The Minimalists (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus), have often explained that being minimal doesn’t mean giving up your collections or treasured possessions or even acquiring new pieces, as long as the things you own are meaningful to you. I would further add that we hang on to things that are beautiful to us regardless of whether they are a perfect fit for our décor ‘style’ or not.
One of the things, okay MANY things, I love about being an interior decorator and working with clients is the challenge that comes with integrating their treasured and loved items into their décor. Treasured and loved are completely subjective but what a decorator brings is a fresh eye and a vision of how and where to use the items.
I recently worked with a client to style her bookshelves, fireplace mantel and coffee table that were in her living room. She is working very hard (so impressed by her ‘give away’ pile!) to live a minimalist lifestyle but had a collection of loved treasures from parents and in-laws, her travels and just because that she wanted to hang on to. It was a mixture of east coast folk art, a Chinoiserie jar, Inuit carvings, pottery bowls, coloured glass and photos – LOVED this challenge. So, where to begin?!
In considering the client’s treasured collections and the spaces to be styled, I kept in mind the principles of décor: scale, proportion, rhythm, emphasis, balance and harmony.
I found that despite the varied differences among the items, there were some commonalities. There was some cohesiveness among the colours and the furniture in the room (sofas and chairs were neutral colours and styles), there was good variation among the proportions of the items and there was great rhythm among many of the items.
Colour and Balance
So, how did we make folk art, photography, oil paintings, coloured glass, Inuit carvings, pottery and Chinoiserie work? First I put together items with similar colours but differing proportions and scale – of course remembering the ‘rule of odds’, that is, odd numbers of items provide balance. The coffee table display was comprised of a seagreen folk art fish, green sea glass Mason jar with candle and an Inuit carving that was a green based gold colour.
The mantel was narrow but had room for a few items so I went for items of various heights and items that reflected the coastal theme of the oil painting hanging above the fireplace. This was perfect for the folk art sea birds which served to draw the eye upwards and brought a playful air to the space.
The shelves came next with the blue, off white and cream coloured Chinoiserie jar together with a cream coloured Inuit carving and an antique brandy bottle. On another of the shelves I put together the three pottery dishes and recommended some river rock and spheres to add texture and rhythm to that ‘collection’. The client quickly got into the groove and realized that a number of her prized hand made quilts had similar colours could be folded and stacked on the shelves to pull the look together and be handy for those cold winter nights when being cozy in front of the fire was the order of the day!
So as you look around your home, what items do you have that you love, value and have meaning? What could work together and where can you display them? What is tucked away in a cupboard that could be displayed and bring great joy and memories flooding back? Shop your home, rediscover those forgotten treasures. Keep your décor fresh by moving items around from room to room and place to place.
Have an awesome weekend and remember to have fun and keep it swank!