Showcasing Collections

- Friday, July 01, 2011

Almost everyone has a collection of something. For as long as I can remember, I have always been a collector. As a small child I was passionate about automobiles and building things, so it was Matchbox cars and LEGOS. I must have had over 150 of the miniature cars and enough of the Danish building blocks to create a small village.

In my early teens I discovered Art Deco and became obsessed with Fiestaware and similarly styled ceramic house wares and pottery. Going to college at SCAD put me in touch with other like-minded folk who enjoyed hitting the junk stores, flea markets, and yard sales for the thrill of the hunt. My Fiesta, McCoy, Bauer, and Haeger ceramic pieces were the start of my decorative object collections.

At some point after college I began collecting small, decorative boxes covered in mosaics of bone and horn. I just love the punch their intricate surface patterns give to a tabletop or bookshelf. Still to this day I am seduced by their exotic allure and will occasionally buy one to add to my growing collection.

Now, while I never decorated my space with my Matchboxes and LEGOS, I do celebrate my pottery and boxes at home. I specifically chose glass-door cabinetry during a complete kitchen remodel a few years ago so that my Fiestaware could be showcased within. I also specified rope-lighting (concealed behind the crown molding on-top of the cabinets) to highlight the water pitchers and planters displayed on top. I love how the festive colors and sculptural shapes play against the blonde maple cabinetry.

My mosaic boxes are grouped in clusters on the tops of tables and chests throughout the house, allowing guests (and myself) to more closely appreciate their beauty. The fact that they are decorative boxes is the unifying element, their various shapes, colors and finishes provide the interest.

In fact, effectively displaying the things we collect is sometimes more difficult than acquiring them in the first place. Frequently clients have collections that they wish for me to incorporate into the décor of their home. I always enjoy using someone’s personal collection to add character and personality. Sometimes this is an easy task and sometimes it is not. The key is to create or provide an interesting display of the items, not have them scattered randomly all over a room. A simple grouping of three like items creates a stranger composition than just one here and there. This way they also become a conversation piece.

Depending on the type of collection, walls or tabletops can be display space. Sculpture can be placed on pedestals. Consider framing or displaying items in a shadowbox. Also, if your collection is large and you are short on display space, periodically rotate items in your collection, such as framed photography on a shelf.

Collections can be functional too. I use my Fiestaware all the time for casual entertaining. And on my dresser upstairs in the bedroom, some of my mosaic boxes hold spare change, collar-stays, and watches, helping to keep me beautifully organized. And, remember, one great thing about personal collections is family and friends are never at a loss when it comes to gifts for the holidays or birthday presents.

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