Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is your home a true reflection of YOU?

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Is your home a true reflection of YOU?

This is a topic that comes up
over and over 
when I help clients/friends
decorate their homes, 
so I thought it might
be a fun and possibly helpful 
post today.

Through the years,
clients will ask me to help them 
accessorize their home  
--- the best part of designing a space ---
to me it's like adding
the jewelry to your outfit!

From Susan's lovely blog: Romancing the Home

And probably the MOST
important advice I can give them
as we begin pulling together
collections of items,
is to OWN their look.

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By saying that I mean
that when you walk into 
 your finished room, 
you do not want to be able to identify 
the main source
of your collection. 

You can have a few new things,
tucked in here and there, 
but they should be in the minority.

Bunny Williams

While I LOVE to go into a Pottery Barn 
or Restoration Hardware store, for example --- 
where they employ some of 
THE most talented 
display professionals known to man  --- 
you don't want to go in
and buy the whole display. 

Don't do it! 
Don't do it! 
Don't do it!
As tempting as it may be.

PB's super clever stylists just make you want EVERYTHING! It's their job!

Instead maybe pick 
one or two 
key pieces and take them home 
and mix them with old things you have, 
or new "old" found treasures from 
flea markets, thrift or antique shops, 
auctions, estate sales, your basement, etc. 

This will give you 
much more interesting look, 
one that is not "recognizable" 
or too commercial looking. 
Avoid comments from friends like:

"Hey, I saw all these items in 
(____fill in the blank any retail store name here __) 
last week, you've been doing a little 
 'shopping',  haven't you?!!"

Clutter & Chaos
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Create your own look.

Gorgeous image from

One of my clients once told me 
she had asked an interior designer
to come by and help her 
accessorize her lovely home.  
Well, apparently he walked in  
and told her she had 
way too many 
T.J. Maxx and Homegoods 
items in her home -- that it looked 
like one of their super stores.

Y   I   K   E   S
(Bold comment .... I would like to think 
I am a little more diplomatic than that!) 

But he was right. 
It did kind of look that way, unfortunately. 
The good news is that it doesn't anymore 
but this story has stuck in my head 
ever since I heard it. 

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Are you guilty of this?

If so, take that little scenario 
and keep it in the back of your mind
when accessorizing. It may help you 
when customizing your interior spaces. 

Truth is... it takes a little longer 
to do accessorize this way, 
and you won't get the 
immediate gratification 
of coming home with heavy shopping bags 
full of an instant vignette,  
in the end 
you will be much happier with the results. 

And even better, 
you will have some 
great stories 
attached to each piece
 ---  priceless memories!

That's what I mean when I say....
"OWN your look".

So go dig into your storage spaces!
Dust off old things you may have stowed
away or forgotten.

Think out of the box, literally.
*   Take Grammy's silver sugar bowl
and use it to hold cotton balls on your vanity.
*   Take your father's spelling bee trophy 
and fill it with pencils at your desk. 
*  Take Uncle Ed's tackle box and use it to organize
your childrens craft supplies.

Try to look at things you already have 
with "usefulness" in mind.
It's a huge trend out there you know,
And you can train your
eye to do it --- once you 
become consciously aware of it. 
And the more you do it
the better you get!

So go get into that attic/crawl space
and pull out some forgotten treasures. 

(Oh, I can just hear your poor husbands 
hauling things down from your storage areas this weekend,
 asking you to promise to never ever read that
#$%@*#  Polohouse blog again...!!!??!!)

via Pinterest

It's these kind of pieces
that will make your home yours. 
It will give your surroundings 
a sense of history and
will give guests a little insight 
into who YOU are.

Think aged patinas,
think weathered loved pieces.
Think provenance!

via Pinterest

When traveling, instead of buying 
a t-shirt buy a small trinket from an antique
or vintage shop. I guarantee that every time 
you see it displayed,
you will attach a memory 
of your visit to that destination, 
as opposed to your visit to a ---- mall!?!  

Make sense?
By George, I think we've got it!

From Joan's lovely blog: For the Love of a House

Own your look! 

Just to recap:
New + new + new = BAD
Vintage + antique + new + inherited = GOOD

Mix it up!

For what it's worth.....
that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Have a lovely weekend ~

P.S.  If you do end up going "treasure" hunting, please apologize in advance to your hubbies for me, won't you?     :)


Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

Alison, I love this post! I agree with everything that you said. I love mixing old pieces with a few new ones. I think it makes a room interesting! In fact, I'm looking forward to going through my parents' storage this weekend; and bringing some treasures home.

Debra Oliver said...

great post, and wonderful advice. I'll take vintage each time!

Julie Marie said...

Oh Alison, I so LOVE this post and all of your wonderful advice!... sometimes I have asked myself just exactly where I fit into this place called Blogland... my home does not "fit the mold" so to speak... I always describe my home as "eclectic"... I think that says it pretty much... lucky for me, I come from my family (half~French, half English) who loved things dearly, took very good care of them... and passed them on to loving family members they knew would treasure them just as much... all of my pieces have stories to tell... whispers from the past I call them... and I post about that often... I would so much rather have old than new... one of my neighbors recently asked me WHY?... right then and there, I knew she would never understand... that's why I sooo enjoyed your posts about your home in Midwest Living magazine... you really LIVE in it!... and all of your tresors have a story to tell as well... I always say I cherish the people, places, objects and events from the past, for they are all a part of who I am today... (that is on my profile for my blog)... love your story about the home that looked like a TJ Maxx warehouse... I do like TJ's... but actually buy more purses there than home decor... well... I've just about written a book here... love your post that much!... xoxo Julie Marie PS I was able to download a copy of Midwest Living to my Nook!... yay!...

