Displaying Your Collections - Part 2

July 21, 2019


Candice Olson HGTV Magazine







General Thoughts about Collections to Display

Here's my list that I hope will help you decide what might interest your guests when they come to your home:
Yes:                                                         No:
sterling silver tea service                    Pokemon collection
exotic shells                                          Precious Moments figurines
collectible hard cover books             Locks (hair) from famous movie stars
old black & white family photos        McDonald's Happy Meal Boxes
your grandparent's dishes                 101 Dalmatians collectibles

Look back to last week's entry for more ideas.

Do Some Research

Start collecting some pictures from magazines that you think represent the style & look you’d like your space to reflect.  Rather than just glancing at the objects in the room, pay attention to how the room is arranged, and what pieces are used.  Ask yourself what would work in your space, considering the architectural details like molding, door style, window style and such.

Another option is to start a Pinterest board, or go on www.Houzz.com and start collecting your favorite rooms.  There’s an opportunity to write what you like about these rooms, so use this to identify what drew you to its style.

Casual Traditional Style


Transitional Style


Rustic Traditional Style


Use Emphasis in Your Space

Another word for Emphasis is Focal Point. The focal point should draw and hold the attention of those who enter a space.  A beautiful fireplace, a wall of dramatic art, an amazing sculpture or vase on a table top, an important piece or grouping of furniture, or a view from a window are examples of emphasis.  If you have a fireplace in your living room then it already is the main focal point (98% of the time), so you’re going to need to utilize that to your advantage. 

Multiple focal points are sometimes placed in a room intentionally, but need to progress from most to least influential in order to avoid conflict.  As a general rule of thumb, smaller areas can handle fewer focal points.  This is important to consider if your collection will be a secondary focal point.  If your fireplace is on one side of the room, then consider placing your secondary focal on the opposite side if that helps to create balance.


Create Balance in Your Room

There are really three kinds of balance in a space: 

  • Symmetrical balance is also known a bi-symmetrical, formal or passive balance. 
  • Asymmetrical balance is also known as informal, active, or optical balance. 
  • Radial balance is a state of equilibrium that is based on the circle.
Symmetrical Balance


Asymmetrical Balance


Radial Balance

Most homes today are our attempt at asymmetrical balance, because our life styles are informal and active.  The difficulty occurs when one must find items that are harmonious yet diverse enough to be interesting, and then arrange them to achieve a sense of equilibrium. Here are my suggestions for you:

  1. Ideally, take everything out of the room you're redecorating to start fresh.  That will give you a fresh perspective on achieving your end goal, as well as to clean everything so it looks as good as possible.
  2. Determine the focal point of the room you’re arranging.  Now draw an imaginary line dividing the room into two relatively equal parts.  You're going to want to place things on each side that take up an equal amount of visual space.
  3. Now look at the architectural characteristics.  If one side has a large picture window looking out into your yard, then you’re going to want something (or a collection of items) equally large on the opposite side to create… balance.
  4. Next begin placing your furniture, remembering that you ideally want everything to be away from the walls- at least a couple of inches.  Begin with the largest piece, and move down in scale from there.  If you have a large flat screen TV (which is a big black box when it’s turned off) then utilize a substantial floor lamp or large piece of art on the other side of the room.  If your draperies hang floor to ceiling, then a tall bookshelf or curio on the opposite side might be a good solution.
  5. Now place your collection (if you haven’t already done so.)  Remember that the affect of a carefully maintained smaller collection can be much greater than a huge collection in a  packed display case. Remember to use an odd (rather than even) number of items together.
  6. Next begin to add other accessories very selectively.  If it looks good, leave it on display.  If it doesn’t, then toss it, donate it or gift it to a friend/family member.  If you can’t stand to do that, then box it up and store it away for another time.  If you’re unsure, stand back and take a picture to see what it looks like in relation to everything else.  What do you notice?  Cords behind the TV that are visible, too many little things on the coffee table to appreciate them, or a dim corner all need to be addressed.
  7. Displaying some things that you use daily can be a wonderful thing.  Start looking at everything as a prop!  While you probably want to hide the TV remote(s) in a basket or drawer, you could leave your reading glasses placed on top of the current novel you’re reading with 2 others to create a nice vignette. Placing a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter creates a sense of freshness to your kitchen, but put away your pots and pans.  Put your stapler and tape dispenser in your desk in favor of a plant on your desk.



Add Lighting to Create More Focus

Good lighting design can make or break a room.  Make certain that you can see your collection, and highlight the best spots in your space.  Use directional spot lights to shoot up on the ceiling above your collection to draw the eye to that portion of the room.  You can also use small spot lights behind your collection to illuminate the wall behind your collection.  Use floor lamps for ambient light and table lamps on your side tables, desk and night stands.




In Conclusion

Using these elements of design in our spaces is a simple reflection of nature.  Think about the beauty created in the leaves on a tree varied only slightly by size and hue, the tidal action of the ocean, the repeating song of a bird, or the stones carving the bottom of a river bed.  When we seek out nature, whether it's a vacation at the beach, a walk in the woods, a hike in the mountains, or a barbeque with friends in a backyard, our blood pressure goes down and we relax.  Who wouldn't want that feeling in their home or office!?!? When we reflect nature in our designs, we’re creating good feng shui in our lives.  

Check out this website at  if you need help with your space. We'd love to assist you in your endeavors to make your home reflect your interests and style.

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