Secrets Of Interior Stylists: How To Display Your Collection

Bags on Bark Shelves - MochaWe collect objects that are beautiful, have meaning, stories or good memories associated with them. Or simply because they make us smile. Together as a group, with a common theme, they become a collection.

But there’s an art to displaying your collections.

Done correctly, a collection adds interest to your home, giving it personality. And keeps your interior from feeling too stark. Even if you usually prefer minimalist interiors, a well considered display will enhance your decor.

Done badly, however, and it can look rather like a cluttered mess.

Once you learn secrets of what makes a good display, you’ll be able to arrange your collection just like the stylists do. And with clever styling even every day objects can be turned into an art installation.

Display what you love

The most important thing is to display a collection of items you really love, and that will bring you happiness to look at. Don’t just have things on display for the sake of it or because you don’t know where else to put them.

Have a theme

Your collection needs to have a theme of some kind. (After all, that’s what makes it a collection). It could be a type of object, colour, or a shared story behind the pieces.

For example, you might have a collection of white vases. All of varying shapes and sizes, but they’re all same colour. Or perhaps a group of vases in the same style but all in different colours.

You could also have a collection of objects which are all different, yet share a common theme. Mementos from a holiday, for example. In this case you might want to create a vignette for them.

A vignette is basically an arrangement of different objects, accessories, books and vases. Together they create a little scene, and may also tell a story.

Less is more

Don’t be afraid to edit your collection. You don’t have to show everything all at once. Sometimes less objects creates more impact. Know when to stop.

Hat Collection Veronica Ervik - Mocha Blog

Select a location

To avoid creating a haphazard impression of clutter, consider carefully a dedicated place for your collection. Give it breathing space so that gets the attention it deserves and becomes a focal point. Don’t detract from it by adding other items that will do nothing to enhance the display.

A collection of the same types of objects, such as vases, works well displayed along a shelf. Meanwhile, a vignette is ideally suited to being placed on a sideboard or console table.

Also think about which room might work best together with the theme of your collection. For example, if you have a collection of typographic tea towels you could frame and use to brighten up a bare wall in your kitchen.

Or how about this collection of straw hats hung above a bed – as styled by interior stylist Veronica Ervik. Doesn’t it work beautifully?

Vignette Kerrie Kelly Mocha design blog

Composition and display

If the pieces in your collection are all the same size or shape, display them in odd numbers. For example three or five vases in a line on a shelf.

To arrange a vignette, decide which item is the key piece and compose the scene around that. Use depth, arranging items from the back of the surface to the front – rather than just placing them all in a straight line. And place some objects at an angle for added interest.

A display of different items works really well when they are of different heights. Use a small stack of books as a pedestal for the key piece in your vignette.

A popular technique of stylists is to arrange objects in a tick shape: a tall item, followed by a shorter one and then the very tallest of them all.

Another trick is to display items in glass vases. It enhances functional objects and makes them look more precious. It is also a really useful way for displaying smaller pieces such as shells or stones.

The vignette above, styled by interior designer Kerrie Kelly, illustrates many of these techniques perfectly.

Contrast and surprise

Objects placed in contrast or opposition, create extra visual interest. Colour and texture work well to achieve this effect.

For example, placing white objects against a striking dark background. Or hard steel against natural wood.

Also think about adding an element of surprise. Display your collection in an unexpected way to give it more impact. Hanging a collection of vintage typewriters on a wall is a perfect example of this.

Typewriter collection display

Your display doesn’t have to remain static. Add new pieces, change the display, and take pieces away. Part of the fun is the hunt for new items to add to your collection.

Above all, enjoy the process of styling your collections and let them evolve.

Do you collect anything? How do you display it?
Please tell me in the comments below.

[Photo credits: 1 – Mocha  2 – Veronica’s Hus  3 – Kerrie Kelly Design Lab  4 – Things Organized Neatly ]


  1. These examples are lovely! I don’t collect anything though, just books — and recently, that’s been Kindle books. Any good way to display art books and graphic novels?

  2. I also have a collection but I found them really annoying. I don’t know how to arrange them. But thanks to your blog, you gave me a hint.