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Many of you who follow my work know that I am passionate about collections.  Being a designer in the south and being southern myself, collections are a key part of my heritage and in how I present my home.  They tell my “story” if you will – and in the south, keeping our stories alive is just as important in my living room as it is around the campfire!

The now familiar picture of my formal dining room, designed around and to showcase my Blue and White China Collection.

I have been collecting my entire life!  I began my Blue and White China collection when I was 10 years old and also have an impressive collection of Staffordshire Pottery (which they do not make anymore).  I have been asked countless questions from my clients and friends over the years about how to start and keep collections going, what to collect and what not to collect.  I selected my top three tips to share with you in this blog whether you have a collection, are looking to start a collection or are not sure what exactly you are collecting, these key points should help you out.

Tip #1: What is NOT a collection.  A great place to start if you do not have a collection going just yet, or are not quite sure if that bookshelf filled with travel books signifies a true “collection”.  The answer is sadly, no.  Books are not collections (unless you have a passion for collecting 1st Editions of American Classics).  Photographs are also NOT collections (unless it is an art collection).  The books you have kept since you were a teenager or old family photographs are not considered “a collection.”

A lovely display, but the books, I am afraid, are not a collection in this photo. The lovely sea green pottery just might be, though!

What is considered a collection?  Here are a few examples:

  • Pottery
  • China
  • Porcelin
  • Art
  • Antiques
  • Coins
  • Stamps

Tip #2: Edit your collections! You don’t want to look like the crew of “Hoarders” just left your house!  The beauty of Southern Design is that we want to incorporate our collections into the design of the home, but we don’t want them to overwhelm a room!  Here are some ways to give your collections some “room to breathe.”

An image of my Staffordshire Pottery collection spread out amongst a few other personal treasures.
  • Spread them out and don’t have too much in one space.  No one said all of your spoons need to be on just one wall!  They help to tell the whole story of you so give them life in several areas of your home.
  • Give your collections away! I will often give pieces to friends as I aquire more. It is very special to gift a piece to someone to help them begin their own collection and then you have a win/win!  You help to edit your collection AND you are helping to create a community of people who are as passionate about collecting as you! So, I say – spread the love!

Tip #3:  Be DETERMINED & DARING with your collections! Don’t be afraid to use your collections in the design of your home or as a the centerpiece of a room. One of my largest complete home renovations was created around one piece of Blue and White China that was given to the owner by her mother. An entire home!  Pull out your china and pottery every once in a while to set the table or brighten up a tablescape with your antiques.  They are the living and breathing the stories of you – so do not let them just sit there and collect dust!

The piece of Blue & White China that was the centerpiece for an entire home remodel! More about that renovation here.

Above all, be passionate and committed to your collections! Actively seek out new pieces, connect with other collectors, share what you are looking for and being willing share what you have!

I have written several popular blogs about my Staffordshire Pottery Collection that also gives more tips on collecting, particularly pottery.  If you want to look deeper at collecting I invite you to check them out.

Staffordshire Pottery (Part 1): A Brief Overview

Staffordshire Pottery (Part 2): Authentic?

Staffordshire Pottery (Part 3): What Makes It Valuable?


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