April 09, 2013

Display of glass collectibles as seen on decoist.com

Every spring I definitely get the bug. The spring cleaning bug. I find myself cleaning the house, my car, the dog. I clean things that I haven’t even noticed before. For example this morning I was cleaning out the car and for some reason the usual wash-the-outside, vacuum-the-inside ritual was extended by cleaning the place where the door connects to the frame. A place that is invisible from inside, or out, when the door is closed.That’s pretty typical for me, for this time of year.

So is the urge to toss out, recycle and otherwise diminish the number of possessions that have been slowly gathering over the year. However, this year is different. I have been making an effort all year long to only keep those things I value—or that fit, in the case of my clothing. That leaves me with no so-called “low hanging fruit” in the clean up department. It also left me wondering if there might be another way to spring clean without the guilt-fest that so often accompanies the entire process.

What if there is a way to keep everything?

My first inspiration comes from other designers who make an art out of creating collections. What might happen were we to gather together all those things we adore and store? Putting objects side-by-side creates an immediate set of associations that tells a story, creates a collection, and can be a source of visual delight.

Who does this best? Jonathan Adler immediately springs to mind. The man has made a career out of the delicious delirium of his objects and his rooms. He delights in color, in juxtaposition, in the gathering of ‘objets d’art’ which don’t so much have a conversation as a full-on party. Two of his favorite sayings: “I believe that spaces should be maximalist!” and “I believe in surrounding yourself with stuff that means something to you.”

Room design by Jonathan Adler. Image © Jonathan Adler

Look at the way he gathers the art into a salon-style display on the wall of this room. Not one piece has the same kind of frame, shape or even style of art but it is the sheer exuberance of their proximity that makes this so successful.

Room design by Jonathan Adler. Image © Jonathan Adler

 Other ideas for creating collections out of your stuff:

  • Organize your books in horizontal piles on your bookshelves – and sort by color. They immediately become chic.
  •  Place small objects on a series of Plexiglas shelves or in boxes – they look deliberate when displayed and lit well.
  • Hang 3 white shelves, one above the other, and display anything from toys to favorite cards. The rows bring discipline to the collection.


Image via Interior Design Sense.

  • A collection of handbags hung artfully brings out the color and design of each bag – and justifies your propensity for collecting something that would otherwise be hidden at the back of your closet
  • Hang any group of small objects in rows on a wall. For example, these Pez™ dispensers become a work of art, rather than a pile of junk, simply by being places in disciplined rows on a vertical surface. What a great way to add a dash of delight to a room!

Image via Apartment Therapy

I have another radical idea: if you don’t have enough objects that relate to one another to create a collection then buy more. Create a collection today. A favorite trick with interior designers, for example, is to fill a wall with mirrors.

This picture framed wall mirror from kouboo.com is a great place to start. You can display your collection of antique photos, family photos, or travel photos and start your mirror collection at the same time!

Have fun with your stuff. You wouldn’t own it if you didn’t love it. Admit that and then you can put your creative juices to work figuring out how to create wonderful collections from your possessions.

Written by Catherine Holliss

Interior Design Blog Writer, www.Kouboo.com, LLC

Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  


Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted. 

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