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What’s Your Take?: Accessorizing with Busts

Today I’m asking YOUR opinion, and I hope you’ll weigh in in the comments section. What’s your take on decorating with busts?

Not THAT kind of busts!

You GUYS. Just be mature. Like ME.

*ahem*

In the last post, I showed you my new little friend, Matilda, there on the right.


I got her for $9.98 on clearance at World Market recently. I knew she was kinda quirky, but I also thought she was fun and/or dignified and/or inexpensive.
Decorating with busts and sculptures: what's your opinion?
(Update: I’m getting the sense from a few comments that you can’t tell Matilda is clothed. She’s a modest lady with a little dress on. She would never appear in public otherwise.) When I got home and showed Andy, it was clear that he loved her as much as I did. He said such things as:

“Gross! What is that?!”

and

“What’s wrong with her left nipple?”

It’s just… lightly distressed…?
You’re making her uncomfortable!
Distressed nipples are IN right now! You wouldn’t understand.

In an effort to convince him that it’s not totally crazers to welcome the severed torso of an ancient Greek woman into our bedroom (although, now that I say it like that… hmm), I dug up a few pictures of busty vignettes.

Like this happy couple, who gaze longingly at each other all their days.
Centsational Girl

Centsational Girl

Or this coy dame, layered over art for a calming vignette.
Tobi_Fairley
Tobi Fairley Interior Design

And how about this happy fellow? (Or is it a lady? There are no distressed nipples to indicate either way.)
martha_ohara
Martha O’Hara Interiors

This proper gentlewoman sits grandly atop a perfectly styled bookcase. Doesn’t she add so much personality? I bet her view gets old after a while.
lonny
Lonny Magazine

Who can’t use a little sculptural friend to oversee the corner of their eclectic living room?
Gary_Spain
Gary Spain Design

Or to store their straw hattage?
Domino
Domino magazine

And who wouldn’t want to sip a gin and tonic with our dear friend JFK?
Bust of JFK and bar cart

Society Social

See? I think busts can totally be done right.

That said, they can also be done wrong. Or creepily.

First, I think the best busts have friendly faces. You know, the people you’d like to sit beside at a dinner party. This guy disapproves of everything you’ve ever thought and it makes me defensive.
bust on skirted table

source unknown… anyone?

Please feel free to disagree, but personally, I believe you greatly up the creeped-out factor when you bring in an entire posse of these guys. For example, I do NOT want to eat here. I’m certain they’d be gossiping about my table manners, or perhaps crying out for rescue in a creepy whispering chorus.
Cote_de_texas
Stephen Falcke Design

And this. Well.
images
Once you find yourself propping cement heads casually in urns and laying them sideways on tables, you might reconsider your life’s trajectory.

Of course, like all healthy discussions of decor, it all comes back around to the King of Rock and Roll.
elvis

And nipple distressing.


I think Matilda is friendly and approachable, though I realize decorating with busts is a controversial love-it-or-hate-it move.
Decorating with sculptural busts: yes or no? Come give your opinion!

What I really want to know is – what’s your take? Do you dig the look? Does it creep you out? Would you welcome a gang of sculptural busts into your home, or just one? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

P.S.: I love these “what’s your take” posts where we all weigh in on a controversial decorating topic! Check out past posts on faux flowers, brass/bronze, kilim rugs, Jacobean floral fabrics, and Juju hats.



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Comments

  1. i’m always a fan of a little quirk, and i like matilda…. and i like her better accessorized! plus it helps hide that damaged left nipple. 😉

    • Veronica Martinez says:

      I love busts and distressed looking statues of all sorts. I own a couple myself,and use them all over the house, I’m always looking for more. Love the bath vanity

  2. Doesn’t creep me out one bit. I have one too that I brought from Germany. Bought it as a teenager. So I’ve liked them for a long time 😉

  3. To me they are like the inside version of garden gnomes 😉 people will either LOVE them or not get it. I like them in your house with your grouping. I don’t like them in my log cabin because……. It just doesn’t look right. They add a touch of “I’m all grown up” to your decorating skills 🙂

  4. carol jane says:

    I never really gave it a thought, but I kinda like it. Looks good styled the way you did it. What is the pretty gray wall color ? I would love to know. Please??? Color/brand?

