Collections are so important to interior design that I can’t help but be surprised when I meet a client who doesn’t collect anything.
Collectibles give a home personality, pull the house together, and serve as conversation starters when guests come over. In this article, I’ll discuss how an interior designer would display a client’s collection and list ideas for those interested in collecting who don’t know where to start.
Step 1: Starting Your Collection
Whether you are drawn to blue-and-white Delft, ceramics, black-and-white photography, tortoiseshell boxes, or snuff bottles, many kinds of collectibles are suited for different styles of homes.
If nothing comes to mind, consider collecting something that will complement your home’s existing decor and architecture. For example, I like to decorate modern homes with African art and textiles. For a Santa Fe-style home, I would recommend Native American pottery and baskets.
Step 2: Curate Your Collection
Before you find a place for your collection, make sure to curate it first. Prioritize the pieces that are in the best condition and fit your decorating scheme.
Items in your collection don’t have to be a part of a matching set but do need to harmonize in terms of color, scale, and texture. If you’re displaying prints on a wall, start with the largest in the middle and arrange smaller prints around it.
Step 3: Artfully Arrange Your Pieces
Next, you’ll want to design the display area. Open shelves, for example, can be painted the same color as the wall to help them fade into the background. You can create a more formal look by displaying items in a lighted curio cabinet. For collections of small items — like perfume bottles, tiny ceramics, seashells, or glassware — try using a decorative tray to bring everything together.
If you have some ideas for a collection but aren’t sure where to start shopping, consider working with an interior designer. People who already own an extensive collection can also benefit from working with a professional. A designer will enjoy finding the best way to showcase your prized collection, and by having it on display, you can ensure that the space is truly a reflection of you and your taste.
Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Find more design advice at chambersinteriors.com/blog.