Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Art of Displaying a Collection

How to display a collection? How to decorate with and around a collection?   It's more of an art than a science, and since the creation and perception of art is a purely subjective activity, there are no ironclad rules, except that one rule that in my mind is paramount when it comes to collecting-- which is to collect what you love and makes you happy.  Nonetheless, while you are practicing the art of collecting and displaying your collectibles, it is helpful to be aware of a few simple rules....well, guidelines.  

The standard advise out there is to go with a common theme, group like objects, layer using a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures, and so on.  I would say that I followed this bit of advise loosely when it came to filling up my corner cabinet with my growing collection of USA ware and Fenton glassware, with a few other things thrown in because I thought it all looked nice together.  

I wasn't strict about limiting myself only to the old and vintage USA ware and Fenton stuff, there are a few new things with a vintage vibe thrown into this display....the little turquoise cereal bowl on the top shelf is new.  

Likewise this wonderful soft teal blue 'mason' jar, bought at World Market,  is brand new.... 

....but it settled in beautifully with it's older blue-green mates.  

The common theme that ties it all together is varying shades of soft celadon green, aqua, teal, and turquoise. 

Most everything you see is ceramic ware that has a vintage, old-fashioned quality....

.......texture is limited to the picture frame, the potpourri placed in a couple of the smaller pieces, and the metal planter, wire basket and faux topiary at the top of the cabinet.... well as the detail and texture in the design of many of the pieces themselves.  I wanted the emphasis to be on the ceramic nature of this collection...plates, vases, compotes, candy dishes, fanciful little shell creamers (I'm not sure that this piece is particularly old either).  

I added visual interest by grouping things in odd numbers and varying size and heights.  

The repetition of the charming, square-ish plates marching up each side of the cabinet lends balance to this vignette and keeps the whole collection from looking chaotic.  

The green color of the border and the foliage on the plates is repeated more or less in many of the items in this cabinet.

Altogether, the colors not only hang well together here in the corner.... 

....but work well with the touches of soft greens and blues, as well as the pinky-reds found throughout the rest of of the living room (not to mention the abundant green of my overgrown, untrimmed rose bushes glimpsed through the windows)....

Which brings us back to what I mentioned early on in this post-- collecting what you love.  I have a garden full of David Austin roses, mostly 'Abraham Darby', 'Evelyn', 'Tamora', 'English Rose', and 'Gertrude Jekyll'-- which I love for their old rose quality with their fragrant, cupped, multi-petaled blooms.  That was one of the things that attracted me to the colors of the ceramic pieces shown here (especially the USA ware)....these soft aquas and greens go so beautifully with the soft pink and apricot colors of my favorite roses. I found that I loved the way the flowing, organic lines and floral motifs of many of these vases and other ceramic pieces complemented the abundant, tumbled petals of the roses that I brought in from my garden, and as a result, that is what I tended to pick up when out and about shopping at local antique and collectible stores.

In general, when shopping, my hand tends to reach out towards anything with an old-fashioned floral pattern (especially anything with roses), a pretty red or raspberry pink on the cool side of the spectrum; soft aquas, teals, gray-blues;  and pretty vases and containers that will showcase my favorite flowers.  

And that is, in essence, the trick to successfully practicing the art of collecting and displaying your collections in your home.  Get what you love and it will be relatively easy to find that common thread or theme that can be repeated not only in the collection itself, but throughout the room, and indeed your entire house-- for chances are that if you are paying attention to what you like when you are shopping and collecting, those common elements are there in details and colors of the things you bring into your home.   

Linking to...
That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
Best of the Weekend at Little Miss Celebration
The Scoop #158 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
What We Accomplished #72 at Green Willow Pond
Wow Us Wednesday #209 at Savvy Southern Style
Share Your Style at No Minimalist Here
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage


  1. Nicely done, Melissa. Repeating the square plates in the same location on the top shelves really tied it all together. That's a very pretty room. ~ Nancy

  2. What a lovely room! I love all the vintage pieces, as well as the new ones in your beautiful display. Thank you for sharing it at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a great weekend!


    1. Deborah, thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment! And thanks for hosting What We Accomplished Wednesdays.

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