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The Collected Look-How to Get It

A Collected Look has personality, interest, and history. If you would like your home to reflect your own personal style and taste, a Collected Look might be for you. I originally created the bones of this post back in 2014. I would consider this one of my signature posts so it is important to keep it updated. If you have been reading my blog long you know that I continue to favor a collected look in my own designs and those of others.  Let’s talk about The Collected Look-How to Get It.
The collected look how to get it

Collecting and gathering things from your travels, flea markets, antique shops, and art galleries creates a sense of where you have been and where you are going. Combining the old and new,  mixing and matching furniture styles, shapes, finishes, and textures is one of the easiest ways to make a room look as if it has evolved over time. Here are my simple tips for creating a collected look in your home.

#1 No Matchy Matchy

Anyone can decorate a room with “sets”.  Don’t be afraid to mix natural wood finishes with painted.  Bedside tables and lamps don’t need to match (unless you have a difficult situation as I did in my primary bedroom). Mixing it up creates interest. This beautiful living space by the talented mother/daughter design firm of McGrath 2 (photographed by Joshua McHugh Photography) illustrates this beautifully. I love the mix of the tribal side table with the more polished coffee table.


In the dining room of our fixer-upper, a vintage vase of David Austin roses rests on an antique table.  In the distance behind, a pair of reproduction french candlesticks, a new painting by Pat Huber, and a box that was inherited from Steve’s parents.

cindy hattersley dining room with art from Pat Huber and David Austin roses

#2 Use a variety of textures and finishes

A mix of textures and finishes creates interest and variation. My friend designer Sherry Hart prefers designing neutral spaces.  However, Sherry always goes big on texture. Note the mix of black and chrome fixtures.  The woven barstools, rug, and baskets warm up the cold surfaces.  You will almost always find something vintage in Sherry’s designs. If you are in the Atlanta metro area Sherry is your girl. You can also follow Sherry on Instagram here.

sherry hart designed kitchen

Note the mixture of finishes on the curated gallery wall in this Sherry Hart-designed space.  Sherry is a master at creating gallery walls with vintage art.  She has an incredible eye.  The modern chairs and lamp create interest.


#3 Mix and Match a Variety of Furniture Styles and Eras

In modern spaces, play off the clean architectural lines by mixing in antique pieces throughout that feel worn and lived in. In a more traditional space, add a splash of modern art, or a modern furniture piece to the mix for fun.

Artist/Designer William McClure designs beautifully curated spaces mixing periods and styles effortlessly and combining them with his striking abstract art. I love the antique table and artifacts that are so artfully mixed with modern art and furniture. William’s Instagram account is truly one of the most inspirational as well.



#4 Combine the Old and the New

While I prefer old to new, we don’t want our houses to look like a museum either. I like a modern coffee table, or drinks table, they are more practical.  I prefer new dining chairs (they are sturdier), and I like some new art and artifacts.

This is the great room in our current home.  The coffee table is new (well several years old), the chairs were a cast-off from a former decorating job, and the sofa was custom-built.  The art on the wall is newish, as well as the small drinks table between the chairs. Most of the accessories in the built-in cupboard have been collected over the years.  I try and change them out seasonally.


#5 Add Treasures and Artifacts from your Travels

This should be the most fun. Displaying interesting artifacts from your travels and treasure hunts will bring you pleasure for years.  Steve and I can remember almost every item in our home and where we found it.  We love reminiscing about where we were and what we were doing.

Beth Webb’s interiors have always been a favorite of mine.  Beth’s designs are always punctuated by treasures of the owners, arranged artfully by Beth.

beth webb collected sitting room

This console is in my son and daughter-in-law’s home. The console was newly made a few years ago.  All of the accessories were sourced by me from junk and antique shops.  They work all the time, so if I find something I think they will like I call them and they say, if you like it, buy it. If you hire a decorator (obviously I was free), that is what you need to do. Build up trust and let the designer go with your vision.

Cindy Hattersley Designed Console Table with Bust closeup

#6 Mix and Match Furniture Shapes

This one may not seem important but it is.  You don’t want a room full of squares and rectangles, or all curves for that matter.

