Collection or Clutter?

I’ve been thinking lately about that line between clutter and collection, and just where the distinction is drawn. I am definitely a lover of pretty things, but I struggle sometimes to display items in a way that is artful rather than messy – or at least artfully messy.  I decided to take a close look at images of vignettes I love – arrangements of items that are simultaneously beautiful, interesting and restful – to see what I can learn from them.

Well I’m definitely not a minimalist!  Looking carefully, I see that most of these displays have a cohesion of color.  Many of them contain some kind of greenery, and all of them have variation in height and texture.  Anything else you notice?  Any tips for displaying favorite items?

8 responses on “Collection or Clutter?

  1. Sheepy Hollow Farm

    I love each and every vignette! Is that crazy? I think ‘less is more’ applies to me also. But, now I have to follow-through. I think the key is to display/collect what has special meaning to your life. I love earthy and hand made and something with history. Learning to let go of ‘clutter’ and keep ‘special’ pieces! Easier said than done.

    1. k80bennett

      I’m in the middle of a house-wide purge and it is hard – but it feels so good to to be paring down our belongings until only those we really love are left.
      Earthy and handmade is an excellent combination!

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    I am not a minimalist either. I like to have objects around that remind me of people, places, times, memories. Having these things on display make my house into a home because they inject our lives and personalities into our spaces. My judgement for when a shelf or area has tipped over from collection into clutter is when it has become a complete pain in the rump to dust that area. If I am having to move too many things in order to clean the surface then I might just have a clutter situation.

  3. Katy Gilmore

    All these are intriguing – coherent and interesting – and your analysis of their success seems spot on. I like the vignettes at Mera’s house, because they are always changing (and interesting) – not in place long enough to catch dust or get so familiar one doesn’t notice them, they provide a chance to look anew at recombined elements.

  4. Carol Crump Bryner

    I don’t think I ever “got” the idea of displaying my stuff until my mother -in-law asked me once during one of her visits to Alaska if it would be ok if she “re-did” the top of my dresser. I came back in a half hour and it was a revelation. All the little boxes and shells and perfume bottles now had their own perfect spots on a little dresser landscape. To display clutter artfully is a talent. I’m not sure I will ever reach the level my mother-in-law’s style, but she made me pay attention. I love all your examples, and especially the green touches in all of them.

    1. k80bennett

      It’s not something I’ve given much thought to in my life, but now that I’m tuned into it I recognize what an art it really is!

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