Close this search box.

An interior with character- displaying objects and collections

You will often find when creating an interior for a private residential client that there will be elements from their existing space that they want to keep.  This means that you then have to work your design ideas around these pieces in order to create a cohesive look. Sometimes this is a piece of furniture or a family heirloom, but what if your client is a collector?

Collecting is something that is part of some people’s nature and you will find these objects are very important to display within a collectors home. Hopefully nobody will ever come across a client who is a hoarder but there are a lot of unusual collections out there that need to be displayed and this is a challenge that you may need to overcome.

Here are some ways that an interior design scheme had been influenced by the display of collections. We can also look to retail and museum design for ideas on how to display objects in a thought provoking and visually appealing way.

photo frames

One of the most common forms of collection is usually artwork or photographs. This is probably the easiest type of object to display however there are a few things you need to consider. In this image on the right you can see that the imagery is used almost like wallpaper in this space, a great idea but not always appropriate for the space. You can go a bit more daring with the amount of imagery on walls as long as the room is big enough, with plenty of natural light. This will become the feature of the space so nothing else should be visually competing within the rest of your design scheme.

Here is a great tip for creating a smaller picture walls from

pictures test

Simply cut out pieces of paper roughly the same size of the pictures you want to hang and stick them loosely on the wall. This will allow you to decide the placement before putting in any picture hooks. Take a photograph of each option to decide the best placement.

Other things to consider include

  • Depth of frames/ canvases
  • Colour of imagery
  • Colour and type of frame
  • Content and subject of pictures

There are lots of other different types of collections that you can display using wall space.

wall storage

Vintage cameras are mounted to the wall with frames around them to give them some uniformity in their placement.

 As a designer it is your job to think creatively on how collections can become part of an interior design scheme. This bottle cap collection has been cleverly made into a kitchen splash back which gives them a practical use as well as a visual presence. 

Looking to retail design for inspiration, this brilliant design for storing Lego blocks would work well for a child’s bedroom. Created by Design Time Limited this wall installation is part of their UK store roll-out. 

retail examples

The Aesop Chelsea store in New York includes thousands of pages from the Paris Review all over its walls and ceiling. The founder of the store wanted to use his personal collection to give this branch a unique character so that each shop interior looks different and not uniform like chain stores.

If wall hanging is not an option for displaying a collection then furniture and other bespoke free-standing options could be considered.




Books are quite a common item to collect and this simple idea of colour gradients can create a more ordered and striking look. (top)

Colour coding can also be used to highlight key colours within objects and link the collection to the furniture it is displayed in. This project by Design Nehez shows how they have taken a client’s collection and created a bespoke display solution to create a features of the stairwell. (Left & Right)

You can also use areas like side tables and mantle pieces to display a collection. This is easily achieved by splitting up the collection into key groups and distributed around the room. Don’t forget about some of the more unusual spaces that perhaps could be utilised to display objects, under stairs, around windows, even inside furniture itself!


Creating a scheme can be greatly affected by a collection of objects. It is something a client will want you to consider within your design to help bring their personality to the space. It is also something you can use to bring, colour, depth and visual interest to a design.

Remember it is always an important question to ask the client if they have any personal objects that they want to keep. Make sure it is not something which comes as a surprise to you when the project starts!




WHITNEY DEAL (2009) Collection1 [Online Image].  Available from: [Accessed:21/01/14].

1 KINE DESIGN (2013) Art-Gallery-Wall-Ideas-00-1-Kindesign [Online Image].  Available from:  [Accessed:21/01/14].

ALLISON VERDOORN (2011) bottle cap splashback [Online Image].  Available from:  [Accessed:21/01/14].

CAPREEK (2013) Vintage cameras [Online Image].  Available from:  [Accessed:21/01/14].

DESIGN TIME UK (n.d) Feature Display Wall [Online Image].  Available from: [Accessed:21/01/14].

DEZEEN (2013) Aesop-Chelsea-New-York [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed:21/01/14].

ANN PORTER (2007) Bookshelf1 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed:21/01/14].

DESIGN NEHEZ (n.d) Allens Lane [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed:21/01/14].

COCO (2012) vogue coffee table [Online Image]. Available from:  [Accessed:21/01/14].

Share this Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Blogs

We place cookies on your device to help make this website better and improve your experience. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Please see our data protection policy for full details.