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Creative Collections

You know that Creative Collections group that I started on Flickr recently, well I can’t stop peeking in to see what photos have been added – I’m a girl obsessed with collections right now and creative styling in general is forever a passion. It’s fun to see how others put together things that they love. Their creativity is evident as I browse the many photos in the group. If you’re a collector or would simply like to sit back and observe how others arrange things, you may want to join in. And who knows, all of this inspiration just may lead you on your very own relentless pursuit of pulling together the perfect arrangement to fit your personality.

Top: elsiemarley has four shelves above her sink where she creates little vignettes like this grouping of natural things called “brown”. The next photo shows a few tiny houses that she likes. Bottom: retro dresser with a great photo collection proudly display above in the home of ATLITW, vintage clothing displayed on the wall from ninainvorm.

This grouping over the bed belonging to arthur’s circus is simply the best for two reasons. The composition and colors are great but beyond that, they are photos that she took herself. Love that personal touch! You can view her professional portfolio here, she’s an amazing photographer.

ATLITW’s white pottery collection, of which I love.

Starting a small art wall by ninainvorm.

And this is ATLITW’s yellow collection.

Cookie jar collection from arthur’s circus, cute little people as shown in the home of elsiemarley (they were handmade by her friend, she blogged about it here), winter scene arranged by paper-flower-girl.

Some of my nesting dolls, the ones to the far left I found in Paris in 1997 in a Russian gift shop. If you’re wondering about the unfinished dolls they’re for an upcoming project I plan to work on in February. I’ve always wanted to design a set of nesting dolls so I’m thinking of a few ideas for these ladies.If you look closely not all are nesting dolls, there’s a little guy hiding amongst them. He like a lady with a little meat, so these girls had him at hello. Can you find him?

Related post: More Collections {we love ‘em}

(images linked to source above)

Posted in inspiration, trends on January 15, 2008

Boho Modern

I’m thrilled by the response to this post about London stylist Liza Giles and cannot believe the amount of emails flooding in about this style overall. Many have challenged me to define this look into a name but that’s not really my thing as I’m sure it’s already been categorized by designers… But for fun, I did do some research and now I know what I’d like to call this style when I write about it in the future: Boho Modern.


Let’s see… We have mid century modern, Hollywood regency, modern, minimalist, retro, but what do we call this one? Not vintage modern, that makes me think of Thomas O’Brien and I don’t think his look fits this one since he’s more traditional, clean cut and uses lots of beige and blue. Certainly my friend with her Crack House Chic comment was off base, that raised a few eyebrows and made most of us laugh and cringe simultaneously, and CHC is not even close to what this style should be termed. All things considered, let’s give this look the term Boho Modern. As in Bohemian. How does this sound? It’s a little old with new, less rules with more play.


I did a little research to see if Boho Modern really works. Wikipedia describes Bohemian, “In modern usage, the term bohemian no longer refers to the Roma but can describe any person who lives an unconventional artistic life, where self-expression is their highest value; art (acting, poetry, writing, singing, dancing, painting, etc.) is a serious, if not central, part of their life.” Okay good. That sounds about right.


I researched fashion, too. Boho Chic already describes a style of fashion (think Anthropologie, Noa Noa, Odd Molly), and some stylists call it Modern Boho as well. So you can go with Boho Chic or Boho Modern, too. In the land of interiors, I’ve noticed this style referred to as Flea Market Style, Global Decor, Shabby, and Ethnic Chic, Midwest Modern, Modern Euro Country, and though they fit to a degree, I think Boho Modern works best. Flea Market Style is a close runner up, but because it’s more about self expression and less about where items are sourced – lots of us don’t have access to good fleas, so we shop on eBay or second hand stores – or we pick up new things at Ikea and paint them to give them a little age appeal, I don’t know if Flea Market Style is what I would call this. But I get the point because the rooms end up looking a little bit like everything was found at a flea.

When it comes to Flea Market Style, that can come mean something different for everyone as it’s all about where you live. In my part of the country, most markets do not carry any of these gorgeous things. If you pulled together a room using things from MY local flea market here in New Hampshire, you’d have a room filled with discarded dollar store ceramics, shot guns, pocket knives, beat up action figures, and dirty movies. If you shopped a flea in San Francisco or London, you may have a different ‘vision’ when you think of Flea Market Style.


