Collectors vs. Hoarders: How to Display Your Collections

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Images: (Top & Bottom) Mister Mort

Collector. The word has connotations, doesn’t it? How do you know the difference between someone who is truly collecting things for a reason, or someone that is actually a hoarder? My answer: look at how the stuff is displayed and you can easily see the difference. But then, my philosophy is also that anything—and I do mean absolutely anything, from books to beads to blankets—can be collected. As I write this, I just have to look next to my monitor to see my own small desktop collection of antique wrenches. They’re each in an individual stand (not thrown in a pile on my desk), so it’s a proper collection. Let’s look at some other proper collections and see how they’re done.

Laundry Room
Image: The Cavender Diary

Collections Can Happen Anywhere

A couple of my favorite guys, The Cavender Boys, have collections all over their home; my personal favorite happens to be in the corner of their garage, where the laundry area lives. These thermoses and globes are perfectly displayed on DIY Ikea Lack shelves–I can’t think of a nicer way to spend time doing the washing and drying.

Dinning Collection
Image: James Snowden / The New Victorian Ruralist

Everyday Use Items Can be Displayed as a Collection

This industrial open kitchen shelving is the perfect setting for storage of daily use dinner and serving ware. Arranged as it is, this makes a great collection. It also helps that there are a few items arranged under glass, as well as the antique jars across the top row.

Book Collection
Image: Michael Mundy / An Afternoon With

Go With the Unexpected

If you’re using a bookshelf in the kitchen for dishes, why not keep the unusual displays going by staking books on a bench? That’s a much more interesting solution than the everyday practice—oh, and I prefer to avoid color-coding books. That’s for photo stylists, not for real people.

Image: Christian Schaulin for Dwell

Get Diverse with Your Groupings

Why not paint the ends of your stacked firewood (especially next to a non-working fireplace)? Then gather all of your candles together on the mantle, throw in some coral, a fawn, and your old disco ball. That’s what collections are ultimately all about, anyway—starting conversations. Just be sure your collections are displayed so they don’t start an intervention.

What kinds of collections do you have and how are they displayed?

1 Comment

  1. I have just moved into a new house. I have yet to unpack my collection of small angels, small boats (glass & wooden), candle holders of all sorts, bells with handles, and a collection of porcelain birds. The problem is I don’t know how to display them all. I also have an assortment of vases. My collection is much bigger than the cabinet space I have to display them all. What type of display case do I need to purchase or how can I display these thing in an artistic way?

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Dave Hime, founder/curator of, has been an interior design addict for as long as he can remember. In 2005, he bought a house-in-progress and missed several opportunities to have an influence on his own home decor–leaving him wanting more. With design heroes such as Blake Dollahite ( and Robert & Cortney Novogratz (, Dave began seeking out online resources that would exemplify the interior design practices he's most drawn to: using color, texture and simple materials well. Bringing all of this together, along with his specific focus on providing interior design inspiration from a man's point of view, is Dave's mission: masculine design.