A secret to achieving a true, homey home

Crate stairway with old signs on walls using Funky Junk's Old Sign Stencils / A secret to achieving a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net
New walls against old weathered wood elements

One of the nicest comments I’ve ever had on my home, was from a magazine editor.

Once he entered through the front door, he fell silent. Looking around at every nook and cranny.

“There they are…” he commented, while pointing towards the very crate stairs… that were in his magazine at the time. What a moment… for me!

But it wasn’t until he was upstairs and sat down, did he say, “This is the homiest, warmest home I’ve ever been in. It has life!”

I didn’t really know what to say. Stunned, I replied, “What stands out to make you feel that?”

His reply… “You just can’t buy this stuff in a store!”

Oil funnel junk light / A secret to getting a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net
New wiring inside old rusty lamp parts

I had never thought of my repurposed, beat up, weathered furnishings quite like that. I knew I liked the look, but I never really fully understood ‘why’.

But his comment made me think. Everything in my home that you’d normally go out to buy, had been somehow revamped, or compiled, or made from scratch by myself. Nothing had touched a shopping cart.

Every single thing, right down to the side table toolbox, to anything on my mantel, all the way to lighting or wall art, had a hand touched element to it.

These days, you can most certainly find new looking old stuff. It’s everywhere, and I love the look!

But every time I’ve held a new object of desire in my hands lately, I’ve put it back down. It was always ‘missing something’.

LUNCH sign, with an old window / A secret to getting a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net

New paint on an old window

If it was a roped mirror, the mirror wrapped metal frame resembled a freshly cut tin can, rather than an old, quality metal rim off something you’d actually find somewhere.

I understand that quality things would up the cost considerably. 

Isn’t it just nice to know, we have the ability to get the authentic look we want for less?

It’s always been a dream of mine to walk into a retail store, and stage an area, using their new/old stuff, but make it look like a real home, rather than goods from a shelf.

Oil funnel string dispenser / A secret to getting a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net
New string with an old funnel

But I think to make that happen, you need to show a little history with the new. Like every picture in this post.

Old and new.

Things that hold a story feel different, don’t you think?

ladder with old crates entryway organizer / A secret to getting a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net
New gloves in an old crate

old signs entryway / A secret to getting a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net
New walls against old fence planks

Awhile back, I was featured on Apartment Therapy HERE.

Their standard was for you to source all the brand names for things featured in the pictures.


Here’s how mine read:

Dream Sources:
Bibles for Missions Thrift Store, Chilliwack
• Pallet yards across the land
• Curbs
• Burn piles
• The dump
This isn’t quite what you expected to hear, was it?

It was a first for them… so much so, they called the feature A Handmade Home.

Best compliment ever. 🙂

I was nervous with that elite crowd. But was also stunned to receive 90 comments with 90% of them in favour of the tour!

I had lost sleep on that one…


Bakery sign kitchen backsplash / A secret to getting a true, homey home / funkyjunkinteriors.net
New counters and cupboards against an old wood sign

Point being?

I believe a secret to achieving a true, homey home, is having plenty of homespun elements with a story, among the shiny new stuff, created or arranged with your own two, unique hands.

A magazine editor’s visit is not an everyday occurrence around here.

But I’m really grateful he pointed out what I do every day, helped make HIS day so incredibly unique!

Aren’t homey homes the best? 🙂

– – – – –

What’s your secret to a homey home?

Daily Junk Mail : Messages That Matter : Funky Junk Interiors

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Categories: Daily Junk Mail, Inspiration, Junk Drawer, Old Sign Stencils, Signs, Staging / decorating
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27 thoughts on “A secret to achieving a true, homey home

  1. Good morning Donna and thanks for the super post! First off, I do remember reading where you once worked in department store designing windows and you spoke of how you would draw interest in to exploring the decorative elements with color. How do you do that? I have always wondered. It makes sense and I can see it works, but where do you learn to do it? I know there is probably no set formula, it just interested me. I do think the number one ingredient in creating a homey home is HEART! If you love your home, are true to your likes and are yourself, it will shine through. We all have heard the saying a house is just a house but a home is made with love. Love and heart and people. And you are awesome! Your honesty and style fill my head and heart with ideas and hope. Thanks for showing all of us to trust our own style!

    • Hey Joanne!

      Regarding working with colour, it wasn’t in the windows, but on the floor. What I’d do is start with a colour along the walking isle, but then blend that same colour on every rack until they reached the back wall. This visually drew your eye in towards the back of the room.

