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Design

A Totally Thrifted (and Weird) House Tour Full of Fantastical Style Risks

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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.

Hot Tip

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

Fin Mark

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Kat

Genius post – more like this please! I love the discussion of why certain pieces work together – and that toothbrush scene is just lovely.

I am a collector, and my love object is animal figurines. I have ceramic poodles from the 50s, a giant chartreuse panther planter, and more brass animals than I know what to do with. I also have a tiny collection of vintage skunks that I keep in the guest bathroom, you know, for obvious reasons.

So glad you loved it Kat!

Jessica

My only real collection is houseplants, and those are mostly grouped together because windows (but I had to sprinkle a couple low-light plants around in unlikely spots 😉 ).

I do love the jungle look, but I’m not really into the jungle-of-stuff look… I mostly love home tours where there are wonderfully old/unique things with tons of empty space around them, letting each item really shine. With maybe a few vignettes like Julie’s bedroom.

Buying my first place and hoping to finally try to recreate the look myself! (Though not great timing to be buying TBH.) My entire adult life has been piecing together just-good-enough stuff to put in my rental, so I am REALLY looking forward to finally buying an antique primitive cabinet with worn paint and those fantastic square nails :heart-eyes:

All that being said, I do enjoy looking at others’ weird and collected homes!

Jessica

Oh yeah – thank you for all the fantastic content (esp the interiors)! I’ve decided to make coffee & this blog my chill-out morning routine, and am going to try to comment as often as I can to help y’all keep your numbers up.

<3

We also love a weird and collected home xx

Eleanor Huang

I am a collector. I have teapots, salt and pepper shakers, Hummels (I know), buttons (not for shirts, for pinning on jackets.) I have most in cabinets, but it would be fun to integrate them into the decor. I like homes that have a story.

Agreed, Eleanor! Rather have my home filled with objects that have a story than just stuff from a store.

Lisa

I am a Realtor and once sold a home (to my “now” husband) that was owned by a woman who collected buttons. She had really special ones matted and framed on beautiful spots (and grids) around her home. I collected mother of pearl buttons just because they feel so wonderful to run my finger through! They are all in a glass jar in my guest room. Weird what touches us!

Faith

I collect feathers from walks with my kids. Have been trying to figure out something to do with them for over a year. String them to hang on a wall? Stand them in little vases like a flower arrangement?
Any thoughts would be helpful.

j

Feathers look really pretty mixed in with floral arrangments.

Lisa

I also imagine it could be really cute to frame some of them like Emily did with the flowers she collected with her kids, if you wanted to display them more like a collection 🙂

Rusty

I collect organic things on walks with my scruffy dawg, Rosie.
I live 200m from Perth Zoo, so the bird life is magic and … feathers!
At any point of the day, there are a minimum of 5 bird species in our garden! I love it!
I do all kinds of things with feathers:
Tiny, tiny, colourful parrot feathers in a small frame, grid pattern.
Big, Ibis feathers stuck into a mesh ball and hung on the front verandah.
A collection of Boobook Owl deathers (how lucky are we?!?!) arranged in a stoneware vase with a tight neck so they splay out.
A carefully chosen branch with rwists and bends, housing a wide range of feathers attached with fishing line, so they kinda float below the branch.
Endless opportunities with feathers!! 😉

Molly

Hi Rusty,
You sound amazing. I am a total bird nerd and live in Brisbane. Can we be friends please?

Jill

For years, I have saved every feather that drifts into my yard. On the sheltered side of the garage, a large twig wreath is decorated with these beautiful reminders of airborne visitors–large and small.

Faith, you could frame them similar to how Emily did her pressed flowers in the Mountain House living room. They would look great individual or in one large frame all in a grid. 🙂

Rosie

I have a preserved boxwood wreath hung on the inside of my front door, so every time I find a beautiful feather on a walk, I stick it right in my wreath. I also found a tiny bird’s nest once and stuck that in the bottom of my wreath. I gave a wreath to my granddaughters so they could have a place for their feathers too.

Meredith

Y’all remember the wall JTT and Farrah Fawcett put together in Man of the House? I always loved it.

