Your House Is Not a Store

by hookedonhouses on February 24, 2011

white shelves-Country Living

“A house shouldn’t look like a store.” So says a long-time reader who tells me her pet peeve is when a house is decorated like one. “I hate it when they have tons of stuff everywhere, and it’s all perfectly coordinated and arranged into vignettes on every table and shelf. It’s like they studied merchandising or something. You almost expect to find price tags on everything, you know?”

Well, to be honest, I didn’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it before, and I wasn’t totally sure what she meant. But when I got the new issue of Country Living in the mail and saw the feature about decorating with white and antiques, little bells went off in my head. Ding-ding-ding.

Mirrors on shelves-Country Living

This is exactly what she was describing. I would normally be thinking, “Pretty!” But now I stopped and thought, “Hmmm. It does look like the house has been merchandised.”

Mirrors for sale!

At the end of my reader’s rant, she added, “And don’t even get me started on those stacks of old luggage you see in every magazine now, with the captions that say, ‘You can use them for storage!’ Oh, brother.”

So I had to laugh when I got to this photo in the magazine–and it was captioned with a comment about how the family uses it for out-of-season storage:

stack of suitcases-Country Living

I bet she really hated that. Ha. And even though I think it looks perfectly lovely, she makes a good point. Maybe we are taking the concept of styling our stuff to extremes. Creating the perfect vignettes. Merchandising all of our possessions as if we’re posing them for a catalog shoot.

What do you think? Is this one of your pet peeves, too? Or do you love the “shop-at-home” look?

You can see the rest of the photos at Country Living.

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Mary February 24, 2011 at 8:10 am

Over the top. But I do have two or three stacked old suitcases at home, one has old, old photo’s belonging to my grandma. The larger one holds documents I may need someday. Love your site.

A.Men February 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

I don’t like homes decorated like storage warehouses, either.

Carol M February 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

Ha! Well, I guess I fall into the “living in a store” category. My husband and I are both collectors, but we keep most of it on display in our finished basement and have limited display areas in the main areas of the house. I still remember when my brother visited and looked at our shelves of items in the basement. He just turned to me and asked “Where’s the cash register?”.

Sally February 24, 2011 at 8:46 am

I never really thought about it that way… but she’s right. And these pictures are extremes, I’d say. Funny that these are what you stumbled upon! Three mirrors would look lovely — or 3 suitcases (and REALLY – who lifts those all down when you need to find a seasonal trinket? Really?) The first shot really DOES look like stocked store shelves. I don’t know about anyone else — but I’m trying to SIMPLIFY these days!

Alaina February 24, 2011 at 8:50 am

First I have to tell you that I just love your website. It is so fun to peak into some our favorite homes. As a child I used to love the long ride home late at night, houses lit up so you could get a moments peak inside as we drove by.

Second, wow, this one hit the nail on the head, my home is merchandised and as many times as I have packed it away to have the clean sparse home, nope it was not me and all the STUFF came back out. I did have a shop and that kind of decorating is just me. As for why, tell me who would not want to be discovered and have their home in a magazine or on the Nate Berkus Show. I do not like the perfectly styled home that looks like a hotel room, I like to see pictures of other people who love to collect and live with their collections. If it makes you happy then who cares what others have to say. I remember my brother-in-law looking at my living room walls and said ” you have plates on your wall.” I was nice and kept my mouth closed, because I wanted to say, “but, you have plastic dolphins on your walls!” To each their own.

Carolyn Schaub February 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

“but, you have plastic dolphins on your walls!”


I love plates on walls, if they tell a story or are a collection…but just throwing white plates up for the sake of having something on a wall…I don’t understand it.

hookedonhouses February 24, 2011 at 9:09 am


Love your response about the plastic dolphins. Ha. Every time I show a photo of my dining room, I get comments about the plates on the wall. Some people think that’s really weird. I love my plates, though, and would rather have them out than hide them in a cabinet. -Julia :-)

rosie at 3rosebuds February 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

I would only be accused of having a home that looked like a store if there were a store that sells kids shoes, boots and bookbags by displaying them across the living room floor. Oh, and we would also sell gum wrappers that way. Books would be sold by leaving them pressed open on the living room sofa. :)

Anyone want to shop at my store? Yeah, didn’t think so.

I sort of aspire to have a more cohesive look and accessorize better in my home, but we are still at least knee deep in renovating projects and I just haven’t gotten down to the accessory level yet. Plus, I do like things that are functional and I am kind of cheap, too.

I am a little envious of people who pull of that accessory thing so effortlessly, but don’t like those photos because they look like stores. I guess there is a happy medium.

Anne February 24, 2011 at 9:05 am

I have a similar store! Only at my house we also sell clumps of dog hair that have evaded the vacuum cleaner.

hookedonhouses February 24, 2011 at 9:07 am

Too funny, Rosie. I think a lot of us can relate to that! I could make a killing on my son’s dirty socks right now that seem to pile up in every room of my house… :)

Things That Inspire February 24, 2011 at 9:03 am

Very interesting – and maybe comes from all of the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware catalogs that are selling rooms that are fully decorated, and can be entirely purchased.

We are putting our house on the market next week, and the stagers who came to the house took just about every little knick knack and collection out of the house – to give it a less cluttered, more streamlined style so the potential buyers can see themselves in it. I like it – but I also like some of my collections – I think it is what makes a house your own, what makes it lived in. So, maybe some of these things are collections that the owners are passionate about. I do think that some of these pictures reflect that sentiment gone wild, though.

Carolyn Schaub February 24, 2011 at 9:04 am

This *is* one of my pet peeves. Sure you can use old luggage for storage -out in the garage, attic or closet! It’s not practical to have a seven foot tall stack of luggage anywhere in your house! I also can’t stand walking into a house and having it look like Pottery Barn…I can go to Pottery Barn for that! I don’t want to be able to recognize where this person shops for furniture. I love a place that is functional, practical, beautiful and with personality. What’s the point of a wall full of the same thing repeated over and over…unless it is a wall of books? If it is nothing more than decoration that needs constant dusting, it is a waste of energy for me.

Susan B. February 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

I had a friend many years ago whose house was like a store. We used to tease her that she could have a one-day sale and it probably wouldn’t look that much different, as it was so well stocked! It did look nice, but a little over the top…The fun part of it was she collected rabbits (porcelain) so it was a game to see who could find the rabbits in her “displays”.

Fun post!

Miss Emily February 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

I agree with your reader. It’s something that’s been on my mind lately, bugging me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was that put me off about some of the new styling trends. It’s over styled. It lacks that feeling of items being acquired over time because one liked them, but instead looks like a personal shopper went out and purchased all the right items in one day and staged them that night for a client. It’s pretty, but it looks like a mail order catalog.

Lately I’m all about simplifying and downsizing. If it’s not extremely loved or being used a whole heck of a lot in my house these days, then it’s in danger of being donated to the local charity store.