My pal Mary Ann of Classic Casual Home beautifully combines different shapes, textures, and eras of furniture in her beautiful San Francisco apartment living room. Note the rolled-arm sofa, the modern (barely seen) leather chairs, the round side table, and the textural ottomans. It is a perfect mix of what a Collected Look should be.

mary ann's living room with view of the bay

#7 The High and the Low

Don’t be afraid to combine the high and the low. Here my friend Annie from Most Lovely Things has mixed inexpensive industrial Ikea shelves with a vintage coffee table and leather chairs.  Annie has a knack for mixing the high and low seamlessly. Sometimes the most disparate elements work well together.

the collected look how to get it

Here on my coffee table in my Chualar home, I mixed a vase and limestone chain from Target with a valuable French brides box. It’s all in the details.

designer cindy hattersley's collected coffee table

If you would like more collected style inspiration check out my posts:

How to Achieve a Collected Look on Your Porch or Patio

2020 Design Trends Why a Collected Look is Here to Stay

Instagrammers Who Rock the Collected Look in Their Gardens

Ten Instagrammers Who Rock the Collected Look in Color





Thank you so much for reading The Collected Look How to Get It. Do you favor a collected look in your own home? I would love to hear how about your special treasures, where they came from, and how you display them. I will be back on Friday with Jennifer for our Over 50 Style Edit.  We will be talking about How to Style Jeans.  Be sure and join us!


Reader Interactions


  1. Linda A. Charlton says

    I just read this post. My home is collected items from many places. Most Of my art work in the living room is from Africa. My daughter has been there several times and each time has brought me interesting wall art. I also have hand made wooden and other items from there. My furniture is a mix of new and repurposed pieces. I have some Duncan Phyfe in my LR and some prim in my office. I thought I was the only one who liked and eclectic look.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Linda

      I love African art. That is wonderful that your daughter has brought you something special from each trip. Something tells me you have a wonderful daughter.

  2. Carol Heartfelt Whimsies says

    Wow—Cindy—you can tell by all the comments that this post was a hit! So full of great design info and gorgeous examples of a collected look. I can’t imagine “decorating” my house any other way! Great post!

  3. Wren says

    Doesn’t it hurt to see the picture of your gorgeous roses that you had in your former yard? Maybe you have plans to plant at the new house. It’s nice to put the term “collected” to my pieces of which I have a lot that I would call hand-me-downs. Many things I have were in my house growing up and have great sentimental value. I have some old blueprints made by my paternal grandfather of cars that he designed dated 1912 and 1915 which I have framed in my living room. There are two big arm chairs from my childhood home that have such good bones, I have recovered them a couple of times and still use. My mom had some beautiful pieces that I have kept and cherish. They are probably worth a lot of money but to me, are priceless. This post was singing my song!

  4. Janet says

    Cindy — What a great post. I love your style and how it reflects you and your husband. Our home has always been somewhat collected, perhaps because we couldn’t always buy new, but now it has evolved into a style all our own with lots of artwork from travels, a lot of antiques we’ve acquired along the way, and a few pieces my dad made. Right now I have a Chippendale settee and a wicker table on a sisal rug in the sunroom and they just seem to work together. I pared my ironstone and transfer ware collections down when we moved last year — keeping the best and getting rid of the rest. If anything I’m enjoying them more.

  5. Penny says

    Another post that you knocked out of the park, Cindy! So many beautiful ideas, thank you for all the inspirations, have a wonderful week.

  6. holly says

    What a great post! I get my inspiration from you! And May Ann @ And Kelley @ And Kim @ And Elizabeth @ edbdesigns. All California Women! All with the good taste to come to the most beautiful state in the union. Hail Hail California! 💙💛💙

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      You inspire us as well Holly! I so enjoy following you on Instagram. You make me smile everyday!

  7. Brenda Kinsel says

    I’m crazy for every image! You’re definitely addressing my aspirational design sense. I’ve wondered how I’d describe the way I like to decorate and now I have the words: a collected look.

  8. Annie Diamond says

    I love this post and a big fan of the layered look and mix of styles. I’m so honored that you included me!! What a lovely surprise! Thank you!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Are you kidding? You are the master at mixing the high and low, knowing when to edit, and the collected look in general.

  9. Cindy Hattersley says

    I agree with you Kelley. The older I get the simpler and cleaner look appeals more to me. You have such an amazing sense of style and you take the most beautiful photographs. I need a lesson!