Alison Frazier

Thank you EHD team for continuing to put out such gorgeous content. Having the blog continue to be part of my routine is truly helping my spirits! Keep up the awesome work and this loft was spectacular. I need to revisit these photos often to take it all in!

We appreciate comments like yours so much right now. Have a beautiful day, Alison!

Mosie

OMG my bathroom walls are full of botanical pumpkin prints, VERY similar to the ones in the first photo. My bathroom is cream colored tile with a narrow stripe of forest green accent tile; the prints are orange, rust, and golden squash with green leaves and stems, matted in cream and framed in black. I’ve used botanicals before (as well as Audubon bird prints, which are so similar) and they never fail to look classic and lovely.

crcr

Interesting but not my style. It’s so visually overwhelming. It looks like junk and clutter and gives me anxiety to think of how hard it must be to keep it all dust free.

Deepa

I feel the same way. I much prefer Emily’s mountain house style — that is a bright, calming breath of fresh air. This cluttered look makes me feel suffocated and anxious too. But to each their own. I can see how some would find this look exciting and stimulating.

Julie S

The visual abundance thing was a lightbulb moment for me! I love understanding new things like that, that shed light on experiences of the past.
I am NOT a collector (the modern monastery posts were my holy grail) but I still mostly enjoyed scrolling through the post because he does do weird very well, and you had good explanations of why it works… had to scroll fast past some of those doll and mannequin part collections though!!

Irene

The rolling cart with the books in bins looks wonderful! I want to copy that look, and then get rid of my gloomy Sauder bookcases.

Right?! I’ve pinned this for my future self. xx

Kat

I have a subtle dinosaur theme running through the house – most of it is crafted stuff (mini skeletons in a shadow box, a yellow paper triceratops head), but there’s also some random stuff i’ve found (almost always from the children’s section). No one will ever be able to convince me that dinosaurs aren’t THE COOLEST.

Paula

I have lots of dinosaurs in my house too! My favorite is a crocheted dinosaur “bust” that is on my living room wall…people think it’s weird, but I love it! This tour is the best.

Christie

Love that you are posting so frequently, especially on weekends when we are all bored out of our minds (thank you)!!

I really like vintage/antique collections of things, so this home tour definitely speaks to me! Thanks for sharing, would love to see more like this

Jenn

This was a beautiful tour, love the tips! Thank you for keeping content coming!

ak

I love love love this blog and it’s been a godsend to me as we purchased, built and furnished a new construction home with no designer in sight. My fiance now asks “what would emily do?” whenever we’re making another decision.

Putting this here because I dont know where else to put it: I noticed that you started a pop up asking readers to stop blocking ads to support your site. I SO want to do that, but the volume of ads on the site makes it near impossible to enjoy the beautiful and inspirational photos and content. Everywhere I look there’s videos and ads that CHANGE constantly, which is so distracting and completely removes the joy I get from reading. I’d happily turn my ad blocker off if you went back to a simple banner ad here and there, but until then I’ll continue reading with my blocker on and purchasing through the links on your site in hopes that you get affiliate $$. Again, I love you guys and your site – thank you for everything you do.

Roberta Davis

I love the idea of visual abundance and I love looking at most of these spaces, but I couldn’t live in them. I love minimalism, too, but I couldn’t live in that either (maybe). I’d love to find a way to combine the best of both worlds. Who can possibly dust all that stuff? I find it a little creepy, even though I admire the mind that put it together.

Jewel K

I come from a home that, though wonderful and loving, considered excess not only chaotic, but morally questionable. So it’s taken me a long time to embrace my style-colorful and textured. I have always loved green majolica, and I recently began collecting plates and platters. I’ve grouped them on my dining room wall, and they are spreading up and over the doorway. Every time I see them my heart leaps!
Thanks for the post-I read and enjoy it every single day!

Erin

Excellent post! I love a good collection. I do think you’re right about the thrill of the collection at a thrift or antique shop & the disappointment of one of the objects at home on its own. I collect plaster busts & blue flow china & both collections are displayed en masse. And they definitely make my heart pitter patter frequently.

I love your visual abundance theory! It is beautifully displayed in this wonderful home. I probably lean into the “more is more” attitude more than most. Some of my collections are: colored glass, baskets, ethnic fabrics, floral frogs, vintage globes, seashells, and blue and white dishes. Thank you for this astonishing tour, it brightened my day.

