Two is a pair; three is a collection. And it seems as if more and more people are starting (or supplementing) a treasured collection. If you already have a collection or two, you know almost anything goes. It might be a grouping of books, antique jewelry, pieces of Americana, art deco dishes or mid-century furniture. And if you haven’t started a collection yet, keep reading. We’ll give you a few tips at the end of this post to get you going.
The fun of collecting for most people is in the displaying. But there’s an art to showing off your treasured objects. Despite the quantity of items you may have amassed, be careful to edit. The overall impression should be uncluttered and organized. This is easier said than done. But keep in mind, it’s easy and fun to rotate new object in and out of the display to freshen things up. And if you’re like most collectors, you’ll be finding new specimens to substitute all the time.
Collect what speaks to you and grabs your attention. You’ll have a lot more fun hunting and finding the objects that way. Collections say a lot about their happy collectors and bring drama and customization to a space. They add dimension to a home and clue us in to the personalities of the people who live there.
The most common spot for displaying a collection is often on the wall or in wall shelving. That big empty space seems to call out for something thought-through. Yes, a collection of framed photos or prints could be just the thing for that blank wall.
One of our favorite collections is that of a photographer friend and it is an assembly of black-and-white photos. The unifying design thread is the lack of color in the photos but what makes the collection surprising is the wide range of sizes, shapes and colors of the frames. We believe as long as there’s a common thread, other elements can push the boundaries.
Our Chateau Collage Frame makes this kind of collection display so effortless. The muted colors and distressed finish that’s consistent in the wood frames unites the pictures or prints you place inside. It’s super easy to hang too.
Wall displays don’t have to involve lots of little pieces. A few large frames hung or arranged on adjacent walls works too. Remember that the large middle area of a wall is where the eye goes first. The top and bottom are scanned later on more careful inspection. So place your focal point in that middle ground and build around it.If you collect Venetian glass mirrors or gilt-framed mirrors, why not hang several on a wall the same way you’d arrange a grouping of picture frames? Multiple mirrors is unconventional, but that’s half the fun. Leave plenty of blank space around them, and place smaller ones at the top and bottom of the grouping. The wall will come alive with illumination and ingenuity.
Another great place for displaying your collection is a well-chosen tabletop. Small things like shells, pewter boxes, glass pitchers or silver pieces are great choices on tabletops. Consider the shapes of the items. Are some taller? They should be placed to the back and sides. Is there a focal point—a key statue, or a bigger bowl? Displaying on tabletops relies on trial-and-error. Start with the most important pieces and layer out from there. Stand back often to take it all in and assess. Remove or add, keeping space in mind. A display shouldn’t look designed, but instead lived-in and loved.
One technique is to juxtapose the type of table or countertop with the finish of the items being displayed. For example, our gorgeous green Vintage Glass Bottles make a stunning small collection when placed on a rustic wood table. The tactile nature of the bottles next to the rough wood is a great way to use that important design principle: texture.
Even though they are narrow limited spaces, mantels are prime real estate for carefully edited collections. Yes, mantels are meant for more than clocks and candles.
Start by collecting a few great vases that catch your eye, and place them on your mantel. They can be similar in color or style but varied in organic shape. You might not need more than three or four to make an impace. Now add an item that isn’t a vase but shares a common characteristic.
Our Bastia Hurricanes are lovely on a mantel. Group the large and small size at one end of the mantel and scatter a few of our delicate Bastia Fleur Jars around them. Now place our Francesca Bust at the other end of the mantel, with a lot of space around it. We’d even go so far as to lean our Rochefort or Cordelia Gilt Mirror against the wall between those two poles. The collection is eclectic but the common thread is a shiny, golden tone.
Delicates, like glasses, dishes, small old toys, or vintage beaded purses are a few examples of collections that go best in cabinets or a closed protected places like our Vitrine Table. The items displayed inside are set off against the background, and as with our Vitrine, the beveled glass keeps pieces clean and safe. Once again, less is more. Make sure there’s breathing room around each piece in the collection even if it’s enclosed.
Tips and Tricks to Collecting Treasures
Baskets. Quilts. Snow globes. Primitive pottery. English teacups. The list of what you can collect is endless and limited only by your imagination. But there are a few key points to consider:
A collection starts with one thing you feel strongly about. If a first edition leather-bound book steals your heart, it can certainly be the start of something bigger: a collection. If sea glass always catches your eye when you walk the beach, why not find a lovely tray and start to display your finds on it? We warn you, though. As soon as you start a collection, you’ll see pieces to add everywhere!
If you’re collecting photos or prints, be sure to display them away from direct sunlight. You’ll want to protect your investment, even if it’s just an emotional one.
There’s a trend to collect the newly obsolete, like manual typewriters, rotary phones or ashtrays. Scan the Internet, consult a collector’s listing or auction house if you think you’d like to start collecting something of significant monetary value.
Most of all, collecting is about living with the things we hold dear. And remember, packing up one collection and putting it away only makes room for starting another!