  5. hmmmmmmm, I don’t mind them, I might have one one day … or maybe not. Distressed nipples though, totally!

  6. Heehee…this post reminds me of a decorating dilemma we had when we were first married. My husband bought a large bust of Beethoven at a yard sale, and I HATED it! It was too big and had an ugly tan finish and a scary face. I made him get rid of it (I’m so mean!), but if I spray painted it, it would probably be very in right now. The one you have on display looks nice, not scary. I would put it in my house. 🙂

  7. I guess I’m impartial to them because I really don’t pay much attention to them but I don’t hate them. Matilda’s distressed boob is stressing me out a little. Let’s not tell her though. She already has Andy ragging on her.

  8. I love it. I’ve been shopping around for a bust…that sounds like I’m getting plasitc surgery…um…NO! I wish I had a WM close by cuz I like yours. DANG! That sounded creepy too! xo Kristin

  9. Cracking. Up. I agree that I would most def not want a grouchy bust looking at me while I’m trying to watch tv. I would love a pretty, vintage lady though in the perfect shade of white. Like yours only without the distressed nipple. 🙂 Fun post!

  10. I’m not a fan. I mean, I like them in a museum. But I would not put them in my house. The one picture of all the busts on the wall in the dining room is totally creepy… like out of a Halloween cartoon or something! But that is just me…

  11. Hilarious! I like the happy, friendly busts. Creepy, mean, armies of busts, not so much.

    • Armies, haha! That’s such an accurate description, because I feel like once you put more than one bust together, that’s when they attack.

      • I couldn’t agree more with this conversation. In fact, when you wrote about them “crying out for rescue in a creepy whispering chorus,” a scary movie trailer played out in my mind. As someone with a VERY vivid imagination, an army of busts would most definitely work their way into my nightmares at night. Now, one sweet Matilda donning my favorite necklace? She can stay. Her sweet sweet smile puts all thoughts of zombie bust armies to rest.

  12. MarieRoxanne says:

    I particularly don’t want them in my home… but I won’t prevent others from having them in their homes. I do admire the quality of the work put into creating theses pieces of sculpture. They remind me of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

  13. I like them! Nichole at Making It Lovely has (had?) 2 on her dining room table that were planters and I thought they were so weird and awesome.

  14. Marla L. says:

    The one on your dresser is cute, but some of those were creepy. Like the ones in the dining area all on separate shelves, yuck!

  15. That dining room totally creeped me out. People are strange. But yours…I like yours (although I do think her nipple needs a bit of something…not sure what…maybe a scarf?). I have a glass head (from Pier 1 waaaay back in the day). I used to put hats on him, but now he just sits on our bookcase and totally freaks my husband out. I wish he had a neck so that i could put jewellery on him (it’s clearly a him, so maybe that’s weird too???), but he doesn’t. Anyhow, to get to my long winded point…I like the busts, just in moderation!

    • HAH! I have the same glass head. And it freaks my husband out, too – newcomers to my home almost always comment on it – it sits on a low shelf, sort of out of the way, so as not to freak too many people out 🙂

  16. I like yours, but I don’t think I’d have one in my house as they are not my thing and I know without even asking they wouldn’t be my hubby’s either. You, however, have a good eye. Keep up the great work!

    • P.S. I’m with your hubby and the left nipple thing. I saw that and immediately thought that distressing right there made it look like her nipple was showing so I would have to paint that part. Jus’ sayin’……….. LOL!

  17. Jenna Shimmin says:

    I LOVE the bust-y look (sorry, couldn’t resist), but I agree that fewer is better. And definitely far less creepy. One or two looks quite nice. And the bust you have isn’t over distressed so it looks just fine! :o)

  18. I have one small bust. It was a gift from a friend who went to Italy, so I hide it in my bathroom, think it’s only like 5 inches tall and both nipples are intact.

    I love Andy.

    Bliss

    • I think this is one of those situations where you just don’t appreciate intact nipples until they’re gone.

  19. There is definitely a fine line between a good bust and a bad bust… And not all busts are mean to be displayed. Just sayin’…

    Your bust is lovely… And I am talking about Matilda, just in case you got confused.

