Designer Carey Maloney’s first book is an obsessive, compulsive, brilliantly high-low primer to all the things—furniture, art, objects—that make a house truly personal.

«I HAVE FOUND IN LIFE THAT THE MORE you know, the more you like. When I arrived in New York and started work at Christie’s in the 1980s, I was a son of the Deep South and a lover of dark brown English furniture, Persian Serapi rugs, and Japanese Imari porcelain. Within months of exposure to the vast array of decorative and fine arts that pass through a great auction house, 1 was leaning more to French Directoire furniture and contemporary photography, and nervously skirting Art Deco.

Stuff was written to inspire readers to explore new areas of collecting. The idea is for us all to learn something— myself happily included—about a lot of subjects, from ivory to taxidermy from Regency penwork to protest art. The hope is that maybe something will catch the readers’ attention and prompt them to explore new interests in greater depth. I want to expand horizons and inspire confidence. Hopefully, readers will learn a bit, ponder their own rooms and possessions, and then go for it. Make a leap. Take a chance.

When it comes to finding great stuff, my partner, architect Hermes Mallea, and I have experience—and nothing builds confidence like experience. We’ve spent 30 years traveling far and wide, accumulating the best things for our clients and ourselves. We are worker bees and bottom-fishers who have amassed a poor man’s version of our rich clients’ worlds. Good isn’t necessarily expensive. It isn’t how much you spend, it’s how you spend.

Some clients we’ve shopped with have learned the hard way. When I said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want that, because, I hate to be pushy but, full disclosure, we’re buying it if you don’t,’ that translates as ‘Buy it!’ Because a) It has to be a bargain if we can afford it, and b) you are going to be very sad when you see it on our wall looking like a million dollars and that thing you spent a million dollars on looks poor in comparison.

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