Couples Quandary: Making Collections Work Together

When I first started dating my boyfriend — who studied geology — I thought of his substantial rock collection as a dusting headache. Strewn across the top of his bookcase, it occupied a prominent place in his post-grad living room. I didn't really care for it, but feigned great interest, because, well, he was pretty much rocking my world. Then we moved in together and I had to find a place to put it.

In our first rental together, where we lived for a year, I stashed the rocks on top of that same bookcase in my boyfriend's home office, where I figured he could enjoy them. When we bought our first house, however, I began to feel that his favorite collection was being neglected — and I had quite a few beloved objects that were tucked away in a drawer, as well. I decided to combine them.

Instead of displaying all the rocks, as he'd been doing, I picked the most exceptional, including his favorite, the labradorite (the rest, which are geologically interesting, but not especially pretty, are downstairs in his office). I mixed in some of my favorite objects, including a piece of found driftwood, a fossil and a medal of Van Gogh's sunflowers, given to me by my dad. I also bought a few flashier small rocks from a nearby toy store.

I love the way these natural elements contrast with the industrial stainless steel-and-glass cabinet, an old Ikea score with the glass door removed. And when my boyfriend saw his prized collection front and center in our living room, he knew I'd done it with him in my heart.

The deeper our connection gets, the more in-sync our style has become. We mesh in so many ways now, including the way we put together our house. Yesterday, writing about Jerid and Jesse's Bedroom Collection, I realized just how meaningful that can be in a relationship. Before my boyfriend, I never would've thought to display a rock collection. Now I stare at it daily and smile.

What about you? Do you and your significant other enjoy each other's collections? How do you display them in your house? Is there anything that you've felt compelled to banish altogether?

Image: AnnaMaria Stephens