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How to Keep Your Big-Box Décor Finds From Looking Like a Store Display

Netural styled living room.

Ashley Montgomery Design

As much as we enjoy sourcing one-of-a-kind pieces for our homes, we know that big box stores have some excellent offerings as well—Target’s line with Studio McGee, for example, has definitely made us swoon.

However, when decorating with items from chain retailers, no matter their price point, you’ll want to keep a few key tactics in mind to ensure your apartment doesn’t later resemble a store display. Don’t worry: you can still incorporate your favorite finds, just in an artful manner to keep your home looking like yours and not a space out of a catalog.

We’re sharing four tips to keep in mind to avoid falling into the cookie cutter design trap. 

Set Limitations

When shopping at any one store, it’s best to pick and choose a few items that most strike your fancy and then move onto another retailer. Purchasing too many pieces from one place will result in a setup that looks staged, when you really want to be striving for a collected, thought-out look.

I personally love CB2, but I’ll often pair one of their table lamps with pieces from H&M Home and my favorite vintage stores to create a setup that’s all my own. As a bonus, this is often easier on my budget, too.

Mix in Vintage Pieces

As I noted above, mixing in vintage pieces—whether in the form of furniture or decorative accents—can help offset that “brand new” look and create visual interest. Vintage items, both large and small, often boast tons of character and will be instant conversation starters as well.

While sites such as Chairish and 1st Dibs are often quite pricey, you don’t need to spend much to introduce vintage charm. Try browsing Etsy, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and local estate sales, too—all are excellent, designer-approved resources.

Remember, Less is More

In general, keeping furniture and décor to a minimum will help prevent your space from looking like a cluttered storefront. Of course, you’ll want to inject enough personality to a room that it doesn’t feel tired or stale, but as the old adage goes, less is more.

Decluttering will serve you well when it comes to decorating. You’ll likely find yourself feeling more zen, too, when spending time in a space that isn’t overly distracting or cramped.

Do Some DIY

You can always work a bit of your own magic and transform basic, big box store pieces into unique finds by switching out knobs, legs, or even experimenting with some spray paint. A simple rattan bar cart could look lovely painted in a bright color, for example.

If you love the bones of a certain piece but are hesitant about making the purchase because you see it in everyone else’s house, think about whether making a few simple tweaks is feasible, and if so, go for it. Even small changes, such as tying velvet ribbon around a simple ceramic vase, can add welcome pizzazz.