Bethany

Yes! More posts like this please! Love the weirdness of everything and the in depth explanation of why everything works together. Sooooo good!!!

Patti

What a fab post! I am bored to death with magazines these days and long for more outsider type of decorating. Let’s see some individuality, people! I love collecting and try to change up what I collect all the time. I have a collection of Eiffel Towers collected from Paris flea markets to Midwest garage sales but only the old heavy metal ones. Now they’re all just cheap plastic. I collect zinc watering cans, vintage trophy cups, shed antlers… I totally agree with the theory of visual abundance. Once u see it in practice it changes everything. Shed antlers scattered around are nothing special but piled in a heap they are gorgeous! My Eiffel Towers all together on my entry table make such a statement. Watch how visual display people do their work. Everything is together!

Nancy in WA

Sounds like EHD should feature your home!

Amanda McCullough

Yes – visual abundance, maximalism – whatever you call it yes. I have pared it back in some places but I have built in shelves in all bedrooms and my living room and there is where it shines. I collect milk glass, ceramic figurines (inherited collection), vintage ice buckets, vintage table lighters, brass apples, vintage hats and purses to name a few…………..I just love things

Lisa

Loved this. At first I thought I couldn’t live with all the maximalism. But then I looked up at my living room, which started out minimal, but has in the last few years gained tons of meaningful and beloved “stuff” that speaks to our life together. We collect old cameras (husband is a photog geek) and fine art black and white photography. My dad died 5 years ago and I have his high school cornet and an organic sculpture he made out of an intricate piece of found wood, artifacts from our island farm in the San Juan Islands, and a pretty nice collection of leather bound books. When I first designed this room it was warm and neutral and calm. Now it’s warm and neutral and speaks to our hearts. It’s good to feel “hugged” by my home during this pandemic.

Sandra

Yes love this! This is entirely my style of decorating as evidenced in my Instagram. All collected, thrifted or Craigslist over time. Every piece tells a story and all fits together in its own way. Ig handle @rosiestesoros

Lara

I love this post! Hooray for eye popping visual abundance! My Handsome Man and I met when he was shopping at my antiques store 15 years ago. I no longer have the store, but I kept the man and everything we collect just merged into our first home together. Talk about crazy good things all mixed together! He has so many collections, but the one that is so outstanding is his southern face-jug collection. Together we have a huge collection of vintage needlework samplers- they take up an entire wall in the guest room. I’ve always collected vintage French everything and art and old books. Our house is filled and fantastic. Visual abundance, for darn sure. xo

Love this loft! I collect sand from wherever I travel and the bottles have really added up over the years. They are in matching spice bottles (from world market) and small lables telling where its from. They make quite a statement on the 5 picture ledges where they sit. It was a Martha Stewart idea years ago,

I also have a brass animals collection, but havent found the perfect way to display them to make a statement. Ill be thinking about this grid idea…hmmmm.

Would love to hear any ideas?!?! Thanks!

Sara Carter

I am in love with this post, it’s like you’re living in my head! I have attempted to be more farmhouse, more scandi ( sorry EH, still love ya tho), but I look at the vintage taxidermy mako shark in my dining room, the collection of retro disco balls and even the mini rockem-sockem robots neatly perched on a bed of faux turf under a cloche….and my brain goes bonkers in delight. All these items have a story, a place in my life and forever will be “me”!

Sasha

What an amazing home! I have a collection of vintage embroidery and needlepoint that I’m obsessed with. They used to all live in my office, but I’m running out of wall space, so the collection is starting to creep into the rest of our house.

Nancy in WA

This post, along with the one last week that mentioned Eclectic-English-Grandma-style have really gotten my ideas flowing. I have tried to embrace a more minimal look in the last few years, but am realizing how much I love a homey collected look with lots of themed pictures on the walls. I now can give myself permission to go for it! Thank you!

traci

I really love this house tour and the entire post is super inspirational to me! The collected style is so much more appealing to me than the whiter brighter brand new homes I see so often. This feels both like a real challenge to replicate and a really fun adventure!

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