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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson


Collections are tricky.  Are you going to be the creepy chick who collects anything ‘cat’ or weird neighbor that has every first edition of Danielle Steel books, autographed of course (I know a chick), or are you going to have an impressive collection of beautiful shells collected from 30 years of travelling beaches around the world? (i’m talking to you, Pam Basich, such a pretty collection).  Don’t be the former, be the latter.  There are rules to collecting. (i’m making this up, you will find no documentation, fyi).  and here they are:
1. Every piece in the collection beautiful by itself ( or cool, or wierd, whatever you are going for).  don’t just buy or pick up that shell because its there,  really ask yourself if its worthy to be displayed in your house with the rest of the rare obscure shells that look like incredlble little sculptures.  Adding in less pretty pieces will dumb the whole collection and will make it look junky.
 2.  You must display them together.  This is an old design concept that a lot of small similar things displayed together can have as much impact if not more as one amazing big thing.  But if you disperse your collection around the house, then all the impact is lost and you just have a lot of crap for people to feel like they will knock off shelves.  Designate a wall, or a shelf or a credenza for the collection.  It can add such a point of interest, and it says ‘collection’, not just ‘stuff everywhere’. (woah, don’t i sound official, “point of interest”, somebody has been watching too much HGTV…)
3.  Collections don’t have to be expensive (although someday I will have a collection of rustic deep sea chinese pottery, they are crazy beautiful; all pieces found on the bottom of the ocean, normally all white, black, or grey with sooo much age that you can practically hear the chinese dynasty rulings if you put your ear up to them  – they are crazy expensive, even when we were in vietnam they were still like $150 for a small bowl, but someday… someday).  I DIGRESS.  A collection could be beautiful river rocks, leaves or flowers that you have dried,  it could be small beautiful antique salt spoons (i heart you Scott Horne) or vintage watercolor paintings of forests (keep it up Corbs).  Whatever it is, make sure its pretty or weird or says something really important to you, but don’t think it needs to be something fancy or expensive.

 This room is pretty great. except for those things hanging down from the ceiling which are reminding me a little too much of….ahem….rhymes with mesticles…(please this is a family blog, for feck sake).  


4. rule .  A collection must contain contrast no matter what the collection is.  The contrast could be size – if you collect everything the same size its very un-dynamic, and won’t look very collected, will look more like you bought them all at once at the same place – which is an anti-collection.  Collect different sizes, shapes and colors (perhaps stick within a palette), as all of these three collections have.  And base the display around the biggest one (a hero, perhaps), and style around it.

5.  don’t collect everything.  it becomes more of hoarding (not in the A&E sense, but in the ‘this person has a house full of shit that you can’t move around and he/she obsesses over’ kind of way).  There gets to be a point where you can stop the collection.   I once shot at Martha’s house in the Hamptons (yes, we are on first name basis, she calls me Ems most of the time, or Emmy, or ‘my dearest’, or just ‘beautiful’) and she collected all of this green pottery ( i don’t remember what its called, if anybody knows, tell me), it’s light green, vintage (30’s-50’s?) simple and super pretty. But she had sooooo much of it, all of her dinnerware, everywhere in her living room, dining room, bathroom and all the pots in her landscaped garden were of the same brand/color too.  I remember an insider telling me that it really was more like hoarding than collecting – she pretty much had every piece that existed.  And yes, it had big impact, but it was a one trick pony and you stopped noticing after a while – you lost interest.  As a side note she used that color green as her exact color palette for the whole house.  All the walls were a shade of it, her upholstery worked perfectly with it, all the plants indoor and outdoor were the perfect pantone chip color green to work with the pots, and get this:  she had her cruiser bike custom painted the exact same color.  We get it Marth.  you like green.

Anyway, to wrap it up:  collect only pretty, awesome things that you want to make a statement, display them together, don’t be a snob – collect anything that you find beautiful and organic, make sure there is contrast within the display and know when to stop.

not sure why  I think i’m the expert.  i’m definitely not.   Perhaps as a former collector of way too much i feel self-rightious about chastising others.  that’s kinda crappy of me, eh?


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