Collecting pieces that speak to your heart provides the opportunity for your home to be totally unique. Let’s face it though, collections can quickly get out of hand, becoming cumbersome to manage while ultimately overpowering a space.
My major collecting vices are vintage silver and ironstone. I also have a substantial Father Christmas collection. The question becomes how much is enough, and when does one move beyond being a collector and tip over into the realm of hoarder? Here are the tricks I use to keep my collecting in check.
Tip #1–Make It Multitask!
While this is not always relevant, it may surprise you how often a piece you are considering may be able to be used in multiple ways in your home.
Take my insatiable attraction for vintage silver. Instead of buying new silverware in order to have enough utensils for entertaining, I have amassed a collection of vintage silverware in complimenting patterns.
In addition to the traditional table settings, I also have collected vintage silver serving and specialty pieces such as strawberry forks and compote spoons. But who is going to use strawberry forks and compote spoons on a regular basis? The answer is no one! Unless, that is, you are a crazy curly haired girl like me who can’t resist decorating with them!
Two of my strawberry forks plus an ironstone creamer and coffee cup become part of adorning a basic moss wreath for the dining room.
Compote spoons tied with a piece of ribbon add a surprising touch to the buffet lampshade.
Even regular old forks take on a new task as display pieces for vintage valentines!
This vintage silver trophy cup can be a stand alone piece, a pot for a rosemary tree, or a vessel to hold a gigantic floral bouquet!
A sweet silver sugar bowl can hold it’s own in any vignette, but add a DIY flower bonnet and you have another unique way to display fresh flowers.
Silver tea accessories and ironstone pitchers can also make great organizational containers. They may hold cooking utensils in the kitchen, make up brushes and tools on your vanity or pencils and paper clips on your desk.
Think of it this way, if you are using it then you don’t have to store it! Very important for those of us that live in smaller houses.
Tip #2–Display In Substantial Groupings
Too many times collectors seem to feel that they have to display their entire collections all together. If you have the space, this can have great impact, however the entire collection does not need to stay together or even be displayed all at the same time.
My Father Christmas collection is large! What can I say? I may have a problem!
For many years the Father Christmas collection display took up the entire mantle, but it finally outgrew the space. I moved the bulk of the smaller pieces to the farmhouse cabinet the next year and used some larger pieces as a part of separate displays.
Grouping a substantial number of like objects in different locations allows you to retain the impact of the collection while allowing you to make better use of your available space.
Last winter the mantle was dominated by silver and ironstone serving vessels of varying types.
Vintage salt and pepper shakers are a particular weakness of mine. Just look at those glamorous lines!!! I often use several together on a tray or cake stand to provide the dominate focal point in a display. (Note that threading a paperclip through one of the holes on the cap now turns two of these salt shakers into display fixtures for book page hearts for Valentine’s Day. Multitasking! )
The farmhouse cabinet has a grouping of silver pitchers and tea servers on one shelf and a collection of white ironstone on another while the bottom shelf is filled with ironstone dishware.
Tip #3–Break Up Collection For Small Display Areas
Keep in mind that every piece in your collection does not need to be on display at all times! Rotate pieces in and out so that you can really see and enjoy individual pieces.
This year I decided to break down the Father Christmas collection into small groupings between 3-5 items to use as one aspect of holiday vignettes.
Small groupings of salt and pepper shakers add interest shape and texture to table top displays.
Tip #4–Periodically Edit Items You Are Collecting
This can be hard!!!
Sometimes you have to make tough decisions to help keep collections both in check and evolving. If an item in your collection does not still thrill you or serve an important purpose in your collection, then it may be time to either donate it or sell it.
I did a hard edit of my Father Christmas collection this year. Several pieces where either given to me and had never really held a place in my heart, but for some reason I felt compelled to keep them and display them along side the pieces that I truly loved. It came down to space! In order to feel free to add to the collection in the future, something had to go now!
If I am totally honest with myself, I have enough salt and pepper shakers and gravy boats at this point, so if a potential piece doesn’t have anything that is truly unique about it, it won’t come home with me. Instead my vintage silver and ironstone collecting needs to focus on other types of pieces.
Collecting should be ever evolving so that it remains exciting and fresh! Let’s face it, the thrill of the hunt for just the right addition to your collection is half the fun! With flea market and vintage sale season fast approaching it’s time to take a hard look at your existing collections. Edit out items that are not working for you and identify holes in your collection so that you know what to add to your shopping list!
Hugs ’til next time!
P.S.–Don’t forget to share this with your shopping buddies and fellow collectors!