Friday, June 21, 2013

getting the collected over time look

When I first started decorating my home, I kept running into the same problem. Because I was a first-time homebuyer, I had to purchase a lot of first-time items like a sofa, a chair, a coffee table, etc all at once.  Everything ended up looking store-bought or decorated-at-once.  You know the look!  Like when you walk into a home and can identify every thing from a catalog you just thumbed through.

I think we can all agree that rooms that feel like they are decorated over time always feel much more curated than the store-bought rooms that just anyone and everyone can do!  We met with a client recently who told us she likes to walk into a store and say "I'll take this, this this, and one of those!"  That's just what worked best for her in order to complete a room.   

When I slowed down a little and started collecting things over time, I slowly dissolved the store-bought look.  But I had to layer in a lot of aged items.  Rustic beads (thanks to my friend and fave, Sherry Hart), antique Chinese porcelains, original art, and my personal fave, rugs. 

A good mix is like a good year for wine.  You want to keep it once you get it and slowly let it settle and age even more. And the trick is, you can still buy items from big-box stores and achieve a layered, curated look.  You just have to chose wisely.  Not too matchy-matchy or too perfect.  Sometimes perfection lies in the imperfect.

We see way too many store-bought rooms and vignettes styled after what's in the store windows so we're always in search of the unique, the slightly tattered, the used. I wish I could afford a million rugs to scatter all over my house.  Like this pretty here!

If I had all the money I wanted to decorate my own home with there are a few key items that top my list.  

An aged Chinese end-table. A tiger wood or burl wood chest of drawers like this one that I adore.

I need a hoofed-bench at some point.  Rugs, duh, rugs galore!  Original art - something moody and Dutch-master-y, like your friend and mine, Darryl Carter, does so well.

And lastly but probably very important to the aesthetic I dream of in my head, some antique olive jars to add some real grit.  These pups are pretty affordable, compared to the real thing, and would be terrific if converted into statement lamps!  Proof that store-bought and ready-made can still add age and layers if chosen wisely!

If you don't have the time or resources to source antiques, make sure to pepper in some things that feel older - like original art, antique rugs, a mixed set of furniture, an heirloom piece passed down from a relative.  Less glossy and fresh-out-of-the-box and a bit more dinged up.  A simple painted piece of furniture in an otherwise matched-set room will do wonders to add some life. Different colors of wood will also help break up some of the same same.  Prints under glass is one of the best ways to add life to your walls.  But adding in a canvas or something not behind glass will help take away the newness of it all.  Making statements on walls from old African gathering baskets instead of iron scrollwork from stores like Kirklands will give layers without stagnancy.  

Even if you plan to decorate in a day, using older things will ensure your room isn't static.  It breathes life and tells a story when you have items with a past.


  1. Couldn't agree more. Crusty old things are good.

  2. Bethany you are so smart to go after finds that say your home is collected and layered over time. Another source which I almost hesitate to mention to a designer is moving or garage sales.

    Baskets, ceramics, stacked tables etc are easy and inexpensive. I am always so excited when I score. Recently my DIL and I were out, stopped at a sale, and we found her a 5 shelf woven wicker etagere. Very high quality and when she brought it home, she styled it beautifully!

    Art by Karena
    NOVICA Giveaway

  3. I couldnt agree more!! Layering with thought is so wonderful and items collected over time give us a sense of the owners personality! Love this post!
    xo Karolyn

  4. Amen to that sister! And I'd be buying rugs all the live long day if I had the $$ too. :)

  5. Great advice, as always. I'm loving that burl chest too.

  6. What a smart post, although I have to be careful when using so many vintage "finds". That Alex Papachristidis bedroom is one of my all time faves, by the way. Have a great weekend!

  7. such a great post! this is why I love to comb the flea markets to sprinkle in. I love the mix of old and new. have a great weekend!

  8. Love that bed!

  9. I am obsessed with all things vintage... especially furniture and accessories. They truly provide a one of a kind effect, and they are typically better quality as well. They just don't make 'em like they used to! :)

    The Glam Pad

  10. so agree with you Bethany - fell into the same trap too, hence, My relatively new found-love for vintage/antique and second-hand stores! Also, now, as we travel, I try to pick up something from that country too to give that 'collected' look!


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