How To Create a Collected Look (That’s Still Cohesive!)

Elsie Larson photographed by ©AlyssaRosenheckQ: My question is I love DIYs, thrift shopping, upcycling furniture and vintage anything but don’t love my house looking like a hodgepodge secondhand shop. I recently had a friend say to me, “I love how nothing in your house matches.” Not exactly an insult, but not what I’m going for either. How do I balance my quirky finds and DIYs with also wanting a space that feels cohesive, classy and intentional? -Shelly

A: Hi, Shelly! Great question!

I’ve always been a huge fan of collecting fun finds from flea markets, DIY and sentimental decor. About five years ago, when Jeremy and I were living in our first house, we spent a lot of time decorating, painting and improving our spaces. But in the end, I still felt like they were kind of random and not as cohesive as I wanted them to be. Fast forward—we now have a home that’s full of plenty of vintage finds, art from the kids in our family and things we’ve collected from our travels. But it feels intentional and, for the most part, is a design I am pretty proud of.

What made such a big difference? Here are a few habits and approaches we changed!

Color Scheme 
Choosing a color scheme for your home is one of the most important things you can do to create a cohesive feel. For example, all the light fixtures in our home are brass. When people come in they often ask me, “Where do you buy all your light fixtures?” And the truth is, they are from a bunch of different places and the color is what ties them together.

Limiting the number of colors in your home will greatly improve the feeling of cohesion and intention. It ties everything together!

See How To Choose a Color Story for Your Home for more on that!

White Walls 
Now, I know that white walls are a topic of much debate. But I have to credit them as one of the reasons that our house feels so consistent throughout. Keeping it simple with a lack of color makes it possible for me to highlight my quirkier collections like this without it feeling cluttered or hodgepodge.

Now I’m not saying white walls are for everyone, but a neutral base (even if it’s patterned) is a good, reliable design trick for helping your home feel cohesive from room to room.

Neutral Furniture 
I am a massive fan of a colored sofa, a bright Turkish rug or a set of candy colored dining room chairs. LOVE them. That said, making some more neutral choices on the big pieces in this home helped create a more flexible, easygoing look. I’ve been mixing white, light wood, rattan and gold like it’s my job and really loving the results.

Similar to choosing a color palette, I think it’s important to choose your finishes from wood stains, to metals, to fun quirky accents like wicker or lucite. It’s just one more layer of your style to develop!

Seasonal Editing 
Trends change, our taste changes, and season by season I think it’s important to look at your spaces with fresh eyes and make sure you are still loving everything. I am a big believer that making small, tiny tweaks will help you avoid the crash & burn of just getting so sick everything and wanting to change it all. Seasonal editing is your best friend!

To summarize, I don’t think you need to buy all your home stuff from one place to create a pulled together cohesive home. Not at all! Collecting from all over and DIY are amazing resources (and so much fun too!). If a room isn’t feeling as on point as you would have hoped, try using some of these suggestions to give it a mini-makeover. Editing, in particular, is such a HUGE part of creating amazing spaces.

I really hope this was helpful! I have a lot of really interesting questions from you guys via the comments here and social media! I’ll be back soon with more! xx -Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck


  • Such great suggestions! I especially am resonating with the Seasonal Editing suggestion! Love!


  • This is something I struggle with in our home so I feel like this was basically written for me!!

  • Love the tips but need to know about that outfit. Top? Denim? Necklace? So so good.

  • I am in LOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Totally off topic… Let’s talk about your denim. What are you wearing in this pic? Love them!

  • Such a great post/series, would love to see more like this 🙂 pinning this for when I finally move out with a random collection of things to help it look as cohesive as possible

  • I love lots of color and pattern (and am drawn to lots of styles), so this can be an issue for me. I love the advice! I realized recently that the colors I loved the most WERE reflected multiple times throughout my living room, so although I try to weed through things every now and then, something that made a difference for me was further cementing that color scheme with a few pillows in those colors, on my neutral sofa. It ties all the pretty things on my shelves and in my wal art together. It just kind of emphasized that this was what the room was supposed to feel like. It was also freeing to realize that those were the colors and style I wanted, and that I don’t have to imitate all the minimal spaces I see and admire but aren’t ME.

  • Great post so full of tips! Thankfully I have a room where I can store most of my DIYs if the season isn’t right (Christmas, Easter, etc) because otherwise it would be a total mess x

    Jessica — NinetyCo

  • It really makes it much easier when you use vintage as a finishing touch!
    xx- Elsie

  • Awesome Shelly! It sounds like you have your project really well organized!!! How exciting!
    xx- Elsie

  • Definitely pinning this so I can refer back it again. I used to be bad about putting all the stuff I really loved in the most used room and kind neglecting some lesser used rooms. Example, I bought this quirky, 70ish hanging lantern that I loved so I put it in our living room because I thought that since I loved it so much it should be a room I am in all the time. The problem was it really didn’t serve and function and actually detracted from the overall aesthetic. After we renovated our guest room I moved the lantern in there and it made the space. I don’t go into the guest room a ton but the lantern looks so much better there that it makes the me smile every time I do.

  • I LOVED this post. I always wonder how to make it work so I am always hesitant to buy vintage stuff.

  • Gah!!! So excited you chose my question!! Thank you!! Great advice and we’re getting ready to move and have already installed wood floors throughout the entire new house and painted all the walls white:) Going to use your color scheme and finishes advice while packing and edit the things that don’t fit and I don’t love. Thanks again, hope you have a wonderful day-you’ve made mine;)

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