The word ‘collection’ covers a multitude of interests, from photographs in silver frames to lead soldiers, Dinky toys, horse-brasses, antique dolls and Indonesian masks.
Collections are best grouped together, so that the similarities and differences can be appreciated. A collection of dolls looks at home on an armchair but if you don’t want to give up a comfortable seat the top of a chest-of-drawers would be a suitable showcase, perhaps with a set of shelves behind for small dolls and dolls’ clothes hanging on the wall on either side. A couple of open drawers could hold yet more dolls peeping out and so the chest becomes a complete small exhibition in itself, leaving the lower drawers for family clothes.
Wooden, alabaster and marble eggs, or other similar-sized objects, can be displayed in a basket or a little batch of baskets. Collections of boxes can spread over the house in groups on mantelpieces, small tables and shelves. Small shelves which are ostensibly intended to stand on the floor can be hung on a wall individually or in groups to display smaller items.
One very successful way of displaying collections is on small tables. A round table covered with a floor-length cloth takes up very little space next to an armchair and collections look very decorative with light shining down on them from a table lamp.
Masks look best hung on a wall, either in a row if they have some unifying quality or haphazardly if they are different sizes and from different parts of the world.
Empty bottles are usually thrown away, but some bottles have attractive shapes, colors or ornamental moulding which gives them a decorative value. Don’t just display one on its own; their charm is in their variety. Rare or precious glass such as old crystal or Lalique pieces can be exhibited separately but they also look better as collections.
Glass needs light behind it to bring out its magical, light-reflective properties so windowsills are the ideal place to display it. Deep sills will hold a collection of different sizes and shapes but it looks best if you limit the colors to, say, blues and blue-greens, or reds and pinky yellow. Glass also looks extra shiny placed in front of a mirror where its reflective qualities are doubled. After dark, place a nightlight or tiny strip light behind the glass at the back of the windowsill.
A high shelf running all round a room or entrance hall will show off a collection of china or an antique dinner service. Pairs of plates or platters can be fixed to wire brackets and hung on the wall on either side of a mantelpiece, and individual plates can be hung like paintings wherever they look good. Don’t ignore the bathroom and lavatory as possibilities for hanging china. There are often free walls in these rooms which can be greatly brightened by pretty china, which will not be affected by condensation.