Pamela February 24, 2011 at 9:17 am

Emily, I totally agree! That bothers me a bout a lot of shows about design on TV as well. They get these accessories and place them all perfectly, but they have no meaning to the owner. When someone comes over to my place and looks at something I have on display, chances are I’m going to have a story about how I acquired it or its history. It’s much more “homey” to acquire things on your own over time then just buy a bunch of trendy items without a story.

foo February 24, 2011 at 10:28 am

Pamela. You said exactly what I was thinking about accessories that have a story behind them. I’ve started to think in a more simple way and having random knic knacs all over the place, that 1) have no function and 2) have no personal meaning to me are out the door.

Remember people, “form follows function”. Has that phrased been used so many times that people have forgotten exactly what it means?

Pamela February 24, 2011 at 9:14 am

I agree those pics are a little over the top, espeially those shelves filled with an over abundance of pitchers! What really bothers me is that those suitcases are stacked in front of a doorway. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, having something even partially blocking a doorway. And really, I get using stacks of old luggage as a side table or a little display for character, but as other commenters have said, that thing is like 7 feet tall!!! Waaaayyy over the top. But I’m still much more bothered by it blocking the doorway than anything. I’m definitely no designer, but I thought walkways were supposed to be clear of furniture or anything else.

Jane February 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

I suppose the merchandised look is probably better than what my home looks like with pictures askew and books and knitting on every available surface. My personal bug-aboo is when people buy knickknacks and such to coordinate with their decor and they don’t mean anything to them. Like those twiggy balls and dishes of stones.

Katy February 24, 2011 at 9:18 am

I couldn’t believe when this post popped up on my reader! I was JUST thinking the same thing. There are some blogs that have very pretty pictures of interiors, and I like to browse, but I’m getting turned off by the “my house is a gift shop” look. How can you live like that? If you have to dust thousands of pieces of junk, and none of it has any use, doesn’t that seem crazy?
Do we really need 25 broken clocks and fake birds’ nests littered on every surface? Man, i’m ranting now….

Ann February 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Ha! I never did quite understand the fake bird nest decorating either. Made me laugh when I read this. I hate to dust and I don’t like a bunch of junk. When I buy anything, I want my kids to fight over it when I’m gone (haha) and not have to rent numerous dumpsters to get rid of “trash to treasures” purchases.

Rick February 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I know what you mean about the fake bird nest. I have a real cardinal nest that lost it’s footing in our pines last spring. It is full of materials and workmanship and nature’s beauty. It means so much more to me than a craft store find.


Joann February 24, 2011 at 9:19 am

I like wide open spaces and all this schtuff on the walls, stacked up on the floor, etc. gives me the heebie jeebies. I honestly think there’s something to fung shui to keep the energy flowing. I also have to admit that I’m not obsessed with decorating and filling an empty space. I like things to look nice but if my table is bare without a centerpiece, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Judith H. Levins February 24, 2011 at 9:20 am

plates are little pieces of art and should go on a wall : ) I have blue and white in my kitchen and some brown transferware in my dining room. I think if you love it and it makes you happy then do it. Perhaps the question is integrity? If you’re decorating soley to impress, then it’s not genuine, if your collections are there because you love them and they represent you or something special to you, it can’t be wrong ; )

laney February 24, 2011 at 9:56 am

…”i think if you love it and it makes you happy then do it”…those are the most important words that have been spoken on this subject…

Marline March 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Amen and amen to this…I’m a costumer/set dresser and have a lifelong trait of creating little vingettes from beloved dishware, old silver, vintage postcards and children’s books, etc. all over my house and even my cube at work. Hardly fashionable, really. They’re more like visual short stories in a way; every object in those “still life” gatherings has a little personal romance attached to it. Arranging my favorite things in a pleasing grouping…well, it’s one of my favorite things!

Nouveau Stitch February 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

I couldn’t agree more! This follows along the lines of my pet peeve….rooms photographed that no one could ever, EVER live in! What’s the point? To show the world you can afford a museum in your home? So what.

I always wonder if there’s a moldy lemon in that pile in the bowl.

Becky Tyre Retail Details March 2, 2011 at 9:19 am

Laughing at… “I always wonder if there’s a moldy lemon in that pile in the bowl.” I’ve seen that happen. Of course when we merchandise stores we use very realistic faux fruit or obviously fun, fake fruit.
I enjoyed your blog post and all the comments and though visual merchandising uses some of the same techniques as interior home design, these examples have widened the overlap area too far!
Becky Tyre, Retail Details blog

Emily@remodelingthislife February 24, 2011 at 9:38 am

This made me laugh. There are definitely houses I’ve seen where I’ve wondered if I’m in someone’s home or walked into Hobby Lobby by accident :)

LindaSonia February 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

I have to agree with that reader. Sometimes an interior can look like a store or a well placed hoarder’s paradise!! There’s something to be said about displaying a collection tastefully but so many mag photos of home interiors look like they can’t possibly be lived in – just looked at. Not believable.

I have to say I agree about that excessive suitcase stack… please…. It’s decorative to be sure but don’t pretend it’s a good storage idea?? Not hardly.

Shannon February 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

I have to agree a bit, too. I do look at magazines and think, “How pretty.” But in reality I know I could never fill my home with that much stuff. The thought of cleaning it all is enough to send me into a fetal position. But every once in awhile, I’ll come across a home that has the right amount of pretty stuff but also looks lived in, not a page out of Pottery Barn. Those are the houses I swoon over.

Danielle February 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

I don’t mind vignettes and collections, neatly arranged. What bugs me is when you walk into someones home and it lacks any personal touches. I’ve been in homes where the living room looks like they just bought the entire page of a catalogue. It looks nice but boring.

Danielle February 24, 2011 at 9:54 am

I don’t mind vignettes and collections, neatly arranged. What bugs me is when you walk into someones home and it lacks any personal touches. I’ve been in homes where the living room looks like they just bought the entire page of a catalogue. It looks nice but so boring.

Mary February 24, 2011 at 10:01 am

I must admit, I disagree. I think it is lovely that collections are shown off! I think the suitcase stack is awesome, and the bokocases look gorgeous. Everything neatly organized. I think more of us suffer from not knowing how to display our collections. We put a few things in each room or leave it shoved in a closet…that is a shame. Get it out, show it off! I think the photos from Country Living are fantastic!

But, I admit…I wouldn’t store a thing in those suitcases. Unless I lived in a home without a basement…then they would be a perfect spot for Xmas stuff that has to come out once a year! To each his own…


Patience February 24, 2011 at 10:02 am

I always assumed, when I saw shots like those in magazines, that the people who style the photos come with their own white pitchers or mirrors or whatever to round out the owner’s collection and make it look perfect. The look is attractive, but I wouldn’t want to live with it.

