January 03, 2012

Well, here we are in the first week of the New Year.

2012 is underway and yours truly has been bitten by the cleaning bug. I have found myself sorting through old clothing and books, cleaning out the spice rack and eyeing my husbands’ collection of 80s button-down shirts. It’s time to recycle, reuse or remove unused items from the house.

Wait a minute.

What if some of those items could become the inspiration for a whole new look in your house? What if you could repurpose those old concert ticket stubs and create an arty display for your office?

Over the holidays I pulled down a book from my bookshelf that suggests how to do just that. Creative Walls: how to display and enjoy your treasured collections by Geraldine James has a wealth of suggestions. If you want to read it for yourself, it is available for just under $20 on I don’t always love the style—I am a modernist at heart—but the suggestions are solid.

This is a book that I can highly recommend because of the practical factor. As long as you have the capacity to take the ideas she presents and translate them into your own style, using your own objects and images, you will have a wealth of great options.

You can always paint a wall, as I suggest in a previous post, but what Geraldine James does that is so inspirational is to talk about what goes on that wall.

Framed jewelry. Photo © Catherine Holliss

My favorite tips from the author of this book:

  • Pin your jewelry into an empty frame – it creates a piece of art and you can see what you own more easily
  • use mirrors to open up a space and bring in light. If you have a random collection, unite the frames by giving them all a wash of white paint. Two gorgeous white mirrors from, should you want to add to your collection, are the Round Capiz Seashell mirror and the Round Clamrose Seashell mirror.
  • Collect images that all have a common theme to create a grouping. My favorite: painted portraits, none of whom were known to the collectors. A variation on this theme is to display the covers of your favorite magazine as a group. With Vogue, as we see in the book, you create a very feminine wall. Replace that idea by using the covers of Car & Driver and you would get a very different effect.
  • Use a stack of acrylic boxes to display favorite objects. This is a brilliant way to turn a random collection of “junk” into a museum-like display that says something about your personality and taste. See how it works in the image below. Imagine those same objects just cluttered together. Still beautiful but much less dramatic—and with much less room to breathe. 

Acrylic Boxes display collectibles. Photo © Catherine Holliss

I personally have used the idea of uniting a series of photographs by framing them all in black. It’s elegant, restrained and produces a wonderful effect.

If you have a great way to group images, or display your collections please do share them with us. Also, let me know what you think of the book. Your comments are always appreciated. 

Written by Catherine Holliss

Interior Design Blog Writer,, LLC

Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  


Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted. 

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