Since flea market season is approaching, I want to let you in on a little secret. While I'm a Professional Organizer, I'm also a passionate collector. I have beautiful books on interior design, from European villas to industrial salvage funk (see my Pinterest boards).
I collect cookbooks with pictures of savory stews styled in antique tureens, kitchen paraphernalia and serving pieces, and many antique and vintage items. These fuel my passion for interior design and cooking.
My home is filled with both antique and modern furniture, all functional, some of which I've had since my first apartment. I love treasure hunting at thrift shops, estate sales and flea markets. You get better quality and timeless design. As a designer, I purchase rarely ... only when an object inspires my soul.
I'm not a minimalist and I've never aspired to be one ... although I admire those beautiful spare homes of polished concrete and steel, every object culled from the Museum of Modern Art, and that one large vase, a stunner filled with exotic leaves. The mundane items are hidden behind walls of storage. Love that – but ordinary bare bones homes make me sad. I like a home to have personality.
William Morris is often quoted as saying: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
I've collected for decades so I also love to simplify. In fact, de-acquisitioning is my new hobby. I've been downsizing my collections for years, weeding down to the best and offloading the rest. I help my clients do the same. I've come to realize there's only so much I can use and enjoy.
Here’s the lowdown about collections:
• If they could talk they would tell you they want to be out in the open. That means clean, not dusty and proudly displayed, not hidden. Only keep those you can care for. Like too many cats, collectables easily get out of hand.
• They want to be cherished. Even better they'd like to be used. Pull out that lovely old silver set you inherited and enjoy it every day. Find a way to organize your treasures so they are accessible.
• Books look beautiful when artfully arranged on the shelves. There are many ways to do it if you have the touch. If not, hire someone like me, so you can enjoy them forever.
• Like birds of a feather, collections like to flock together, like with like, among their friends. Put all that pretty pottery you've been collecting on the console, rather than spreading it out one by one throughout the house. Miraculously, it becomes a cohesive, thoughtfully displayed collection, rather than clutter.
• Use an organizing principle whether it's shape, color, or contrasting sizes and textures. If you like change, create a fresh tableau each season, storing others until it's their turn.
• Dispose of broken bits and pieces. Keep the treasure, toss the trash. Donate lesser pieces. Your collection will be more precious and you'll feel good about doing good.
• Be sure the items you collect are worth acquiring. Not every tchotchke you see is worthy to be in your home. Please refrain from collecting every dollar store owl in the universe, or coins and plates advertised as “newly-minted collectables.”
• Don't forget the cost of owning is not just the cash. It's time to take care of your collection which can entail carting it home, finding a space, getting rid of something else (real estate is expensive), repairing, washing, dusting (repeatedly), polishing, packing and paying for a move, maybe even storing someday. So be sure the item is worth it.
Treasure those vintage, antique or collectable items of beauty and function which can be had for a pittance. I predict you will love them for years to come. The search is half the fun. Happy hunting!