Laura February 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

I think a home should be an expression of yourself. Now if you identify with the look above and want that for your home, then so be it, as long as it has personal touches that speak to you. A home can still be stylish and personal. It only looks merchandised if it has all been brought off the peg from a store… I know a few homes like this and you can tell as soon as you walk in… but I’ve also been homes that look as though they ‘could’ be in magazines, but are packed with personality. I aspire to the latter… unfortunately my home has a bucket load of personality, but without the magazine worthy style! Lx

Nicole M. February 24, 2011 at 10:20 am

I definitely started doing that “shop my house” for decor starting last year. I love that it’s helped me to use what I have and not to buy things I don’t. I could easily be a shopaholic to go along with my decorataholic status at Home Goods. I just discovered Firstdibs and man all I can say is thank the Sweet Baby Jesus most items go for thousands.
Anyway, I agree the over decorating is too much. However, I also think that not many people really decorate with a stack of suitcases like that. It’s more for the catalog photo shoot. She should check out that blog Catalogliving. HILARIOUS.

liz @ bon temps beignet February 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

I wouldn’t mind it if my home looked like an antiques boutique, filled with all sorts of random bits and odd & ends. BUT, I definitely don’t want it to look like the home decor aisle at Target!

Angela February 24, 2011 at 10:24 am

I’m with your readers and most of your commentors ~ if it doesn’t have meaning to me or my husband, or if we don’t use it alot ~ goodbye ~ Thank God tassels have meaning to me LOL

~angela @ the tassel house

Rosemary February 24, 2011 at 10:28 am

Can’t imagine trying to get to the bottom piece of luggage to get my stored item.
I think we are all guilty of decorating this way sometimes!!
It is kind of pretty, but I get what she is saying!!
Have a great day!!

Laurie @ Little Blue Chairs February 24, 2011 at 10:29 am

It looks nice for a photo shoot, but I couldn’t live that way, it is just not practical. It is something that I struggle with with my blog. I mean, I want to be true to real life living, but know the pictures tell a story. It is kind of like the airbrushed model versus real life. We all know the image is altered, but then beat ourselves up for not looking like the image.

Viv February 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

I dont know about you all but could you just imagine having kids in that home? My first thoughts when I saw the pics were of my 4yr old & 2 yr old boys and playing with balls in the room of pitchers … Heck the handfull of pics on our walls the frames have been re-glued & glass replaced on multiple occasions thanks to these monkies. The mirrors, oh I could only imagine the fingerprints & having to clean them ALL THE TIME in order to have a chance of being able to use them as mirrors or for the room to not appear dirty/dingy. The light furniture is like a magnet for dirty hands or when someone runs in the house after playing in the mud outside – cringe. The suitcases seem like they’d be heaven for my boys. They’d make a game out of tryi.g to knock them over…over & over & over again!
I love a well decorated home but I hate looking in a magazine/catalog & the rooms not be functional too! I’ll take an idea from

Janet February 25, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Yes, so many homes look just like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog lately. At first when this trend start I was envious and scouring stores for cheese cloches and bird nests, but I don’t like cheese cloches or bird nests in my home. I love baskets and I have some very nice ones staged in my home and it never fails that someone dumps their shoes, nerf guns, or sweatshirts in them. I have some nice mirrors that I made over and they always have sticky fingerprints on them. I think my son and his friends do this on purpose. My husband and son love to throw tennis balls in the house and our two small dogs go crazy running around. Those suitcases would have been knocked down a long time ago in my house.

I do like them though. I think they belong to Joys of Home and she does have kids. So to each their own, but I prefer the look of a family living in the home.

Derek February 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

There is a fine line between showing off your collections. (luggage, mercury glass, brownstone pottery) and merchandising your home. That first picture looks like a collection overload. Where does it say you have to have all of it out at once? Rotate what you show off. You get a new look every month that way.

Pat February 24, 2011 at 10:35 am

Well Sister Julia – just how to respond correctly, truly there is not a way to respond correctly.
I like plates on the wall, collections of mirrors, suitcases – what ever floats your boat. I don’t have room for a stack of suitcases like in the picture, but I imagine if you had a big old farmhouse, with spare room, it might look nice. I love the look of white plates on a taupe wall, but I understand it doesn’t appeal to everyone.
I guess as with everything in life, collections can be over done. As my mother said ~ moderation in all things!

Lisa February 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

I agree! It never occurred to me either but he is right. We are so inundated with design on TV, design magazines, design in catalogs, design blogs ;) that I think a lot of people get carried away with making their home picture perfect. I’m not sure where that line is between decorating to your taste and merchandising but I’d bet a lot of us cross it.

Ricki Jill Treleaven February 24, 2011 at 11:08 am

Hmmm….Guilty. As charged. I guess my house looks like a bookstore because I use my shelves for….wait for it…..BOOKS!!!! I had a realtor tell me once that we would not sell our house because our built-in bookcase had too many books, and her buyers did not like books. We needed to take them down and fill them with accessories, which I do not have a lot of…..

I also like it when folks hang plates on the wall. You can really appreciate the artistry when they are hanging. I also like mirrors, especially if the room is dark. Mirrors allow light to bounce around the room. I also like lots of picture frames with family pictures (I am VERY guilty of this one). The only one I don’t understand is the collection of frames with nothing in them. Buy some art! Put your kids art in them! Take pictures of family and friends! *end of rant*


Have a great day, Julia!
~Ricki Jill

Karen February 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

I think your home should look whatever way that makes you happy. Merchandised, suitcases stacked up, a jillion pictures, or plates, or dolphins on the wall go for it! It’s you space you live there and its nobodies business what you do. Just because it’s not something you would do dos not mean that it’s wrong for everybody else. Live and let live people.

Lori-Anne February 24, 2011 at 11:36 am

Hmmmm… you might have a point there. Merchandising the house. Yeah… I need someone to come and do that for me!

Sophie February 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

In some cases, I like the look. But not too cluttered, as I’m not usually one for clutter anyway.

I do like the stacked suitcases look. And I think they can be really cute as a nightstand or side table in a small stack. But I think the large stack in the post is a little ridiculous, and possibly dangerous if it were to collapse onto a curious child.

I think that the ‘shop at home’ style is also a good mindset to have. Not necessarily dressing your house like you would a store, but the fact that when you’re tired of a particular arrangement, you can ‘shop’ for different items in other rooms instead of spending money on new ones.

Lisa February 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Yeah, I think this the point for me. Seriouly, nothing wrong with vignettes but reusing is the key. I have original art and sculpture and prints from T.J Maxx that I love and have had to move numerous times so I use what I have in a different way in each house. It takes me a year to get my house to where I like it and I rarely buy anything new. I love decorating with rocks, so I do! Oh, and I noticed nests everywhere and thought, have they been to my house? I have always had nests….

Arie February 24, 2011 at 11:48 am

If you like how it looks in your home, then go for it! :)
If you don’t like the look, do something different, something that fits your personal style and taste.
Personally, I like how it looks.
And for those without attics, garages and serious lack of storage options, the suitcases is a good idea. Much nicer than file cabinets, boxes, etc..

