Follow Your Heart

BEE COTTAGE–Follow your heart in all things, and certainly in the things you surround yourself with at home. Collections, be they humble or grand, are created and pursued primarily because they bring  joy to the collector. They may accrue value and have other benefits too, of course; but at the heart of it is, well, your heart. Collections imbue your home with personality, and a home without personality might as well be a hotel lobby.

Collected and purchased from all over, shells fill three glass shelves in the dining room and are lit from above. If you want to light a collection, displaying it on glass shelves is a good solution because one light from above will do the trick. Click on to see full image.
Staffordshire and Smalls
A grouping of Staffordshire figurines, little landscapes, and other “smalls” find a home in the master bath on shelves built especially for them just above the loo. Seems as good a place as any, and a little unexpected.

The October issue of House Beautiful is out with the Bee Cottage series Part 8 (gosh it’s gone by quickly), “Living With Collections,” on page 80.  Paraphrasing from the article, my approach to collecting is haphazard, occasionally accidental, and often sentimental. Somehow a myriad of these things ended up at Bee, and I had to figure out what to do with them: baskets,

Baskets in kitchen
Baskets are hung on a rod above the sink, freeing up cabinet space but keeping them out of the way but easily accessible.

bee things (duh),

Bee print, bee hive
An antique bee print, a straw beehive cloche, and beehive candles. Not to get carried away…

bird things (birds and bees, get it?),

Bird nest and cage
Collected from my travels: a lamp made from an old french candlestick, a “desert rose” from the Namib, a found sparrow’s nest, rocks from the Amazon, and an old bird cage. (P.S. Desert roses are said to be formed by petrified camel urine, but I have not confirmed this.)
Bird nest and mushroom
A  baby elephant’s tooth, bird nest, feather, and a stone mushroom from my Godmother Caroline.

books (I swear they multiply in my sleep),

The dining room doubles as library.


I collect botanicals from all over–inexpensive ones–mostly from flea markets. Lately, I’ve begun making my own.

plates, paintings,

Blue and white plates
A rag-tag collection of blue and white plates are hung in Bee’s kitchen.


Framed sketchbook pages
I keep sketchbooks when I travels–scribbles, drawings, and little watercolors. Very amateurish but evocative of fond memories and adventures. These are hung in a grid above my desk.

Framed sketchbook pages


Staffordshire in green shelves
More of my mother’s Staffordshire, and two Sunderland lustreware pitchers that I love. I also love this green. It seems very 18th century and yet fresh and modern at the same time. It’s Benjamin Moore, Fuji.

sand, shells, stones, and shoes (but we’re not going there).

Sand collection
Again from my travels: sand. Each has a  label saying where it’s from and when it was collected. The canisters look kitchen-y so that’s where I put them. Just hope no one tries to bake a cake with 2 cup of St. Bart’s beach.

…Group objects en masse. It gives them greater visual impact than if they were dispersed higgledy-piggledy.
…Put collections in unexpected places: a bathroom, an uninteresting hallway, the kitchen, or on shelves in an awkward niche.
…Figure out your arrangement by positioning larger objects or paintings first, and work out from there with an eye to balancing shape, color, texture, weight.
…Change and move them around every so often. That’s the fun of collections!

For more details and tips, see the October House Beautiful, page 80; and I’ll let you know when it’s on the HB website.