Jul 25, 2008

15 ways to show off your collection

By: Helen Racanelli
Style at Home
Jul 25, 2008

15 ways to show off your collection

By: Helen Racanelli

Designers and stylists often group objects in uneven numbers for a better look. Arrange a collection in clusters of three, five, seven or any odd number you like.

2 Build a space
If you're the proud owner of a treasured collection, build a dedicated spot for it. Adding a shelf above your headboard, filling an awkward nook or building storage along a hallway are clever ways to claim space. Install overhead spotlights to create a museum-like look.

3 Pile it high
Never mind what minimalists say -- abundance is cheerful and also completely chic. To keep a big dishware or linen collection casually sophisticated, stack similar items together on open shelving.

4 Elevate the everyday
A beautiful vignette isn't restricted to precious collectibles; feel free to exalt everyday items to star status. For instance, display a selection of sun hats that guests and family alike can pick from on summery days.

5 Move things around
Don't just plunk it down. To create an artful display, tweak it: nudge items an inch here or there, for instance, or hang them just a little lower -- until you're delighted with the results.

6 Build layers
Layering items -- pillows propped in front of pillows, a stack of small books in front of a stack of larger books -- will give oomph to a smaller collection by creating the appearance of depth and density.

7 Take a picture
When in doubt, take a snapshot; it will help you see with fresh eyes the mantel or bookcase arrangement you've been fussing over. Digital cameras are especially handy for a quick look.

8 Give it a new life
Some textiles are too charming to hide in a drawer, like lusciously printed scarves, a few yards of leftover fabric, even vintage tea towels. Repurpose them as a set of pillow covers, placemats or drapes.

9 Stagger heights
Matching kitchen canisters, Russian dolls, nested mixing bowls: no need to line them up tallest to shortest; instead, arrange them like a family photo, casually gathered around one another.

10 Light it right
Experiment with lighting to make your treasures shine. Low-wattage incandescent lights cast a warm glow, halogen sparkles like sunlight, and energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs have come a long way. And, of course, nothing can top the beauty of natural light.

11 Find a spot
Almost any bare surface could be a canvas for a lovely display; unlikely spots make for a nice surprise. Try the side of a kitchen cabinet, a windowsill, or the inside of an unused fireplace.

12 Unify dissimilar items
How do you make memorabilia of different shapes, varying sizes and a range of colours resemble a well-edited collection rather than unrelated items strewn about? It's easy: display them in frames of identical colours, including shadow-box frames for three-dimensional items.

13 Coordinate colours
Don't stress about colour. Coordinate a palette the way you love best: all white is understated, all black is sophisticated; a rainbow of jewel tones is delightful, while soft pastels are restful.

14 Give small objects grounding
If a grouping of tiny items -- antique perfume bottles, salt and pepper shakers, glass paperweights -- isn't making a big impact, ground it by arranging the items on a plate or tray, or in a shallow basket of a contrasting colour.

15 Do some research
Stuck for ideas? Peruse books for tips and pics on how to display your collections. These are some of our favourites.
Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers and Ali Hanan (Ryland Peters & Small, 2005)
Home Rules by Nate Berkus (Hyperion, 2005)
Pottery Barn Storage & Display (Oxmoor House, 2004)

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15 ways to show off your collection