The joy of a collector is to look at their collection, not hide it away. So in other words, if it brings you joy, then that’s all that matters! :)

Allison Hall February 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm

My Mother always said,”To each his own.”….
Who’s to say what “your” home should look like???
Your home is a reflection of ones personality….
Obviously the woman enjoys collecting things…..Where else to display them but on your walls……
Everyone tells me that my house looks like a Museum…..My kids go shopping in my garage when they’re in need of something…Lol
I put what “I” like in my house regardless what anyone else thinks….Don’t you???

Kymberly February 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I am not your “ranting reader” but I could be!

I couldn’t agree more.

I confess that I love the LOOK of little vignettes. Many “famous” decor bloggers are (in)famous for their well styled vignettes. I have envy. I covet. I drool. Sometimes I even manage to pull it together. I like it. For a day.

Then something happens and it starts to look … silly. Why exactly do I have ONE antique book, a candlestick, random wooden bird and old photograph grouped together again? What does it MEAN? Is it useful? Am I guilty of channeling a slightly more authentic version of those old Home Interiors “sets” from the 1980′s? Am I one stacked suitcase away from a plastic wicker wall hanging and two matching sconces?

I try and be a vignette person, I do. Unfortunately by the time a need to dust it all rolls around, I cave and put it all away. Gratefully.

I know it can be beautifully done, the stack of suitcases, the ironstone, the mirrors. I am just missing the eye that can live with that for more than a day.

pam February 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Its like she read my mind! I have been thinking a lot about how the houses look merchandised.. glad I’m not the only one.

Claire February 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I’m with your reader here. The “vignettes” in my house usually consist of some sort of family picture and maybe a candle or a bowl of Bliss chocolates (they wrap them up so pretty! Who doesn’t love little purple chocolates?).

I 100% agree that your home is exactly that – YOURS. But for me I would never feel comfortable in any of the rooms you have pictured. But that’s because that’s not my style.

My style is IKEA and Target and stuff I can curl up in, put my feet on, and not worry about when the nieces and nephews are visiting! Yet it’s still pretty and functional and makes me happy when I think of all the time I’ve put into painting and ordering and shopping. It’s exactly the way I want it to be. And since my name’s on the Deed, my design style goes!

Kacey February 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I love this post…

Sometimes I look at blogs or BHG or HGTV and think, “Ugh. My house has the most random style…that one is so pretty and put together!”

But then I think, “But I love that little drawing I did, and those colored glass bottles I scored for mere dollars at Hobby Lobby, and those tiny Mexican ceramic dishes from my grandma’s house, and my overfilled bookshelves sorted by color, and the tourist-y magnets on my fridge my husband and I get when we go on vacation, etc.”

And then I realize our house looks like “us”…and I think that’s the best style of all!

Cindy February 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm

LOL – as I gaze around my living room at the paper airplanes laying all over the floor (4 year old DD’s latest obsession), the beloved dog’s hair all over (I can never get ahead of the fur situation no matter how much I vacuum) and the general clutter that comes from being a perpetually messy family, I have to chuckle.

I don’t mind the store look, as long as it’s a personal reflection of the people who actually live in those rooms. And right now, it’s a lot cleaner than my house, so definitely an improvement! :-0

Bre February 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

While I do love my vintage suitcases, I don’t have an entire stack of them on display. I think the pictures above are perfectly lovely, stylish and merchandised but I like it. If I could live in a Pottery Barn or Anthropologie catalog I think I absolutely would. My mother’s house is like a country store. So much so that when I was younger, maybe five or six, people actually entered our home thinking it was, in fact, a country store. The real country store was across the street at the time, but the women proceeded to ooh and aww and ask me if we gift wrap. I yelled for my mom and she was horrified, informing the shoppers/visitors that this was her home and Busy Hands Happy Hearts was across the street. I’m not sure if she took it as a compliment or not. Her home is full of little vignettes, but that’s the only thing I’ve ever known, and the only kind of house I’ve ever grown up in. Even though it may look merchandised, it is authentically my mother and her (not mine ;) taste.

Lucinda February 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I love the merchandised look. I’m sure it has to do with my retail background but I enjoy rearranging vignettes. Oh and I have some major suitcase envy!

Nichole@40daysof February 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Wow! I have been reading all of the comments and laughing a bit. First, because I would totally go on a rant like that. Second, because I saw those pictures in CL and it didn’t really evoke super strong feelings.

I will admit that the house has a lot of stuff, but it looks pretty calm and organized. And who am I with all of my many walk in closets, to poop on someone’s storage idea? Yes, that’s a lot of suitcases, but a cheap piece of IKEA (which I have a few of) would not cut in that house. And the continuous reduction in the scale of the cases, helps that solution to work in a tight spot.

Also, a stack of suitcases like that makes more sense to me than when they are used as end tables and people must constantly remove breakable items from the top to get what they want.

So, I guess I think: funny rant, rant on Julia’s reader! But I don’t agree, even though I would never have a house that looks like that. :)

Karen February 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm

THANK you for sharing this topic. When a house is THIS decorated and ‘artfully’ arranged – it looks like no one lives there! And I can just see my five dogs chasing each other through these houses:) The suitcase ‘tower’ – right . . just the work it would take to actually get to something in them – a lesson in frustration. And I did try the ‘draping the throw’ thing . . . my husband took one look and said, “you’ve been reading your magazines again” . . . we had a pretty good laugh:) Got over that ‘look’ and the piles of pillows on the bed (he really hated that one!)

Kelly D February 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I myself like it clean, without a lot of stuff. But I don’t mind looking at it in magazines or other people doing it. If they want to dust all that stuff, more exercise for them! Me, I just like little pockets of decor here and there. I feel claustrophobic with too much around me.

ljb February 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

A pretty home is a happy home. It doesn’t matter what’s on the walls, floors (dust bunnies anyone?). As long a you are happy, go for it.

ljb February 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I meant to say a happy home is a pretty home.

Dawn February 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm

“a happy home is a pretty home”

Yes, I like that statement.

I do think there is such a thing as overdecorating … and also under-decorating.

Everything in moderation is best. But that is a matter of personal taste. And happiness is what counts and usually shows.

isa February 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The first room, it could be a store, but I have to say that I love the other two photos — I never think when I’m looking through those magazines if it looks like someone actually lives there, because we all know that the styling faeries come in and turn it all into perfection, anyway. Now I’m going to be looking at the photos thinking the bubble popping thoughts of merchandising that the ranting reader wrote… Sometimes I just hate seeing behind the curtain… it brings too much reality into my happy place. (haha)
xo isa

Kim February 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm

The only time these kinds of decorations bother me is if they are breakable and there’s kids around.

Like one time my family ate over at one of our good friends house. They had all of these breakable decorations (made out of glass), everywhere and they have grandchildren. I couldn’t imagine children running around without knocking things over and getting hurt. That’s the main reason I wouldn’t want that kind of stuff in my house.

