Solutions: Reconsider the way you display collections

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
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Though spring is a transformative time for nature, this can easily translate to your interiors. While many embark on larger projects this season, it doesn’t take a major remodel to make a statement in your home.

I’ve decided to start small by assessing my collections, both the ones that are currently on display and the less fortunate belongings that have been tucked away for too long.

Vintage dishes, wine corks, matchbooks, seashells and decorating books are among my favorites. I can’t help the fact that I’m attracted to so many categories; that’s what keeps a home intriguing to me.

Though our art collection already takes up a lot of space, there are still a few stragglers to be added and a handful of pieces to be replaced or relocated.

Whether you choose to display like items on a tray, in a jar, on a wall or in a cabinet, arranging these objects en masse gives them more impact.

Sometimes I try to do the opposite and separate my collections, like the remaining cat statues I kept from years ago that are scattered around the house.

I also like to borrow ideas from other collectors, such as the tall glass jars I spotted in someone’s home that held sentimental items typically found in a junk drawer. This could be anything from tickets to a sporting event to a champagne cork from a special occasion.

The jars I have in mind include one for my theater memorabilia and another for travel souvenirs and other mementos with fond memories.

Collections can be soothing like my seashells that have a calming effect, which is why I plan to place a few in each room.

As for all those family photos I’ve accumulated through the years, both the old black-and-white classics and the more recent images, they’re all randomly stored throughout the house. Even if I can’t find a prominent spot for them, the least I can do is create a better system.

A series of black lacquered boxes with intricate designs from my mother’s travels comes to life when displayed together on a tall surface where they command attention. They also hold small office supplies like staples, paper clips and business cards in a convenient location.

In addition, some of my bigger pieces that can be considered collections have been put to good use, like the wicker baskets and wine crates that hold coffee table books, magazines and more.

On a smaller scale, my cigar boxes in an array of colors, sizes and shapes keep everything from pencils to receipts within reach. I’ve often thought of grouping them together on a tabletop or even installing some on a wall for an artistic arrangement.

Another opportunity to showcase collections comes when you’re expecting guests. Layering family heirloom plates at each place setting and making a centerpiece from a mix of your favorite candlesticks creates a pretty presentation with a personal spin. These charming displays will have everyone talking and might even inspire some visitors to start some collections of their own.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at

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