  20. Susan Takeda says:

    What a fun post. I am indifferent about the use of busts although I always felt they belonged in very traditional decor. You have proved me wrong. There is definitely a right way and a wrong way to use them. The wall of busts in the dining room look like something from Hogwarts. They are going to help Harry out as he saves the wizarding world.

  21. I get it, but personally I’m not a fan! But then, my husband likes gargoyles and I’m not a fan of those either! Those creep me out more than busts do. A little off topic, but I will say I am a big fan of little elves and gnomes running around my garden 🙂

  22. Don’t bother googling “Decorating with Doll Heads” because apparently that’s a thing too… creepy mccreeperson.

    YAY for busts, NAY for doll heads!

  23. Kelly, I love your sense of humor in your posts, you had me laughing through this whole thing. I love a good distressed bust! I think they’re quirky and whimsical. When we had our piano, I had a mini Schubert bust sitting on the piano for years and it was one of my favorite things in the living room. I wonder where that thing went? 🙂 Sharon

  24. b2lawrence says:

    Nope. No heads for me. Other types of sculpture are possibly okay although definitely not anything Greek either.

  25. I agree, some busts can be creepy (or the way they are displayed, like the one lying on it’s side under the table. That’s just weird!) Your bust is totally fabulous!!! (I’m sure Andy tells you that all the time!) I think she needs one of those Madonna metallic nipple things with a tassle hanging off the end!!

  26. I think you did it right Kelly! It’s soft and feminine and goes great with your vignette. I don’t think my husband would like a bust in our house, but I’d totally try to sneak one in if I thought I could pull it off like you!

  27. I don’t like the idea of being out numbered. It definitely ups the creep factor. In a small quantity, lets say 1, it is ok. Otherwise it rates up there with clowns and one-eyed doll heads.

  28. Busts? I love them! I have several. Not a fan of that pic you showed of them lined up on the wall, but I like the pic of those laid on the table and arranged in pots, etc… I am all about the quirky and unexpected!

  29. I don’t hate them, but I don’t know that I’d choose to bring one into my home. And the distressing is, um, sort of disturbing. But I wouldn’t have noticed until you pointed it out.

  30. I love what you did with it! I think it is very pretty by your tray. I have an old jade hand on a tray that holds things for me. (looks like a manequin hand) Most of my family thinks it is creepy. My little boy (3) always tells me he loves my creepy hand when he looks at it.

  31. I’ll admit my mind immediately thought of the other kind of bust first. I mean only because I do a lot of online shopping and have to pay attention to sizing. Yeah that doesn’t sound believable to me either.

    I love decorating with busts! They look amazing! I have a JFK bust and nothing says awesome like creepy heads sprinkled throughout the house for styling purposes.

  32. I love them! I think they really add to a persons room / decor!

  33. I wouldn’t personally decorate w/ such pieces, but then again, it’s no secret that we have very different decorating styles. Mainly, just that I don’t decorate/accessorize my house 🙂 I love what you do and how you make “quirky” fit into the daily…I also admire that you’re always budget conscious. If I ever owned a grand estate w/ a large foyers, etc. I think a naked statue or two would look nice but I think I’d prefer to have the whole body featured (and female only) as opposed to just heads, or head w/ neckline. The female body is beautiful, even when distressed nipples are involved 🙂

  34. I wouldn’t decorate with a bust – I think they’re kind of creepy. But your girl is okay in the setting you have her, as long as you keep her crusty nipple covered.

  35. Not a fan.

    In my opinion, all busts world wide should live on the shelves of a thrift store. It always look to me like the decorator couldn’t figure out how to finish a space so they just throw a bust in. Sort of like the hospital dietician who couldn’t figure out how to increase the calorie count of a meal so she just slapped a second pat of butter on the tray.

    Nearly always, I enjoy your decorating style and enjoy your blog very much. Busts, though, just aren’t my thing. Sorry. 🙁

  36. There is a bust of my great-great-grandfather in the home of my aunt. It has been fought over through every generation. It almost ended up at the bottom of a lake. I look forward to the day that I get to fight over it.

  37. Hahaha. Andys response (and your phrasing of it) is priceless. I think you styled her well, but can’t say I would jump on owning one any time soon. I did used to hate the golden animal bookends everywhere but now I think they are pretty cool. So you never know!

