Decorating with found objects is one of the most organic and natural ways to add character and visual interest to any space. Unlike mass-produced decor, found objects have a uniqueness and authenticity that feels special. Their imperfections and unintentional beauty help create cozy, lived-in spaces that feel welcoming and real.
What are Found Objects?
Found objects are unaltered objects that are found, rather than created expressly for decor. They are sourced from nature or salvaged from everyday life before being creatively repurposed in the home.
Found objects encompass a wide range of items, including:
- Natural elements like driftwood, stones, shells, and pinecones
- Vintage goods like old windows, doors, and farm tools
- Discarded items such as old crates, buckets, and shutters
- Anything else interesting discovered in the everyday world – from books and maps to tennis balls and birdcages
The randomness and variety are part of what makes decorating with found objects so intriguing. You never know what unexpected treasures you might uncover.
Why Decorate with Found Objects?
Found objects have an organic, casual feel that fits beautifully into many decor styles, from farmhouse to industrial, vintage to bohemian.
Here are some of the top reasons found objects make such meaningful home accents:
They Add Character
Found objects are the opposite of cookie-cutter decor. Their imperfections, patina, and inherent quirkiness infuse spaces with warmth, story, and personality.
They Connect You to Nature
Natural found objects like stones, feathers, and branches let you enjoy nature’s simple beauty right inside your home. They create a soothing, grounded feel.
They Showcase Texture
From weathered wood to twisted vines, found objects provide visual depth through varied organic textures not easily replicated. Touching these textures engages the senses.
They Spark Imagination
The randomness of found objects opens up creative possibilities. Displaying them encourages you to see everyday items in a new light.
They Recycle What Already Exists
Upcycling found objects is sustainable. You give discarded items renewed purpose without consuming new resources or producing waste.
They Make Meaningful Souvenirs
Found objects collected during travels become nostalgic keepsakes full of memories. They don’t have to cost money to hold priceless emotional value.
They Offer Endless Variety
From rusty tools to seashells, the options for found objects are nearly infinite. The hunt for unique pieces never gets boring.
They Provide Affordable Style
You can decorate stylishly on a budget with found objects sourced for free or little cost. Beachcombing and thrifting yield endless possibilities.
They Show Off Your Personality
Carefully curated found objects that speak to you are a more authentic reflection of personal style than store-bought decor.
They Give a Nod to History
Vintage found objects like washboards, milk bottles, and signage celebrate rural and industrial history in a tangible way.
How to Decorate with Found Objects
Ready to try your hand at decorating with found objects? Follow these tips and tricks:
Keep your eyes open for possibilities, but obtain found objects in ethical ways. Ask permission before taking anything still in use or on private property. Be respectful of nature – never remove live plants or endangered species.
Clean and Prepare
Brush off dirt, sand, or cobwebs. Soak, scrub, or wipe down as needed. Sand or buff away rough edges if necessary. Prime or seal porous found objects before painting or staining.
Cluster, stack, hang or prop found objects for artful vignettes. Mix colors, shapes and textures for visual interest. Allow negative space around each item to keep the look relaxed.
Group by Theme
Tie your collection together by displaying same-category found objects, like all sea-inspired or all music-related pieces. Or tell a story through unrelated objects styled cohesively.
Repurpose items in playful ways, like teacups holding pencils or an old crate housing blankets. Let found objects inspire you to think outside the box.
Introduce found objects slowly and style them purposefully. Just one meaningful antique or a simple nature display can make a statement versus cluttering with too many pieces at once.
Focus the Eye
Direct attention to your favorite found object in a vignette by placing it off-center or elevated through risers, pedestals or hanging. Keep embellishments around it minimal.
Ensure your found objects are stable, sturdy, and durable enough for their intended use. Smooth sharp edges. Use weatherproof or water-resistant finishes outdoors.
Let each found object stand out by providing breathing room around displays. Too many pieces crowded together lose impact and seem haphazard rather than purposeful.
Mix with Other Decor
Blend found objects with some new accents to balance the aged look. Combining natural, modern, rustic and other styles creates an eclectic vibe with broad appeal.
Ideas for Decorating with Found Objects
Found objects can be integrated anywhere into home decor. Here are some clever and creative ways to display them throughout your space:
An old window frame leaned against the wall holds hooks for coats and keys. Vintage signs point the way to the powder room or den. Scavenged railroad spikes become an adventurous coat rack.
Clustered seashells and driftwood on the mantel create a beachy vibe. Old books are stacked into an end table. A wooden ladder turned on its side holds blankets.
Cut-crystal vases give mini pinecones a formal feeling on the tabletop. Wine corks line a shadowbox display. Vintage silverware gets new life in an urn.
