How to get an Anthropologie free-spirited, lived-in bohemian interior without the Anthropologie price.
SHOPPING AROUND | What do French flea markets, mom-and-pop vintage furniture shops, Mildred Pierce’s kitchen, gypsy caravans, peasant-made pottery and every fabric bazaar in India have in common? Nothing, really—or everything, if you’re the man who shops the world to create the “look” associated with American megabrand Anthropologie, the fashion and furnishings lifestyle chain.
While Anthropologie is foremost a fashion emporium, its home décor products—which include furniture, lighting, hardware, rugs, curtains, wall coverings, bedding and housewares—have such a cult following the company opened a number of “decorator concept shops” in select U.S. stores to help customers put together “a signature Anthropologie interior”—a look that, despite its “free-spirited, lived-in bohemian overtones,” doesn’t come cheap.
Much as we love Anthropologie’s furnishings, it was the chain’s high prices that prompted us to see whether we could pull together a faux Anthropologie look (which is faux to begin with) for anything resembling a reasonable price, and it turned out we could. We found a surprising number of Anthropologie lookalike furnishings at HomeSense, though before we could spot them easily, we had to create our own Anthropologie Home Style Guide (and decorating lookbook), by studying their website.
The Elements of Anthropologie Style
1. Worn In—as in washed-out colours for bedding and curtains, and a distressed look for furniture.
2. Vintage—furniture pieces that look like they were originally from a different era (the 18th, 19th, 20th centuries) and feel like they are in limited supply.
3. Pattern—Floral and paisley bedding and rugs, either ethnic (as in prints from India, or gypsy patterns), or unexpectedly bold Marimekko, Missioni, Josef Frank patterns on traditional furniture pieces.
4. Handmade—particularly in dinnerware and serveware, and reflected in asymmetrical shapes, hand-painted designs (sometimes naïf) in bright high-contrast colours.
5. Raw—both wood, left rustic, and metal, left natural, for items like tables, shelves and mirror frames. Some pieces look utilitarian, almost industrial (like the lamp in the photo above).
6. Back-story—Anthropologie pieces look like they belonged to someone else before the company scooped them up—even when they are new.
Armed with our style guide and lookbook (aka images from their catalog), we headed for HomeSense and found bedding, pillows, mirrors, dishes, coffee tables, sideboards, distressed metal tables and tabletop accessories. Any one of these items could slip easily into Anthropologie’s line. —Annabel Lee