Tout your treasures! We show you how to display your favorite pieces—and keep your collections from gathering dust.
Text: Caitlin Murphree Miller
1 of 25Photo: Annie Schlechter
1. Play With Color
Pristine walls, floors, and trim serve as the perfect backdrop for this stunning abstract painting. Here, a simple, razor-thin frame keeps the exuberant piece looking neat and trim against white walls.
2 of 25Photo: Annie Schlechter
2. Show Off Vintage Valuables
A collection of antique Bahamas tourism ads gives new life to this cozy breakfast nook. Pink-and-blue mats unify the pieces and add a sense of playfulness, while dark bamboo frames nod to classic island style.
3 of 25Photo: Sophie Munro
3. Expect the Unexpected
Why not put a painting in the bathroom? This elegant, unframed oil painting bridges the gap between the all-white, sparsely furnished space and its bright, whimsical ceiling.
4 of 25Photo: Annie Schlechter
4. Embrace Odd Numbers
A collection of bright fish illustrations lends just the right amount of humor to this formal living room, while the odd number of prints—nine—keeps the symmetrical room from appearing too fussy.
5 of 25Photo: Lisa Romerein
5. Contrast for Cohesion
A collection of nubby, open-weave baskets lends the perfect touch of texture to this sleek, ultra-modern kitchen. Tip: Keep it proportional. These large pieces are just the right size for this alcove; anything smaller would look puny in the lofty space.
6 of 25Photo: Lisa Romerein
6. Wow with White
Art doesn’t have to drip with color to bring boldness to a space. Here, a set of modern zebra paintings relies only on subtle texture. Paired with streamlined furnishings and complementary white walls, this arrangement hints at drama without overwhelming the small space.
7 of 25Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
7. Trust in Traditional
A collection of blue enamelware looks fresh and preppy against this Nantucket cottage’s clean white kitchen. Tip: Keep a display fresh by sprinkling your collection with a few solid-color variants, such as these classic white pitchers.
8 of 25Photo: Kindra Clineff
8. Don't Forget Transitional Spaces
Incorporate collections of smaller pieces into unexpected, overlooked places, such as hallways and office nooks. This technique adds interest to mostly utilitarian—and often smaller—spaces, and integrates the room into the flow of the rest of the house.
9 of 25Photo: Jeff McNamara
9. Incorporate Interactive Art
Give your childhood storybooks a new life as vintage wall art. Here, a busy playroom’s white walls and low eaves provide the perfect place to showcase colorful, well-worn children’s books. Tip: A low windowsill is the perfect height for an impromptu shelf, just within a child’s reach.
10 of 25Photo: Tria Giovan
10. Feature Favorite Finds
Turn a collection of beachcombing finds into art. Here, coordinated natural colors and textures offer balance to the cramped space, where dried sea life looks right at home next to a round bamboo-trimmed mirror, polished wood vanity, and open-weave baskets.
11 of 25Photo:Tria Giovan
11. Keep it Consistent
Show off a collection of black-and-white photography by keeping your frames in coordinating sizes and finishes, livened up with an occasional splash of color. Here, photos layer casually on simple white shelves, while knick-knacks sprinkled throughout add depth and visual interest.
12 of 25Photo: Reena Bammi
12. Stack it Up
Collections of larger pieces often present a challenge to display. Here, a stack of vintage suitcases serves as a creative, casual bedside table, just large enough for a lamp and pile of favorite nightime reading.
13 of 25Photo: Reena Bammi
13. Enliven Your Entry
Though often overlooked, entryway decor serves as a guest’s first impression. Try grouping different collections in unexpected ways, such as this foyer’s basket of antique rolled maps, blue glass jars, and woven baskets overflowing with beachcombing finds.
14 of 25Photo: Dominique Vorillon
14. Play with Placement
Try incorporating your favorite vintage finds into unexpected places. Here, an old-school reading poster placed in the living room—not the playroom—gives the room a casual, surprisingly playful vibe.
15 of 25Photo: J. Savage Gibson
15. Find the Right Frames
Give your favorite smaller pieces a high-end makeover by displaying them in thick, dramatic frames. Here, eye-catching gold frames draw attention to petite pieces, while the elegant arrangement make the entire space look polished.
16 of 25Photo: Keith Scott Morton
16. Balance Formality and Fun
Even formal spaces need a shot of personality. Try mixing old-school bookshelf favorites with casual arrangements of your favorite collections, like this dining room’s scattering of pink conch shells amid antique book sets. Tip: Give center stage to a favorite piece (like this owner’s aqua ship diorama) for an extra hit of interest.
17 of 25Photo: Peter Murdock
17. Make it Unified Yet Unique
Skillful arrangements can make even new homes look like they’ve been around forever. In this pint-size powder room, uniquely shaped frames are unified by glossy black paint and cohesive subject matter.
18 of 25Photo: Tria Giovan
18. Group with Purpose
If a minimal look is more your style, pick a few coordinating colors and display your favorite pieces in each hue, grouping them together for a pleasingly simple aesthetic. Here, a collection of ceramic pieces in unique sizes and shapes adds visual interest to the otherwise simple space.
19 of 25Photo: Dominique Vorillon
19. A Study in Style
This playful collection of maps and globes doesn’t take itself too seriously—and it looks smart and effortless when arranged along a low bookshelf.
20 of 25Photo: Jean Allsopp
20. Variation of Style
Turn awkward, unused corners into ideal display spots. Here, an empty corner transforms into a thinking-man’s reading nook thanks to a deep chair, lamp, and the homeowner’s diverse collection of art. Tip: When a space is sparsely furnished (and your collection has little to compete with), try displaying art in creative, mismatched frames.
21 of 25Photo: Brie Williams
21. Flaunt Your Feminine Side
Even empty counterspace can provide the perfect venue to display your treasures. Here, the homeowner’s collection of antique silver brushes offers a sweet, subtle vintage feel to a bath vanity.
22 of 25Photo: Jean Allsopp
22. Invite Island Style
Looking to imbue your home with a regional style? Try tucking hallmark design elements into discrete places, like this collection of iconic Hawaiian woven luahala boxes.
23 of 25Photo: Roger Davis
23. Take Advantage of Stairways
Make the trip up and down the stairs more interesting by turning it into a display area. Here, an elegant collection of blue-gray coral is interspersed evenly among the owners’ antique books and vintage knick-knacks.
24 of 25Photo: Keith Scott Morton
24. Go Beyond the Bookshelf
Tuck your collections into unexpected spots, like this rustic bench beneath a low window. Here, the homeowner displayed her collection of shells in three different ways, giving the space a just-back-from-the-beach vibe.
25 of 25Photo: Lisa Romerein
25. Give Your Art Room to Breathe
Ultra-deep built-ins give this large space a sense of intimacy, displaying the homeowner’s collection of vintage baskets and stoneware. Tip: Stave off the desire to crowd shelves with too many pieces—spaced-out arrangements draw attention to individual pieces and don’t overwhelm the room.