Quirky groupings

Tim's fascination with all shapes and sizes of vintage lightbulbs began with an old string of holiday lights painted by his mom and crackled by age. (Also, lightbulb inventor Thomas Edison was born in Ohio!) One way to display the bulbs: under a glass bell top.

Take-home tip: Don't shy away from collecting something that seems ho-hum, like lightbulbs. When you immerse yourself in the search, you'll discover surprising and intriguing variations.

Enlightening centerpiece

Tim's lightbulbs, in varying colors and shapes, create a striking focal point for the dining room table.

Take-home tip: Odd-numbered groupings, like the nine bulbs here, are more interesting than sets in even numbers.

A world of color

Tim and Mike created a playful fireplace display with cascading globes. (Glue holds them in place.) When they hauled home a carload, a passerby asked if the two were geography teachers.

Take-home tip: Look for versions of your collectible in different sizes; the variety of large and small examples will add interest to the grouping.

Eclectic displays

Deep-chocolate walls and modern retro furniture create a showstopping backdrop for eclectic collections in the dining room. "I like how multiples create texture," Tim says.

The vintage motel sign inspires memories of family lake vacations and cruises in Tim's beloved classic Century boat.

Take-home tip: Deep, rich colors recede to let colorful collectibles pop.

Paint-by-number paintings

A fond childhood memory came to life when Tim purchased a collection of paint-by-number artwork on eBay.

Take-home tip: Just about anything handmade inspires a sense of authenticity, even if it's not "high art."

Vacation memories

Mike collected vintage postcards from Buckeye Lake (home of the Straker family summer cottage) and created a personal framed piece of art.

Take-home tip: Just about any memento can be framed and turned into a hanging memory.

Bookcase groupings

An upstairs hall bookcase houses old model boat kits, vintage flashlights, a framed Chris-Craft Boat advertisement -- and an unusual collection of rainbow-hue books.

Take-home tip: Repeat an accent color to tie things together. Here, spots of celadon green lead the eye from thelamp to the flashlights to the books.


Show Off Small Objects, Like Dice, Matchboxes, or Dollhouse Miniatures, in a Divided Case

Colorful, varied collections look pulled-together but still playful in a weathered grid. Let randomness and imperfection be your guides: Split up pairs, mix sizes, place pieces at different angles, and leave some spots blank. Mount the box on the wall at eye level—before you load it up, of course—or set it on a mantel for maximum delight. (The dice here are in an old wooden type tray.) To keep a display like this clean, spray it with a can of compressed air, standing about a foot away so nothing shifts. A glass jar (far right) can hold extras.

Stylish Ways to Display Collections

Make Cheeky Art From Sock Monkeys or Other Soft Toys

Paint a bulletin board, including the frame (the bluish tone here is Wedgwood Gray by Benjamin Moore), then use T-pins to suspend the creatures (it won’t hurt a bit), bringing some smiles to an otherwise serious space. A hand vac at close range will keep dust under control. Additional members of the pack can live in a trunk or a suitcase. Throw in some cedar blocks to help protect wool from moths



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Replies to This Discussion

This is cute!

You know Carmen, I'd love to have that whole wall of shelves.....so many uses.


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