  38. I actually love it!!! Can’t believe it, but I do!

  39. I don’t have any decorative busts in my home but I am not opposed to them. The Wall ‘o Heads is creepy as are the ones of actual people but your little lady is innocent enough. I don’t care that her nipple might indicate otherwise 😉

  40. hahahaaaa distressed nipples. She probably feels better with a necklace covering her up a bit. Rick would have the same exact reaction to Matilda or any of her counterparts, so I don’t think I’ll attempt it. (That menagerie of heads is extraordinarily creepy.)

  41. Kelly, I like it! 🙂 it’s a different look; the distressed nipple 😉

  42. I think a small one like yours is cute, or ones sitting in the bookcases. I am not yet sold on a wall full in my dining room, but if that’s the new plate wall I may have to change my mind 😉

  43. We have busts of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, etc. all over our piano room. The kids would get their favorites. I am glad nobody picked that Elvis one you have pictured. He looks a little too wild for me.

    Fun post.

    • Piano room?! Busts of composers?! *sigh* Teri, I am swooning…I am so seriously jealous. Sounds lovely.

  44. I say yes to the bust. Bust out all your busts, but please let golden winged Elvis make his final call and it should be: Las Vegas or bust!!!

    😉

  45. Baaaaahahaha your posts always make me actually laugh out loud which is always such a pleasant part of my day! I like them in homes that are as stylish as yours.
    Xx

  46. ha! I think yours is nice. And of course the Elvis one. The JFK one makes me want an Abe Lincoln for Abe’s room. I’m not sure it would occur to me to buy a bust for my house. But maybe it would. If I saw one that spoke to me (not literally, because that would DEFINITELY be creepy)

  47. susan@susanfromaustralia.blogspot.com says:

    Not a fan, but your lady looks good with your styling expertise. I have to say that as we age, all of our nipples become distressed, so maybe she is a pensioner? That wall of heads is totally creepy – like clown or doll heads, eeeuuww! It would never cross my mind to buy a bust, but yours was a total bargain at that price. And she looks good with the accessories.

  48. Hilarious post! Let’s say you have some really annoying dinner guests you don’t want lingering… On such occasions I am all for decorating with a wall of creepy busts. Of course if they are truly annoying it could backfire on you because chances are they would think you have fabulous taste.

  49. Hmmm…personally, not a fav of mine. =) Actually, I would feel uncomfortable having one that wouldn’t be modest for the sake of my husband and sons. (plus having something like that would be risky in our house with all the “living” that goes on in a small space and would have a good chance of ending up in smithereens in a short time!! :D) You have a knack of using unusual things in a very attractive way, though!

  50. For sure, the ones with more than two heads creep me out. It’s a little too Robespierre for me.

    But I do like Matilda, though I’d probably dress her up with a scarf or a feather boa to cover the nipple action.

  51. I LOVE it. I think I need to go to World Market to find my own distressed nipple bust woman. I am in project redo bedroom mode and I seriously think that would go well. And I totally agree – busts MUST be happy.

  52. I am open to the idea….in the right room. These are great examples.

  53. I have one from Joss & Main that I use for some of my necklaces and I love her! I say one bust is perfectly fabulous, but more than one is strange. Unless you put it outside in the garden and let it get that wonderful aged, mossy look. 🙂 forgive me, I can’t think straight — it’s May and it’s Friday.
    xo Heidi

  54. You crack me up! When I got to the one with all the creepy ones on the walls, I laughed out loud and my husband had to know what I was looking at. 🙂 My true favorite is the black one in the pretty living room…I totally agree they can be done well!!

  55. Matilda is great! I would keep her flying solo though, a bust collection is just weird! But alone she is a great, quirky, conversation piece. Of course my husband would echo yours, and be totally weirded out as well, haha. Fun post :0)

  56. Love love love. I need to pick up some sculptural pieces to add some quirk to our house.

  57. I actually sort of dig them. Even if they walk the line of creepy. What can I say? That’s just me. I especially like that one paired with antlers. Which I totally have a set of! Yussss….

  58. Anyone who asks why a nipple is distressed has clearly never nursed an infant.

  59. Gretchen says:

    If I were you, I think I’d take a moment to thank God for a wonderful husband who only wants to see one naked lady in his house – his own, beautiful wife! As Mom to two little boys, I like to do what I can to make sure I am helping them guard their minds in purity. I want to make sure our house is a haven where they don’t have to guard their eyes, knim? It’s got to be hard to be a guy in our culture!

