If you’re like most geeks, you have at least one collection that’s important to you. You might collect trading cards, antique tea sets, postage stamps, or something completely nontraditional. Whatever the case, collections can bring you happiness and give you a way to spend time meaningfully—but they also tend to take up space.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to improve how you display, organize, and consolidate your collection.
Start by establishing goals for your collection overhaul. What is it you’re trying to achieve? Most collectors want to accomplish some combination of the following:
- Physical space reduction. If you have a significant quantity of items in any category, they’re going to take up physical space in your home. Reducing that occupied space can be beneficial, especially if you’re trying to declutter.
- Higher visibility. Most people want their collections to be visible—both so they can see their collections on a regular basis and be reminded of them, and so they can show off to other people who visit their home.
- Aesthetic appeal. Style counts when displaying a collection. Most collectors want their items to be displayed in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing and conforms with the style of the rest of the house.
What are your biggest priorities?
Look for Solutions Related to Your Specific Collection
Once you have a specific goal or combination of goals, you can start looking for storage or display solutions for your specific collection. For example, if you have a business card collection, you can use a digital scanner to store the information from all your physical cards. From there, you can store your cards anywhere and still have access to all the information they contain.
You may also be able to find custom-made boxes or display shelves for your particular items. They’re not always perfect for your needs, but they’re certainly worth considering.
Inventory and Organize
No matter how you choose to display and/or store your collection, you’ll need to spend some time inventorying and organizing your items. Use a spreadsheet or an app to keep track of every item in your collection—including its condition and value, if you care about those qualities. This is a perfect opportunity to get rid of any duplicates you have and sell any pieces you no longer want.
As you consider how you want to display your items, you can sort them in whatever way you see fit. Depending on the type of collection you have, you may alphabetize them, sort them by color, or arrange them according to category.
Consider Traditional Options
There are several display methods that have traditionally been used to support a collection, and each one has advantages and disadvantages worth considering:
- Cabinets/hutches. A cabinet or a hutch could showcase a number of items, while also granting you some hidden interior storage. There are many styles and options to choose from, so you can almost certainly find a piece that fits with the rest of your room.
- You could also invest in a shelving unit, which would be capable of supporting a greater number of items. You can choose whether to have standing shelves, wall-mounted shelves, or shelves as a component of another piece of furniture.
- Glass display cases. Glass display cases keep your items secure while also showing them off in 3D space. However, they tend to be expensive.
- Wall hanging. Depending on what type of collection you have, you may also be able to hang one or more pieces directly on your wall.
- A shadowbox is a type of enclosed display, usually small, with a glass front so you can easily see your items. They’re perfect for small displays of your most prized items, but they don’t offer much flexibility for future expansion.
- Similarly, you could use one or more cloches, which are bell-shaped glass enclosures, often reserved for one or a small number of items you want to highlight.
Building Your Own Display
If you have some power tools and a bit of crafting experience, you could consider building your own display as well. Building your own display grants you full control over how many items you can display, how you arrange them, and how they appear. Of course, you’ll also need to design a model from scratch (or follow a blueprint you find elsewhere), not to mention sourcing the materials.
However you choose to display your best items, you’ll likely have some leftover. For those, your best bet is to find a protective yet compact storage solution. There are several options here as well, including enclosed plastic storage totes or cardboard boxes. Experiment with different options to see what works best for your needs.