Collecting 101: Developing & Displaying

In my last post I showed you five items I collect and use in my home decor. This post I’ll show you collection displays. Between the two posts you may not only discover how to incorporate items you already own into your home’s decor, but you may also see something that sparks your interest–something you’d like to collect!

So let’s get started…

A mash-up of candleholders

The candleholder category probably needs narrowing to make an effective collection, and the options are nearly endless.

I shared my collection of wood candleholders in the last post, but what about brass?

This photo is from the home of jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth, whose Venice Canal, CA, abode I shared last fall. I love how she mixes differently styled brass candleholders with pottery and flowers.

But vintage brass candleholders look great on their own, grouped together on tabletops or shelves. And the best thing about them is the less they match the better!

They’re so architectural they don’t even need candles, IMHO, and the varying patinas make the overall display more compelling.

Best of all, they’re easy to pick up for not much cash at thrift stores.

Body and soul

A portrait collection will likely require a bit more investment, not merely in cash but in time. If you’re patient and diligent in your search, though, you’ll be surprised what you can find.

I bought the portraits left and center above for $20-$30 on ebay and the one on the right for $42 at a vintage and antiques show. They all hang in my powder bathroom, which, themed as a “ladies room,” is chock full of portraits and figurines of women and girls.

There are other ways to collect faces–about as many ways as there are TYPES of faces in this world. These mask-like artifacts and sculptures are extremely compelling.

Or consider focusing (no pun intended) on just one part of the face. Noses, mouths or ears would be just as fun as eyes.

Or go whole body and collect a specific sort of doll or figurine. I love how these dolls are displayed, don’t you? Doll collections can look a bit twee, but this one is dimensional and fun!

Time and travel

At first this display may seem like a collection of clocks, but it’s really about something much more.

The collector obviously is fascinated with TRAVEL–note the globe, the astronaut art, and the airplane model. The clocks simply tell the time in a variety of favorite destinations.

Speaking of globes, I like how these are grouped with armillary spheres, as well as other orbs, even a bowling ball or two.

Vintage globes make terrific top-shelf filler, though they’re getting increasingly harder to find for a good price. Again, patience and persistence pay off.

Blown, thrown and grouped


I took you on a tour of this collector’s home a while back and showed you how she combined her vintage colored-glass globes to make a striking dining room chandelier.

Then, in the living room, that same collector arranged other pieces–vases, jars, some glass and some ceramic–in a display cupboard, grouped by color.

In fact, many glass and/or ceramics collectors limit their collections to one color…

…or one glaze style…

…or even one shape. Your collection could also focus on one manufacturer, or in the case of studio pottery, one artist.

But many collectors simply buy what they love and hope it works together for a pleasing display.

And I must admit, these are collectors after my own heart.

Nothing yet that needles you?

Consider a plant collection. This is a great idea to combine with a love for pottery because you can display both collections at once!

Tray chic

Shelves, tabletops, walls and even ceilings are tried-and-true ways to display collections. But don’t forget this other handy tool for giving meaning to a seemingly disparate group of items…

The ubiquitous TRAY! This one holds a collection of dad-related stuff, mostly World War II memorabilia from both my father and my husband’s dad.

And it’s located in my husband’s office, just under a vintage map of my dad’s unit’s troop movements from D-Day through war end. These photos are from my redo of my husband’s home office, which also doubles as our guest room.

I also used a tray in one of our bathrooms to corral some of my collection of ceramic cat figurines. Hubs and I made the tray from a thrifted marble slab and two cat-shaped ceramic handles purchased from Anthropologie.

If you want more…

Stay tuned for a future post on starting a collecting using items available in my Etsy shop, complete with a gallery of links. Until then, click on the links throughout this post and read my other posts in the Collecting 101 series:

And for tips on styling your collections, you might enjoy these posts, too:

Finally, follow the (affiliate) links below to learn more about collecting and using your collections in your home:


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