    That said, I have nothing against busts in general – just no naked ones! And I think your display is lovely, with the warm pink and gold accents!

  60. LOVE! I have a giant bust of Giuliano de Medici that I got at HomeGoods for a steal a while back. He weighs about a billion pounds, is almost 3 feet tall and sports a fake mustache and a Halloween masquerade mask that we haven’t taken off of him since, well, Halloween. 3 years ago. Ahem. He doesn’t have a place to live in our new house but he’s going to be the star of that place when I find one for him! 🙂

  61. I really like the white Grecian/Roman women busts, they look great! I wish I could decorate that way but I’m sure it’d just look silly in my house. Not so sure about the King though… 🙂

  62. Personally, I think busts look best when there’s a brassiere involved. Oh wait, yeah, not that type of bust. I don’t know, I’m kind of impartial to busts. I tend to gravitate toward white ceramic animals and objects so who I am I to judge people who collect torsos?

  63. I don’t know why, but this reminds me of a post I saw on Craigslist a few months ago. The person was a dollmaker, but was retiring and trying to sale all of his doll-parts. The pictures were..disturbing. One box was full of little baby hands, one box of baby feet..and one box of heads with no eyes! I didn’t see a box of eyes. Hmm.

  64. Oh! Forgot to mention..We have a bust of Bear Bryant (Roll Tide Roll!), and a really beautiful statue, neck and head only, that my sweet Grandmother used as a perch for her wigs and pretty hats when she lost her hair due to chemo. I wouldn’t take a kabillion dollars for ‘Minnie’.

  65. Your post made me giggle aloud several times. Thanks.

  66. Linda T. says:

    I agree with Monica, your post does have a giggle factor to it.
    I never really thought about decorating with busts but now that I see it, I like it. I will be in search of one of my own now.

  67. I’m still undecided on them. I love that they bring a traditional yet whimsy flare to any space but, I do get a little freaked out thinking someone is watching me:).

    Great post!!!
    Kayla

  68. Jennifer says:

    I’m a fan. Just in small quantities (no thanks to the dining room surrounded in them). I will inherit one some day from my grandmother which a bust of her as a girl made of copper. It’s something I will display (& treasure) for a very long time.

  69. I’m a Matilda fan, too. (I respect a free-spirited gal who isn’t afraid of bold fashion choices.) And eventhough have a (decorative) bust, myself, I don’t think I would enjoy eating in that creepy dining room. (Too much of a Hannibal Lecter vibe.)

  70. I have a female bust just like half the couple, so I’m a yay! I don’t think I’d go overboard with them though. You need the right decor for them. Your vignette is lovely!

    Sue xo

  71. I am definitely a Matilda fan. My Mom bought recently for a bookshelf and it just works! Don’t think I would be able to eat in that dining room though…tres creepy!

  72. I fear if I try that mine would turn out like the creepy pics. Looking like a house of horrors. And I know that it would absolutely creep the kids. And the dog …

    But you did it perfectly and Matilda looks lovely — despite her overly distressed nipple …

    🙂 Linda

  73. There’s a bust in the new Good Housekeeping magazine! They’re in style…good work!

  74. Meredith says:

    Totally love busts. I found a generic greek – nippleless, likely male, at Home Goods. I brought him home and my husband stood firm – absolutely not. It pained me to think of returning him. A few days later, it was our anniversary and my husband, without a gift to offer, told me I could keep my bust. It was my favorite anniversary gift ever. That might seem sad but I really love my bust. He is glossy white ceramic which gives him a fresh, modern vibe. He sits on our mantel wearing an oversized felt handlebar mustache – so he doesn’t start to take himself too seriously.

  75. I already loved busts but now i can add the fond memory of bursting out in snickers whilst reading your post in front of my inlaws while watching late night television. I think i need to add one of these beauties to my decor just to make me smile.

  76. Hi! Just discovered your blog by googling decorating with busts! I love quirky. You should see my home. Haven’t named my busty chick yet (Mr. Delightful didn’t even notice her) yet. Loved your post! Very fun. I got bust at a local antique/craft mall for $9.07

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