From Gorgeous Glassware to Pillows: Home Experts Share Their 19 Favorite Items to Collect and Display

published Feb 18, 2022
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What do you like to collect? Personally, I can never have enough pieces of colored glassware, love to pick up matchbooks from my favorite restaurants, and can’t resist a good vintage portrait. When it comes to collecting objects though, there’s no right or wrong category to focus on — just take a look at the wide variety of pieces that designers and influencers enjoy hunting for, as detailed below. Maybe you’ll become inspired to incorporate some of these items into your own home.

Credit: Xin Lu

1. Natural curiosities

“My kids and I love finding little treasures when we are out for walks. Our collection includes insects, seed pods, feathers, moss, and rocks. I like to display them in this thrifted box so we can see them everyday. They bring a little bit of nature into our house.” —Instagrammer Xin Lu of At Home With Xin

2. Figure drawings

“I love to collect art featuring women in all different forms: portraits, bodies, abstracts, details. They bring such a softness to a space and remind my daughter that every body is different and beautiful. It also helps to have a focus when seeing vintage art. If you get overwhelmed by all the options, focus on one type of art… be that women, landscapes, florals, still lifes. A collection of art always makes a statement in your home.” —Instagrammer Hannah Hamburger of House of Hamburger

3. Glass candleholders

“I’ve been known to collect glass or crystal votives and candle holders. I’m especially drawn to vintage Orrefors and Kosta Boda pieces, which I typically hunt down at thrift shops, antique malls, and on Etsy. I’ve realized over the last few years that having candles lit throughout the day, particularly during the winter months, does wonders for my mood. I only wish I wasn’t running out of surfaces to display them on!” —Instagrammer Mallory Fletchall of Reserve Home

Credit: Krishna Shah

4. Picture frames

“I love collecting frames, especially while thrifting. It’s fun to collect a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to create a gallery wall.” —Instagrammer Krishna Shah of Home by Krishna

Credit: Jess Reilly

5. Joyful objects

“In 2022, things worth collecting are anything that brings you joy. Items that bring me joy are books, busts, brass, and art. I love reading a good book. I love researching the head of the bust I’m collecting. I love how brass shines when the sun kisses it, and I love a good piece of art that makes me feel something.” —Instagrammer Jess Reilly of Domicile37

6. Coffee table books

“My absolute favorite collectors items are coffee table books. I try to pick one up whenever I travel anywhere to remind me of the experience. I have them displayed on my coffee table and bookshelves, and they’re such a conversation piece for guests.” —Designer McCall Dulkys of Interiors by McCall

“I think my favorite thing to collect are design books (Kelly Hoppen, Vicente Wolf) and fashion books (Louis Vuitton, Gucci).” —Designer Laurie DiGiacomo

7. Brass candlesticks

“I love them because they add vintage appeal to a space, and I love using them to dress up areas like a fireplace mantel, coffee table, or dining table. Though they look fabulous just about anywhere! I’ve amassed quite the collection from a number of my thrifting adventures.” —Instagrammer Stacey-Ann Blake of Design Addict Mom

Credit: Nicole Cole

8. Ceramics

“My most favorite thing to collect are ceramic pieces, particularly vases and bowls. I just love sleuthing for them in vintage/antique shops, at tag sales, or a local handmade shop while I am traveling. I love interesting and sometimes wonky shapes and glazes that have beautiful colors or textures. The process of creating ceramic pieces from a material dug from the earth and then turning it into something beautiful and functional is endlessly fascinating to me. I have pieces all over my home, but my largest collection is in the antique hutch in a small room off our dining room.” —Designer Nicole Cole, CEO of Vestige HOME

9. Wooden shoe forms

“One of my absolute favorite items to collect and display as art in my home are antique and vintage wooden shoe forms. I love that each form differs so greatly from one to the next and that, when used as art, they can bring character, dimension, and warmth to a space because of the various shapes, sizes, and tones in the wood. A little but of whimsy and something unexpected in a home is always necessary, IMO, and these forms always check both boxes.” —Blogger and author Kennesha Buycks of Restoration House

Credit: Lucy Harris

10. Elsa Peretti terracotta pieces

“I collect original (vintage) Elsa Peretti for Tiffany terracotta pieces! The ultimate in chic — rustic yet refined.” —Designer Lucy Harris of Lucy Harris Studio

Credit: Ari

11. Distressed brass objects

“I’ve never thought of my decorating style as glamorous, but every time I visit an antique store, I end up leaving with another vintage brass candlestick, sconce, lamp, or sculpture. I’m so drawn to distressed brass objects that I think I’ve developed a small obsession.” —Instagrammer Ari of True Style With Ari

12. Cutting boards

“The only thing that I collect would be cutting boards to display in my kitchen. I love how the wood brings warmth to my space, and they come in handy not only for day to day use but also when entertaining. I have bought so many because I have actually lost three of them from falling in the small gap between my stove and the wall! ” —Designer Christie Adams

13. China

“I’m a big collector of China, whether vintage or new — it’s a bit of a problem, in fact! I love mixing and matching to create the perfect tabletop setting for a dinner party. If you have a big enough collection, no two dinner parties will be alike!” —Designer Young Huh

Credit: Anika Gandhi

14. Bottles and jars

“One of my favorite items to collect is all types of glass bottles and jars. They’re usually in many shapes and sizes and can be used in so many ways. They can be painted to match any decor if needed and are great for adding flowers or branches to.” —Blogger Anika Gandhi of Anika’s DIY Life

15. Pillows

“I know that some people like to collect books to style their home, while others like to collect vases to make beautiful vignettes on a shelf — however, I love to collect pillows! Not only are they functional, but they’re also fashionable. I toss them on the floor and on the bed, mixing patterns and textures to add layers to my space. Pillows have always been my favorite to style with and help soften a space. So when in doubt, add pillows; they’ll never steer you wrong.” —Instagrammer and HGTV “Design Star” contestant Justin Williams

Credit: Lowe Saddler

16. Bust sculptures

“I like to think I’m a collector of loads of fun things, but I’m especially in love with sculptures of body forms and busts. Usually, I find mine from places like Facebook Marketplace, secondhand shops, and my mom’s closet, but I’ve also been able to score a few really cool options from Effortless Composition (a small business based in Los Angeles, CA). I love collecting these kinds of sculptures because they add the perfect amount of whimsy and weird to each room. It’s rare that anyone else will have exactly the same thing.” —Instagrammer Lowe Saddler of Hot Sunday Home

17. Mid-century ceramics

“Bitossi is my favorite. This Italian house of ceramics has been making pottery since the 1920s, and they have collaborated with various famous designers on collections. These Italian whimsical objects have so much personality and charm; sometimes in the form of animals, vivid glazes, and original textures. I’m especially drawn to the Rimini blue and gold pieces. This pottery will instantly liven up an interior!” —Designer Antoinette Allande Anderson

18. Lots of trinkets

“I find myself collecting a myriad of items. I tend to fall in love with things that spark a bit of excitement in me and ultimately want to keep hunting for that feeling. Right now, I’m chasing that excitement in vintage tabletop picture frames and elephant figurines. I actively search for these items at my favorite spots, but the best feeling is when it’s a serendipitous find.” —Instagrammer Tanieka Harris of This Borrowed Home

19. Miscellaneous textual objects

“My goal for a space is to keep it layered in texture and pattern, and I’ve found my favorite things to collect to help achieve that goal: vases in unusual materials like rattan and leather. Other items that I love to collect are vintage art from Etsy and throw pillows made of vintage textiles.” —Designer Anastasia Casey of The Identitè Collective and IDCO Studio