Displaying a Clock Collection Displaying a Clock Collection

Many times, the photos of rooms in interior design magazines and the ads they contain are shot not in real homes, but in studios. This is good in that it allows control over what's being illustrated, but it doesn't help much in figuring out how to order all the stuff we collect in real life.

Here, however, we see a real room that is used by a real homeowner. We'll look at it in terms of the Sheffield Three Guidelines for Interior Design, function, mood, and harmony, focusing on function first.

The functionof this room foremost is to serve as a living room. There's room for entertaining several people at once, and the arrangement of the sofa and chairs makes for a comfortable grouping for socializing. The big coffee table allows plenty of room for magazines, books, drinks and snacks, so that the room can serve either as a more formal gathering place or as a casual, comfortable room in which close friends can relax. The cabinet across from the sofa holds a television; it's neatly hidden when not in use, and yet easily accessible when it's wanted.

But the other function here is to hold a collection, specifically a collection of clocks and paintings. When you're thinking about decorating a wall, you might be tempted to just hang one painting and to think you're limited to one painting per wall. However, using the wall for several pieces adds another dimension to the room. Adding the clocks literally adds dimension, as the viewer is drawn to the variety of depth, color, and shape arrayed along the whole wall.

Looking at the mood here: it's intentionally casual. The many items displayed on the wall and in the glass display case indicate a room that is really lived in, to which the owner has been adding items over several years. This gives a more casual mood. However, this room is anything but haphazardly put together; everything is placed with consideration toward how it will work in conjunction with the other items, and this keeps the room from feeling overly casual or messy.

How do you achieve harmony in a room with so many disparate pieces? Note that the clocks are not all of the same style; some are antiques, some are quite modern. But because they are all clocks, they harmonize with one another, as the faces match, and the hands are all ticking the time away at the same rate. Likewise, there are similarities among the paintings, in terms of framing, color and composition, so that the overall look works as a whole.

Remember that you can add to your collection without necessarily taking up more wall space. Here, one clock also serves as a coffee table, and another as a display table, created with the express purpose of holding precious objects and old photos. If you have a scattering of little things, such as photos, old pins from political campaigns gone by, or matchbooks from a special restaurant, consider corralling them into one united display case. Add a couple of legs, and you've got a piece that functions both as a collector's showcase and as a piece of furniture.

The trick to displaying any kind of a collection, then, is to arrange the items so that their similarities play off one another rather than working against each other. It helps to have several different things grouped together, to provide variety and to cut down on competition for the viewer's attention. Here, the clocks and paintings are displayed in such a way that each piece gets the maximum amount of attention, and yet the groupings work as a whole as well.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

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