At Rivercrest Cottage said...

Loved this! I think I have the opposite problem. Everything in my house is attached to a memory of a family member and I'm learning to buy PB or RH stuff to improve the look.

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Cute post and oh, so true. I used to buy the cheap stuff just to fill shelve because I couldn't afford anything else. Now I have definitely been adding in the old and love the mix. Still no hubby going up for anything. Just me.

gme said...


Robin @ A Bird Loves Her Nest said...

Wonderful post! This is something I try to constantly think of. My husband and I are in our early twenties with a 5yr old and 3yr old, it is so easy to fall into the cheap and easy trap for small things. Particularly Kirklands as I remember many a trip there with my Mum. Thankfully my father instilled a love and respect for real wood so my furniture is sturdy and each piece unique for songs off CL or the couple pieces from family. I definetly need to work on more vintage or personable items for decor and some lighter pieces to balance all my dark wood pieces. Thank you again for a beautiful post

Sarah said...

Alison, this is excellent advice! I hosted a bridal luncheon for my goddaughter several years ago. Her soon to be step mother-in-law's twin sister was a California designer. She gave me the best compliment ever when she said how home was warm and welcoming and layered with treasures from through the years. Yes, my travel souvenirs are usually vintage or antique items found in local markets. Obviously your home reflects you. I've been spending time with my new Midwest Living issue. '-) Fabulous article!
Enjoy your weekend........Sarah

Melinda Hartzog said...

Wise, wise words!

therelishedroost said...

Wonderful advice, it is always a good idea to edit! Too much of a goof thing is too much of a good thing!!
Lovely images as well, Karolyn

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/From Harvest To Table said...

What a wonderful post! I totally agree with you. In fact today I went antiquing with a couple of friends and came home with a wonderful watercolor signed and dated 1901. I can't wait to hang it in my bedroom.

Karena Albert said...

Alison your advise is perfect! Mixing it up makes our homes so much more interesting.

Come over if you want to meet two sisters who think like you!

New_2013 Designer Series

Pamela Gordon said...

You are so correct on this topic Alison. I have so many inherited things that are antique or vintage and I prefer to use them in my decor with a couple of new purchases any day. I've been in homes where the decor is all new things and there is nothing really homey or traditional at all. Cold and austere and staged like a store display. It's just wrong to me. Great post!! Hugs, Pam

NanaDiana said...

Alison- This is such a good post. It is so true. I think I decorated for the trend for many of my younger years and came into my own a few years ago. I HAVE always bought what I loved but I would cave to popular color choices and/or styles. Now-my house is ME! It embraces me like a warm coat when I walk in the door- xo Diana

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Allison, I could not agree with you more. A house/home should reflect you, your interests, your travels, your family, your life! It should be collected and decorated over years, not days.

Congratulations on your Midwest Living spread. I am so excited for you! Ever since I discovered your blog I have been waiting for a magazine feature. In fact I think a book is going to be next!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Allison, I could not agree with you more. A house/home should reflect you, your interests, your travels, your family, your life! It should be collected and decorated over years, not days.

Congratulations on your Midwest Living spread. I am so excited for you! Ever since I discovered your blog I have been waiting for a magazine feature. In fact I think a book is going to be next!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Great advice and inspiration photos, Alison! And as far as treasure hunting's a way of life for me...

Ron said...

Great post, Alison. This advice is so true. xo

Babs Richman said...

Great post! It's so interesting to go to someone's home, and see things with "a story". Love your suggestion for repurposing vintage items. I'm of an age where repurposing was something my mother and grandmother did out of necessity. I'm so glad it's become "in", because I have lots of vintage things. Thanks again for a great post.

Pura Vida said...

great topic and food for thought!

Susan said...

Excellent post -thank you for sharing. I love to "treasure hunt!"

MarmePurl said...

The one and only time I used a professional designer, she only wanted me to buy all the new accents and accessories she had picked out. I told her over and over that I wanted to go treasure hunting through the boxes of Relatives Past that I had carefully stored waiting for the right moment to rediscover their meaning and beauty and mix into my home. She wouldn't even consider it. The business relationship did not work out.
You have the right idea Alison!

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Such great advice and the illustrations you used are super. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us,

Rebecca said...

Like all the others, I SO agree! It's one thing to drool over other peoples' decor; another thing to "own your own"! Thanks for the encouragement and great examples!

mah said...

My mother-in-law hates old stuff, my favorite thing to hear her say is "Give it to Mary Ann, she loves that old junk!" Love your post.

Karen said...

This is such a great post. I find that it's easy with all of the great design ideas floating across our computer screen to loose our way. I keep an image or two in my organizer to keep me focused. While I love the Swedish look that is so prevalent right now, I have to remember that my first love (as well as most of the accessories I've collected) reflect more of a traditional look with an English country vibe.
P.S. I get most of my great ideas for accessorizing from your posts!