  10. Mumbai says

    Interesting how people mix and match not only with clothes but also with their furnishing. I like that style and have brought some interesting old furniture and accessories from my travel around the world which I combined with some modern ones. It makes me happy every time I step into the
    rooms and remember those wonderful moments I purchased it.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      You said it well. Why buy something meaningless that you don’t care if you keep or heave. I too would much rather collect and reflect on where I purchased it or who originally owned it.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Are you kidding? You are the master at mixing the high and low, knowing when to edit, and the collected look in general.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Mumbai
      I love the way our collections tell our own stories. I am sure you have many from your travels. I am sure your home is lovely!

  11. Jane says

    Cindy–this was such a fun post to read, but even more so, informative. I’ve scrolled through a few times. Sometimes I feel that the rooms in my home(s) are always in some sort of limbo, like when you find the time to scour your bathrooms but the other rooms are a mess! We all want the whole darn house to be clean at once (hence a great cleaning girl!). I do feel I tend to put together a room over time because I select pieces I love rather than what ‘works’. Opposing textures, materials, and style make a room so interesting and pleases our taste in many varied styles.

    I am certainly going to check out your Pinterest pages.

    Jane x

  12. Sheila-Merle Johnson says

    As an Image Consultant, I focus mostly on the art of my outfits. I haven’t spent time on my home decor for quite a while, other than changing accessories and art spring and fall in simple arrangements, 3’s or 5’s, symmetrical or offset. With this post and your ethnic chic posts, I am being drawn to playing with more complex arrangements of accessories and art. I have so much to play with. I have been on a busman’s holiday having Image Consultant Brenda Kinsel over to create new outfits out of what I already own, so now I can focus on enriching my home design. I love your guest room arrangement. There is color! I love color! You have inspired me. Mille grazie!! I loved meeting you in San Francisco. I hope we meet again.

  13. debra @ 5th and state says

    ditto, ditto, ditto!! Absolutely agree with every word Cindy. Such a lovely post and great seeing your beautiful home again. I was enthralled admiring your collections, the stories…..always love the stories, your relaxed way everything was stylized and, well I could go on forever. you are a very talented designer whom I admire.
    from another bride of 1975!

  14. Kelley says

    Hi Cindy! I had to read this post a couple of times to make sure I got all the tips! Thanks so much for including me in this wonderful group of designers. I have been guilty of the “one of everthing” trend and now have a more pared back look that I like so much better. Pairs and groupings of similar items seems to work best for me now. Also more washed out colors and less furniture in a room. Always love stopping by your blog ;))

    xxoo Kel

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      I agree with you Kelley. The older I get the simpler and cleaner look appeals more to me. You have such an amazing sense of style and you take the most beautiful photographs. I need a lesson!

  15. classic casual home says

    I agree with you so much about not having it all matching! Mixing wood with painted finishes…and I like how you added a metal based coffee table in your living room. (Your living room is perfection).
    You do a great job of explaining how to achieve this beautiful look.
    Mary Ann

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Thanks for the comment on my living room. It still needs a few tweaks! You do the layered look so well Mary Ann. I always learn from you!

  16. Janet says

    Hi Cindy — Always love your posts! Your tips here are great. I too am a fan of the collected — as opposed to cluttered — look. It’s such a fine line between museum and personal, but done right I think our homes evolve. To me a room is never “finished.” (I’m not even sure what that means!)
    Thanks for always challenging my thinking!

  17. Bill and Judy Castor says

    Cindy and Steve,

    Love your room and taste!
    We have always loved that Braothwaite room!
    Do we have any collections in our home? None — and if you believe that!! Ha.

    J & B

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Judy & Bill
      She really has it doesn’t she? I love her spotted bedroom with the heavy linen drapes too. She is a master at less is more…I am working on that!

