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6 Tips for Displaying Collectibles

Display your collectibles beautifully with these simple tips.

A collection can be anything from shells to genuine antiques, and the flair with which you display your treasures is what elevates the jive to the gem. An expensive crystal bowl looks great in the china cabinet but takes on a life of its own when displayed on a pedestal and lighted to its best advantage.

Here are some suggestions for making the most of a collection:

1. Place mundane objects in  a stage-type setting. The stage itself could be a pedestal for one object or shelves for several objects. If it's a matchbox collection or old playing cards, the stage could be the matting on a frame that you've set the collection in.

2. Don't let the backdrop interfere with your display. Busy wallpaper, for example, would distract your attention from the object you're trying to highlight. Most often, a soft, solid color serves best as a background, though a bold color is in order if the object is pale.

3. Add focus with lighting. You can light from above, behind or underneath. Test with a flashlight, shining it from each direction to get an idea of which way the light best serves the object. Shadows cast from the object can add to or subtract from its beauty, so evaluate your lighting well.

4. If you have more stuff than space, display one great object in place of two more modest pieces. If one item in your collection is very large, display it alone in a different room as a focal point or conversation piece. Or you can cluster the collection, which looks attractive if done well. And if you still have leftover pieces that you don't have space for, pack them up and put them away for a while. In a few years, when you're itching to redecorate, pull out those boxes and display your rediscovered treasures, putting different pieces away this time.

5. Display valuable items behind glass doors for protection. Glassed-in shelves also keep daily dust out.

6. Display toys in a children's room just like collectibles. Put shelves on a wall at a level the child can reach, and group toy cars, dolls or a variety of toys on them. They're easily accessible, and when you ask your kids to put their toys away, it's not a big chore.

(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann is author of Mystery of Color.)

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