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How To Turn A Collection Of Natural Wonders Into Design Gold

Today something wonderful happened. While searching for a drill bit in the garage, I stumbled upon my husband’s collection of shells and rocks. Amassed throughout his childhood, this assortment of natural wonders contains everything from coral to agate. When I opened the lid to the glass jar, I was astounded by the number of treasures inside. I thought I had a great rock collection, but his is design gold…

Rocks, minerals and shells

I never found that drill bit, which means my latest DIY project is on hold until my brother lends me his tools later in the week. But that’s just fine with me, because I now have nature on my side! I dedicate this post to our childhood collections–and the way they can be used to add personality and style to our homes. Remember yesterday’s post on decorative accents that make a big impact? Add rocks, minerals and shells to the list, because today we celebrate the design appeal of natural wonders, and the many ways we can display them.

Decorating with Seashells

Among the sea treasures in my hubby’s collection are coral, a starfish and a crab! Sea life conjures the scientific whimsy of curiosities, as well as the relaxed vibe of the beach:

Seashell collection

Now let’s explore how to display your shells. One of my favorite strategies involves placing them in apothecary jars. Add some decorative sand to create a soft blanket that can support your seashells, as shown below.

Apothecary jar of seashells

Another fun tactic? Grouping shells in the opening of a sea urchin. As you can see in the next image, the urchin is actually ceramic. It’s the perfect size for displaying a small collection.

Seashells in a sea urchin

The Shine of Polished Pebbles

There were plenty of pebbles in the collection I found today. So many beautiful colors are represented, from reds to purples to yellows…

Polished pebble collection

Polished pebbles create the biggest impact when displayed in a group. Their shine makes them the perfect filler for brass bowls and other metallic containers.

Polished pebbles in a brass bowl

They can also enhance one of your outdoor planters. Below is a cactus surrounded by rocks that keep the squirrels from digging up the plant! Mixed in with the chalky stones are a few select pebbles:

When pebbles meet plants

The Power of Black and White Stones

Also in my hubby’s nature collection was a delightful assortment of rocks and stones in shades of black, grey and white. These classic neutrals will beautifully complement a range of hues in your decor.

Black and white stones

Below we see the rocks in a turquoise dish, creating a powerful contrast with the radiant color that surrounds them:

Stones in a turquoise dish

We’re used to seeing gravel-sized pebbles in spherical plant terrariums, but try using larger rocks in your terrarium for an unexpected touch. The black and white shades really help greenery stand out.

Plant terrarium with black and white stones

Earthy Accents

I can imagine my husband collecting the treasures below, from the pine cone to the wheat-like stalk. I’m so glad he decided to save them. Don’t these pieces form a lovely grouping?

Collection of earthy items

For a special display technique, try placing earthy items such as arrowheads on a piece of cork. The arrowheads below rest on the cork lid of the glass jar that held the entire collection.

Arrowheads and cork

My husband bought sand art souvenirs while on one of his travels as a child. I like to display them with other items from nature, especially when the earthy items are contained by a brass and glass box.

Rustic meets Southwestern style

Sparkle and Shine

I’ll end today’s post with a few “special rocks” that are unique in their sparkle and shine, including agate and what appears to be iron pyrite. As you can tell from the images above and below, I LOVE using marble tile as a pedestal for my favorite rocks and minerals.

Agate and other shiny rocks

Another way to emphasize unique rocks: display them on a mirrored surface, as shown below:

Fool’s gold on a mirrored surface

One last option? Create a menagerie-like display of your glitzy rocks and minerals, grouping them with items such as crystal decor. Sometimes a few interesting accents can enhance other powerful pieces.

Menagerie of rock and crystal

Thanks for joining me for today’s postQ Now it’s time to dust off your collection and let it take center stage in your home. Take a second look at pieces from your childhood–chances are, you had some great instincts as you assembled your treasures!

Natural wonders become part of the decor

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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