Making Your House A Home With Collections

By Mary Beth Evans

August 20, 2009

I have always taken great pride in making my home warm and inviting; a place where friends and family can come and feel as comfortable and welcomed as if it were their own and I think I have been able to accomplish that.  I live in a neighborhood in southern California where TV and films are often shot in the houses.  The scouts who come through our home, who often are going from house to house, always comment on the fact that ours feels the most personal, homey and above all incredibly welcoming.  I have found that the way you decorate your house has a lot to do with the way you and others feel inside of it, so many years ago I began collecting an array of items to decorate my house and make it into a home. 

The skill of assembling art collections doesn’t have to be for professionals only.  It started for me with something as simple as photos of my children.  I didn’t have the money for beautiful oil paintings and I didn’t want to hang framed posters any more.  So I looked around for nice frames.  Mostly I looked for carved wood frames or frames with shells or other natural embellishments, even if they were a tad pricier.  I like frames that are attractive without trying to be something they are not (like fake wood).  I put groupings of frames together on tables, stacked three deep, or on a bookshelf.  I chose all different types of photos, some were professionally taken, but most were fun family shots or the kids laughing with friends.  Nothing says “home” like pictures of children.  As for my walls, I have lined my whole upstairs hallway with various Christmas card photos taken over the years in matching frames.

In recent years I have taken to flea markets for some really great finds.  Without breaking the bank, you can make a nice statement with similar items.  Whether it’s milk glassware, mini Toby mugs, pottery, mercury glass items, or all different types of sea shelled treasures, I collect them all.  I was on a kick for awhile of collecting etchings, too.  They are nice little pieces of art that are usually inexpensive can be framed nicely and can be transformed into something special.

I really love things made from mercury glass.  It’s sort of like Christmas bulbs, in that the mercury glass reflects light.  With candles burning and low lighting they create a beautiful ambiance.  Another thing I love are little antique plates that I place on stands or hang up on the wall with brackets.  I find that working in groups of three plates together looks best.  The trick is to not overdo these faux collections, so I say stick to the number three or five and you can’t go wrong.  You have to be selective.  If it looks cluttered, then sacrifice a few.  Strive to just display your favorites.


It’s also fun to bring back treasures from your travels.  A couple of years ago I traveled to Greece with my family, where I collected Milagro prayer tins.  I display them on a bookshelf in my living room in box frames that I bought from Pottery Barn.  Once again, they reflect light in the room giving the space a festive twinkle.  

Whatever it is you like, don’t be afraid to give it a shot and think outside of the box.  Be discerning and creative and you too can be a avid collector and curator for your home!