Glass jars of varying sizes filled with beans, pasta, or other pantry items add eclectic open storage. Repurposed crates under a farmhouse sink tidy odds and ends.
An old door reborn as a rustic headboard sets the found-object tone. A glass ball fishing float hangs in the window. Scrap wood pieces form an artsy wall accent.
Sea glass collected from travels fills apothecary jars on open shelves. Old bottles hold cotton balls and Q-tips on the counter. A wooden ladder holds folded towels.
An old suitcase stores office supplies and papers. Vintage postcards or ticket stubs pin inspiration to a bulletin board. Typewriter keys spell out words on the desktop.
Kids’ Rooms & Play Spaces
Colorful glass or ceramic pieces decorate shelves. An old colander, funnel, and measuring cups stock the play kitchen. Wood slices act as unique wall hooks.
Backyard & Patio
Repurposed metal wash bins make attractive planters. Old shutters add texture to an outdoor wall. A painted and stenciled pallet becomes a vertical garden.
Additional Display Ideas
- Gallery wall
- Tray decor
With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless for adding found object style throughout your whole home.
Where to Find Found Objects
The thrill of the hunt makes decorating with found objects even more fun. Here are some top places to uncover unique pieces:
Around Your Home
Take a second look at what you already own. Everyday items like old books, baskets, and boxes gain new life when showcased decoratively.
Out in Nature
Gather interesting stones, sticks, pinecones, shells and other natural elements while hiking or beachcombing. Always be mindful of preserving the environment.
Scour yard and garage sales for cast-off vintage treasures. You never know what you might discover for just a few dollars.
Thrift & Consignment Shops
Scan the shelves and rummage through bins to uncover found object gold for bargain prices. Visit often as inventory continually rotates.
Antique Shops & Flea Markets
Wandering through rows of vendors reveals all kinds of possibilities from light fixtures to signage to glassware waiting to be upcycled. Haggle for deals.
Salvage Yards & Reclamation Centers
These warehouses are treasure troves for decor and building materials reclaimed from old structures. Search carefully and bring a truck!
Bid on found objects from home through auction websites. Search your area or beyond for picks shipped right to your door.
Family & Friends
Ask loved ones if they have any old decor items or heirlooms they’d like to pass along to you for repurposing. This gives the objects new life.
The thrill of stumbling upon that perfect found object is priceless. Let your creativity guide you as you transform overlooked items into meaningful home accents.
Creative Ways to Display Found Objects
Found objects truly shine when thoughtfully displayed. Use these creative styling ideas to showcase your unique pieces:
Hang on the Wall
Place shells in an old window frame. Mount vintage tools or signage on boards. Display colorful glass floats in an unrelated frame. Prop and hang items on ledges.
Showcase in Open Shelving
Line bookshelves with collected objects grouped by color, theme, or texture. Stagger items vertically using risers and bookends. Hang items from shelf edges.
Style on the Stairs
Place found objects on stair ledges, rails, and risers to pass by closely. Cluster items of various heights for dimension.
Build Finds Into Furniture
Incorporate old tools, game pieces, marbles, or silverware into the design of a table, headboard, bench, or other DIY furniture project.
Place small found objects inside covered bowls, jars, tanks, terrariums, or pots. Use risers if needed.
Create Artful Vignettes
Stylishly blend, stack, or cluster found objects on layered trays, pretty textiles, or bare tables. Coordinate colors and allow breathing room.
Make Category Collections
Display same-type items together artfully, like old books, globes, or birdcages. The repetition highlights shared details.
Float Found Objects
Place interesting driftwood, branches, feathers, or dried botanicals in hurricane vases or glass vessels for water displays.
Pair with Plants
Tuck small found objects at the base of houseplants. Use natural pieces like rocks to top succulent soil. Allow crawling vines to incorporate organic finds.
Use as Bookends
Stack vintage books between found object bookends, such as old tools, bookends, tins, or blocks.
Dot patios with planters made from repurposed items. Hang mirrors, oars, or shovels on exterior walls. Use old crates, ladders, and boxes as holders.
Make Unexpected Jewelry
Turn found pieces like watch parts, Scrabble tiles, or typewriter keys into pendants, necklaces, rings or bracelets. Display on busts.
Ask for Found Object Memories
Solicit meaningful found objects from family and friends, like seashells from vacations, to preserve memories. Label or create a book about the history.
With a little creativity, the styling possibilities are endless. Allow yourself to think outside the box to make the most of your discoveries!