Allegra Bridges February 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I think what we’re talking about is Styling. Styling for a magazine shoot is an entirely different picture from the way we live. The ones that get me are the table setting shots in which no food could possibly find room on a table. When I use a flowers on my table my guests get all disoriented, let alone all those tables dripping with pinecone placecard holders, gifts and various objets marching down the middle. Where’s the room for the mashed potatoes and s&p, and what do you DO with all that decorative clutter at each placesetting? Also, how would you like to be in a hurry and have to take down that stack of suitcases and get out your linen dinner napkins. It would kill me!!! Frankly, I just don’t think that’s how real people LIVE–it’s all about writing a magazine story.

Susan Howell February 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I just spoke with a lady who asked me how could she switch from country to something that does not have so many things everywhere. Her home is like a country store and she is very tired of dusting it all. I agree with the ‘rant’ on overdecorating! Minimizing our ‘stuff’ is so much easier on the eye as well as our time spent cleaning so much stuff…and suitcases for decorating and storage…please! Life is too short to spend time, money and take up so much space on where and how to hide all this stuff! I say, pair down and donate to those who truly need our excess.

Sarah February 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Do you ever wonder if in 50+ years, we’ll see black canvas suitcases with wheels stacked or arranged as part of homeowner’s decore. The idea just cracks me up.

I have a home with young children, so we do not have vinettes outside our holiday themed mantle and the occasional vase of flowers on the table. I enjoy an empty cornors, walls and floor space when ever I can.

Melissa February 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm


Jessica February 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I agree with that reader! I’m a practical person and some of the trends drive me crazy. Also, I tend to prefer a cleaner/simpler look than a huge stack of suitcases blocking the door or whatever. Imagine when it’s time to get stuff out of storage–suitcases all over the place!

Shauntelle @ A Beautiful Abode February 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Maybe I feel this way because at home I’m living in a mess right now, but I recently redid my work office and one of the things I LOVE about it is my little vignettes. Everything looks so tidy and in place and PRETTY… the exact opposite of the clutter this right now is my home.

So I’m striving to get to that point at home too. For me, it’s about culling my possessions and styling what remains so that I’m reminded of why I love the pieces. When things are all cluttered and jumbled together, I think you stop appreciating what you have and it’s easier to keep building the clutter.

I know that now, when I leave work at the end of the day, I have extra motivation to take a few minutes and tidy up my desk… organize my work and paper piles for the next day… because it’s such a pleasure when I walk in to my “picture perfect” office each morning.

(I did laugh about the vintage suitcases comment though! I’ve been eyeing a couple but the practical part of me keeps wondering exactly what I own that would be right to store in a suitcase… not clothes, not books… and I don’t want so many pieces of extra paper in my home that I need to devote a suitcase to it! lol)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy February 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Way good point!

The English Organizer February 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Great point – not too many of us own perfectly color co-ordinated objects like those. And that stack of suitcases is really quite ridiculous!

cielo February 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm

No displays/collection for me….. PLEASE! Houses like the ones in the latest issue of Country Living just asphyxiate me! Just like the rosy-frilly-over the top type of cottage home you see around blogland… can’t live in a place like that! They reminded me of a museum…. ;) ;)


gayle February 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I have studied these pics several times. I agree with the first comment on “the store” look. But, I love to collect many items and each of them have a meaning to me and I like to have some on display. I edit my displays. I don’t shop at stores like Home Goods, TGMaxx and Marshalls’ for the instant collections. I like pieces of Pottery Barn and Anthropologie but not the whole look. I want my homes to be assembled in time and with meaning, not all at once. Obviously, each of our homes should reflect our interests and I think the 3 photos you featured do that. I hope the owners love their homes.

Cori Heffernan February 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I am looking around the house at how it is staged and it goes something like this… tower of wash on the dining room table, a dirty dish vignette in the sink and oh yes the dog hair vignette in the corner from the dog who was not supposed to shed. A tower of suitcases and this place would look like an episode of Horders.

Janet February 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I love this. Your house sounds like mine.

Susan February 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Julia, I think there could be two sides to this. Some folks “collect” certain things, like vintage suitcases, creamware or ironstone, etc…. So rather than keep their collections locked away, they actually put them out where they can see and enjoy and use them. I love the first pic in your post, although I think I’d like it better if it were in a butler’s pantry. That is quite the collection and it does appear to overpower the room. The room has become the collection. For the most part though, I love seeing collections out and visible to be enjoyed. I love mirrors…they are like little pieces of art…so I love the mirror collection. If you have a huge house, you gotta put something on those giant walls. All paintings would get rather boring…so I enjoy seeing the 3-D art you’ve shown here. And it’s art you can take down from the wall and use when you need it. :) I don’t see anything wrong with displaying in the open the things you love and collect. It may not be my style in some cases but I find it fascinating and wonderful to see and enjoy how others live and decorate their nests.

The Cottage Chick February 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm

This post gave me a good laugh and I remember that actual issue of Country Living. I find myself having to stop “merchandising”my house, because I had a store, and can find my self displaying in my house. However I am a firm believer in people decorating their homes the way they like and to surround themselves with things they love, whether it be a big collection and a full house or a minimal look.

Your friend made a good point though and I love her honesty! Sometimes magazine layouts don’t show reality. Thanks for this fun post.

Spring February 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

My vignettes of Little People and Lego villages would make any collector cry. Probably because they stepped on piece and it drew blood.

I can’t live in a house that’s picture perfect. I would be uncomfortable and irritated at having to clean up constantly. But I’d bet dollars to doughnuts neither do the people who actually live in the houses featured in magazines. It’s styled specifically for the photo shoot with half the things taken out and piled up in other rooms. And the house bloggers only show pieces parts of their homes. What you don’t see is the pile of *stuff* shoved off the counter and onto the floor.

At least, that’s my very uneducated guess. :)

Nancy B February 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Whoo, did you hit a nerve. I say live and let live. It is what makes looking at other people’s houses interesting. Just saying. February 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Well, I agree it can be done to extremes and I myself am guilty of it. Twenty years ago in my little apartment….I had a friend that would come over and say that being in my place hurt her eyes because she didn’t know where to look first. She said my apartment looked like a gift shop and that everything should have price tags on it. Now I have to say…that back then I lived in a pretty ho hum apartment except the view out my patio doors was lovely…but there was no architecture so I created interest by putting stuff all over the walls. It is not what I would do today. Today…I consider seriously every hole I put in my plaster walls. This friend was a minimalist too…so my style was so NOT her style. I have to say I got that issue of Country Living and really LOVED the display of mirrors. But I love displaying a lot of one thing…like those mirrors because it’s unexpected. I have to say I like the stacks of suitcases….but I don’t think anyone really uses them for storage unless it’s stuff you never use. It’s too much of a hassle to unstack and open them. I would also say some rooms in my house are styled and some rooms are just lived in because I haven’t gotten to them yet. My den/office/library is very much just lived in. But it’s on the list for a makeover.

hip hip gin gin February 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm

This is too funny! I have to admit I do tend to agree with her on some points. I don’t mind vignettes here and there they can be really lovely, if they look like genuine collections acquired naturally over time. But many of them look like the person went out looking for things to create a vignette which sort of defeats the purpose.

