I have to fess up that if I had an unlimited budget, I would spend truck loads of money on hand-made pottery, blankets, hand-turned bowls, wooden spoons, and the like. I love order, clean lines and modern design, yet I have a secret passion for anything that has that hand-made touch to it. It reminds me of the basic simplicity of the material it was made from.
With the fall holiday market season upon us, I’m seeing lots of swoon-worthy finds I wish I could add to my collections. If like me you like a modern ‘collected’ look, here’s some guidance and inspiration for how you can start collecting and display your finds in your own home.
The pottery collection and display cabinet is the showpiece of this modern kitchen space.
How to start collecting
Of course holiday markets are just one way to start collecting unique items. Look through year-round markets, galleries, and even Home Goods or Target and you will find a collection that will add an artisan feel to your home. You can build your collection over a few months, or take your time searching for treasured items you hunt down every year, a little bit at a time. The former option can be a lot of work in a short time, but offers almost instant gratification once done. However, the slower approach will usually allow you to buy better quality and purchase items that will have special meaning to you because, for example, they remind you of a beloved vacation spot. If you buy directly at a market, or from a gallery, you are likely also supporting a working artist in the process. Here’s some ideas on how to collect so that everything comes together over time and looks interesting displayed in your home.
Think about what items you might want to collect. Are you an avid cook or love fabrics? If you like spending time in your kitchen consider items such as pottery, wooden cutting boards, or spoons. If textiles are more your thing, there are so many options. Hand-printed pillows, knit or woven blankets and quilts, or even table cloths. Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to one kind of item, but if you are just starting your collection, choosing one thing – especially something you can use day-to-day – will make it easier to find ideas for how to display it. For example, one or two wooden spoons are likely to just end up in a drawer, but if you have a small collection you can start thinking of containers they might look good in displayed in your kitchen.
Also consider the seasonality of what you’re collecting. If you love textiles and decide to invest in hand-made blankets or quilts, think about how you will display and use them from season to season. A hand-made quilt or throw can be the statement piece in an otherwise neutral living space, but you will likely want to store it in the summer time. Depending on the materials your blankets are made from, will you need special storage in the summer months to prevent moths from eating away at your treasures.
Making your collection look modern
Think about how you will display your collection in your home. If you decide to collect usable pottery, like bowls, plates, etc., then choose a plain white set of dishes for everyday wares. This way your collection will stand out against the white backdrop. Also consider installing open shelving or glass front cabinets for your treasured items so they can be admired when not in use. The key to making the whole look modern is to contrast the more organic items against clean lines and to choose a cohesive colour palette.
Choose a colours that coordinates with the foundation of your home. Take a look at your key pieces like the sofa, rugs, curtains, upholstered chairs, table, etc. What colour palette will complement what you already have? For instance, if you have a fairy neutral base in your main decor items, you can continue with this palette and add interest with texture or pattern. If you prefer more colour, add brighter hues that will stand out from the background.
In the photos above, the white spotted bowl on the left has been placed with lots of empty negative space around it to draw attention and make it a focal point. In contrast, the plates on the right are repeated in a similar colour palette and pattern to create the effect of a graphical, dimensional texture on the wall.
Growing your collection
Over time, you will want to look for new sources for your collection. I’ve noticed that every year there is more and more holiday market signs popping up in my city. The large and established markets often have the same vendors year to year. However, the smaller and maybe new markets are good places to meet artists that are just starting out. The summer farmers’ markets are also a good place to find interesting items. If for whatever reason you prefer to buy online, there’s lots of choice these days on sites like Etsy.
Consider collecting while you travel. This is a topic that deserves its own post someday, but for now I will say that one of the secrets to coming home with items you will treasure for years is doing your research before you go. First, look into the kinds of artisan or design items that the region you are travelling to is known for. If you are looking to find collectibles it’s important to know ahead of time what you should look for so you can bypass the kitschy souvenir shops and go straight to a gallery or specialty shop. Stores like this specialize in bringing the best of what artists in the area (or whole country) produce and often can also assist you with shipping your items home if you decide to splurge on a bigger item.
Hope this post inspired you to think about adding unique hand-made treasures to your home.