Learn the tricks to finding chic and affordable home accessories that look artisanal but aren’t.
In our slick, insta-everything, full-automation, high-tech world, it’s perhaps no surprise that a design trend has emerged that’s decidedly going in the opposite direction. Handcrafted style honors the humanity of handcrafted home décor items with an appreciation for materials, craftsmanship and traditional techniques. Creating quality crafted items takes skill and time, and this generally (and rightly so) results in high prices. But while unique handcrafted pieces are out of reach for modest decorating budgets, it’s still possible to achieve a more affordable version of the look if you know what to look for.
Characteristics of the craft
With this style, understand that it is all about imperfection. Be ready to embrace the irregular – the handcrafted world is not polished or matched. Dye lots may differ and colors or patterns may not match exactly, even for similar items in a set. And that’s perfectly fine, even desirable, to encourage that sense of uniqueness.
Materials that matter
Wood, stone, metal, leather, clay, glass and other authentic materials, yielding and transforming through the work of human hands, are at the heart of the handcrafted style. Essential textiles are designed from natural fibers such as cotton, linen and wool, and decorative accessories are woven from renewable resources such as wicker, willow, seagrass and palm.
Palette, pattern and patina
Color is given a considered approach. Pass on the primaries and brights and look for calm tones inspired by nature and the earth. Dyes can be derived from plants or other natural means (or just look like it), and can be saturated or with a gently washed out effect. Some handcrafted patterns are created using age-old methods such as ikat, block printing, and marbling, while modern patterns with a hand-designed appearance may include uneven stripes or checks and checks that are not symmetrical. A craftsman’s attention leads to fine finishes—woods are oiled or rough-hewn, paint is rubbed, metals are polished or hammered—and the human touch can be directly evidenced by inconsistencies like bubbles in blown glass or fingerprints in ceramics.
Three ways to make it your own
We’ve focused on three distinct areas of crafting here, and found a selection of simple and affordable alternatives at Walmart.
Potters practice a true craft by throwing clay onto a wheel; without their hands the clay would not take form. The resulting pottery can be left in its natural state, hand-painted with colors such as stone, mud or terracotta based on the composition of the original clay, in the style of the artisan, or partially or fully glazed and fired. Different glazing techniques give different variations: dipped, dripped, mottled, mottled, speckled, pebbled or just matte.
Dishes: Tableware offers a wide range of glazing styles and there are many methods of creating a handcrafted effect. When a reactive glaze is applied, no two pieces are exactly alike. This warm-toned take on Better Homes & Gardens ($50, Walmart) also has stylish speckles—and at 16 pack for just under $50, it’s a bargain.
Planters: Outdoors, ceramic planters bring the handcrafted aesthetic to your garden, porch, or patio. Look for natural elements like terracotta, stone, and ceramic glazes.
Candles: Candles are always a quick, easy, and fragrant way to start a trend anywhere in your home. Opt for ceramic containers with artistic glaze treatments, like dipping and subtle colors, for the most contemporary twist. Add a ceramic candle from Better Homes & Gardens ($20, Walmart) to your space to achieve the look.
Nubby, slubby, knotted, tasseled, fringed and made to be touched. Handmade textiles showcase texture and technique – think flat or coarse loom weaves, tufted or looped constructions and chunky knits. Crafts like quilting or kantha-style stitching add visual and textural interest, along with more intricate applications like embroidery or crochet.
Decorative pillows: The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to handmade look cushions. Knitwear imparts softness, while other textures can be subtly executed in a monochromatic weave. For real statement effects, choose designs that feature an amorphous mix — maybe an asymmetrical patchwork of flat and tufted weaves, a geometric hi-lo pattern, or tasseled trim like these Better Homes & Gardens Loop Pillows ($25, Walmart) .
table linen: How to complement tableware with a handmade style? Bed linen such as runners, serviettes and placemats naturally have a hand-woven look. Slubby textures and fringed trimmings are a soft contrast to wooden tables and metal cutlery, adding relaxed luxury to the dining experience.
From twigs to bamboo and reeds to grasses, the weaving of natural materials into objects for domestic use has been common for centuries and perhaps even millennia. And while you can spend big bucks on complicated or historical examples, there’s a wide range of inexpensive options. You will find small decorative objects with handcrafted styling and even larger furniture with caning or rope.
Baskets: Woven baskets are the organization’s handcrafted heroes, and can be textured (think wicker or willow) or collapsible (think sisal or cotton rope). Weaves can be tighter or more permeable depending on the style of the weaver and the nature of the material – don’t forget to consider the future content when making your selection. Try using a pair of chunky baskets from Better Homes & Gardens ($55, Walmart) to collect blankets and pillows.
Small furniture: Less expensive and easier to move than, say, a wicker sofa or teak table, side furniture such as side tables, stools and benches with a handcrafted touch are an attractive solution.
Carpets: Here’s a hard-to-tell non-handmade secret: Some color-matched synthetic fiber rugs look just like hand-woven natural jute (like this Better Homes & Gardens Outdoor rug, $78, Walmart), but they’re actually more durable, waterproof, and a fraction the cost. You are welcome.