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How to Display a Collection with Flair

What do you collect? I’ll admit it…my first collection involved a large number of stickers! While I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, I’ve always enjoyed acquiring groups of like items and arranging them with flair. Stickers gave way to teacups. Teacups inspired art glass. And let’s not get started on those ’80s Deco ceramic vases… Whatever you enjoy amassing and displaying, today’s post is for you!

There’s no one right way to showcase a collection. As a Part 2 to our first piece on displaying collections with style, this post rounds up the most alluring collections and display techniques we could find. Whether you resort to the creative use of shelving or something far less conventional, let the images below spark your creativity!

Collections on Shelves

A tried and true display tactic, arranging collections on shelving, is a powerful way to highlight your favorite items. Especially if you have a large collection! With open shelving that spreads from wall to wall in the living room below, this collection of white ceramic pieces can truly take center stage. Dazzling, don’t you think?! [photo by Jason Valdina for James Cleary Architecture]

White ceramics in a modern living room

On a similar note, don’t hesitate to surround yourself with your favorite collectibles, as shown by an assortment of duck decoys on protruding shelves in the next featured space. [from Erotas Building Corporation]

Room filled with duck decoys

Your collection doesn’t need to be massive in order to make a powerful statement. Sometimes less is more, especially if the items are large. Note how prominent metal numbers add a vibrant dose of color in the rustic, elegant space below. [from Lonny]

Collection of metal numbers

It never hurts to let the size of your shelving mirror the size of your collectibles. In the next featured space, we see model trains on narrow white shelves in a chocolate brown room. Boy, do they pop against the earth-toned wall! [photography by Shelley Gardea for Benedict August]

Train collection on narrow shelving

Another popular tactic: placing collectibles on high shelving. This technique is perfect for the PEZ candy dispensers at the top right of the image below. [from Susan Jay Design]

PEZ dispenser collection

The next featured space is tailor-made for collections, thanks to an abundance of shelving. Milk glass is stunning on high shelves that surround the room, creating a border of vintage pieces! These white collectibles are a contrast to the color-coded “book collection” that rests on the shelving underneath. [from Houzz]

Milk glass collection in a home office

In terms of unique collections, it’s hard to top this curiosity-filled assortment of preserved aquatic body parts and specimens. Good thing it’s allowed to shine on shelving against a unique backdrop. In fact, the partially translucent glass wall behind this grouping is inspired by the genetic code of a Harbor Seal! [from Schwartz and Architecture]

Collection of aquatic curiosities

Speaking of backdrops, sometimes what’s behind the shelves is just as important as what’s on them! Below we see a room designed around a striking grouping of miniature alcohol bottles collected for more than 20 years from around the world. This wall was built out so that  recessed niches could be created. Then the niches were embellished with special fluorescent lighting tubes, and the acrylic wall behind the bottles was lined with rice paper. This impressive installation is the work of  interior designer Tracy Murdoch!

Bottle collection wall

Just as lining bookshelves with wallpaper is one way to make items pop against a vibrant backdrop, the same principle applies to any kind of shelving displaying collections. In fact, this map (or map-themed wallpaper) is the perfect choice for a collection that appears to include an assortment of sand from a variety of vacation destinations! [from Geoff Chick & Associates]

Collection of bottles against a wallpaper backdrop

Let’s hear it for vinyl toys! These collectibles are works of art in themselves. While display cases are one popular method for showcasing their quirky fun, we were drawn to this wall of small shelving. Especially when we learned that the “shelves” were actually paper jewelry boxes attached to the wall with the help of push pins and a level! [from Lindsay von Hagel]

Wall of vinyl toys

Speaking of toys, don’t think that your favorite items from childhood belong in a plastic box in your basement. Let them take center stage on open shelving affixed to the wall. We also love how framed panels add contrast to the groupings of shelves in this fun man cave. [from Benedict August]

G.I. Joe collection

Off-the-Shelf Display Methods for Collections

We know that shelving makes a big impact when filled with collectibles, but what are some other display techniques for your favorite groupings? How about hanging collections on the wall, art-collection style?! Below we see an assortment f exotic masks. [from Esther Hershcovic via Houzz]

Mask collection lining the stairs

Or you could get really innovative and create an art installation of your favorite items. We’re crazy about this installation from the Brooklyn apartment of Jon Sherman. A true work of art! [from Lonny

Musical instrument collection

What about framing your collection of 3-dimensional items?! That’s exactly what’s been done in this next featured space, which showcases an assortment of “framed” vintage cameras. A great way to make your beloved items stand out, this strategy also helps to define and create an eye-catching wall vignette. [from Houzz]

Framed camera collection

Some collections are best showcased on tabletops. This retro-meets-modern living room is filled with unique curated style, and nothing speaks volumes like the assortment of unique vases that grace the top of the wooden piece below the mirror… [from Mhouse Inc.]

Vase collection in a retro-modern living room

Try integrating your collection naturally into the decor. This technique will provide a jolt of unexpected style. Sure, we expect a console table to hold decorative items. But when you check out the nook below and realize that its overflowing with globes in a variety of colors, it’s hard to take your eyes off the space! [from Houzz]

Entryway collection of globes

Most importantly, don’t assume that a collection has to be a grouping of identical items. Sometimes a common theme can unite a variety of different pieces in a cohesive arrangement. We’re drawn to the blue turquoise botanicals and samples in the bright and airy space below. Plus, it’s fun to see these collectibles both on the wall and on the tabletop! [from Lonny]

Blue coral collection

Do you have a favorite collection display method? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

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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