12 Creative Ways to Display Your Collected Items

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

What’s the difference between a hoarder and a collector? While we’re sure the two overlap more often than not, displaying one’s collected items in an attractive manner is one step towards collector-dom. We’ve thumbed through our most recent house tours to find 12 home owners who nailed (stacked, propped, etc.) an inspiringly beautiful collection display.

1. Piled in a Mesh Basket

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

San Diego interior designer Carol Estes loves to forage for branches, driftwood, and other remnants of forest life on her walks on local beaches and in the hills surrounding her cabin in Idyllwild. While she uses some pieces in her designs, her basket full of uniquely-shaped wood pieces is a sight to behold on its own.

2. Hung from the Ceiling

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

“I like umbrellas,” Arnie Arnesen says. “They have shape, color, and in my case, history.” Superstition didn’t stop Arnie from making the most of her umbrella collection by opening them up and hanging them from the conveniently exposed beams in her ceiling.

3. In Small Vignettes

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

Some larger collections can feel overwhelming and cluttered. If you’re a minimal collector (oxymoron?), breaking up your collections and styling them in groups of three—like Australian ceramicist Rose did above—can make them more digestible.

4. Hung Like a Gallery Wall

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Who says gallery walls are only for framed art? Ceramicist Linda Hsiao and architect Kagan Taylor‘s collection of household brushes, which is made up of both purchased and homemade items, is strung up vertically in an arrangement that feels like a work of art in itself.

5. Peppered Into Existing Displays

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Another gorgeous example of collection display gold (er, brass) is Linda Hsiao and Kagan Taylor‘s shelving unit. The two peppered (er, sprinkled) their vintage watering can collection into the unit loaded with various other display-worthy pieces. Having similar items reflected throughout the shelves makes this look feel more organized and intentional versus overwhelming and cluttered.

6. In a Vintage Printer’s Tray

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Divided trays, like this vintage piece originally used to organize letters for printing, are easily repurposed as hanging displays for small collections. Whether it’s thimbles, miniature dolls, rocks, crystals, etc., these display units will make pretty much any collection of small items look cool.

7. Haphazardly Stacked

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

While books may not be an unusual thing to collect, Nathalie Simons‘s method for displaying hers is something worth noting. Stacks of varying sizes are found throughout her home on almost every solid surface that’s not a bookshelf. Having a design element like this echoed throughout her space really makes it feel cohesive. While we’re not sure this display method would work for anything besides books, we’d love to see it used for records, folded textiles, and/or anything in a similar shape and size.

8. In Repurposed Chemistry Sets

(Image credit: Margaret Wright)

Drawing inspiration from plant guru Hilton Carter, BJ Stadelman took his collection of propagation clippings and his chemistry set haul from a nearby Michael’s Halloween sale and made some display art.

9. Draped Over a Rack

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

While Leigh Howard resides in Nashville, her work as a pediatric doctor who specializes in infectious disease had her living and working in Zambia and Botswana for some time. While in Africa, she collected colorful chitenges, which are fabric pieces worn as skirts and used as baby wraps by local women. In her room, she cleverly uses a vintage towel rack/valet to display her vibrant collection.

10. Grouped on a Tray

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The tin man would be in heaven in Grant and Mark’s Los Angeles home. Their beautifully patinated collection of vintage oil cans feels clean and curated when grouped onto a tray and displayed on their coffee table.

11. Formally Shelved

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Crystals and specimen are displayed to museum-worthy standards in architect William Georgis’s Upper East Side home. Affixed to stands and carefully placed on display, this collection feels elevated and almost educational.

12. Clustered

(Image credit: Katie Varela)

Katie Varela‘s collection of thrifted baskets is a sight to behold. Her well-crafted wall display is the perfect example of the strong impact clusters of similar items can make in home decor.

If one thing’s for sure, good collection display is an art form these home owners are well-versed in. Do you have any collections on display? Let us know your tips in the comments!