What is a home?
Better yet, “What makes a beautiful home to you?”
Is it a magazine-perfect display of current trends, colors and styles? Is it traditional or modern, farmhouse or mid-century, eclectic or minimalist?
Have you achieved it? That perfect or beautiful home?
I haven’t. Not even close.
But after 25 years of marriage, my focus has changed. My bullseye has shifted. My style has amalgamated toward a different purpose, a style perspective that is uniquely us. A Collected Home.
I truly believe in the concept of home. It’s not, or should not be simply a structure with meaningless rooms, a wasteland of money and energy. A home should be a collection of rooms with style, grace… and history. A tangible reflection of who and what we are.
Whether we live in our own home or a rented space, an estate or basement or dorm or shared room. The concept remains.
Homes with a collected style — or a curated style are not cookie-cutter formulas adhering to the latest design trend. They are real homes with real people who lead real lives. A relaxed environment that says more about the people who live there than its style.
We often use the tagline at 31Daily.com: “A daily source of what matters most.”
Our homes should mirror those deeply held beliefs and values that matter most to us. It should be an elemental storyboard of items that reflect the personalies and lives of those who live there. Gathered collections, family heirlooms or repurposed finds.
In his book, The Collected Home: Rooms with Style, Grace, and History, author Darryl Carter explains, “As I see it, the house should be a collected assemblage of treasures meaningful to the homeowner. I believe it is better to have an empty room than an instant room. Forgo the immediate and embrace the lasting.”
As I look around my home, I see collections of what I love most. And as I look deeper, and allow my eyes to linger over items I particularly love, I remember stories of their origins. Of where they were found, of what we were doing, or the giver and what occasion or celebration it represented. Objects brought vivid memories of days both long past and recent. Places we’ve visited, experiences we’ve shared. And before long, the story of our family life comes into focus and I feel incredibly blessed for these experiences.
What story does your home tell? And which items give voice to that narrative?
Carter says, “In collecting your own home, you are sharing the story of your life. The furniture, art, colors, textures, sounds, and scents all convey details about your character, sense of humor, and experiences.”
I have a challenge for you. I did this today. It’s a Saturday and our garage door is opening and closing like a revolving door. Everyone’s busy with places to go. The hum of incoming and outgoing is almost like a white noise, and is a perfect distraction.
I intentionally walked through the rooms of our home today. Ignoring the hubbub, I permitted myself time to linger, to allow my eyes to rest on the details of those rooms, the china I love, the book titles I sometimes take for granted, the candlesticks, the artwork, the plants and architectural details… the baskets I can’t seem to get enough of.
It felt like a visit with our past and our present. It was a collection of… us.
If you haven’t done that recently, I challenge you to take a few minutes and do what I did.
What story did you find?
If you found meaningless clutter, as I did, eliminate it. Make room to showcase that which matters. That which tells your story.
Life is a blessing meant to be lived and to share.
I’ll never forget the stories my father told after returning from one of his many humanitarian mission trips to a tiny village in Guatemala. A village so impoverished, the villagers never knew where their next meal would come from. He tells the story of sitting on a dirt floor in what we might call a shanty, a lean-to… barely a structure. This dear family insistently and graciously shared what little food they had with him. As he looked around their dwelling, he couldn’t help but notice the dirt floor swept meticulously, their few and sparse collection of vessels and rudimentary furniture, not even adequate for their family, yet in perfect condition. The smiles of joy on their face as they felt blessed to share themselves with him that has left an indelible mark on him to this day.
They shared their story. How will you share yours?
10 Homes with Collected Style
I’ve gathered some examples of what most consider a “Collected Style.” Almost an eclectic collection of objects meaningful to the residents. For me, I love a mix of both new and gathered, vintage and sleek. I prefer less clutter to more but I love collections with a sense of symmetry and history. It has to be warm and cozy and I rely on texture to give me that needed comforting element.
“If I had to pick one room in our cottage that best represents the feel I wanted when folks walk through the door, it would be our kitchen. Lots of great meals, laughter, stories, and love is shared around our table each week…”
Seemingly disparate items combine beautifully in this living room, where a new French needlepoint rug anchors chairs slipcovered in drop cloths. New bookshelves hide a flat-screen television.
The Beauty of Tradition
We’re head over heels for this traditional look, with its mix of East Coast elegance and fresh-from-the-garden charm. Bright florals, classic upholstery, whimsical topiaries—
this collection puts a summery spin on a timeless aesthetic.
Keeping It Real
Amidst vintage wingback chairs and antique European accessories, a wicker crate mounted on wheels and repurposed as a charming coffee table reinforces that this is still the living room of a young, active family where casual elegance presides.
A combination of wood paneling and milk white tongue-and-groove paneling keeps this living space looking simply charming and sweetly rustic. A compass-style iron chandelier illuminates the sitting area while a stone fireplace, buffalo-check curtains, and antique accents lend cabin-like appeal.
A Collected Foyer
A collection of silhouettes provides the decor in the stair hall of Charleston’s Mikell House, home to Southern Charm’s Patricia Altschul.
“An original Louis Philippe mirror – with its glass made of two pieces – rests on a console, the framed prints push the visual line wider. A mixture of rustic and elegant, smooth and rough, makes this vignette all the more appealing.”
Curated Style Kitchen in a Brooklyn Brownstone
Curated for Summer
by Ethan Allen
Changing seasonal decor makes for easy transitions when the bones of great furniture are in place.