Well friends, I’ve only thought about writing this post a thousand times! One of the biggest questions I seem to get time and time again is, what tips can I give on creating a collected home? In fact Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone asked me this exact question on a podcast interview that will be airing soon. I’m excited because this past weekend I finally got some of my thoughts on the matter down. Grab a cup of coffee and maybe a snack because this is not a short post, but hang in there!
What exactly is a collected home? I love the way Julia Paulino Yenicag describes it –
“. . . there is a distinct design aesthetic that stands alone on its own where every piece of furniture and object from different styles and times fits in harmoniously to create the perfect comfortable and elegant home. That is called a Collected-Home.”
What makes a collected home so wonderful is that it fits within any style. Whether you love mid-century mod, grandmillennial, cottage, or English country, an overall collected home can be obtained.
When I look at photos of interiors, it’s the collected ones that give me all of the cozy and welcoming vibes. They’re the photos that I want to study and replicate in my own home. They’re interesting! The collected look and feel has always been around, but has become a well known term recently. Today, I’m going to share 6 tips that will hopefully help you create that collected look and feel in your own home. I practice each of these when I’m planning, decorating, and shopping.
7 Tips For Creating A Collected Home
Avoid over-indulging in trends.
I have written on this subject before, so I won’t go too in-depth with this one. I would recommend reading my full post – 4 Reasons To Stop Chasing Trends for all of my thoughts on the subject. It’s not that trends are horrible things we should avoid all together. They’re just far too easy to get pulled into, and before you know it you’ve over-spent, created a home that looks just like your neighbors and one that you may not even really love. Remember, trends are always changing. Trying to keep up with trends is like chasing the breeze. I love how Ralph Lauren phrases it –
“Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.”
What is in “fashion” and what is “trendy” can be described as the same thing. Which brings me to my next tip.
Find your style & stick to it!
This tip is easier said than done. Many of you might be thinking, . . . but I don’t know how to find my style! Friends, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s not as difficult as you might think! I have a couple of suggestions for finding your style. 1. Create a Pinterest board for just home interiors that you find inspiring. Take a few weeks and pin images that you love and find interesting to that board. Then I want you to go back over that board. Look for similarities in each image. Do a lot of the photos include florals? Is there a lot of bold rich color, or more subtle neutrals? Do they have a lot of antiques or more modern elements with clean lines? Looking over the images you pin can give you great insight into what you really love and gravitate towards.
My second suggestion – grab a coffee and take a trip to your local bookstore. Search the design and decorating books. Which books speak to you and leave you feeling inspired? I bet those books have a style in common! Make a few notes on what it is that you like in each style or photo. Don’t be surprised if there are elements from different styles that you like, but doing these two things can help you narrow it down. Once you figure out the elements that you like, look for ways to tastefully pair them in your space. You can even Google images with those elements. For example, search – interiors with floral drapery and rustic coffee tables. This will allow you to visualize certain styles and or elements together in a space.
Shop in different places.
One mistake that I think we can make is to shop in the same places every time. No one can create a collected and interesting home by going to their local Hobby Lobby or Target and purchasing everything for their space in one store. A collected home is interesting, with a variety of decor pieces from different places. Check out stores that you don’t frequent often. On the weekends I love to search out thrift stores, antique shops and home decor stores that I’ve never been to. I make a little day trip out of it. One of my favorite things to do is to check out an antique store or two when we travel. It’s fun to see what shops in different areas have to offer.
We’ll be in Nantucket and Maine this June and you can bet I’ll be searching out a few shops to stop by!
Another great place to shop for unique and or vintage items is the FB marketplace and Etsy. I can’t tell you how many items in our home have been purchased second hand on the FB marketplace. It has been such a trusted spot to find quality pieces for much less than in stores. I love shopping Etsy for unique items. Last year I shared the details, including my go-to spot on Etsy for block print quilts. You can read that post HERE.
Layer different finishes & textures.
Layering is such a large part of creating a collected home. It’s what gives a space that cozy feel. A mix of finishes, fabrics and textures all layered together create interest and depth. I’ve been asked many times if you can mix metals. The answer is yes! In fact, we have a mixture of antique brass, pewter and silver throughout our home. Each metal has something beautiful to offer.
