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Everything You Need To Know About Home Collections

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Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson are not only longtime friends, coworkers, and style-makers, they’re also committed, passionate collectors. In their book, Collected: Living With the Things You Love, they take readers on a journey through some fabulous collections—and show you how to start your own.

Q. What constitutes a collection?

A. Rebecca: Five or more objects. Three is a series, but five shows commitment.
Fritz: Passion, curiosity, and a growing interest in a subject. I believe a collection can even exist in your imagination. 

Q. What are some ways to display a collection? 

A. Rebecca: Like objects look good together. Arranging by color is my favorite trick.
Fritz: Segregate and organize. I like to contrast within a grouping. Juxtapose textural, surface, scale, or material differences: shiny with matte surfaces; opaque with solid objects. Clear blown glass mixed with stone or marble objects. Textured with smooth; forged iron on a shiny wall.

Collected shares beautiful and unique collections from around the world. Abrams, $40.

Photo by Anna Williams

Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson

Q. What if you are working with limited space?

A. Rebecca: No problem—use unexpected spaces within your home. Hang a shelf on the top of a doorway or use your coffee table as the stage to display your collection.
Fritz: One favorite is filling an off-season fireplace with a temporary mini museum—a rock and geology landscape, for example. Or use an existing bookcase as a skyscraper of dioramas. Each shelf can be a different collection or mini world. 

Q. How do you like to show off your own collections? 

A. Rebecca: I like to use display cases of all sizes. They give items a visual importance—and protect them. I recently purchased a glass display case and am loving it.

Photo by Dana Gallagher

This collection of blown-glass food domes featured in the book is functional and striking. 

Q. Why do you think it is important to display collections? 

A. Fritz: Displaying collections adds visual pleasure and good memories around you every day. Rotating seasonally sensitive collections can be rewarding for the more ambitious and energetic.

Q. In talking with collectors for the book, what did you find to be the most unique approaches to display?

A. Fritz: The most unique approach I have encountered is Henry Mercer’s home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, called Fonthill Castle. Both Beauport and Fonthill are historic homes (open to the public). Mercer collected tiles and all manner of interesting artifacts and displayed them most originally. You should visit and get inspired.

Photos by Bjorn Wallander (above, left), IKEA (above, right)

Fritz thinks the Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, PA, has one of the most unique displays; Rebecca loves this Fabrikör glass-door cabinet available at IKEA for $199.

Q. What collecting category do you fall into? 

A. Rebecca: I am a ‘containerist,’ among many other categories.
Fritz: I am 14 of the 15 personalities in the book. Only the minimalist is not in my DNA. 

Q. What is your favorite collection?

A. Rebecca: My favorite is Fritz’s collection of carved fruit pits. They are so amazing and unexpected. He has all sizes, from cherry to plum, and a wide range of things people made from them. One of my favorites is the carved toilet with a working lid.
Fritz: The fantastic home of Henry Davis Sleeper called Beauport in Gloucester, Massachusetts. [It has] the most amazingly original group of rooms and inventive display of collections I have visited. 

Q. Once a collector, always a collector? 

A. Rebecca: Absolutely! 
Fritz: Even if you are not active or go dormant temporarily, if you have the hunter/gatherer genes, then always.

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