      There wasn’t really a place to learn this, just by playing around with displays on the floor and swapping tips with the other salesgirls on what worked. I also had lots of chats with the Store Display department, which was always so interesting!

      And, I agree. Heart. So true… thank you for your very kind and thoughtful words!

  2. Thanks for the Monday morning inspiration Donna!
    I’m going to check out your link to becoming a retail seller of your stencil signs… I have the wood, pallets, doors, etc and would love to sell your stencils in my not-for-profit shop along with the supplies we already have to make them!

  3. Good morning, Donna. I hope you’re enjoying the same sunny weather as we are in southern Ontario! What a nice way to wake up = sunshine and a post from you! I don’t think there’s much I can add to what Joanne (Taggert) has aptly said; you have an innate gift for creating things & the displaying of them; the love of your home shines through. Your funnel string item is genius – I might have put the string in but doubt I would have thought to use a pencil in to support the twine! 🙂 It’s all little things you do that make your house so amazing. I’ve mentioned I now live in a condo but years ago, I was in a split level – when I look at your stairs, I think to myself …. “if I had done that in the split, it would have looked really, really bad” … the rest of my house wouldn’t have “fit” with the rustic stairs. You have skillfully married the entire house & I’d LOVE to have a personal tour! I must add one HUGE “thing” I get from you & that is – your blog is different from others – I don’t know how to put this politely but some decor blogs seem rather “braggy” to me … they blog about where they recently bought a costly chair, or piece of art, or were fed up with a (nice-looking-to-me!!) dining table & so on. I read many blogs as I love decor – I just can’t identify with some ladies that simply dispose of furniture that’s still in style but they’ve just tired of the piece and bought new. I often wonder how many of us can do that. Many of the interiors start to look the same to me – the same accessories, pillows, vignettes, etc. I don’t think, in a million years, any will resemble your home! ….. and that’s a compliment!! lol!

    • Haha Elaine, taken as such! Thank you! I get tired of stuff too… all the time. But I guess a part of me just decides to overlook big, heavy things I need help lugging around, so I change small things instead. Call me lazy, but it’s saved me a bundle of money! 🙂

      Thanks for the very kind compliments! My look is a little risky… but I’m glad it works with others enough to appreciate!

  4. I couldn’t agree more….though my home is a mix of new and old, I do think if someone enters my home and just studies the contents, they will learn a lot about my husband and I, what we value (family pictures, things that denote faith, my love of color, antiques, horses, etc). Or I believe there should be things that at least elicit questions, by that I mean items that are unique, not easily found anywhere. A home should tell a story about the inhabitants…..not look like a generic hotel room. Without personal elements, a home may be beautiful, but it lacks LIFE and a story of the people who live there.

  5. Donna, you are so right! We live in an old farmhouse and once, out of desperation, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought all kinds of stuff for the walls. I got it home, had my husband hang all the stuff and ended up hating it.

    The next day while he was at work, I took everything down and tacked a note to the wall that said “I can’t live like this!” and I took everything back for a refund!

    I am about to commission a local artisan to make some homemade signs on old wood, out of all the sayings my dad and father-in-law used to say.

    I’ll post them on the blog when I get them hung.

    • Oh my goodness Debbie, your new idea sounds amazing! Things that conjure up great memories… there is no finer way to decorate!

      I do like a mix of new things here and there, but for the most part, I’m always happier when I grab a beat up old picture frame to finish off a vignette. Little things like that just seal the deal. 🙂

  6. Donna, I love your home for the very reasons stated above. I don’t think there is any secret to anyone decorating their home if you fill it with what you truly love whether it be grandma’s furniture handed down or pieces your dad made or furniture you bought and memories added like quilts or pictures from a special occasion or vacation, things you or your kids have made through the years.
    Some people like clean lines and nothing on the mantle or end tables or their counter tops and that is ok that is home to them that is what they love.
    Home is all about what we want in our homes our own style, sometimes it takes years to know what our style is believe me I know mine is still evolving, but everything in my house has special meaning and tells a story and to me that is what makes a home and of course the most important your loved ones that live in the home with you.

