GET A UNIQUE HOME BY THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX … STORES.

ecclectic-corner

Staring around my living room right now can see 5 or 6 things that were bought at regular stores. And by regular stores I mean the kind that have customer washrooms and their own catalogues.

The couch I got from EQ3. It’s hopefully on it’s way out soon.

The coffee table I got from The Bay.  It will be painted soon.

And the throw on the settee (or the tutu as my neighbour Jane calls it) is from Homesense.

And a couple of accessories and lamps from other credit card accepting stores.

Anything else of any significance in the room was found, scrounged or otherwise had from a unique place.

If you want a unique room you have to shop unique places.  Like an antique store or thrift shop or dumpster.  Wherever. Just not at a big chain/box store.  Step away from the box.  You need places like Ikea and Homesense (Homegoods) for certain things and they’re way easier to shop at than say, a pop up flea market in the middle of Memphis, but if you’re looking for a home with a little soul, take the road less travelled when you’re looking to decorate.  And also take cash.

fireplace

 

You don’t need to spend a fortune to make an interesting room.  You just need to be interesting.  Or at least be able to fake being interesting.

If you ARE interesting and have actually left your house and done things, prove it.  If you go on vacation buy something that you love and will actually look good in your house.  Don’t want to buy anything? No problem.  Steal something.

On my coffee table I have a round wood platter filled with things I got when I was away having fun, doing something other than feeding chickens or typing on a computer. There’s an antique Burmese tattoo gun I bought in Thailand, an antler from my grandfather’s house (he was a hunter, I am not) and 2 rocks.  The one black rock is from the beach where I went surfing in Tofino, British Columbia this fall and the other is from the stupid, stupid mountain I climbed like an idiot on that same trip.  I love those damn rocks.

Take my shelves as an example.   In my slowly progressing mini-makeover I took everything out of the bookcases in my living room and only put back things that were I loved.  As it turns out, the things that I loved were also the most unique things.

Like my 3D, clear model of a chicken, a gift from a reader.

Beside the model is the very first egg I ever got (from Norma).  Well, if you read this post you’ll see technically it was my second egg, due to the chickens going mental. And beside that is a beautiful little painting of grazing sheep I got at a garage sale for a few dollars.

Beneath those things are the barn board planter box I built a few years ago. I also used  my waxed paper transfer technique on it (all you need is a printer and wax paper).

 

left-bookcase

The mid century modern candlesticks were from a local antique market.  The white bowl near the top *did* come from Homesense and the gold artichokes from a garage sale.  So that’s one thing out of everything that came from a big store, but I like the shape of the bowl so I keep it.  Just because it came from somewhere other than a Tibetan cave doesn’t mean you can’t value it.  Although stuff from Tibetan caves are pretty cool.

 

right-bookcase

Over on the right side of the bookcase, same story. The lamp was from a lamp store that was going out of business and the antique chandelier lamp was the only thing in the store that wasn’t regular, new stock.  I’m not sure why they had it in there, but they didn’t value antiques at all so they practically gave it to me.  I think it was $20?

Behind the chandelier is a portrait painting I bought at a very small accessory store. The owner had different portraits like these shipped in from Asia somewhere where they’re mass produced by artists. They’re copies of famous English paintings.  Except as skilled as they were, the Asian copy artists hadn’t perfected the caucasian eye; so all their portraits of British nobility etc., have Asian eyes.

I LOVE that.

The last thing on the lower shelf is very interesting and meaningful indeed.  It’s Cuddles.  World’s greatest cremated chicken.  Under a glass dome.  On a glass block.

You can’t pick up one of those at your local Costco.

thrift-store-finds

This corner isn’t quite done but it’s pretty close.  And it too is an amalgamation of cheap local thrift store or flea market finds.

Also.  Don’t follow the rules.  Don’t worry about the rules.  Sometimes the rules are right, but really, just try stuff out.  Move things, pile things, do things WRONG.  Sometimes doing things wrong is really the only way to get them right.

When I get a bit more under control with work in the next week or so I’m going to start installing my built in dining room bookcases.  I don’t think it’s going to be too big of a job, which means it’s going to be the world’s worst job and I’m probably going to end up having a nervous episode and run screaming through the streets wearing my pajamas, work boots with a hammer held high over my head.

