Editor’s Note: Are your artworks, antiques and collectibles trapped in seclusion or piled in the corner like junk mail? If you need help displaying your collection, send us your questions, and let our Worthologist, Christopher Kent, help you resolve the problem.
Every stick of furniture has a purpose. We sit on chairs and eat at the dining table. But if decorating was merely about making a room functional, we would all shop at IKEA and be done with it.
We spend years accumulating art, antiques and collectibles to enhance our spaces and express our values and interests with things that are rare, interesting and beautiful. Or, in some cases, a little eccentric.
Then what to do with it all? When it comes to art, antiques and collectibles, it’s not all about the finding and the acquiring. Presentation is the step that is frequently forgotten. Your collection’s potential is diminished if it is displayed carelessly.
Many times I’ve walked into the home of a veteran collector and suffered the bends as I pick this up, or move that over, just so I could enter the room. It’s as if they were living in a warehouse rather than a home, with their collectibles still in their original newspaper wrappings. Or, some people hide their collectibles under the bed, in a closet or up in the attic—anywhere except where they can be seen and appreciated. It’s as if collecting was a guilty pleasure for them.
It’s time to bring that collection out into the light (not direct sunlight!) and celebrate it.
Here are some guidelines for decoration and presentation that will highlight your collectibles while also making the room work better for the people who live in it:
• Less is always more. Spare is best. Hanging one large painting creates drama; 14 teeny ones create confusion.
• Don’t shove furniture against the wall where it looks like it’s waiting to be invited to dance. Pull it into the space. Place a sofa so it flanks a fireplace, and position a long large table behind it. Now you have a table on which to display your collectibles where people sit.
• Display your collection of arrowheads on an end table by the sofa. Position a lamp so that it illuminates your collection. Leave some space; you don’t have to show all your arrowheads at once.
• Create interest with size and scale. Instead of a lamp, place two weathervanes from your collection on the end table.
• Collections of small, fragile objects, such as snuffboxes, should be secured in a glass-topped case. Position the case beneath a lamp on the table to illuminate it for proper viewing.
• Why do people display hundreds of books they will never read again? An open credenza or bookcase placed between the windows is an excellent way to display your collection of cast-iron toys.
– Christopher Kent is a member of the WorthPoint board of advisers and director of evaluations for WorthPoint. He is also an antiques and collectibles generalist, fine arts broker and president of CTK Design.
– To post your design question for Christopher, click on the words “Add a new comment” in the left-hand column.
Related articles by Christopher Kent:
How to Clean Antique Table Linen
How to Clean Silver – Buyer Beware