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Creative Tips for Displaying Collections With Style

There is power in numbers! This simple fact helps explain the appeal of collections. Do you collect seashells? Teacups? Vintage lunchboxes? Too often we pack away our collections, labeling them as clutter or useless trinkets. It’s time to let your collections see the light of day. In fact, it’s time to spotlight them with pride!

One interesting aspect of collections is the way they highlight the unique qualities of each item in the group. While you may be likely to ignore a ceramic horse on the shelf of a thrift store, all of a sudden that same horse is an eye-catching treasure when displayed in a grouping with other vintage ceramics. Strangely, sometimes it’s not until we group like items that their nuances truly stand out! On that collector’s note, let’s take a look at some tips for displaying your beloved finds. Check out the images and suggestions below:

Mount Your Collection on the Wall

What if your collection became artwork? That’s right–it’s time to hang your treasures on the wall with the help of some creative display techniques. One strategy involves using unfinished wooden boxes as shelves. Ideal for groups of small items, these compact wall compartments can hold jars and vases filled with collectibles such as shelves. [from Apartment Therapy]

For a fancy take on the wall shelf idea, convert wine crates to display cases with the help of a DIY tutorial from Design Sponge. With the addition of craft paper as an interior lining, these modular containers come to life:

In the image below, shadowboxes are the perfect solution for the display of dessert-themed toys and vintage Avon items. [from Apartment Therapy]

What if you surprised everyone by taking a break from shelving? Try mounting collectibles directly on the wall! With a variety of adhesives to choose from, including poster tape and strips, paint-friendly mounting options are a reality. Plus, applying small items to the wall itself is refreshingly unexpected, as shown by this next collection of colorful Pez dispensers. [from One Good Bumblebee via Apartment Therapy]

Not to mention, wall-mounted collectibles take on an art installation quality. In fact, the collection below is an actual art installation by Steve Wiman, owner of Uncommon Objects, a quirky vintage collectible shop in Austin, Texas. Note how diverse items are unified by a similar color scheme and worn aesthetic. [from Refueled]

The next wall collection was actually used as a Christmas tree, but it shows how a carefully-crafted layout of small items can create alluring wall art. In fact, a wall grouping is an excellent way to unite seemingly unrelated items, especially if they are arranged to form a larger shape or design[from All the Luck in the World via Apartment Therapy]

Display Your Collection on a Shelf

Sometimes a shelf is all you need to give your collection new life. Take the rows of teapots below. A colorful wall and floating shelving are all that’s needed to make the pieces stand out, especially since their sheer number speaks volumes! [from That (Unreliable) Girl]

When it comes to shelf arrangements, try grouping your collection by color, as shown by the next display of art glass. While color is a unifying force, there is true diversity of shape, size, texture and transparency. [from Palmetto Estate Liquidators]

While packing shelves with items makes a big statement, strategically leaving some empty space creates impact as well. In the pottery arrangement below, the number of pieces per shelf grows with each level. [from Hus & Hem via Interior Design Sense]

Don’t forget the power of grouping items that share a similar pattern. Jonathan Adler’s striped pottery takes center stage in a shelf display from the weekend home he shares with partner Simon Doonan. [from TucsonCitizen.com]

Floor-to-ceiling shelves create a grid effect when lined with geometric collectibles, such as vintage thermoses and lunchboxes. Forget childish–this collection takes on a modern sophistication when placed on simple white shelving in a room with colorful furniture. [from Fanpop!]

What about stackable shelves? They can be arranged in a variety of configurations, and they become mini-stages for special items such as vintage cameras. [from Flickr user Artemis the Phoenix]

Go for the Unexpected!

When walls and shelves aren’t the answer, perhaps a little dose of the unexpected is in order! In the Parisian home below, globes dangle from the ceiling in a festive display of innovative design. [from The Designer Pad]

In fact, a ceiling-mounted display can create a whimsical effect, as shown by the umbrella collection that hangs from the ceiling of the Singapore Philatetic Museum. [from Simple Joys in Life]

What if you used a collection to display another collection? For example, if you collect containers such as apothecary jars, fill them with collections of other small items, such as sea sponges. [from Pottery Barn]

Another unexpected display technique involves purchasing a true conversation piece to hold your collectibles. For example, Tabletop Photo Carousel from Pottery Barn is a showstopper in itself. Fill it with your favorite postcards and photographs, and it’s a win-win!

On that note, have you ever considered using a vintage mannequin or dress form to hold a jewelry collection? Now the brooches below can see the light of day in the most stylish of ways! [from House of Onika]

For another clever display strategy, mix your collections! For example, combine seashell-topped glass bottles with framed pictures in an intriguing grouping. Each collection benefits from the addition of a second theme. [from Pottery Barn]

What if the collection were based on a theme or trait rather than object type? For example, in the image below–a photograph of a London Jonathan Adler boutique–pillows, pottery and artwork are unified by their geometric patterning. The result: a room full of happiness! [from Big Design Loves]

We end with an image from a previous Decoist article on creating a cabinet of curiosities. Try displaying your collection in or on an item that was not originally meant to display objects. As you can see, changing the function of a set of drawers from card catalog to air plant receptacle is a highly original way to make your collection count! [from Poetic Home]

When it comes to displaying a favorite collection, don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from stores. After all, display is the name of their game. Visit your favorite gift shop or boutique and note how merchandise is highlighted and arranged. Can you adapt any of these techniques for your home? Sometimes the art of collecting is matched by the art of display–after viewing the images above, we think you’ll agree!

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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