If you follow Eddie Ross on Instagram, you may wonder where this guy is putting all the silver strawberry spoons, purple canning jars, Italian ceramic monkeys and stacks of gold-rimmed china he is constantly scoring at flea markets and thrift shops.
In his new book, Modern Mix: Curating Personal Style With Chic & Accessible Finds, which he wrote with his partner Jaithan Kochar, the design blogger expounds on how to find and live with things you love. All of them.
Ross, 36, who is also the East Coast editor of Better Homes & Gardens, has always championed the lush life and the mix of old and new in decorating and entertaining. He has styled vignettes and parties for House Beautiful and appeared in Bravo’s Top Design series and on HGTV specials.
Ross loves nothing more than poking through secondhand stores and estate sales, hunting for affordable pieces to add to his collections. The best thrifting picks, he advises, are often at Salvation Army or Goodwill stores near affluent neighborhoods.
And in his book he explains how to mix it all up, creating table settings and artful coffee table vignettes.
Ross and Kochar have an apartment in East Harlem and are looking to buy a place in Connecticut; they recently sold Pine Hill Farm, the cozy and colorful country home that appears in many photos in the book. And although they have things in storage even after a huge tag sale, they are ready to start collecting more stuff for the next round.
I asked Ross to dish on entertaining and living with lots of stuff.
Q: What are the five things you should own if you are going to be doing holiday entertaining?
A: Have a nice set of mix-and-match flatware. You can pick up all kinds of pieces out there. I use silver plate and put it in the dishwasher and it’s fine. Get a set of modernist glassware from Crate and Barrel and mix it with a vintage set.
Linen napkins are a must, even if they’re from World Market. There are lots of great vintage linens out there, too. Throw napkins in the washer and dryer; they don’t always need to be pressed to perfection. Tie them in a knot and throw them on a plate and no one will know they aren’t perfectly ironed.
Find a cool soup tureen; this is a multipurpose item that can hold a stew or a flower arrangement. Buy a cake edestal; they add height and can be used for lots of things such as hors d’oeuvres, desserts and baked brie.
Q: How should you stock a bar cart?
A: You need a great pitcher or a jug, an ice bucket, stirring spoon, cocktail shaker and glasses to serve drinks on the rocks. I have seen lots of people put wine bottles and wine glasses on a bar cart, but you don’t want your wine sitting out. A bar cart is to serve cocktails.
Q: How do you inject personality into your home?
A: This is one of the hardest things when it comes to decorating. Today, lots of trendy inexpensive big-box stores sell a lot of inexpensive accessories that you might think would add personal style. But five of your friends might walk in and buy the same stuff. Thrifting, flea market and vintage shopping can add much more personal looks with the things you uncover.
Q: Can’t you find old things by shopping a relative’s closets?
A: I was able to inherit things from my grandparents, like the silverware they got for their wedding. I don’t come from a wealthy family. But every family has treasures. When you start talking to the older generation about things that you love, their faces may light up. I was talking to my aunt about some things, and she said, “I have something like that in my attic that I would be thrilled to give to you.” It’s so nice when you have them over and use their things. I remember my grandparents, when I used their Daffodil pattern silver-plated flatware, they loved the fact that it was being used and loved and more family memories were being created.
Q: What is a modern mix?
A: For me, it’s captivating combinations of new and old, simple and elaborate, rough and refined. I like pattern on pattern and layers of color. Today, people aren’t living with everything just old or everything just new. It’s about educating your eye.
Q: So what would Marie Kondo of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up have to say about your love of stuff?
A: There is a reason for everything that is at my house. I am very organized on my shelving and in my drawers. Being orderly is key if you have a lot of things. I know where each and every piece is. Just call me a hoarder of beautiful things.