But that’s O.K.  It makes me interesting.

 

62 Comments

  1. TucsonPatty says:

    I love your style, and I strive to be eclectic. That’s what I call it. Not mish-mash or what-the-heck-is-that-doing-in-your-living-room? I adore it. Definitely NOT out of the box, in this case.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Patty. Thanks! The room/house isn’t near complete but yes, it is and will always be eclectic. I used to hate that term because I figured it meant you didn’t have any idea of what style you liked or couldn’t commit to it. But now I see eclectic as design confidence. 🙂 ~ karen!

  2. Martina says:

    I love how you commemorated Cuddles!

  3. Karin says:

    I love how you nestle the speakers in with the books. Clever lady. But please tell me there is a story behind the tattoo gun.

  4. MrsChris SA says:

    Love love love this post!!
    Probably mostly because of Cuddles!
    xx

  5. Paula says:

    I have floor envy 🙂 Your living room looks great; you have done well with the size of the space.

  6. Cynthia says:

    Blessings on little Cuddles. So lovely she is still with you and you can talk to her.

    My Devildog’s ashes sit on the TV cabinet at one end and my son’s sit on the other end.

    I kind of like the idea of when I die, some poor bugger, wandering around with two small caskets in their hands with no idea what to do with them.

    You’re special Karen, but deep down you do know that and its a great thing.

  7. Grammy says:

    Beautiful. All of it. You have some really wonderful, funky, one-of-a-kind and just unusual things. I call them “conversation starters” — a term that was used by my mother when I was a girl, it meant that was just downright weird. She did not mean it as a complement. Fortunately I, her disappointing hippie daughter who picked up rocks and sticks and broken things and put them on display, am the one who reads The Art of Doing Stuff. So I love what you’ve done to your place.

    I hope you will someday tell us what The Whole Goat Handbook is about.

    • Karen says:

      I always forget how closely people look at the pictures, lol. I’m gonna have to add something REALLY interesting into those books one day. ~ karen!

  8. Recently, a friend hugged me as she was leaving and, just before she went out the door, confided, “You know….your house is just like you.”

    Which may mean my house is strange and slightly crazy…or it could be a good thing…or maybe both.

    I asked her the next time we met, and she wouldn’t elaborate.

    But after seeing your Cuddles, I can relax. I am in good company.

  9. Ev Wilcox says:

    Someday my ashes will be with my best dog ever’s, in the backyard. Have warned my family that “I’ll be back” if they’re not. Cuddles is definitely where she should be. Well done Karen.

  10. Cathy says:

    Did the fleamkt portrait come framed? I have a pokey little painting about the size of a postcard; I can’t remember where I found it but I love it. Perhaps a bigger, more elaborate frame would help draw attention to it.
    If your rant through the streets finds you pretty far south, feel free to bust in and purge all the crap from my house. You’ll need that hammer for sure!

  11. trish oriordan says:

    What’s your plan for the new couch? I’m seeing velvet in an in your face color. But maybe not with the cat.
    The Asian eyes were a find girl!

    • Karen says:

      The couch I had prior tot his one was velvet Trish and even though they’re beautiful they’re not very forgiving when you drop a burrito on them. I need something very forgiving, lol. ~ karen!

  12. Myra says:

    Haha did you by any chance to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver? Because I did it years ago and cursed that stupid stupid mountain the whole way up. Curious if there is another such stupid mountain out there. Although once I got to the top it was pretty amazing.

    • Karen says:

      Ha! We did Grouse Grind’s older and much meaner sister, lol. Grouse Grind is 2.2 km up or something. We did 7 km up. It was gross. But fun. But gross. ~ karen!

  13. Marilyn says:

    I admire your restraint with the rocks. I have frigging rocks everywhere! I love them!! I spray them with Varathane and display them ,it makes the colours so pretty..when we go to the east coast my husband swears we add three hundred pounds in rocks in the car in the way home. My sisters are the same. They have many uses. Lol. But I just love them.

    • Jane says:

      Makes perfect sense. I start out with three hundred pounds of rocks, but then my rock trolls eat them. Apparently the “pretty ones” taste the best. Grrr.

