Guest Post: How to get the "collected" look

In today’s guest post, Matthew Dickamore, creative director at Utah design firm Denton House Design Studio, shares his tips for avoiding the “matchy-matchy” trap and achieving a stylish, collected look: “Anyone can go into a furniture showroom and select ‘Living Room Group A’ or ‘Dining Room Package 2.’ It’s effortless interior design, neatly packaged up for you. Some people like it, while others prefer a more collected look. If you’re the latter, here are a few tips to help you get the look: 1. Look at what you’re wearing. As I type this, I’m wearing a multicolor-striped linen shirt, solid blue cotton shorts and blue suede shoes with brushed nickel accents (Elvis would be proud). A variety of textures, patterns and colors makes my look feel complete. Collected design is essentially the same thing. Experiment with different fabrics (because you don’t want it to look like you found one fabric on sale and decided to use it everywhere) and mix metal with wood, stone with glass. Variety is the key to creating a collected look.

Photo by Audrey Hall; via


2. Mix finishes. Some clients get nervous when I tell them that their nightstands, bed, bench, armoire and dresser will all have different finishes. I explain that if they were all the same—even if the styles varied—there wouldn’t be anything to catch the eye. So don’t let your design blend into itself. Opt for something unique.

Photo by Gibeon Photography; via


3. Lines are important. Stop what you’re doing and take a look around. Is everything straight? My guess is no. A collected interior should follow suit. In your family room, select a round side table for one side of the sofa and a square one for the other. Pair a rolled-arm sofa with straight side chairs. You can carry this concept through to your accessories, too. Place a stack of books next to a decorative round bowl on your coffee table. It’s all in the lines.

Photo by Audrey Hall; via


4. Lighting is the cherry on top. Install a vintage chandelier you discovered at a garage sale. Replace the lampshade on an existing lamp so it doesn’t look like it did on the shelf at the store. Mix and match all of your lamps in one room. And please, stay away from a matching set.

Photo by Kimberly Gavin, via



Categories: Interior Designers