How to prevent a merchandised house and reinvent your home

Did you just receive the latest Pottery Barn catalog? Are you tempted (once again) to go buy all their styles featured? Shopping too much at Pottery Barn, West Elm, IKEA, or Target for affordable and stylish home goods, can create a showroom or catalog look in your space. As Chris Madden says, “your home should be your haven”, try to prevent this look with these simple tips:

Inspired by reading nook for the bedroom?

Go for the lines, shape, and texture of a similar piece,
by finding at local Salvation Army thrift store.
Shop thrift, flea markets, and yard sales. Look for one-of-a-kind pieces with a similarity in line structure to your existing pieces. Or if the line is different, but you’re in love with its history, try painting it out in a bright accent color for personalized POP in your space. When you go, try to have some sort of goal in mind, like looking for a console table. By focusing your finds, you’ll avoid junking up your garage or home with bits of everything.

Check out off season clearance. Many of the big-box retailers just repeat the goods from year to year. For home, the colors may change. For fashion, it could be the addition of pleats or peplums. If you’re discipline with your organization skills, always shop at end of season to use goods for next season. Utilize file storage boxes to keep like items (for ex. Window panels) stored by color or season.

Had your eye on something last season:
Check clearance to see if it's been discounted this season.
If not: be inspired to make your own version.

Shop at designer showrooms or independent specialty shops. In addition to all those big box retailers, try some independent stores and designers. Visit a design district or design showroom. A place to scope out these areas would be to search city shopping guides by neighborhood.  Even if you've lived in an area for years (like I have here in Miami), you can re-discover some hidden gems in your area.

Then take yours and make it your own with whatever font you choose.
Fit in second-hand finds from family or friends. This is a good way to keep connected with the past while developing your style. A little time and effort may be required to figure out the best way to make them flow with in your space or with existing pieces, but that is how you create your style: learn as you go.

Found pair of end tables at local Salvation Army.

I mixed a collections of finds from:
P1: coffee table
Ashley's: bench
Burdines ('98): sofa
JCP: circles window panel
Target: yellow pillows, Lamps
Marshalls & Ross: mixed vases
C&B Outlet: area rug
Linens & Things: golden linen window panels
BB&B: chocolate velvet window panels
West Elm: window panel rings
Michael's Craft store: yellow orchids
Book on Bench: I made online at

Mix it to mesh it. From time to time, move accessories or furnishings around from room to room. Try not to keep all pieces from any one store in any one space. This is the best way to avoid a RTG look. Also edit your space. Although you may love all of what you have, keep some tucked away in the garage or closet to be switched out from time to time.

Try DIY. Another way to personalize a piece besides just painting solid, is to give it a faux finish for texture. If you’re a no-go for faux, try stencils, decals or tile mosaics to make your piece unique. If you’re really ambitious, seek out build-your-own projects from sites like DIY network.

Finds for mom.

Refinish a find to give it new life.

Makeover for mom.

Makeover for mom.

Pay tribute to your travels. Put to use all those photos taking up space in your camera. Sometimes even a simple crop or tint edit in photo shop can create the most amazing (and personal) conversation piece or focal point. Use your travel time as an opportunity to hunt & gather objects or books you wouldn't be able to find at home. For greater impact, keep your treasures grouped together as collections. If a collection is small, keep them displayed in one room, to avoid a cluttered look throughout. As your travel treasures grow, keep together in pairs when spreading throughout the home. Not that it will look like a set, but the pieces will relate to one another. This is a great way to experiment with an eclectic look in your home.

Make it your own like this

Bench found at Target in gray. Repainted to chocolate.
Mixed in existing pieces (glass vase, ting-ting, candle holders)
Frames gathered from various stores (Marshalls, Ross, JCP)
Personalized with special select photos, or try an Angelo technique by adding stripes or decals to the wall behind the photos.

Have fun mixing up your finds and reinventing your home into your haven. Always be inspired, but make it your own.


  1. This is absolutely inspiring! Thank you so much for the tips!

  2. Havent gotten my catalog yet...but Im looking forward to it! Check out my little blog...

  3. I LOVE your Salvation Army Side tables and your window panels as well!!! The room is BEAUTIFUL!!!

  4. ThX Ano and Linz! I just received it two days ago, so you should get it be getting this week... The cover is promoting 'Farm House Style', which I also just saw as a 'Design Trend for 2010' on the FB page for a site called

  5. You're good! And I'm definitely following you now!! Love your work - especially the drapes in your living room!! Good job :)



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