  14. Jane says:

    I love when items in my home have a story and you don’t get that from box stores! Like you, my home is very eclectic and I get many compliments and people often ask, “where did you get that?” Paintings by a great grandmother on each side of the family, a chair that was a wedding gift to my parents, a one of a kind wardrobe built from scrap wood by my great, great grandfather…..these things give my home life! I started decorating this way to save money, but soon realized I love it more than buying everything new! Love your home and stories!!

  15. Love it! Like I love everything you do. But one thing I can’t stand are the audio ads on your site. Holy crow! I’ll be sneaking a peak at your site early in the morning, and BLAMMO! There’s this crazy ad suddenly blaring, and I’ve got to scramble to find out where it’s coming from before it wakes the whole house. Writing this, I’ve suddenly realized the answer. Mute my computer before visiting you. I still love your site.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Heather. No ads on the site should blare sound so let me know what they are. Sometimes they sneak in. It could be that you’re accidentally hovering your mouse over them as well. That’s a trigger for some ads to play. ~ karen!

      • Darla says:

        Today it was a cat litter ad

      • Can’t recall which one started yesterday, but I guarantee I’m not hovering, because I was on another site and left yours open when suddenly it started. I had to figure out which window the ad music was coming from. Today, I was in the comments section, scrolling down when I had to fly back up the top to find out where the sound was coming from. It was an ad for a Mike Holmes show; I like him too, but I need some warning if he’s going to start blasting music in my kitchen in the morning. 😀 I’m not complaining. Like I said, I know now to mute before entering. But I thought you’d want to know. I imagine if someone was trying to sneak a peak at how to build a cob oven or make a cutting board while at work it could be embarrassing. Like I said, I still LOVE your site.

        • Karen says:

          Ha! That Mike. Always trying to get all the attention. Thanks for letting me know Heather. It’s literally never happened to me on my site. Everyone gets different ads so unless you tell me I don’t know! I’ll let the people who serve my ads know. Thx. ~ karen!

          • Tonia says:

            I haven’t noticed what they were for, but I’ve also had ads start playing the last few times I’ve visited. I was reading the comments both times so I don’t think I could have accidentally started playing any. I’ll pay more attention if it happens again.

  16. Elaine says:

    I love all of it. Your home is so you (even though we haven’t met personally**) and it’s also so … me! Re the ** – I almost bumped into you one day at a certain little shop that I love! I was so excited as I was a big fan when you were on TV. Okay, back to your home … thank you for being unique and not covering up your books with burlap or worse – tearing the covers off!! What the hell?? I’m sure you know it’s done on nearly every blog; evidently so the offensive colors don’t interfere with color schemes. I find defacing a book almost criminal and think to myself: “how would they like being the author of that book and seeing it ruined”! I love rocks (always have) and have many “conversation starters” in my home. One, in particular, is on top my coffee table that’s picked up all the time by mostly men, then the women. It was free – left outside in a snow covered shopping cart. My late husband was picking me up as the stores closed and the parking lot lights brought it to my attention. I haven’t a clue what it is; just cheap resin but looks like a whale one direction and just driftwood in another direction. Much love to Cuddles and much love to you and marching to your own drummer. Thank you for NOT being a carbon copy to so many (beautiful, yes, but so predictable) decor blog; they are starting to look all the same!

  17. Elaine says:

    Sorry for my lengthy rant; and two typos!

    • Penny says:

      Don’t apologise, Elaine, I loved reading your comment. Your love for books warms my heart, and the whale/driftwood piece sounds very interesting, wish you’d posted a pic.
      (Why is there a red wiggly under apologise?)

      • Elaine says:

        Um, I don’t know how to add a photo, Penny, and a red line isn’t showing under apologize at this end. Are you in the UK or Australia? Over here, we usually use a “Z” in lieu of an “S”, therefore, the computer is probably thinking there is a spelling error and simply wanting to bring it to your attention. That’s my guess. 🙂

  18. Dawn says:

    My thoughts exactly! My 100+ year old log house is filled to the brim with one of a kind finds. ALL the furniture is antique, and each piece has its own story. Accessories include pewter, pottery, treenware. Feathers from my chickens, turkeys, and guineas adorn my collection of old ink wells on my massive old oak roll top paymasters desk. Found bird eggs sit in found nests inside of vintage birdcages. My boys collected rocks, bones, snake skins, a cows tooth (yes, really), a lock of hair from their first steers…..all treasures. Old toys include many barns, a little log cabin, and a variety of farm animals. Art includes pottery and paintings of my late mother, and close friends, and my own. I love it all!

