Collection on Display – How to Showcase Your Treasures

Going in and out of people’s houses as much as I do, you start to notice the things people have in common. One thing I’ve noticed among so many of many clients is that nearly everyone has a “collection.” It seems that everyone collects something.

It may be something sentimental like seashells from vacation destinations, nostalgia like records or baseball memorabilia, or perhaps a family heirloom passed down for generations like a set of antique china. 

I’ve seen collections of African artifacts, bottles of whiskey, shot glasses and bobbleheads. Sometimes it’s even handmade items like needlepoint, photography or their children’s artwork.

Whatever the collection might be, people want to display their treasures.


Collection or Clutter?

One thing all collectors have in common is that they are all quite proud and happy to show off their favorite things. But as proud as they are, they’re still a little shy.

Just about everyone who comes to me for help showcasing their collection questions how to display their collection “without looking like a hoarder.”

Obviously, it’s a valid concern. You love the dozens of salt and pepper shakers you’ve lovingly accumulated over the years. But how do you display them without looking like you’ve gone overboard and cluttering up your home?

If You Love It, It Belongs

First and foremost in any design, I like to remind my clients that a home is meant to be a reflection of the owners’ personality and hobbies. The time, money and effort people invest in their collections makes them worthy of being displayed.

So, in the spirit of dusting off that collection of comic books or depression glasses, take a look at this list of suggestions for displaying your valuables. 

Open Shelving

Shelves are a great addition to any room. With tons of options in pretty much any size, shape, and style you can dream up, you can add a few shelves pretty much anywhere. 

Open shelving has become increasingly popular. You can find open shelving in pretty much any room from the bathroom, living room and especially kitchens. I just love open shelving in the kitchen!

While the obvious adornment for kitchen shelves are dishes, there’s much more potential to make your kitchen unique. 

Check out the open shelving we created in this kitchen remodel. The homeowners wanted to display their mother’s collection of cookie jars. 

To fit the jars, the shelves needed to be fairly deep but really didn’t need to be all that wide. We added vertical shelving at counter depth which created a beautiful showcase. 

I think their mother would love seeing her collectibles on display this way!

Curio Cabinets 

Unpopular opinion: curio cabinets are awesome. So much of the time, when I suggest curio cabinets to my clients, they immediately turn up their nose. I think curio cabinets have a reputation for being old fashioned and out of date. 

I’m here to tell you that is FALSE! Just check out this amazing curio cabinet I recently installed. It’s big (it’s huge, actually), it’s modern, it houses All. The. Things. It’s perfect! 

So please, keep an open mind when it comes to glass front cabinets. There is always a style out there to fit your home. 

Built Ins

So, I think we can all agree that built-ins are pretty amazing. Built-in shelving is exactly that, shelving that is built into the wall. 

While open shelving tends to be freestanding or wall shelving, built-ins are attached and look more as a part of the room. 

This set of built-ins looks stunning by itself with crown molding and after a fresh coat of white paint. 

When you take an up close look at the accoutrements on the shelves, the view only gets more striking! This is a collection of artifacts that needed a regal display case. I’d say we nailed it!

Gallery Walls 

When we talk about displaying collections, I think we tend to focus on three dimensional objects like figures and sports memorabilia. Let’s not forget that many collectibles are of the two dimensional variety.

Gallery walls are a great way to show off a collection of plates, baskets, oil paintings, artwork and yes, even your personal family photos.

The gallery wall I compiled for this family was highlighted on my blog with plenty of tips and tricks. Gallery walls can be tricky but they are so worth the time spent planning!

Collections, keepsakes, tchotchkes….whatever you call them, we all have them. Your beloved antiques, souvenirs, and homemade goods are worthy of a place of honor in your home. Make sure they are displayed proudly!