When I first purchased my house in 2010, I'd been a renter for the previous four years and never put all of my vintage finds and antique hand-me-downs to good use. I never felt compelled to fully decorate a house because I knew it wasn't a permanent situation. So, when I finally took the plunge into homeownership, I had amassed quite the collection of "stuff" and had to figure out how to artfully arrange all of it. Dealing with an empty house is the equivalent of looking at a blank canvas or making a pot of grits. It's an avenue in which to express your creativity and personality.
I started with what I already had and built on that -- bottles, books, vases and paintings -- and what I soon discovered was that creating collections of items is a really simple, yet stylish, way to fill a space. Of course, a place to display those collections is clutch, but we won't focus on that just yet.
From the many bouquets of flowers delivered to my doorstep by admiring boys (I wish that were the case -- thanks, mom), I ended up with quite a few "1-800-Flowers" glass vases. As great as they looked resting underneath the kitchen sink, I decided to make use of them by placing them atop a book case and intermixing a couple of porcelain statues and coffee table books to break up the monotony of plain glass. Easy peasy. And totally free because I didn't buy the flowers for myself.
And, you'll notice inside that bookshelf is a seemingly haphazard collection of books. I'll never give in to a Kindle, so consider me a book junkie who will continue to collect, whether that's the latest Sophie Kinsella or a vintage Junglebook from the 1950s. I wanted to accomplish a sense of whimsy with this entire setting, from different sized glass vases to the chicken wire doors, so I arranged the books in all different directions. To be honest, I would not consider this a space-saver, but I've also never been known as an organized person so it fits my lifestyle.
For years, I've been admiring those super chic "art walls" that are featured in pretty much every magazine ever printed. I always thought I'd be constrained due to budget, but I stumbled across this awesome vintage store outside of Havana, FL, called Second Hand Sandie's. For about $20, I bought one empty picture frame (great for framing other paintings), two matching Victorian portraits and a tall print of a rather random Greek bathing scene. At home, I already had a little collection of gold-framed prints, so, to keep with the theme, I made sure to only buy gold frames at Second Hand Sandie's. And, voila. I have my coveted "art wall" and it cost me only a couple of lunch outings.
And, finally, here is my small collection of bottles that are displayed in my living room (on the top half of an antique hutch, but that can be another story for another post). I've made it a point to buy a new one whenever I travel somewhere different, so I've got bottles from San Diego, Italy, North Carolina, Savannah. Not only do they look good but they remind me of my love of travel. And, a collection that has meaning behind it serves two purposes -- sentimentality and functionality.
The beauty of these collections, no matter how big or small, complex or simple, is that they give you good direction when it comes to decorating, which is an intimidating task. When you're in a jam-packed antique store, a junk yard or Pottery Barn, you'll know what to look for and you'll have a vision of where it should sit in your house.