What is definitely one of my pet peeves in this area is super styled coffee tables. In my mind a coffee table is there so that a place exists where one can put down their coffee (imagine that, it being a coffee table and all), or cocktail, or desert plate, or what have you. But it seems to be the thing to do now to have coffee tables that are so full of items, staged and styled just so, that not only is there no place to put anything down it looks like it would be rude to do so. I don’t get it, and I really hope people have somewhere else to place their drink, I’d hate to be a guest forced to hold onto their empty cup and saucer the entire evening while we all admire the 650 assorted coffee table adornments.

hookedonhouses February 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm

My family would definitely agree with you on the coffee table thing. I can’t put so much as a magazine on it without someone tossing it aside to make room for their feet, their homework, their hot chocolate, you name it! Ha.

{twenty}something February 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm

What an ORIGINAL post!!! You know, every one of those pictures looks so pretty, but I have never thought of it having a “merchandised” look. But I can totally see it! Thanks. :)

Lindsy February 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I really, really dislike multiple vignettes in a room as well as an overly “staged” look. There is a fine line between making a home lived-in and personal and decorating it hoping a photographer of a decor magazine stops by any moment.

Erin February 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I agree, and I’m tired of seeing rooms decorated with multiples of the “collection trend of the week”. First it was clocks, then trophies, then mirrors, now antlers…It seems so silly, especially if there is no personal significance to the collection (other than the fact it’s “in”). Along those lines, nothing bothers me more than “show” rooms. I remember walking into my neighbor’s home for the first time. It is gorgeous and accessorized to the hilt. She has three small children, so I inquired as to how she maintained her upholstered chairs. Her response: “Oh, this is just for show.”…. meaning they’ve never eaten a single meal in that room in the past 7 years! What a waste! A show for whom, I wanted to ask, because if it was to impress me, it did the opposite.

Melissa February 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm

There is a certain part of the population that keeps showrooms. My neighbor’s daughter-in-law actually has a living room (in which no “living” actually takes place) with WHITE carpet and furniture which is roped off with a white velvet rope like a museum! Apparently this is something that is done in her family, as her mother has the same arrangement. I just don’t get it…..

Su February 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Well said!
It’s very easy to fall into the ‘merchant’ trap and ‘over beautify’ ourselves.
What we need to remind ourselves is that we all have to actually LIVE there too….
I always ask myself:
” Could I eat my Blueberry crepe here?”
” ..would my dish of steamy poutine be ok to eat in this living area?”

Sommer February 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Well I say to each their own. No one style will suit every person perfectly. I for one would love for my home to look like a pottery barn or restoration hardware catalog. Staged, vignettes etc… perfectly organized. It’s a helluva lot better than those images you see on Horders!
I personally am in the camp that feels there is no such thing as over staging or decorating. It’s like saying “your too skinny” is there such a thing?

kathleen February 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm

It’s true – homes that are styled like Pottery Barn spreads are too often in my favorite magazines. They’re pretty but lacking some character that tells something about the owners personality/likes/interests.
This reminded me of my personal pet peeve – showing the same homes over and over again. I have seen dozens of Ellen O’Neill’s homes/stores. I used to see Andrea Dern’s Malibu home in numerous publications. (Maybe she’s moved by now!)
With so few shelter magazine left on the market, wouldn’t it be nice to dig in a little bit and find the unique and original homes to feature

kathleen February 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Oops! Instead of finishing the sentence, I hit submit….
You get what I meant, right?

aubrey February 24, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Crap. My house looks like an overstocked thrift store. I have a little stack of picnic baskets–and I actually store things in them. Ha.

Karen T. February 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm

There may be as many decorating styles & preferences as there are people. And, don’t forget decorating styles go in cycles just like many other things in the world (economic/financial cycles, fashion cycles/trends). (How long will the current Belgian/Swedish design, which I do like, with all the grays & sparse accessories last?). The powers that be in the design world (just as in the fashion industry) have to keep coming up with new trends, I believe in part, to keep our home fashions “fresh” & up-to-date and to keep us buying (lol). I have been an avid antiques collector for many years & understand how displaying meaningful treasures can go awry. I have been guilty of this sometimes myself & know that one should edit and rotate their treasures. But as far as everything displayed needing to have a function…why? I understand that too much clutter can make us feel uneasy or nervous. But if a space is to sparsely decorated I personally feel a little exposed or “naked” so to speak…kind of like something’s missing. There’s so much beauty in the world that I see nothing wrong with displaying things for their mere beauty & the joy that it gives us every time we see it.

Janet February 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Ok I have been thinking about these housing trends. In the 70′s it was wild wall paper (which is a pain in the butt to remove), in the 80′s & 90′s it was formica, laminate & brass, and now it’s board & batten and stencils. I think the stencils are harmless and so pretty, but what are all of us board & batten people going to do when that goes out of style. I know I used liquid nails to put mine up so I will be replacing drywall if I ever decide to change it.

I have been starting to get bored with the board & batten even though it’s pretty because everyone is doing it. I am dreading how I am going to change it.

Marline March 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

It’s all so subjective, isn’t it? I find sparsely decorated houses lacking personality and rather like those super-high-end boutiques in Manhattan–you know, 2 dresses suspended on a wire against a gray wall? Ho-hum. That’s “merchandising” of another kind. If it gives you joy, it works. Maybe vintage suitcases give that person great joy? Who knows…? Love your comment, Karen T, about “…displaying things for their mere beauty…”…that’s what it’s all about for many of us who truly love our homes.

Karen T. February 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Sorry. That’s “…too sparsely decorated…”, not “to”.

karen@ fire pit reviews February 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I am afraid there is an awful lot of dusting to be done when there is alot of stuff!

Sharon February 24, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I’ve always thought the same thing. In one of the recent Victoria magazines they had some photos of a greenhouse and it was so over the top with products. It looked just like a store. Very disappointing for such a wonder publication.

Michele February 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Gosh, ya’ll, are you saying we have to go minimalist and have cold white rooms to relax in? Totally different thing when you have your house up for sale opposed to living in it. I thought all these blogs were for encouraging others to nest. Many women feel the instinct to make it comfortable and welcoming for our family and friends. I don’t think we have to junk it all up and use everything at once. You can rotate accessories so it doesn’t look like you’re having a sale in your living room. It does make a home interesting to have things arranged artfully. So..collectors unite! Just don’t have it crammed in every nook and surface, and change it with the seasons or the months and it will be beautiful.

