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)