Design Dilemma: Keeping A Collection from Feeling Like Clutter
Oh the joys of collecting! Beautiful sculpture. Art. Antique bird cages. X-men figures.
But anyone with a collection of just about anything comes to realize at some point that things can get out of hand. Collections, after a while, can come to feel like clutter. And that’s a real downer.
What steps can you take to organize and highlight your collection rather than have it sit around and collect dust in one big jumble?
Here are some tips:
1. Set aside one space. A collection begins to feel like clutter when it’s spread out all over. Create cohesion by setting aside one dedicated spot for your 60s lunch pails or your 1970s album covers. In most cases, this spot will be a bookcase, but where you choose to display your collection depends on what your collection is and how large it is. If your collection is artwork or any object that can be hung, try to group your collection together as one unit. If you collect antique buttons, find an attractive glass jar or vase to display your treasures in one cohesive space. If you collect old fans or old phones, try grouping your fans or phones together in one area to create a sort of in-home art installation.
2. Create space around each item. Let’s say you collect antique dolls. It’s better to create some breathing space around each doll, rather than displaying your dolls in a heap on the couch, or in a jumble on a shelf. This rule applies to anything you collect. Cohesion and order are conveyed in a collection that has a bit of air around it. Not only that, but viewers can appreciateÂ each individual object Â more when objects are not hidden behind or below some other object.
3. Edit. Edit. Edit. Just because you own 300 snow globes doesn’t mean you have to display them all. Instead, pick, choose and rotate to display just some of your collection to the best effect.
4. Use lighting. Dramatically lighting a collection can turn just a humdrum display into something earth-shattering. Use directed spotlights to draw the attention to your collection.
5.Â Go for odd numbers. A display of candlesticks or totem poles will look more striking when grouped in threes or fives.
6. Mix old and new. GotÂ a collection of antique cookie tins? Set it off by showcasing it on an ultramodern steel display case. Mixing it up by juxataposing old and new will give added impact to your collection.
7. Beware the window sill and mantle trap. A lot of collections of small things tend to find their ways to window sills and mantlepieces. But this look can often look cluttered and haphazard. If you choose a mantle or window sill as a display area, edit the objects displayed and keep them grouped together for maximum visual impact.
8. Keep the background simple. When you have something to show off, you don’t want to create too much visual stimulation. So opt for simple white shelves in most cases.