Surfaces decorated with uniformly dispersed catalytically active nanoparticles play a key role in many fields, including renewable energy and catalysis. Typically, these structures are prepared by deposition techniques, but alternatively they could be made by growing the nanoparticles in situ directly from the (porous) backbone support. Here we demonstrate that growing nano-size phases from perovskites can be controlled through judicious choice of composition, particularly by tuning deviations from the ideal ABO3 stoichiometry. This non-stoichiometry facilitates a change in equilibrium position to make particle exsolution much more dynamic, enabling the preparation of compositionally diverse nanoparticles (that is, metallic, oxides or mixtures) and seems to afford unprecedented control over particle size, distribution and surface anchorage. The phenomenon is also shown to be influenced strongly by surface reorganization characteristics. The concept exemplified here may serve in the design and development of more sophisticated oxide materials with advanced functionality across a range of possible domains of application.