Layering your decor on a tabletop or shelf keeps things from looking too sparse and gives your space a lived-in feel. You want each room to show that it has a story to tell and that it’s been built upon year after year. Combining different elements makes for an interesting space. I love combining wicker baskets with block prints and knitted fabrics. You can pair silver metal picture frames with an iron stone pitcher of flowers and a stack of decorating books. Layers of different finishes and textures are essential for creating a collected home.
Don’t over buy.
This tip can be tough, especially in the culture we live in today. I don’t know about you, but I personally feel bombarded by ads and social media posts on the newest items we should buy. Instagram is full of influencers and bloggers going on hunts and buying truck loads of vintage stuff all at once. You may think, that’s what I should do for my home. It’s fun and exciting when it comes to shopping for our homes, but we can make a lot of decorating mistakes when we’re purchasing too much at once. I find it easy to go to flea markets or antique stores and find 20 things I really like, but just because I like something or think it’s cool doesn’t mean it’s right for my home. A collected home is layered, but not cluttered.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been antiquing and heard, “you’ve got to buy it when you see it”. Yes, this can be true sometimes, but many times it’s not advise I’ve taken. What we think might be a rare find sometimes really isn’t. This is when it’s key to ask yourself – do I LOVE it? Is it perfect as is or is it cheap enough to justify improving? Does it fit our needs, and does it work with my style and existing decor? I have found that as I’ve become more in touch with my style I only buy about 10%-15% of the time. That means that 85%-90% of the time is spent searching and just admiring. I want a curated home with items that hold meaning for my family, not a cluttered home, full of things that are just trendy.
Mix new with old.
No matter which style you fall under, there is something to be said for mixing old items with new. A well-rounded spaces has both. This couldn’t be any truer with a collected home. The way I prefer to do this is to mix antique wood pieces, like our Irish hutch and pair it with new slipcovered dining chairs. Another example is to combine a new sofa with an old wooden coffee table or trunk, or a new ceramic lamp and pleated shade with an old brass figurine. Older items and heirlooms tell a story. I love being able to look at an item and remember where we were that day and how I found it. It’s even better when the item has been passed down from family members.
If you’re wondering what items I look for most when antique shopping, you can read more about it in my post – What I Hunt For In Antique & Thrift Stores.
Become okay with waiting!
This tip may have a lot of you sighing in disappointment, but it might be one of my most important tips. In order to have a home that is collected, cozy and interesting, you MUST be patient! Patiences isn’t something that I come by naturally. In the almost 16 years Josh and I have been married, I’ve had to learn patience in decorating. This important lesson came to me mostly in my decorating failures. It’s so easy to say, this table isn’t really what I wanted but it’s cheap and I can buy it now. Six months later, you’re over the table completely and you’ve begun your table hunt again. I can’t tell you how many times I did this before I learned that it only hindered me in the long run.
Waiting for the right piece may not be fun but it will save your wallet, time, energy and emotions. No one wants to recruit their spouse or friend to help haul a furniture piece that you only kinda love. Everyone makes decorating mistakes. My cluttered basement is proof of that! Decorating can be trial and error sometimes, but don’t make it harder on yourself by purchasing the wrong items out of haste.
A great example of this would be our dining room. If only I had kept our thrifted table and patiently waited and searched for the table we have now. We could have saved ourselves from moving and selling not one, not two, but three WRONG tables. I think Josh was ready to shoot me, ha! I look back on the great table debacle and kick myself.
Take your time friends. Creating a home is not a sprint, but a marathon. I’ve recently starting telling myself that creating and nurturing our home is my life’s work. It’s ever evolving and changing with our needs and there’s no need to rush through it.
I hope that these tips and suggestions will greatly help you with your own home journey. Decorating should be fun, so keep these ideas in mind, but allow yourself to enjoy the process. No one knows your home and family better than you do, so trust your gut.
It’s hard to believe Easter is already upon us, so here’s to a wonderful Resurrection Sunday friends!