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Home & Organization Experiment #1: The “Uncollectables” Gallery

I’ve always admired those people who manage to keep their house or apartment looking like it had just been shot for a Good HouseKeeping feature. Anyone who knows me well, knows that if they are spontaneously stopping by my place, they are guaranteed to come across an unmaid bed, shoes scattered on the floor, and more than a few half-full glasses of water strewn about. These are not things that I’m proud of, but being the self-aware type, I am onto my flaws.

But these habits tell a lot about who I am. For example, the half-full (points for optimism!) glasses are always there because I’m bad at drinking. I don’t mean alcohol either, just regular old water. I drink really slowly, always spill and on top of not wanting to embarrass myself, I’m just not that thirsty. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t explain why I can’t put the cups in the dishwasher, but you get the point.

This really got me thinking about my definition of home. Since home is the place where I spend most of my time, it should be designed, decorated and inhabited on my own terms, marked by my habits and lifestyle. As a victim of the travel bug, I sometimes find myself away from home more than I’m there. That’s even more of a reason to make my return home a relaxing experience.

So, the question is, what kind of home would make me most happy? What are the key ingredients to feeling “at home” rather than “at my house”?

I started to think about the places I’ve lived since turning twenty. For me that list was longer and more memorable than my list of ex-boyfriends. Of the many places I’ve lived, not all of them felt like home.

So, what were the comforting parallels? What about the homes made me feel most “at home”? And more importantly, what can I contribute to my new house with my husband that will guarantee it be both my sanctuary and his?

Well, for starters, as much as I admire those magazine-like houses, I feel the most “at home” in a house that looks lived in – one smothered in pictures and with decorations that I picked up along my travels. I want to live in a house that my close friends and family could pick out as mine even if they’d never been there. Much like our very personalized wedding, I want it to have Jessica & Dustin written all over it.

Insert: The “Uncollectables” Gallery Wall Experiment

Step 1: I went to Walgreens and printed out photos of our family and friends, mostly candids. Then I went to thrift stores and some boutiques and picked out frames in all sizes and shades of blue and green. I went to my closet and found my box of “uncollectables”. This is what I call our treasures and trinkets that no one else in their right mind would collect. Including, but not limited to: 2 small jars of sand from the Sahara, a Jade Mayan mask from our engagement trip to Guatemala, a hand-painted Spanish fan I bought

on a cobblestone street during my study abroad in Sevilla, and an exact replica bobblehead of Dustin giving me a piggyback ride that my maid-of-honor had made for my wedding shower.

These were the exact sort of things that I wanted to be on display in my home. Not special if you saw them in a show-room for a magazine, but a conversation starter for guests and daily reminders of happy memories.

Step 2: I purchased a wire shelf and splayed all the pictures and items on the floor to easily mix and match the layout.

My ferret Robinhood is just as excited about the uncollectables shelf

Step 3: Once I settled on the design, I enlisted the help of my husband for all the high reaching and heavy lifting. The result? Our favorite wall in the house.

I can’t wait to discover another secret to feeling at home and expand the home-y-ness of our house. What’s Happyning wants to hear about YOUR uncollectables. Post in the comments below!

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