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!
I’m so glad you brought it up! They are very useful tips, and some of them I have already implemented for myself, such as avoid overindulging in trends and sticking to my style. I agree that sticking to my style is easier said than done; I have to keep this in mind at all times or I will buy anything that looks nice outside and then forget it doesn’t fit in my room. Thank you so much for sharing this article with us
Yes! Thank Avery! I’m so glad the post is helpful. Finding your style is half the battle. It takes time and constant reminding. It was a struggle for me when we first purchased the home we’re in now, but it finally came and it’s been such a joy to curate and decorate. Have a great week friend!
Ruth Newton says
This was such an inspiring post and great advice! Thank you for sharing your beautiful home.
Absolutely! Thank you so much Ruth for stopping by. I hope others find it helpful. I love chatting design and decor!
Kristine Dixon says
Thank you for all of your tips and suggestions. I find it hard to be patient and wait for the right piece to come along, but in the long run, it’s always worth it. I love that you mention how looking at an item in your home brings back a memory of where you were and how you found it. That’s one of my favorite things about searching and collecting pieces for my home!
Of course! Thank you so much Kristine 🙂 It can be so nerve wrecking to wait for the right piece at times. It’s something I really struggle with. I truly believe the hunt is half the fun and like you said, you make great memories in the process!
Karen B. says
This is just what I needed. I moved recently and am constantly looking for items that are needed/wanted for a certain space. I’ve fallen into the trap, “well, it isn’t exactly right, but it’s cheap”. I no longer do that, but it takes constant reminders of errors I’ve made in the past. I love your style and feel mine is similar. Thanks for the reminder this doesn’t happen overnight. 😊
I’m so glad to hear that Karen. It’s such an easy trap to fall into. I’ve done it so many times. Congrats on your new home and here’s too taking your time and enjoying the process!
Cindy N. says
Great tips and advice. Even after home-keeping for 52 years, I needed to hear this. Love everything about your home ~ so glad I found your blog recently!
Thank you so much Cindy! I know that I have to constantly remind myself of it. I’m so glad you’re here as well. Have a wonderful Easter weekend!
Your home is so beautiful! You have learned your lessons well. I love your emails but don’t see them very often.
Thank you so much Nancy! I sure hope I have. I’m trying to be more intentional with decorating each space in our home. I’m working on blogging more this spring & summer. I haven’t been creating as much lately, so that’s why you haven’t seen many e-mails. I hope to change that from here on out. 🙂
Carla Erickson says
Thank you for the very helpful information and the pictures of your lovely home! You have given us great advice that anyone can use to make their home cozy and comfortable using their own style! Love your beautiful home!
Of course and you’re so welcome Carla! I hope others find it helpful as well. I think it’s something we all struggle with from time to time. The decorating process can throw a few curve balls. I have to remind myself of these things very often. I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend!
I love your article and the photos of your beautiful home. I live in a small house, and more “stuff” is the last thing it needs. I TRY to aim for the most special version of the necessity item, like pretty cookware, the dream dinnerware set, the prettiest pair of lamps, the softest pillow covers, etc. Often the dream item I do find at the thrift store, not necessarily an expensive dream item. I can’t store everything for every holiday or season or mood. I have to have items that work in the house year round, mainly, and though I do have seasonal decor, there are definitely seasons or holidays I do not store specific things for. I have a small number of things for Easter, for example, but I don’t have a thing for July 4th.
Spring and summer are mainly the same look, aside from a small number of Easter items. Fall and winter overlap a lot, too, besides Thanksgiving and Christmas themselves, and winter decor is using the same scheme as Christmas, but putting away the Christmas specific things and removing the tree. I don’t do Halloween decor at all. I also don’t actually care for going overboard on theme-y decor, though for Easter I do have a couple bunnies. ;). I would rather show a season through color scheme and texture rather than seasonal knicknacks that take up limited storage space and are too hard to store. I don’t want to “work” to decorate.
I am being more content and conscientious with only collecting the truly loved things, and I donate anything that doesn’t fall into that category for me. I found too instead of more decor, I brought in real plants, and bringing in the greenery and the color green has been such a wonderful addition to the home, rather than more “decor items.”. It satisfied something in my heart more ” stuff” could not. I also wanted to get away from a ” mass produced ” look, even if something IS mass produced. I don’t want to open the door to the house and see a certain store rather than a pretty style or an atmosphere.
Your advice speaks my language! Thank you for sharing it!!!
Hello, I enjoy your blog so much. I know you mentioned you sew many of your pillows and fabric decor, but I was wondering if you made or have a source for the two pillows in the first picture of this blog post. I love the combination of the blue floral and the neutral check.
Very good tips and many I have practiced and others are things I need to keep in mind. My family has always lived in collected homes so it comes naturally to me. However I did have a difficult time when we purchased our existing home. It’s an open floor plan which I had never had the experience of decorating before. Also I always have to consider how my husband feels about certain things. Industrial farmhouse was trending when we moved here and my husband liked it so I ended up purchasing a bookcase, console and coffee table in that style. Now I hate them! That’s what I get for jumping on that train!