Decorating with Collections

by Shaunna Privratsky


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Invite an interior decorator to your home for a consultation and one of the first questions is bound to be "Do you have any collections?" Decorating with collections is all the rage in the design world.

As a designer, I'm delighted with this trend. I've been decorating with my various collections for years. It is simple, fun and virtually free. Why? Collections create an instant theme and can contribute to the color scheme, style and mood of a room. My neighbor loves her Coca-Cola collection. Her kitchen is decorated in red and white to show off her extensive collection. You can add to an existing collection with ease whenever you spot something that fits. I love to shop in thrift stores, garage sales and clearance sections for inexpensive teapots, which is my collecting passion.

My teapot collection began because I needed to fill the cavernous space above our kitchen cupboards. While browsing in a second-hand shop, I fell in love with an adorable black teapot for only $2. Two years and 67 teapots later, I still get excited when I find a new piece. In order to stay within my self-imposed "collection budget," I only buy items under $5. So far I've been able to stick to my rule.

It doesn't matter what you collect; you can decorate with it. All you need is a shelf or two and a few like items. I also collect colored bottles to complement my contemporary prints in our living room. I recently acquired a new "twist" on my collection.

Last summer, I spied some glass spiral wands in a specialty shop. The wands are twisted and the slightest breeze makes them twirl and spin. The price? $40 each. A few weeks ago, I ran across the same wands, only in plastic, for only $1 each at our Dollar Store! Elated with my extraordinary buy, I hung the colorful wands in front of our window with invisible fish line. The red, purple, dark pink, orange, light green and yellow wands twist and turn in the sunlight, creating rainbows on our walls.

Group your collection together for maximum effect. Seven die-cast vehicles scattered through the house isn't very remarkable, but put them on a fine display shelf and watch the interest grow, especially when you relate that die-cast vehicles are one of the hottest collectibles on the market. Some rare ones even sell for thousands of dollars!

Cash in on your collections. Go to the library or online to your favorite search engine like www.google.com and type in your type of collection. For example, you may type in "Redwing pottery." You may be surprised to learn that old crock with the funny wing you plant flowers in each spring is worth $3,500 to an avid collector. There is even a Redwing Society, with newsletters and membership dues for the true fan of the unassuming pottery.

Did you know that cast irons from the 1920s and 1930s fetch an astonishing $1,200 to a collector? That old doorstop you keep stubbing your toe on could pay your bills for a month!

If you have a collection stashed away in boxes, dig it out and proudly display it. That pile of dainty dessert spoons would look fetching in a spoon rack. Or a row of toile-painted china plates could instantly update your dining room, living room or guest bedroom. Designer plates cost upwards from $44.95 each at specialty shops.

Got a fisherman in the house? Does he or she have a collection of hand-tied flies? Line a shadow box with dark velvet fabric for the perfect backdrop. Shadow boxes and fabric remnants are available at any craft or hobby store, or check Wal-Mart or other discount stores for even greater bargains. Fishing related collections set off any lake home or cabin theme, whether you live in the wilds of backwoods Wisconsin or in downtown Washington, D.C.

Maybe you collect old magazines. If just the covers are important to you, frame each one in a matching frame for a stunning wall display. You can find the frames at garage sales, second hand stores or on clearance. If they don't all match, spray-paint them a uniform color like dark navy, gold or black. Copper is another rich color that goes with any color scheme, especially earth tones and neutrals.

Perhaps you collect dolls or old-time marbles. Bring out the child in you and give them some display time. Dolls are adorable on simple bookshelves. Marbles look splendid in various glass containers, in different sizes and shapes to add interest.

Maybe you have a collection that is unique. Your interests might lie to the merely unusual like shiny bottle tops or the truly bizarre like a giant ball of women's brassieres. See the Guinness World Records for more decidedly strange collections.

Collections showcase the owner's interests and are a great conversation starter. Pursue your hobbies and remember that the fun is not only in the acquisition of your latest find, but also in the display and enjoyment of your collection. Stretch your decorating dollar with your collections or start one today


Shaunna Privratsky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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