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A family's collected treasures deserve center stage in a room design

August 30, 2013

Hardwood FloorsShould a collection be located in a single space or spread around the house? If one's decor is modern, will traditional keepsakes look out of place? Similar to choosing a beautiful hardwood floor like those in Anderson's Rideau Plank collection, these are decorating decisions that go to the heart of great home design.

Personal collections, whether they are of movie memorabilia or salt and pepper shakers, are dear to their collectors' hearts. That's why Houston interior designer and writer Leslie Sarmiento believes that collections should be treated as focal points within a room. She encourages her clients to look upon their collected items as an important part of the decor and to decorate around them.

"Our possessions are a reflection of who we are, where we've been, and where we're going," she said.

Backgrounds and display areas
Neutral wall colors are a good background for collections. Posters, paintings and photographs, for instance, contain many hues that stand out against a light-colored wall. The same can be said of books or handcrafted items.

Scale should play a big role in deciding where to place pieces. Small items look best on small shelves, larger pieces belong on large, longer surfaces. Otherwise, they look out of sync and imbalanced within the context of the room design.

Care should also be taken when collections are housed in curio cases or in a certain corner. They should tie in with the furniture and soft furnishings around them as much as possible so there isn't a disconnect between the other elements in the room.

One of the interesting display ideas offered by Apartment Therapy has collectibles contained within a series of shadow boxes with no backing. They are placed on a wall painted in a vibrant color, which shows through the back of the casing as a colorful backdrop.

Preventing damage to treasures
When collectibles are located close to windows where natural light may cause materials to fade, homeowners should choose window coverings for decorative and functional reasons. They should complement rather than detract from the display to create a harmonious overall look, but also shield them from direct sunlight that may cause sun damage on belongings that may be difficult to replace.

Another way to protect items from direct sun is to arrange them behind glass in a curio case. Encasing collectibles also cuts down on dust that may accumulate on them.