10 Steps for Expertly Curating your Art & Accessories Collection

To most of us, crafting a beautiful home is all about decorating it flawlessly, right? It’s also one of the more accessible and easy to do items on the home facelift agenda. I mean, picking furniture or ripping out floorboards… what would you rather do?

Everyone WANTS a beautiful and luxurious home that represents their style.

But where do you begin? Where to shop? How to make the right decision? Why this couch and not the other? Does it fit with the style you’re going with? Does it fit in the space?! And have you got the best price? Argh!

If you’re overwhelmed, don’t worry, we’d be too.

Good furniture, art and accessories don’t often come cheaply. While it may be cheaper to update a couch rather than rip out the floor and put a new one in, we’re still talking about a big ticket item here. And for most people, getting it confidently right is a total head scratcher.

In fact, when I sent out a survey to the Open Design Studio community (you might’ve responded!) to really get to the bottom of what you need and how I can solve it. The large majority of our community shared the same four concerns and priorities:

  • Achieving homes that look ‘designed’ and luxurious
  • Accessing advice on design and style
  • Finding great suppliers
  • Getting design decisions right

What that tells me is we all care about beautiful design. Achieving it in our home is the dream. And we’re all a bit nervous about getting it right. Am I right?

Well, let me help you get there.

Today I’m going to share with you what we (interior designers) do when we source furniture, art and accessories.

On sourcing your collection, let’s start with getting the mentality right. Here’s the single, most important bit of advice I can give: buy less, but buy well.

What does this mean?

I will forever favour buying fewer pieces that are truly special than buying a bunch of average things to junk out your home with. It’s so important to consume consciously. Once you’ve decided on your style, build your collection slowly around the key items that create it. They need to be a combination of the following ideas, but not necessarily all:

  • functional, have a story that resonates with you
  • be well made
  • high quality
  • beautiful or intriguing to look at
  • timeless to you (for instance, a houndstooth arm chair will be timeless to some but not others). There is no substitute for impeccable quality.

Once these key items are in place, you can achieve your style with other things that you collect over time – whether they’re thrifted, handed down, found or reworked.

Personally, editing the style of my home is a continual process. Pieces come and go, and the important ones continue with you onto the next phase of your style evolution. Working around a good collection of key items is the best way to stay true to (your) style.

And here’s another key bit of advice, trends come and go, but the sure way to achieve timelessness is picking based on what represents you honestly.

But what if you need to fill a whole home with mostly new things in one go?

Well then, lucky you! You have a lot of shopping to do.. but I assure you this is both super fun but also daunting.

Here are my 10 steps for sourcing a large collection:

  1. Define your style and create a moodboard for it
  2. Set your budget. No point shopping on a dream budget only to remember you can’t even afford one arm of your dream chair!
  3. Use a spreadsheet to itemise purchase items and put a budget amount next to each one.  This column would then add up to the total furniture budget.
  4. Create a hit list of places you know and can trust to shop key items from. As well as a list of the favourite thrifty places that have great one-offs (markets, antiques, vintage) group each showroom by location, and set aside time per location to smash out the shopping phase.
  5. Build with key, focus items for each room in mind first. Get the desk right for the study, get the dining table right for the dining room, get the couch right for the lounge room etc. Start with your key piece, the collection then builds around this.
  6. Build with the YOU items also. In every room there’ll be various things you come across that are just so you that you can’t even. This could be the chandelier for the dining room, a rug, a piece of art, a unique armchair, a special lamp, a rare vase. Whatever they are, these are the key items that will show your style. The closer a thing is to your true style, the more likely it won’t date.
  7. Add your selected items to your spreadsheet, with another column for the actual amount.  You’ll quickly see how this figure sits against your budgeted amount, and the effect on your overall furniture budget.
  8. Allow time! Not all of your fave pieces will be in stock, the wait can be anywhere for 6 – 16 weeks.
  9. Continually edit. Once key furniture, art and accessories are found and placed, you might need to add little bits and bobs to polish off the intended style.
  10. Don’t forget to recycle things you no longer need!

It’s actually not as simple as running out to shops, picking furniture and putting it in the house that day! Achieving a home that ‘looks intentionally designed and luxurious’ (the key motivator for project outcomes as discovered about you in my survey) requires getting these steps right. If you moodboard well, budget carefully, and schedule rigorously then you’re going to have a far better outcome.

Cool. We got this?

I’ll let you take it from here.