Choosing Found Objects for Every Decor Style
Found objects can complement any decor aesthetic when thoughtfully selected. Consider these ideas for honing in on pieces that enhance your intended style:
Vintage signs, ironstone, mason jars, galvanized buckets, crates, shutter, and barn doors
Aged wood, nature pieces, antlers, horseshoes, old windows and doors
Typewriters, globes, books, silverware, clocks, suitcases, radios, telephones, maps, advert signs
Pipes, pulleys, railway spikes, stools, exposed bulbs, metal buckets, wire baskets, wheels, old machinery
Macrame, beads, jewelry, fabrics, pillows, incense holders, painted wood signs
Shells, corals, sand dollars, oars, life preservers, buoys, driftwood, fishing nets, starfish
Repurposed everyday items like sfrofoam cups, tennis balls, televisions, metal bowls
A vibrant mix of eras, styles, and sources for an element of surprise
Focus on one or two unexpected found objects as statement accents against clean backdrops
Pay attention to color, texture, era, and uniqueness when sourcing found decor. Choosing purposefully will create cohesion and allow your overall aesthetic to shine.
Inspiring Examples of Found Object Decor
Need a little inspiration before seeking out your own found decor treasures? Here are some stunning spaces showcasing found objects:
Rustic Lake House
A relaxed lake house interior blends natural elements like birch logs, river rocks, pine cones, and branches for organic texture. Displays look casually grouped with lots of breathing room.
Vintage Industrial Loft
Exposed brick, piping, hardwood floors, and metal accents play up the urban loft vibe. Pops of color come from repurposed signage, stools, and lighting.
Boho Chic Apartment
Richly patterned rugs and pillows combine with diverse cultural artifacts, woven wall hangings, and vintage curios for global flair.
A vintage dough bowl and rolling pin on open shelves, galvanized metal buckets below the sink, and mason jars as dispensers give this cook space serious farmhouse charm.
Modern Beach House
White walls, wood tones, and pops of blue set the beachy stage for decorative corals, shells, driftwood, mirrors, and whitewashed buoys for coastal style.
Collector’s Home Library
The cool patina of leather-bound books is matched by the warmth of collected vintage curios, antique globes, insect drawings, and bell jars.
Salvaged Backyard Shed
Mismatched windows, recycled barn siding, and custom touches from old machinery parts, ladders, and hardware reinvent an outdoor shed into a stylish gathering spot.
Sweet vintage characters mingle with fabric bunting, an old suitcase housing toys, and a refinished dresser for loads of charm.
Found Object Gallery Wall
An eclectic wall medley artfully weaves together framed botanicals, small woven baskets, reinvented silverware, and vintage signage hung salon-style.
Let these stunning spaces ignite ideas for decorating your own home with fabulous found objects ripe for repurposing!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best place to look for unique found objects?
Great places to find one-of-a-kind objects include yard sales, estate sales, antique shops, salvage yards, and sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You can also creatively repurpose items you already own or are planning to discard.
How much does it typically cost to decorate with found objects?
The great thing about decorating with found objects is you can do it very affordably. Many pieces can be sourced for free or just a few dollars each. For more valuable antiques or specialty reclaimed decor, you may pay more but often still less than buying new mass-produced items.
What are some beginner found object projects?
Great starter projects include creating a beachy shadowbox frame filled with shells, making over crates or boxes into storage, grouping books or plants on stacked wood slices, and displaying natural elements like pinecones in a glass apothecary jar.
How do I incorporate my travel finds into my home decor?
Souvenirs like seashells, pebbles, maps or trinkets become more meaningful displayed purposefully at home. Add labels or notes in a memory book. Style collections from each destination together. Use finds creatively as holders for photos, jewelry, office supplies, etc.
How do I style found objects on shelves or tabletops?
Create appealing vignettes by varying heights and combining several smaller found objects in clusters for visual impact. Leave negative space between groupings and don’t overcrowd. Keep similar colors and textures together for harmony. Play with asymmetry for interest.
How can I decorate with found objects on a budget?
Scour yard and garage sales, thrift stores, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace for very low-cost vintage or discarded items ripe for a makeover. Limit your displays to just a few thoughtfully styled found objects in each space rather than going overboard. DIY inexpensive upgrades like paint, stencils or reclaimed wood.
Found objects offer endless creativity at affordable prices to make your home uniquely yours. Embrace their imperfections, source thoughtfully, display artfully, and most importantly – have fun putting your own spin on found decor!
Decorating with found objects adds natural beauty, meaning, and personality to living spaces in a way mass-produced items simply cannot. Their imperfection is perfection. Found objects tell stories. They connect us to history, to nature, and even to ourselves. Displaying cherished discoveries sparks imagination and appreciation for the unintentional beauty all around us. With an open mind and a creative spirit, found objects can transform any home into a welcoming space that reflects the people, places, and memories most important in life.