  19. Diane R. says:

    ❤️CUDDLES❤️ Beautiful Karen

  20. Jody says:

    When I sit quietly looking around my home most of the stuff is unique and special to us/me. Things we have found on beaches, at the curb, antique shops, and hand made things from my husband and son. I love our home and the stuff.

  21. Rose says:

    I love the cove molding. Also like the way you keep changing up the favourite things to display. You’ve inspired me to set up the turntable and some old records. Check out the leather sofa from article.com.

    • Karen says:

      I love my turntable but every time I play an album I think Holy CRAP these things are so short, lol. They’re like 5 songs. ~ karen!

  22. Rebecca dubous says:

    Since I bought my house last year I have looked to you, Karen, for inspiration.

    Not just style, but that can-do-will-do attitude to doing it yourself. I’ve built cabinets, spray gun painted walls, planted hedges and veg, and I always check in with your blog to see what potential is out there!

    Love the shelves and love the curated home (it you and it’s real!)

    You rock, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for letting me know Rebecca. The whole point of my blog and showing you all of this isn’t to show off (O.K. sometimes it totally is) but to let everyone know you can do it. It’s not always easy, but it is doable! All of it. ~ karen!

  23. Linda says:

    So it’s not weird that I have a javalina skull (found while hiking in the desert) on top of my tv cabinet?

    • Karen says:

      I don’t know what that is but I can already say that no, it’s not weird. Well it is, but who cares. ~ karen!

    • Penny says:

      Yay! Had to look up javelina (weird-ass piggy-thing), but if you’re weird, so am I; there’s a sheep’s skull on my bookcase.
      … soft yet sonorous chanting of “one of us, one of us …” can be heard …

      • Linda says:

        Ha! “Weird-ass piggy thing” is exactly right! And a gold star for you for spelling javelina correctly. (Can’t believe I did that …)

        Sheep skull — regular domestic sheep or bighorn sheep? Not that it matters; skulls of all sorts are interesting and sculptural.

        • Penny says:

          Regular domestic and missing her bottom jaw. I wanted to gild her horns and maybe one of her teeth but my kids said no to that, their verdict being ‘too bling’. They’re none too impressed by my annual Easter tree, either! There’s a wide range of odd stuff around my room, none of it as beautifully arranged as Karen’s and all of it threatened by encroaching mess. *sigh*
          …note to self Less laptop, more Hoover

  24. ronda says:

    Add consignment shops and thrift stores to your list of places to shop. I got a stunning bonnet dresser a number of years ago that I love. It’s huge, weighs a ton, but is so unique. Eclectic is the only way to decorate!

  25. I love it; orderly,neat and unique. I also love the sheep picture. I am kinda a sheep picture collector,especially if they have nice gold frames. I can’t wait to see the bookcases in the dining room. I have a big empty wall in my dining room and I was thinking about bookcases or a hand painted mural. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  26. jainegayer says:

    This is why I love your blog. Your house isn’t matchy match and you don’t follow trends. It looks eclectic, comfortable and interesting. Well done, Karen!

  27. Alice says:

    Love this article, your stories about your items, and the pictures. I think part of your home’s charm is from your willingness to keep improving it by moving things around, bringing in new things, and removing things so that it doesn’t look cluttered. The other part of its charm is your good eye and ability to find good things at garage sales, flea markets, and antique/vintage stores. I would love to see an article on how you shop these places. With a few exceptions, I almost never find things of the quality you have. I know to always carry cash in case you see a yard sale with just the right lamp for your room. Maybe I just don’t have enough patience for this kind of shopping, but I’m hopeful that you can provide some information that can the rest of us “eceltics.”