Suggested reading: New Decor by Elizabeth Wilhide is a lovely book embracing this very style, I suggest picking it up, it’s brilliant. I reviewed it here in case you’re interested. Creating Vintage Style and Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers is another that I . (Has anyone ever visited Caravan, her London shop?).


Boho Modern is: Mixing old with new. Building your space over time. Taking formerly functional items and transforming them into either purely aesthetic pieces – a collection of vintage keyholes or door knobs mounted to a single wall, or using functional items in fun new ways – a vintage umbrella stand becomes a place to store rolls of wrapping paper or vintage sheets transformed into a duvet, for instance.


Boho Modern feminine with an edge. It’s deeply personal. Mixing periods and ethnic styles is highly encouraged (i.e. Indian prints mixed with Aboriginal). Color can be subdued, rich, bold, or barely there. It can be neat with few objects or items arranged in collections, or a bit disheveled. Traditional design “rules” are thrown out the window, replaced by a casual beauty that comes from the heart. It’s all about textures and details. It’s about living a more creative life and decorating from the heart. Eclectic living.

Looking for some inspiration from “real” homes? Visit these homes from a few decor8 readers living the Boho Modern life: AB Chao, Jasna Janekovic in Germany, Victoria in San Francisco, Yvonne in the Netherlands, and my friend YIPPIEYEAH in Hannover.

(images from caravan, living etc, and odd molly.)

Posted in inspiration, trends on January 04, 2008

More Collections {we love ‘em}

Since this post, our Creative Collections flickr group has grown to include some of you eager to show and tell. Here are some recent photos from the group that inspired me, each so very different from the next but all are quite well arranged and interesting I think. Check out these creative ideas…

A collection of art over the sofa in the home of flickr member ATLITW. She has a great collection of necklaces on display, too. It’s smart to create a focal point out of items you actually use, don’t you think?

Pretty things from Amsterdam artist, Rinske Dekker, also known on Flickr as Apple Blossom Girl. From plants to precious antiques, her arrangements make you pause and think, maybe if you were visiting Rinske you would like to ask her questions about these items? I know I would. And this is precisely why I love unique arrangements of things, maybe you can call them offbeat collections, but they stimulate the best conversations. When you wear an interesting necklace or a pin on your jacket, don’t you get a few curious passerbys wanting to know more about this piece? Same goes at home. Your guests will appreciate that you’ve opened up your heart to them by showing things that are uniquely you. I prefer rotating “living” displays in the home because they are very present tense. They speak loudly about who you are today, what inspires you and brings you joy. Try pulling together a little collection and see what happens.

Ready for this collection? Very unique and eco-friendly. Abbey, the New York blogger behind Aesthetic Outburst and esty store owner of How Now Design, collects all sorts of delightful, some may call them odd, objects. Here you can see a collection of bread bag tags beneath a glass cloche. Clever. And cloches are still hot by the way, so give one a try.

More from Abbey over at How Now Design. This time, bundt pans in the kitchen. Abbey mentions that she still needs 1 more bundt to complete this wall. Any leads for her on something cute and unique? Here’s a vintage metal pan from Germany, but I tend to think she could use another brightly colored one.

Abbey collects vintage birdies along with bundt pans and bread tags. Isn’t this lady someone you’d love to know? Her collections reveal her playful side, the ability to really enjoy living in a space and decorating it according to exactly who you are. Isn’t that what we’re all after, and what makes our homes so wonderful? Enjoying our abode and allowing them to reflect who we are is far more interesting than copying some trend or catalog.

Amy Gross ( amyla174 on flickr) is a mixed media artist (etsy store here) and has lots of interesting collections around her home. Here are some doll heads she collects. Doll heads are right up there with clowns for me, they absolutely creep me out, so I give anyone a high five who can sleep beneath a shelf of little heads. But I appreciate her collection and still think Amy is one cool girl. It would be fun to walk through her home and ask her about all the things she loves there. I bet even these heads have a story, huh?

More collections from Amy Gross, this time, pottery arranged on a pretty shelf. No heads here, just some natural beauty this time.

Nina van de Goor is a flickr girl who lives in the Netherlands, she collects vintage modern ceramics. I like the fishy bowl in the bottom left corner in gray and mustard yellow. Nice colors and the pattern would be fun for serving something from the sea.

