How to Break the Rules of Interior Design Create an Even More Beautiful Home



If there’s one thing Kelly Elko wants you to take away from reading her blog, Eclectically Vintage, it’s that the personal details are what truly make a home feel special. “Nobody is going to notice your $10,000 beige sofa,” she says, “but they will beg to know where you got that one-of-a-kind thrift store table, amazing oversized chandelier, or vintage glass collection.”

Elko, who describes her style as  “a fresh take on vintage,” is also not afraid to take decorating risks or get her hands dirty. When it came to decorating her own 100-year-old home, she says, “I jumped right in and made more than my share of mistakes, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” After two and a half years of chronicling her trials and triumphs for her blog, she’s learned a lot about the rules of interior design…including which ones to ignore completely.

Here, Elko gives us a glimpse at her insightful, if unconventional, guidelines for creating a beautiful space.

(Love her style? Stop by her curated sale for Joss & Main, launching Tuesday, March 18 at 9:00 p.m.)

globe-collection-detail1_circleBigger is Better
Magazine editorials these days tend to favor a “more is more” approach to styling a room, but if done incorrectly, this method can quickly make a space feel cluttered, says Elko. Instead, she abides by a different theory: Bigger is better.  “Choosing fewer, but larger pieces of furniture, which can make a small space feel bigger. I have a huge console that separates my kitchen from my family room, for example.”

2_circleDo the Unexpected
Don’t limit objects to their original purposes. “Think outside the box and use pieces in unique ways,” Elko says. “An old crib spring makes a cool memo board and an old coal bin does double duty as an unusual side table.”

3_circleDisplay collections as a whole. 
Like objects should be displayed together. “An array of knickknacks scattered throughout your house look lost and random,” Elko says. “However, those same tchotchkies displayed together make a huge statement. In my house, that takes the form of a grouping of thrift store vintage green glass and colorful Italian decanters.”


4_circleArt is in the Eye of the Beholder
“Art” doesn’t have to be expensive, or even technically art, in order to earn a place on the walls. One of Elko’s favorite examples in her own home? “The framed art  in my dining room is actually pages from a coloring book,” she reveals. “I simply custom cut mats and used off the shelf frames for a custom look.”

5_circleEmbrace Mismatch
Matching sets of furniture can lack personality and give your home a “catalog” feel. To update a set you already own, try moving some of the pieces into different rooms or giving them a fresh coat of paint, Elko suggests. She also recommends blending styles, coupling rustic pieces with contemporary ones, or traditional items with things that are more avant garde. “Pair a farm table with lucite chairs or a modern table with French chairs or use two different side tables and mismatched lamps on either side of the sofa,” she offers.

6_circleUse Dark Paint for Small Spaces
Make small spaces the style guinea pigs of your home, which includes embracing the long-held design no-no of covering them in dark paint, Elko says. “Small spaces like powder rooms are perfect for going bold since you won’t be spending much time there. My tiny entrance vestibule is painted a deep, rich brown – ceiling and all!”