Jennifer February 24, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Ding, ding, ding, ding! I totally agree. I am an Interior Decorator and work mainly with family homes. At the end of the job I bring in the photographer and take photos for my website. I LOVE it if the dog is on the sofa, or the flowers on the table are off centre. It shows that REAL people live in these houses. Those suitcases would look better if a cardigan was hanging out. Nobody can live in a perfect home 24/7. I love all the bits and pieces around but they don’t have to all match or all be perfectly aligned. We see way too many perfect homes in magazines these days, that we’ve forgotten the patina of life is what really makes a house a home.

Jennifer xx

Amanda @ Serenity Now February 24, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Can’t believe I’m just now getting around to commenting! 90+ comments in front of me too. ;) The tower of suitcases sort of did me in b/c I could imagine my kids trying to scale it somehow and breaking a bone or a vintage treasure. :s I’m slowly but surely trying to get rid of things….I don’t want a showroom/stop and shop house either.

Lisa February 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I deal in vintage/antiques and I can tell you those vintage suitcase STINK big time. So, yes they look great stacked and used as tables but it’s very rare to find ones that don’t smell like mold or musty when opened.

Marnie February 25, 2011 at 12:53 am

You know, I find that it’s a hard transition from magazine pages to real life. What I mean by that is that so many homes I have been in where the styling has been what you’d find in a magazine, it looks contrived and phony. Maybe that’s just me, but I think a successful, real and inviting home needs to have plenty in there that has some connection to the owners. All that stuff in those pics may be what the owner loves but they – to me – are rather impersonal and contrived, and I would hesitate to visit with my three year old in tow!

So yeah… give me real homes rather than galleries of vignettes.

Marni Nelson February 25, 2011 at 1:42 am

the suitcases make a great photo, but I think that’s all
it looks like obsessive decorating

Janette@The2Seasons February 25, 2011 at 7:44 am

I blame it on Martha – as in Stewart. I absolutely love her, don’t get me wrong, but I think her hang-up with perfection in everything, except maybe her daughter, has passed on little by little to all of us. When you think about how long she has been around, that adds up to a lot of perfectionism (is that a word?)

nanne February 25, 2011 at 7:49 am

that quote made me laugh! i so agree!! sometimes it just looks like the owners are trying too hard….the suitcase thing bugs me too–


Marcy {pinecreekcottage} February 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

Julia, you’ve got a great topic going here! I featured your blog today on Thank you for always featuring such interesting topics! (And great photos too! I love when I can laugh at some of the things that you find.)

Susan February 25, 2011 at 8:21 am

I think part of the problem of all this overstyling is blogging. I’ve never seen the use of the word “vignette” so much as I have in the year I’ve been blogging. I love decor, doing it, reading about it, etc. But trying to keep up by doing all the trends is crazy. I’m at the point of simplifing my life. The vignettes you see here are because the pieces are meaningful or well loved.

ShabbyChick February 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

Ok, I just have to comment on this, because it’s currently one of my pet peeves. People (mostly women) are ADDICTED TO SHOPPING ! The house pictured clearly demonstrates someone who is an out of control, obsessed shopper. It’s just a cleaner form of hoarding, I mean, who needs 17 mirrors on a wall? And those suitcases? And then there are the women who are constantly changing their decor! They are domestic cyclones whose motto seems to be “out with the 1 year old, in with the brand spanking new!” They are constantly on the hunt for a new something or other, always “improving the nest”, never satisfied, never content. Is it ADD? OCD? Or just bored housewife syndrome? And I always sympathize with the poor husband who can only sit back and watch his home change faster than the seasons, and then he gets stuck with the credit card bill at the end of the month. Some people need a serious intervention.

Beverly February 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

I preferr the less cluttered look. It seems like blogland was all about accessorizing last year and this year it’s all about the simplifying. I think it’s your own preference. I have 3 kids and don’t want to use my extra time to “magazine” my house. If I get any extra time at all, the bed is the first choice!

LoriD February 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

I just think you would really tire of the look (e.g. the mirrors) quickly, and then what? Do you sell all the mirrors.. put them in storage? The current (blogland) trend that drives me batty is all the writing on the walls. FAMILY – EAT – RELAX – LIVE LOVE LAUGH – BLESSINGS. It would be okay in one well-placed location (maybe the bathroom or laundry room), but people are putting them everywhere! It’s like walking through a self-help book.

Destiny February 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I think that decorating, like most things, needs to be approached with balance. I love pretty things, and how they look in homes, especially when collections are formed from, based on, passions, but how truly livable are some of those homes? Do families gather there? Are stories written in those homes that never will be told? It’s hard to believe…

I’ve recently helped two friends clean out their parent’s homes now that they have passed on, and the grief, and work involved, in the letting go, of a lot of “stuff,” has taught me so much. My friends, all married for many, many years, already have homes full of things that they love and they are now struggling with what to do with the things that once belonged to their parents, whether they love them or not. The stuff has become a burden. I only have one child, but I don’t want him, or his future wife, to feel obligated to love, and keep, the things I do just because they will inherit them. As a result, I have tried to create a warm, clean, attractive home, but my main priority is to have meaningful things and to surround myself with what I find beautiful, both decorative and human. I have lots of acquaintances, but a handful of true friends so that I can properly nurture and enjoy those relationships. I do the same with my decorating. My ultimate goal is to create lasting memories and to have wonderful experiences.

Deborah Wolfe February 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I agree whole heartedly with your reader. This constant quest for perfection in everything is tiresome. So many of us are so focused on how things look for OTHERS, that we’re not really living our lives right here, right now for OURSELVES.

Melody February 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I like it. I’m a collector. Currently I only have a few displays out now since I haven’t finished decorating after a move. My home’s never catalog perfect but it’s a place for things I love. Art pottery, sea shells, transferware, vintage barware, etc. A lot were purchased on antiquing road trips with the family or at country auctions.
I even have a book somewhere that has pages and pages of other collectors collections to drool over. I think it’s by Country Living.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman February 25, 2011 at 7:24 pm

OH yes, I’ve noticed this lately. Although, I’ve seen both sides of it: rooms that are SO sparse they are sterile-looking; and rooms that are so, so cluttered with perfectly arranged “vignettes.” I seriously cannot be bothered with that much dusting! I strive for a happy medium.

We get Country Living, and I also laughed when I saw the photo with the stacked suitcases…they use them for storage????~ yeahhhhhhh riiiiiiight. Does the Jolly Green Giant live there?

Arlene February 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm

This post makes such a good point! While I was reading this I had the same reaction you described, I had never considered these rooms to look merchandised before but now I can’t get the idea out of my head. This actually takes a lot of the pressure off by pointing out that things don’t necessarily look better when everything is perfectly placed. Thanks for sharing!

Amber February 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I actually like the store-like look, but perhaps since I aspire to own a decor boutique I am biased. I am certainly guilty of arranging my own house in this way!

