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.



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).



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.



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.


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.



  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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”.)

  8. 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…

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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

    • 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!

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