    • So true Patty. One home I lived in was from the day it was built. I redid that crazy thing 3x before I finally moved. LOL

      Styles evolve all the time, but I think our own styles do too. Today I think I know what I want, but in 5 years from now… well, I’m sure the place will need new paint by that time anyway. 🙂

  7. I love your home and think it’s beautifu! Your talents bring me to your blog, post after post after post. I have a love for old everything, it’s like I’m living in a time way before I was born, back when people were more innocent and proper, my own little time warp, that’s my cozy.

  8. I love your home Donna, all those rustic elements with pops of red all over. I am slowly transforming my home into a homey home. Simply because as bloggers we need to transform, why not take something that is not working for you and make it better. And more importantly now everything has a story and it is much more personal than if it were store bought. I look around and see so many things that really touch me, like an old chest that I decoupaged with old book pages, and I think to myself why didn’t I start blogging sooner? I could have had this home years ago. lol

    • Haha Mary, yes! As a blogger, we take things to a whole other level, don’t we? Some of my best, most appreciated work has been thanks to being a blogger and putting the pressure to do better on myself.

      The handmade things are simply the best loved here!

  9. I love to look in magazines at antiques and expensive “old things”. However, I can’t afford those items. In my family there really are no “family heirloom pieces” of anything to pass down. So to me, I adore making things from old pieces. Signs from old pieces of wood, creating what looks like family heirlooms. I am a professed curb and junk picker. It amazes me what people put out at the curb. The best compliment I ever received was from my brother-in-law. He said every time he visits our house it feels more like home to him. Maybe our homes just reflect how we feel about it. Homemade pieces are crafted with LOVE, mass produced pieces are nice, but not made with love, I think the difference shows.

    • That’s a really nice compliment from your brother in law! Speaks volumes. I remember one kitchen ceiling I had, that was planked in warm wood. My sister would look up and comment how homey she felt there. I think there’s a little magic in that reclaimed wood!

  10. ..it takes YEARS to build a home..its not about going to the designer store and picking out the latest and greatest..its about breathing life into the wood and walls…its about making the house feel ALIVE. I dont know that I really have a set design/style i buy what i connect with, or i make it..and i love what i have made. sounds like i am full of myself right??? hahahah well maybe a little. but i have to live here and i will love it!!!

    • Ohh Kate, there’s a reason I don’t make things to sell. They are too hard to part with! haha

      Especially when you get things right where you want them. But I’ve been tempted to sell so I have an excuse to make more, so there’s that!

      • okay okay…i see your game now…you make things you love to make, and then get to make more of said things because you cant part with them…ah-ha!! your plan..its a good one….i must implement…oh wise one..

  11. I love this post. It really speaks to the heart of making our home a home. You have a gift that you use brilliantly! You have what I call the artistic eye. I have a sister, a sister-in-law and a friend who are all gifted like you. They all have very different tastes but their homes are beautiful like yours because of their desire to make a home. Sad to say I do not have that talent, but I look at a lot of blogs, Pinterest and my friends homes and copy elements. It truly is a journey. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Thanks Peggy! Now if I could hone in on how to keep it tidy once I get it looking like in these pictures, I’ll really be somewhere! 🙂

      There’s a little trick to having something look good in a home. I’ll carry it around, and find the PERFECT spot for it. Not any spot will do. If it can hold its weight by itself and with stuff around it, it stays, otherwise I try, try again! But that’s the fun part anyway. 🙂

      Thanks for the very kind compliments!

  12. I love your blog and this post says it all for me. I come by my love of old “junk” honestly as my mother got most of our furniture and decor at the same places you shop!! 🙂 But of course in the 50s and 60s it wasn’t all that cool. (Embarrassing is the word I would use for us kids.) But what she did with the little she had made our house a home. I now live in a lovely house that I am slowly making over into the home of my dreams. Just today I finished painting the cabinets in the bathroom. We don’t have the $$ to make huge changes so I make small ones as I have the time. Paint of course is my first go to item, but I so love so many of my old junky purchases that I have remade into lovely items in my home. I have an old ladder next to a brand-new piano, I have an old piano stool as a low table between two (not so new) wing back chairs. An old repainted dresser behind the couch and the list goes on. The old gives the house character against the new. Love the look and you are right, you can’t buy that kind of decor. I too get comments on my home, that it is homey and I love hearing that, because at first I was a bit scared people would think my house was just a mishmash of junky stuff. Now I enjoy my journey of decorating with junk. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. I agree. I had an older home we gutted and re did. My interior was all flea market, garage sale, homemade and hand me downs. I received the best compliments on that home.

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