Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Joy of Collecting

Nothing makes my heart go pitter-patter quite as fast as walking into a promising-looking antique mall or going through the gates of a great outdoor antique market on a beautiful summer day! Ahhh---the thrill of the hunt----and the possibility that I might find the one perfect thing that I didn't even know I was looking for! It is absolutely my favorite pastime. And so it's not surprising that I have amassed a few collections of vintage items over the years, and use them as focal points in decorating my own home.

Whether you are already a collector, or are thinking about starting a collection, here are some guidelines that I follow:

1. Collect what you love! That is the "thrill" part of the hunt ---catching sight of that special something that touches your heart. If you love an object, you will always be able to find a place for it in your is naturally and inherently "your style".

2. Conversely, don't collect for the investment or re-sale value of an antique. As antique lovers know, many categories of antiques have lost value over the past few years. However, if you buy it because you love it, it will always have value to YOU.

3. Narrow your scope to make your collection more personal and the hunt more interesting. For example, vintage baby shoes are very collectible, but there are lots of them available in most antique malls. So I decided to collect only RED vintage baby shoes that are less than 5" long, and because they are hard to find, I'm just thrilled when I do!

4. Not everything you collect needs to be perfect. Imperfection can be a refreshing break from the matchy-matchy, brand new look, as well as a sign that the piece has been well-loved and well-used in the past. A small chip on the rim or age-crazing won't detract from your overall collection.

5. Group the items in your collection together for the most impact. Scattered here and there throughout your house, the pieces lose their connection and run the risk of becoming clutter. Grouping them together in an interesting way will elevate the individual items to become a focal point in your decor.

6. Rotate your collections seasonally. "Like the tired star athlete who needs bench time for refreshment, items maintain their shine if we give them necessary time out of rotation." (from Vintage Vavoom--see below)

Another one of my collections---children's watering cans --- decorates a tiny corner in a half bath. Tiered shelves provide space to group them all in one spot, not scattered about.

Gwen Oldfield's collection of miniature log cabins in a primitive cupboard adds charm to her guest bath.

My collection of tartanware and other plaid items decorates my mantel for the winter season (and then moves to the den in the spring and summer!)

Vintage majolica, massed together in a wall cabinet for the most impact, rotates to the mantel in the summertime.

Sometimes adding additional objects to your collection will make the "stars" stand out. Here, plain yellow plates and a red tray add background contrast to black and white transferware.

This unique cupboard, which is only 5 inches deep, allows me to make the most of my small laundry room to display miscellaneous blue and white transferware, blue willow, and flow blue plates and platters.

Gwen's miniature chair collection becomes a "tongue-in-cheek" chairrail!

Tiered cake plates are used as risers to display black papier mache boxes, while the silver tray unifies additional papier mache pieces.

Red tole trays are hung forming a large triangle above the bed in the guest room, decked out with Christmas bedding. The red trays get changed to tole trays in yellows, greens, and pinks (as does the bedding) for the other seasons.

Gwen changes this bookshelf in her sunroom seasonally, displaying her collection of deer and pinecones in the winter, and fresh white pottery planters for spring and summer.

One of my favorite books about collecting and displaying collections is VINTAGE VAVOOM, Romantic Decorating with one-of-a-kind Finds, by the editors of Romantic Homes magazine. Beautifully photographed and full of ideas, this book ($35.00) will be available at Interiors Etc. later this week. Happy Collecting!

Just a reminder: Our first Girls' Night Out of the year is this Thursday evening (Feb. 24) from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. Everything (excluding antiques and clearance items) will be 20% off, wine and cheese will be served, and we will be giving away a $25.00 gift certificate every hour. Hope you'll come party with us!


  1. What great collecting advice...and better yet WHAT GREAT COLLECTIONS....."JEALOUS" of those sprinkle cans!!!!

  2. I love your collection of tartanware- so regal and festive.

  3. So glad to have found this site via Pinterest. Love this stuff!