    • Karen says:

      The one thing I can tell you Alice, is the things you pick up at flea markets usually look much better once you get them away from the flea market, lol. More than anything it takes going to these places a LOT, not just once a year. ~ karen!

  28. Linda in Illinois says:

    You Karen, never disappoint me. Love everything about your home and you. I have two cats that I adored in life, cremated and sitting on my garden room dresser. Had I been able to afford to have all my cats (not all at the same time) cremated, I would have. As it is they are in my back yard garden so still with me. They are life long pets, friends, loved ones, fur babies, that give unconditional love. Your style is fantastic.

  29. j says:

    Interesting and special and generous! Thanks for sharing-My goal is get the walls painted before the New Year and before the credit card goes dry. Now I’m about set to start sanding, and then I guess it’s time for Kiltz. Or do you use Kiltz before and after you start with the sanding?

  30. Isabella says:

    As always your humor and excellent taste show through on all you touch. Thank you for being a fresh breath in the same old same old style everyone uses now. I especially love the see-through chicken ( I want one). I have a gold framed picture of The Lone Ranger and Tonto in my living room. My, they have caused many a side eye look but I like what I like. Keep on keeping on sistah.

  31. NWms says:

    No closeup of the painting of English nobility with Asian eyes? 😉 You can’t throw that out there and leave us hanging; I can’t be the only one that’s curious…

  32. Jennie Lee says:

    The room looks comfy AND interesting. I know my humongous seashells are a cliche, but I love them. And my hunks of coral. And I have the perfect rock for you, Karen. It’s almost as big as my fist, and is solid gunmetal-colored glitter. It has SPARKLES. It’s called specular hematite; it’s a type of iron ore, and I got it at a tag sale. It was sitting in a corner, ignored. I knew better than to say, “how much is this splendid specimen of specular hematite?” I said, “how much is this rock?” And the man said “that is a fifty cent rock.” And I said “Sold!” (My quartz clusters and geodes are pretty cool, too. Yes, I collect rocks. But some of the rocks sneak out of the collection and pretend to be “Decor”.)

  33. Marlene Eastman says:

    I too have special rocks … well, one is lava from our honeymoon in Costa Rica and a big chunk of quartz from Killarney, from a very memorable camping trip and a climb up Silver Peaks. When we travel, we always try and bring back something that represents the location. On our trip to Uchulet and Tofino, we got a First Nation carving of a Loon …. just gorgeous!!

    I have lots of Kijiji finds in our house …. and a couple of pieces from people’s basements. My “good china” is a mish mash of antique plates. My youngest would match the plate to the person ….. her Gran always got a smaller plate with pretty flowers. (Gran was very tiny, so was her appetite, but she was a classy dresser!!)

    I love putting old and new together, with a bit of weird thrown in!!!

    Love your livingroom!!!

  34. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I’m pretty sure your neighbors already find you “interesting”….lol…Also, you are such a sweetheart to have Cuddles…I wondered what you did with her…I’m so glad she is still there with you…it would make her happy too…As for your decorating…I have always loved your home and your “stuff” too…I am eclectic all the way!

  35. Janet says:

    As an interior designer I always tell my clients put in what you “love” and your home will feel like you. It doesn’t matter if it goes together as judged by your neighbor, sister or friend because your love and your story is what makes it blend for you.

  36. Kim says:

    OMG. I havn’t read for a while and I didnt know about Cuddles. I’m so sorry to hear about your beloved Cuddles.

  37. Marti says:

    Some day, when reruns of your old DIY TV show have been played and played and then come around again for play in the lower Mid-Continent region, and you decide to bring your reality show glam self down here to run for President of the Newly Revised and Run Only by Women of the Continent States, you will need to hide this post. Telling people to steal unique stuff while on vacation isn’t going to fly…

    Wait. We’ve just proven we’ll let anyone in at 1600 Penn.

    I want to see a close-up of Cuddles final resting place, please? Who cremated her for you? There was a case to be made for making her into chicken soup so she would A) comfort you at her loss and B) “always be with you.” But that was never going to happen for you, was it?

  38. maggie van sickle says:

    comfy, cozy, warm and although I do not really know you, this room and your whole house just seems like I do know u. I love it.

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