With summer vacations around the corner, it’s a good time to think about what you want to bring back from your trips to enhance your home environment. For Ed Stanczak, who lives with his wife Sherry in St. Clair Shores, his travels would lead to an extensive magnet collection that began with those depicting National Parks.  

Early on, he featured photos, globes and maps of his travels in his home. “Later I came to realize that magnets identifying sites visited work well as mementos,” he says.

With this in mind, Ed would focus his attention on 2 by 3 inch magnets, which he says are the most common size and easy to find. “Over the years, I have acquired over 700 with each representing a place visited, such as notable parks, homes, churches, buildings, graves, museums, ships, stadiums and Halls of Fame,” he says.

He took the collection a step further with creative displays that make an impact.

“Rather than slapping them onto a refrigerator, the collection has been assembled into collages placed in tables as well as in wall frames that I built,” he adds. “With my wife's indulgence, we have decorated our home with the best of these magnets. They preserve memories as well as make an artistic statement.” 

As Ed explains, his magnet collection that has evolved over 30 years, naturally segments into different categories. For instance, one includes celebrities from destinations like Indiana that yielded a James Dean find, while another theme pays tribute to Michigan settings.


He also has displays that feature prominent art as well as general sites across North America. His magnets were even featured in a local library exhibit of collections.  

“When people see them, I get a very position reaction,” says Ed, who had some made by a vendor that turns your personal photos into magnets.

His do-it-yourself projects include a frame he built (backed by sheet metal) for a collage of magnets that hang on a wall. This display features close to 100 celebrities associated with sites he visited. 

Another consists of a coffee table he altered to showcase an arrangement of magnets from over 100 National Park sites he visited.

Great care was taken to ensure these displays do not become too overbearing for the space. “I try to make it an accent piece rather than something that dominates the room,” he says.

While Ed says a photograph reflects a single destination like Hawaii, his magnets are able to convey so much more. “When I look at the table, it has everything from Alaska to California to Maine,” he says. “It brings back memories and it also has a real artistic quality to it.”

His wife has veto power over his displays. She says she appreciates his collections as well as his creativity in displaying them. “It’s not kitschy. They look artistic and I like the way he displays them. It came out really nice,” says Sherry.

“He picked good spots and people enjoy looking at them,” she adds. “The magnets are really great conversation starters.”

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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