  18. home before dark says

    My best tip for a layered look: live longer! My decorating has evolved with time. As a bride in 1975, I was influenced by the bicentennial focus on Americana. My beloved MIL died at the horribly young age of 59 and then many of her treasured antiques came to us. She had inherited from her very wealthy uncle who loved European antiques. We have some of those pieces, too. For me it’s not so much about being eclectic, it’s making a space to honor things that family have loved, that have stories to tell. Everyone seem to have loved to collect mirrors…mirrors are us around here. I have always loved fabrics and textiles. I have always loved leopard, red, big jolts of industrial, books, blue and white porcelain, ethnic art, framed floral prints and open kitchens that celebrate tools. When we moved into our house over 30 years ago, I painted every wall white…now I am in the process of painting most walls black. Most of the black walls are either walls of books or walls of art, so the black isn’t depressing. At night it is glorious. I’m afraid my house would be on many people’s hideous “Before” shots. It’s not that I am trapped in time, it’s just that I often prefer some other time that today’s overly the same look often jammed with too many “artifacts” from places like Target, Home Goods that have no meaning except for a brief trendy moment. Sorry about the soap box!!! Apparently, I’m working on my last nerve on this subject! Love your living room and that Steve is loosing up after over 40 years. That’s a good sign! Evolution not revolution usually wears better.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Oh my we have so much in common it is scary! I too was a bride in 1975. My house was all white, then that awful glazed look, now white. I wouldn’t be afraid to do a dark room either! Your comments are always so inspiring. We collect because we love things with history and provenance. Most of my furniture I have had for at least 30 years. Have a great weekend!

  19. Karen Bunch says

    This is the look I’ve always preferred over all brand new things. Especially accessories, I believe they are the scrapbook of your home. Treasures you’ve collected and obtained over time.
    Great post.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Your home has always appealed to me Karen. I miss seeing it. We are on the same page! Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Unknown says

    Pretty room!

    If you wanted to change the feel, I'd add shine. The beautiful old patinas on the table are all light-absorbing, so go the other way with a smooth glass vase (colored? clear?) or a mirror leaned on the table that overlaps the bottom of the art slightly (maybe make it a contrasting upright rectangle or something, not a shape that echoes the art).

    I thought the idea of contemporary fabric headboards was great.


    • Cindy says

      Karin your suggestions are wonderful! I love the clear vase idea. What you couldn't see in the photograph is that the two beds have mirrors above them. There is always room for change however. Keep those great suggestions coming!!

  21. The Arts by Karena says

    I love to walk in any room that has a collected over time look. MIxing a few contemporary pieces in gives an instant update. Some abstract artwork or contemporary fabrics for new pillows would be great for your guest bedroom; although it looks super right now!

    The Arts by Karena

  22. Burlap Luxe says

    Hi Cindy, I agree with your husband, with having only things of old and collected through time, nothing hurried over here.
    Love a room with mixed pieces, never a room with matching pieces. One has to feel the life of a room with the history that it has gathered along the way, keeping it in its era, clean and organized.
    Your guest room is perfect, not sure how you could improve on perfection.
    I just added a little side table to my daughters room after I had posted it, it's a family piece that just had to be, and I adore the sweetness it brought with it to her room. A perfect piece next to her French iron bed.

    Thank you for this beautiful share.


  23. Leslie Harris says

    Hi Cindy, love this topic. I just read another interview with Nate Berkus who is a big believer in decorating with items that have meaning and tell a story. A collected room looks so much more interesting too, although it takes patience. Your guest room is absolutely gorgeous and I don't think it looks like a museum at all but if you did want an easy change you could switch out your pillows for a bold animal print….just a thought. Hope you're having a relaxing weekend. We're finally coming up for air after our last trip to the storage unit. It's definitely time for a garage sale. 🙂

    • Cindy says

      Oh Leslie you know I love a great animal print! I have been thinking about adding the Peter Dunham gattopardo on the chairs in that room! I love that Nate Berkus book…well I just love him in general…loved the post on your house!

  24. Karen says

    I love this post! The collections, no matter what they are, seem to bring a home to life. I have to cycle my various collections throughout the year in different spots. It gives me such pleasure to remember where I got this or that. I love your guest room display and don't think it looks too museum like at all.

  25. kim at northerncalstyle. says

    I agree with Loi, I think that room looks great and I love all your treasures. This is a great post and some super ideas here about being more eclectic and not so matched. Some fabulous rooms!

  26. Anonymous says

    Wow, love your guest room…it could easily stay as is in my book. The only thing I would consider doing is fabric headboards in a modern fabric.

  27. Nancy says

    what a great post and such great eye candy! your guest room looks divine…i wouldnt change a thing but i cant wait to see what you have in mind. terrific tease…i'm staying tuned. please post more pics.

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