In the spirit of shaking up our visual sameness, I am craving spaces that are inspirationally weird, and yet doable. I want approachably odd, refreshingly brave, with some risks taken that can take me on a fantasy during these lock down times. We shot this house for Styled, and you may have seen some of the photos but never seen it all together. It’s the former home of vintage picker Mike Andrews. It’s a loft apartment that looks 100% personal and yet totally timeless (HOT LIFE TIP – when it’s personal it’s always timeless). I love a creative non-designer’s home because there is a level of brave risk-taking that can easily be trained out of a “Professional Designer” in the name of function and sophistication (speaking from personal experience, I assure you). So while we all can’t go out to thrift and garage sale search right now (although Chairish, Etsy, eBay, and Instagram are all up and running), we can get some visual fantasy going to keep our eyes interested during this monotony.
So Jess is going to walk you through what Mike did RIGHT, how this loft looks interesting but not insane, and the style risks taken that succeeded in making this space worth looking at 5 years later.
Ok, so this apartment is nothing but visually exciting. It’s beautifully chaotic, yet with everything having a specific place and working together harmoniously, not chaotic at all. How? Well, there are a lot of things that Mike did right. He kept a relatively tonal color palette with pops of bright color, LOTS of visual texture and seamlessly mixed in different styles of art and furniture like a true vintage ninja.
However, there is one main element above all that makes this home, work… That “element” is his incredible array of collections. From art pieces to objects, this house is full of “visual abundance”. I’ll explain what I mean in a second.
Yes, when you want your home to be filled with your timeless treasures, the best way to show them off (in a way that will be impactful and not look like disorganized random clutter) is by displaying them in bulk. Think Costco but if Costco was a beautiful vintage heaven.
Side note can we first applaud that adorable little easel (it’s so cute it hurts). Then we need to seriously high five him (high five? What am I bro now?) that he not only put those mini 3-D busts in those cloches but also chose art with a different “type of bust” in the two lower pieces of framed art right behind them. It makes it feel so cohesive, multidimensional and very cool.
Now for some food for thought. When you go to a flea market or thrift store there is that moment when your eyes pop out of your head because your brain is overloaded with the joy that can only come from vintage decor shopping (in person). And at these flea markets and thrift stores, vendors typically display their goods in collections of similar items. It’s that intense sensory stimulation that you want to be able to bring back into your space. The sad part is you usually don’t because you will likely only buy “one cool decorative plate” instead of the whole set. Money sadly does not grow on trees, as I have been told my entire life. But I am still crossing my fingers for it to one day reveal itself to us so all of us so we can buy the whole set if we so choose.
This theory is not mine. So back in November, I was listening to a Goop podcast episode with designer, Ingrid Fetell Lee (yes, I am one of those annoying people that refer to podcasts WAY too much). She and Elise started talking about this idea of sensory stimulation and visual abundance. All of a sudden it all made sense!
How many of us have gone to the flea market and grabbed a special but simple little object only to feel a little less in love with it when you got home? Ya, me too. Likely the reason why was the “visual abundance” of the collection of those objects ALL together made you feel overjoyed and is actually why you fell in love – it was the collection, not the individual object.
I bet you didn’t expect us to get this deep with a house tour, did ya? Well, don’t worry the theories are done and now let’s just focus on this incredibly unique home again.
When you have a lot of collections in one space consider displaying them in grids like Mike did all over his loft. This way you still get to show off your treasures but they will look less visually chaotic.
Another reason why this home and its collections work is because almost all of them have an old world feel even if they are actually new world. That could be the shape, material, an/or patina.
Em has this general rule/belief that anything can stylistically go together if they live within the same color palette and the materials speak to each other. Honestly, I think this a big ingredient in the secret sauce of her success. A room will look far more interesting and special if you play with styles that “don’t” traditionally go together.
One example in this home is that beautiful, traditional dresser placed next to that giant red toothbrush. Unlikely friends? Sure. But does it look so fun and cool? “Yes. yes. A thousand times yes!”
The moral of the story is that homes filled with personal treasures take time to create. But that is also the beauty of designing your own space. It’s always evolving and becoming more you as you change and grow. The important thing is to take risks (why not?! buy the toothbrush!) and if you want to start some collections be intentional about them. This way, someday when you walk into your home your eyes pop out of your head because your brain is overloaded with the joy.
Once again normal is boring, let’s get weird.
So the real question is WHAT COLLECTIONS DO YOU HAVE? Do you plan to start one now? What are the little things that make your heart skip a beat? Do you agree with the “visual abundance” theory? I want to hear all about it.
Love you, mean it.
**Styled by Scott Horne and Me
***Photos by David Tsay