Just about everyone collects something: matchbooks, sand dollars, George Washington-themed memorabilia or majolica.
In “Collected: Living With the Things You Love” (Harry N. Abrams, $40), Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson present 250 wide-ranging collections, showing how they can become part of a home’s decor. The authors, both veterans of Martha Stewart Living, know how to make artfully arranged groups of sometimes ordinary objects reflect a collector’s style. The book has a chapter for each of 15 collecting personalities they have identified, from Modest-ist to Fantasist.
I spoke with Robertson about the collections they have uncovered and asked her for advice on collecting and display.
Q: How do you begin a collection?
A: It’s really about following what you are drawn to and trusting yourself and embracing it. Often people start collecting when something is given to them by a family member or they find something on a trip. It can be something that gives an emotional connection. When you decide to collect something, do a little research. Maybe that one special object is tempting you to decide whether to collect more. Hop on the Internet or grab a great book at the library and do a touch of research on the item. Then you can be an informed buyer.
Q: How can you incorporate a collection in your home?
A: Collect the things you love and that make you happy. I like to think of these treasures as the jewelry in the room. It’s like putting that finishing touch on an outfit. The sparkle and importance of a collection can make a room.
Q: How do you display collections in a small space?
A: Concentrate on smaller objects and creative ways to display them. You might be the person who puts the shelf above the doorway to display what you collect. Make use of unexpected spaces. I live in a loft, which has its own challenges since it is wide open. You have to figure out how to knit everything together. Everything has to be experienced all together.
Q: How did you come up with the 15 categories in the book?
A: We sat down and thought about ourselves and all of the people that we know and have met and what they collect.
Q: What are the most unusual collections you found?
A: Probably the strangest was the tea bag collector who has 30,000 used tea bags in the Modest-ist chapter. It’s so unexpected. We also have someone who collects crocheted foodstuffs, from hot dogs to cupcakes, in the Artificialist chapter.
Q: What category are you?
A: I am definitely a Containerist. I love any kind of boxes. I have a silver box collection. I am drawn to anything that can contain something.
Q: What else do you collect?
A: I collect vintage magazine purses (and) mother-of-pearl souvenirs, and I collect and sell vintage glassware and barware. Like many collectors, I found a retail outlet for my obsessions. If you are a smart collector, you will swap in and trade out. There are so many ways to do that now; you don’t have to have a physical shop. Fritz and I have a new Etsy shop called Collected and Company. We are going to organize it to reflect the 15 chapters, or personalities, in the book.