The Collected Look
There’s a hashtag on Instagram called #thecollectedlook and it’s a good one. To see inside the homes of ‘influencers’ and professional and amateur decorators who use the hashtag is quite inspirational. Collecting things—whether it’s antiques, flatware, artwork, or ceramics—has always been a joyful way for people to spend time (it’s the hunt to find the items that is almost as thrilling as acquiring the object), but now through social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest, you can spend hours looking for the best ways to display your collections in your home from some of the world’s best interior decorators like Bunny Williams, for example.
More is more
What’s more, there is a trend towards the idea of Maximalism: The art of ‘more-is-more’; layered patterning, highly saturated colors, ample accessories and art. It’s the opposite of Minimalism. Keren Richter, interior designer at White Arrow told Vogue in 2021 (when discussing Maximalism) that “art is likely to be hung salon-style. Maximalism is about a real sense of playfulness and bold gestures”. I’ve been enjoying learning as much as I can about this trend because it seems here to stay and it’s built on a foundation of true, hard-core collecting, where variety is the key.
No, I have not painted my walls a wild deep purple just yet, but I have been collecting various antiques and other objects like figurines for years. I collect art books, vintage books and novels, vintage desk and alarm clocks, small vintage toys, antique scales, animal figurines, antique coin banks, antique furniture, limited-edition prints, and antique wooden tops. Slowly but surely, I am learning how to display some of these special treasures throughout my home.
My treasure trove of small collectibles
One “display” area that I finished recently is a small back hallway to the kitchen that had a large empty wall. I hung a massive, antique cubby display piece (purchased in Vermont) and slowly filled it with small objects that were previously strewn around the house on mantles, in drawers, or on window sills. What’s great about this cubby display area is that it’s next to a large window. The unit darkly painted so placing it near the window helps it get great light—and the collectables on it look amazing. At a recent photo shoot for Brook Isle (that happened to take place on location at my house) I asked photographer Lisa Godfrey to take a few shots of it. She captured the light beautifully.
In this cubby unit I’m displaying antique coin banks, bird feathers, seashells, small tins, animal figurines, and many other items that bring me joy for various reasons. These items are beautiful, little artistic objects that deserve to be shown off together as a larger, cohesive collection. Seeing these objects all together starts to tell a story about the things that the owner likes. In this case, it’s me and I love animals, seashells and anything tin! For the small items to be positioned symmetrically inside their individual cubby ‘boxes’, I purchased a big bag of several 2” wooden blocks to use as mini “risers”. I painted the blocks dark brown so they would ‘disappear’ under the item and not be seen. This way, even the tiniest bird can take a place of symmetrical prominence and enjoy being fully seen.
‘The collected look’ in Brook Isle shoots
I’ve tried to sometimes achieve a collected look during a few of the Brook Isle photo shoots. In 2020, I staged a faux bedroom scene against a bright teal wall in my art studio. To achieve a “salon style” look for the walls, I hung a variety of art prints combined with mini framed art. I added brass accents on the side table, antique books, and a vintage lamp with a woven shade. It was one of our most liked IG posts at the time.
If you like it, that’s all that matters
There are many things my husband and I treasure in our home that we have collected together. In our downstairs hallway, for example, we have a vintage wooden chess set from the Soviet Union. It was handmade and it’s just a lovely series of chess pieces—slightly elongated and beautifully designed. We placed one of our carved oak club chairs nearby and that chair in itself is a work of art. We also own a wooden airplane propellor supposedly from a World War I plane. This thing is not registered (that we know of) and did not come with papers, but it’s a masterpiece of design and engineering, is made of solid wood, and it has bullet holes in it. We can tell it’s a piece of history and we like it and that’s all that really matters.
I hope you are collecting things that bring you joy. They do not have to be things of high value. Feathers, river stones, or shells from the beach are wonderful keepsakes that can be displayed in your home. A collected look shows your personality, your interests, and even a bit of history. Collecting and gathering things from your travels creates a sense for where you have been and maybe even where you are going. If you would like more inspiration, don’t forget to check out the hashtag #thecollectedlook on Instagram!