create a curated, collected feel. The mixing and matching of furniture styles, finishes, materials, and textures is one of the easiest ways to help a room look as if it's evolved over time even if it hasn't.
Some mixtures to consider:
For the most cohesive and authentic look, be sure to mix the chosen elements consistently throughout your home.
This is an important one. Open yourself up to shopping a variety of unique sources and avoid choosing all “mass produced” products from popular stores. There are limitless options out there, all with their own potential for special treasures. This is an effective way to achieve a mix of styles as suggested in the previous tip. Shopping a variety of flea markets, boutiques, and home decor stores is a great way to expose yourself to new products, styles, and decorating ideas so you can combine your favorites from each into your home.
I’ve found my collected pieces in many places…thrift stores, FB marketplace, consignment shops, Target, and Etsy. No need to judge where your pieces are found. The varied shops are what help make your collection unique and special.
It can be easy to become swept up in the latest home decor and design trends, especially when Instagram is filled with perfectly decorated, on-trend homes. Trends can be fun and I do like to experiment with them, but I've made it a point not to overdo it.
In the past, I found myself overspending on items I didn't really love, buying too much, and having regrets. Trends are always changing and it can be exhausting (and expensive) trying to keep an on-trend home.
I've learned that when you know and understand your true style, it becomes easier to disregard trends and stay true to what you really love.
It is possible to artfully combine both luxury items and bargain finds in one space. In fact, the juxtaposition helps makes a space interesting. Just like combining the old and the new, be sure to occasionally take a step back and observe the items. Does the room look balanced, or is one influence more heavily used than the other? If so, try making a few item swaps to see if you can create a look that’s more integrated.
Using an item in a way other than its intended purpose makes for a unique, creative statement. To repurpose either a new or vintage item, look at its shape - not its function, for inspiration.
Planters can be used as decorative bowls, candle vessels can continue to be functional decor after the candle is enjoyed, small stools can be used as plant stands, wide-mouth vases can hold kitchen utensils on a countertop.
Finding a new use for an older or vintage piece instantly makes it special and more meaningful.
Finding new life for an existing item creates a unique piece in your home that won’t necessarily be replicated by others.
I know this can be a difficult one, maybe the most difficult one! My biggest weakness is that I am an impatient person, but I've come to understand turning a house into a home takes time. Life doesn't happen all at once, and neither does creating a home. If you can manage it, take it slow. Wait until you find the truly special, collected pieces that call to you and make your home unique. Try to avoid purchasing temporary pieces just to "fill in the blanks."
In order to have a home that is authentically your style and personality, patience is key! Creating a collected, cozy, and interesting home has become my life's work. This mentality reminds me it's ok to take it slow!
Don’t feel like you must follow all these tips while creating your collected home. Decide which ones feel most authentic to you and let them inspire you. Try not to overthink it. Let your instincts guide you to create organic, collected spaces that are true to who you are, and reflect your personality and lifestyle. When possible, don’t rush—enjoy the experience!
Keep in mind, to create the most cohesive and authentic look, be sure to mix the chosen elements consistently throughout your home.
Remember, creating a collected home allows yourself permission to display and use the pieces you love simply because they are meaningful to you. If you love what’s around you, that’s what matters!
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