More on collections, how to get started, and some inspiring displays can be found here.

(images linked above to their photo bugs)

Posted in inspiration, trends on December 17, 2007

Collections {we love ‘em}

I’m excited to talk about collections today for a simple reason – they’re everywhere! Most of my friends and the design shops that I visited over the weekend down in Boston are moving far away from the “less is more” decor and embracing the pack rat within, but in a more organized fashion – through gorgeous groupings – and I love seeing it.

Decorating that bends the rules and reaches deep into the soul, pulling out your story, dreams, and emotions, and placing objects that reflect these things in your space is empowering. I love being around things that make me feel positive and motivated, and sometimes certain objects do this for me. Combining like items, or objects that relate to one another somehow, create order. This is something we all strive to attain – a sense of order and balance while showcasing parts of our unique personality. Most neat freaks and minimalists disregard scattered objects as useless clutter or little piles of chaos, opting for a more streamlined design. They claim there’s no time to clean around tons of tiny things piled all over. And I see the point. But life in a perfect model home isn’t for me either, so I’d rather hire someone to clean my collections for me or do what I currently do – block out time on a Saturday afternoon to clean my home. But I agree that rooms can appear chaotic and be a nightmare to clean when objects are bursting from every surface.

That’s why I’m a big fan of collections – placing things together instead of scattered randomly all over. Collections work best for a variety of personality types and design styles – from those who favor streamlined interiors to others who embrace a cozy lived-in decor. Why? Because all can achieve harmony and order by placing a careful collection, or two, or ten, in various places in the home depending on how much you’d like to show.

This is a collection of embroidered works that Esther from Mokka bags pulled together to form a gorgeous rug. Do you see something interesting here? A collection doesn’t need to be something sitting idle on a shelf – it can be a grouping of things you love put to good use!

This is an usual way to display a collection – on the floor! I loved it the second I read about this rug on the Style Files today.

For some, if you like very little on display, a collection to you may mean three 3 items on a single floating shelf over a sofa. And that’s it. For others, a collection gives them them the chance to fill every shelf with something exciting to gaze upon. I’ll leave how far you go with the amount of collections up to you — ultimately it’s your home and my preferences here aren’t important. But I can point you to some good tips that I’ve used to make those collections do what you’ve intended for them – to showcase objects in a creative way that is visually interesting.

Collections add dimension to a room in ways both seen and unseen. Pattern, color, or texture are introduced to let you know about the person living there. These curiosities add warmth, make guests feel at home, and give the space character – yours! On an otherwise boring white bookcase flanking a fireplace, group a special collection to add pattern there, for instance, instead of filling it with books that you never read simply because you reason that bookcases need to be filled with books, right? Ha! No way!

Lorena Siminovich, a talented artist from San Francisco, shows us the importance of a balanced collection using her bookcases. She knows when “enough is enough” and she’s got a great handle on symmetry – because her bookcases flank her fireplace, Lorena needed to balance each one so they relate to one another, have the right amount of “stuff” on each or else one side would look heavier than the other, and all this while still being creative and showcasing the things she loves without things appearing textbook perfect.

Lorena’s results are beautiful while still maintaining her authentic style.

How do I get started on a collection, you ask? Easy. Look for themes already in your home in the many objects you already have. You may see milk glass in random spots, maybe in your bathroom, a few items in your kitchen, and a beautiful piece displayed on your credenza. Would you like to create a collection displaying all of these arranged together? No? Okay, let’s leave the milk glass alone and look at other repeat objects in your home. Are those prints from Etsy I see stacked in a small pile on your dresser? Hmm… Perhaps you can start there.

Here’s a practical solution to showing off your growing collection of art. Purchase a few picture ledges, mount two (one directly over the other) to a free wall, and buy a series of white frames or frames that are all very similar in size and color. Take all of your prints, frame them, and arrange them on the ledge in various order to see what suits you. Step back. Admire. If you get tired of their order, move them around. If you tire of a specific print, purchase another or make something yourself using photos or a scrap of your favorite wallpaper, scrapbook paper, or fabric, and swap it out. Maybe you could include that cute drawing your baby cousin sent to you? That’s personal and gives your collection a great conversation piece.

