This week we continue our discussion on how to design with sophistication and quirk. In Part I, we reviewed the top 3 ways – displaying your souvenirs, using your collections, and start rummaging through your own house. Now, onto the next 3!
4. Keep those family heirlooms
A trend that has been in full surge lately is repurposing, upcycling, etc. I agree that using what we have is often our best option. But I also think that sometimes, it’s better to leave something exactly as is. Below you’ll see a chair that is clearly worn over time, and has become even more beautiful and comfortable with its age. At one point, I contemplated trying out my painting skills on it. Thankfully my mother in law gently suggested that maybe I would want to try and paint another piece. And I’m so thankful she did! Once I realized its beauty, I brought it into our bedroom and placed it on the side of our love seat. I display my design books on top of it so I can keep them front of mind and close at hand. See if your parents, siblings, or grandparents have any older family pieces they’re willing to give you. Grandparents especially are often delighted to pass on family heirlooms to the younger generation.
5. Buy used and unusual
Another great way to find unique and one of a kind pieces is to shop local antique, consignment, and donation stores. Some of the most interesting pieces in my home are from these stores. My absolute favorite is a chair that we purchased from Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. One of their stores in the St. Louis area has a small area for fine furniture. There we found the most wonderful Louis XVI oval armchair. It was huge, a customer designer quality piece, and with beautiful, quirky fabric – embroidered hot air balloons. It’s become quite the conversation piece! So, go out and find those one of a kind pieces that cost maybe only 20% of its full price! Be a little bold in buying things that may seem odd as long as you know where and how to display them, and make sure you truly love them. Also, a note about where to shop for these pieces – I don’t often visit Goodwill but instead find stores that have local charities that they support. These stores often offer higher quality items. And when buying from a donation store, the profits go to charity, so while you shop for fantastic pieces, you’re also giving back. It doesn’t get much better than that!
6. Display what you love
And if all else fails, if you don’t have any collections, souvenirs, family heirlooms, antiques, or basement finds to display, display what you love. Try to limit your interest in trendy items as it will often times not be money well spent. Ask yourself when you’re buying something, will I still want to display this in 5 years? 10 years? It doesn’t mean we can’t get bored or that we can’t move pieces around or take them on and off display. But it does mean choosing items that have lasting power. For me, I love Charleston. The architecture, scenery, interior design, is incredible, classic, and timeless. And after our vacation there this year I wanted something from Charleston to display. While searching for art with Charleston scenery, I came across a website that offered to send free Charleston prints as a promotion. I signed up and upon its arrival I immediately put it out. It’s simple, not even in a frame yet. But I love Charleston, so I love seeing that reminder. Ask yourself, what do I love? What would I love to see each and every day? A certain book? A certain flower? A certain piece of jewelry? A certain photo? Whatever it is, display it proudly and prominently.
The key to sophisticated design is displaying interesting, personal items in a beautiful way. Pare down your accessories; put a few choice items in each room. Group them so that they have harmony and contrast – their shapes are similar and different, the colors relate but differ in exact tone, decide if they should be the centerpiece or supportive of the surrounding environment. Don’t be afraid to do things a little differently than what you’ve seen others do. When you look in the top shelter magazines, the rooms always display the distinct personality of its owners. It’s never generic, it’s never typical. It’s unusual, daring even if in a quiet way. So, surround yourself with the pieces that make you smile each time you pass by. After all, that’s what decorating is all about, bringing joy into the lives of all who live and visit there.
What unique and personal items do you have displayed in your home? Let me know in the comments!