Holly February 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I think they are beautiful. The top picture with the shelves is a bit much but hey if I didn’t have kids maybe I would love all that breakable stuff too! I guess thats why its ‘our home’ and no one elses. Every person can do what they want with their own home.

Becky February 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I agree with Holly! Love the pictures. Least favorite is the first because I wouldn’t want to dust all that but love the mirrors and suitcases!

Minnesotamom February 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm

My grandma (a former antique store owner and flea market dealer) has forever been trying to get me to collect things. She started me on a collection of music boxes, of porcelain and metal dogs, of wade figurines, of acrylic purses. None of them have “stuck.” I’m just not a collection person. That said, if someone collects things that have meaning to them and displays them, I think that’s great! But I’m not into collecting just for the sake of having a collection to display. One only needs so many thimbles or ironstone pitchers. ;)

Julie February 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I do not like that look either of a home looking like a store, or I always thought that the person had to have one or more of everything that was trendy at that time they were decorating their home. I feel like I cant breath in those kinds of spaces. We moved into our new home 2 years ago and I dont even have any pictures hung, a wreath on a wall in the kitchen thats about it We have some painted brick walls so that gives some texture. Ive simplified and I really like it. By no means am I trying to offend anyone , but I do agree with the post. Sometimes less IS more… Julie in Holland

Robert February 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I think the exaggerated stack of suitcases looks awesome. I get that some people don’t “get” it, but the fact that there’s so many is what makes it so cool. You know that there’s a story there…it’s just not your story. People want to show off their collections – and good for them.

Debby Hall February 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm

How fun to read your viewer’s take as well as all of the comments! I guess it just depends on your lifestyle and what you like. I am just thrilled that I get to do all kinds of looks for my clients because they don’t want to have cookie-cutter houses! So, bravo for the simple to the staged looks and everything in between. I say when it comes to decorating your home, make it your own!


Lorrie February 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

Having an all white palette doesn’t give you a license to clutter! I also didn’t like the all white victorian in the same issue – Why hide all the beautiful architectural detail with white – the Owner should have just bought a contemporary style home to begin with.
I did like the white kitchen with all the wood contrast – it was white done right!

Cathy February 28, 2011 at 11:54 am

A little harsh…. I enjoy all pictures showing creativity.

Richella at Imparting Grace March 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Hmmm. That’s something to think about. You always read that you should “group like objects for impact,” but perhaps we’ve taken that a bit too far!

I’ve been out of touch lately. I hope your doggie is doing beautifully after her surgery. For that matter, I hope your whole family is healthy and happy. :)

Lynda March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm

In all honesty – the older we get – the more STUFF we have. DO we ‘need’ all of it? No. Does it ‘all’ need to be displayed all at once? No. Do tastefully displayed vignettes bring any more dust than joy? No. I went for YEARS going minimal for fear of dust. Now – I display what I love, I rotate my displays (BTW – while I’m dusting) and it all brings me joy and satisfaction knowing the stories behind the finds – whether they be thrifted, sale or given as a gift.

The exaggeration of overstacked suitcases is just that – over exaggerated for the sake of a photo (think editorial photo shoots in Vogue – would you wear all those jewels, big hair, glossy red lips and stacked heels? No – but it’s what sells magazines.) Do what you want – say what you want – it’s your warm home – not a cold store. I believe the key is balance: the mix of books, art and photos with your collections (yes – the ‘stuff’ you’ve gathered over the years) that build a personal story of “YOU’, your life, your style, where you’ve been, and where you are at this point in your life. And if you like it – that’s all that matters because you are the one living in it – enJOY! =)

Jessica March 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I’m kind of late on this one but it’s also a pet peeve of mine so I had to chime in. the images from Country Living really don’t bug me really (collections seem different to me, especially if well placed and used) but some homes do look so staged, so unlived in, and so contrived that I *do* expect to see price tags dangling everywhere. When there’s no room to just put a cup of coffee down somewhere…things have gone very sterile!
Great topic…
xo J~

rhonda March 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I totally agree with you..I hate the fact that most mags images look oh so perfect. You hardly ever see pets, kids things, or even televisions! It doesn’t even look like people actually live in the homes featured.
When I lived in San Francisco, I went for a job interview at the home of the sf chronical owner. This home was a mansion with maids quarters and all and even that home had dishes in the sink and newspapers and books laying around. I was surprised that even the mega rich have mail piling up by the coffee maker and a box of fruitloops on the breakfast table! :)

Theresa March 9, 2011 at 9:31 am

I definately know what she’s talking about. Even though I have tons of shelves and do use antique suitcases for storage (see pics), I could never live in that showhouse. Mines a bit warmer I think :)

Theresa March 9, 2011 at 9:32 am
Karen March 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

Hi ya Hooked on Houses, well, your “ranter” most likely has the very “sparce” look. I say that because the “store in your home look” really bothered her to no end. One extreme to the other it seems like. I like a home that looks lived in and memories are all around. Oh and a few of my favorite things around me as well….it just might be those vintage luggage suitcases!!! :) Karen

Lark Mills March 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Thanks for this post. It makes me feel so much better about myself. I can’t be perfect. I can’t have an impractical home that looks like it came straight out of a catalogue. When I looked at perfectly organized designer rooms where every object has it’s special spot, I usually have an painful, envious feeling; I know I’ll never be able to create and maintain such a perfect space to dwell.

However, this post helped me put my decorating style into perspective. I believe in a combination of aesthetically pleasing style, functionality and comfort. A home should be an inviting, warm retreat.

I love a good storage solution tip, but the tower of vintage suitcases for storing off season clothing is not functional in my eyes.
Think about the gigantic ladder you need to get to the top suitcase. Think about how every time you need to rotate your wardrobe you have to undo and redo the big clumsy tower of suitcases.

Jordan July 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm

I completely disagree. Home designing is an art form. As such, a person expresses themselves through it. Would you say that Andy Warhol’s pop-art is a mercantile motif? It is expressive. I am put off by merchandising schemes, but an individual’s home style is different. It is expressive. Art shouldn’t be limited by wordy aesthetic ideologues. It shouldn’t matter whether a space appears to come from a sears catalog, it should only matter that hard work and personal style goes into it.

Marci January 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I think it’s all a matter of personal taste. I like the suitcases but don’t care for the wall of mirrors. I think as long as your decorating in way that you love & something you can live with then that’s all that should matter.

CCooper January 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I did merchandise display for several years, and created many carefully curated spaces with magazine-perfect vignettes – at WORK. So now the last thing I want is a boutique in my living room or bedroom. It’s an artificial look that is designed to sell product, not designed to contain human life and activity.

That wall of mirrors pictured above looks like an antique store, not a home. And when your home stops being a living space and becomes primarily a display space, you may as well just stick a price tag on everything.

Autumn July 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

I don’t like it. Too bland; cold and almost like a antique store where you would be afraid to take your kids….

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