Mixed media collage artist Michelle Caplan has a rotating gallery in her home. Using a simple bench, she displays her favorites pieces of the moment.

When I think of collections done right, Lisa Congdon comes to mind. Whenever I peek in on her, I notice she enjoys artful arrangements around her San Francisco home. She seems to always have something new and she does a beautiful job pulling in all the objects that relate to a particular theme that she’s working on. Here’s her recent plate collection, and another of vintage photos on her wall. See what I mean?

For a real treat, visit Lisa’s pool of creative collections. You’ll look at everything in your home differently after checking out her photos.

For a successful collection, there needs to be a theme behind it. I don’t necessarily mean that it has to be object-related – only owls or only white pottery, although these are both common and pretty ones, just as deer, mercury glass, feathers, plates, silhouettes, vintage cameras, globes, clocks, are other popular collections. But a collection can be based around an emotion using a variety of objects to show the emotion.

You can also have collections centered around a theme, such as a season, color, or designer. Some love to collect white pottery only from the pot-king himself, Jonathan Adler. Others collect objects from outside and group them together to show more of a seasonal display of objects (acorns, leafs, seed pods, etc.). Still others are looking to group items together that radiate a certain feeling – this display created by Creature Comforts, who is a highly creative blogger and shop owner by the way, shows us an example of this.

Creature Comforts’ displays many different objects that relate somehow, through various tones of white, along with clear glass, mercury glass, and milk glass, to show us what Winter means through her eyes. A refreshing mix, isn’t it? The reflective surface of the mercury glass adds a festive spark.

Then you have Brooklyn designer Lena Corwin, a lady that many of us are keenly interested in because she has such a great eye for color and pattern, and she shows this through even the most “mundane” objects, things that no longer seem so everyday when she comes in contact with them.

Lena’s way of displaying objects is very appealing. Take her vintage collection of mugs on a simple shelf.

Of course, not all objects on display are ones you can pick up and examine, as we saw early with that beautiful embroidered rug. Some are meant to be enjoyed from a few steps back, like art. In blogger Victoria’s home, you see an example of an inexpensive art collection grouped over a simple white sofa accented by pillows that pick up the pattern and colors in the art.

This is a great example of a collection done right – art displayed in a casual way, although Victoria confesses to spending time on this arrangement to get things right. But the end result is laid back bohemian, a style of living that this California lady embraces.

You can also build collections based on a season or holiday, as we’ve mentioned already, but here’s an example to ground the fact that seasonal decor doesn’t have to be tacky or purchased in one single trip to some big box store. The very word collection means “something that is collected; a group of objects or an amount of material accumulated in one location, esp. for some purpose or as a result of some process”. Notice it doesn’t say “collected from one location” rather “accumulated in one location”. Big difference. Collecting is all about taking time to build something and enjoying the process so that the gathering of things in one location, be that a credenza, cabinet, or wall, means something very personal to you.

This is a good example of a collected group of seasonal delights that evolved over time. These dazzling vintage tree toppers owned by Mindy from Retro Clean. Mindy tells us, “These vintage tree toppers are my Christmas decorating obsession. I have 39 of them on display and a few more that I didn’t put out. I can’t pass one up when I see them at a sale. Most have been obtained at yard sales or estate sales.”

Here is a collection of little trees from Stephanie Barnes, also known as one half of the 3191 blogging duo, mixed in with some other objects. When I look at Stephanie’s collections, I imagine that she is trying to tell a story or convey a feeling through her displays. You almost have to peer closely and use your imagination to figure out her displays, and that is really fun I think.

This is a collection of goodies from Nina van de Goor, who has the most gorgeous photos of things she is inspired by right here. This grouping seems to be pretty random, but shows that a collection doesn’t need to be planned out or guided by one specific item. You may find random items at flea markets or gifts from your friends that just seem to work together and after some arrangement, it just works. Perhaps it has to do with the balance she’s created in the harmony of blue and red?

I’d really like to see what you’re collecting lately, and hope that you’ll jump in and share either through a comment or via photos (email me!). I’ve created a flickr group called Creative Collections if you’d like to add your photos there. I hope you’ll join! I’ll be using some of them here on decor8 throughout the week to talk more on the topic.

(images linked above to their photo bugs)

Posted in inspiration, trends on December 10, 2007

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