Alfred Jones is an art director at Hallmark’s Union Hill Studios. With a love for beautiful things, an incredible eye for detail, and a knack for curation, he’s showing us how a few of his many skills come together by inviting us into his lovely mid century home to teach us new, cool ways to display collections.
The first things I ever collected were baby squirrels. (Or so I’m told; I was really young.) These weren’t just any baby squirrels, though—they were invisible baby squirrels.
My imaginary squirrel collection shows how deep the desire to collect can run. While I no longer collect invisible squirrels, I do collect a number of other things: vintage barware, globes of every shape and size, and art prints. I recently noticed that I’d started a bird collection without even realizing it.
David and I moved into a new home at the end of last year. (It’s a mid-century ranch house built in 1965.) After the initial new home renovation projects were done—new hardwood floors, a fresh coat of paint on every wall, and a total kitchen remodel—we started unpacking.
That’s when the fun began!
Throughout our house, we created little display spaces: globes on the stairs leading to the dining room, art prints on floating shelves so they can be easily rotated, and Danish teak and brass bar tools mingled with vintage martini shakers. (And don’t get me started on David’s antique radio collection; we have radios in almost every room.)
After some trial and error, I discovered that it’s possible to display your collections without succumbing to clutter. Editing is key: Don’t put everything out. Instead, hold some things back and swap them occasionally to keep your display spaces fresh. (This is where thoughtful organization and storage can help.)
Collecting, for me, is curating, and part of curation is knowing that not everything you collect has to be displayed. I have a collection of Ironstone platters and serving pieces that only come out during the holidays. I have a handful of vintage wool blankets, and only one or two are out at any given time. I even have two birds tattooed on my ribs, which though rarely on display, are still a part of my collection.
Thanks to careful curation, our new house feels light, airy, uncluttered and lived-in. It’s home, and we love it.
I’m not an interior designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a few simple tips on how to display collections (attributable to trial and error…and many hours watching HGTV):
- Display collections you want to see everyday and share with others, not just tchotchkes that collect dust.
- Simplify your surroundings to allow your collections to stand out. A collection can be the statement piece in any room!
- Play with size and scale: “Bounce” creates visual interest.
- Mix things up. A collection doesn’t have to be a lot of “one thing.” You can build a collection around a theme or even just a favorite shape, color or material.
- And the best tip: There are no rules. Just make sure you love it: Once your friends find out what you collect, expect to receive a few more as gifts. (No invisible squirrels, please.)
Photography by Jane Kortright.