Ideas and inspiration for easy entertaining and a fun home life


A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting

February 8, 2018

This post began as a plan to share some of my favorite things that I inherited from my grandmother and where to find them now.   I receive a lot of questions about where certain pieces of furniture, plates, glass, silver and fabric are from.  Most of them have been passed down from my mother’s collection that she inherited from my late grandmother.   I know that this isn’t a particularly useful answer in the context of wondering where something specific is from, but I have seen so many similar pieces out in the world and wanted to point you towards those that I believe are worth looking at and perhaps collecting.

I grew up in a matriarchy, a family of women, all of whom would say that they are decorators and collectors. I loved learning from my grandmother and I am entirely influenced by my mother’s taste and style as well as that of my many aunts.  Much of my childhood was spent combing through antique stores or looking at houses.  We have amusing family stories of being busted en masse in someone’s garden and rather embarrassingly being asked if we would like a glass of wine, or peering over a gate one by one to admire the landscaping only to be met by a naked, very surprised, man….

One thing that I love about my family is that the joy of collecting isn’t a competition about how to spend the most money or how to acquire dainty unnecessaries that make a home feel like a museum in which one cannot relax; it is the joy of finding the beautiful, the fun, the things that make your heart leap from your chest and that you will treasure, use, and share with others.  While some of these things are found on a flea market hunt, many are in fact are 90’s Anthropologie or Pottery Barn. A blended collection of old and new is still a collection, and it’s great!



The last thing I will say is that, in my view, a home should be fun and not too stuffy.   I don’t want to worry about whether a guest has spilled red wine on the tablecloth, the cat has knocked over a candlestick, or I have broken a glass.  Somethings are just too precious for us in this stage of life, with a mobile baby and two scratching cats.   While I love and treasure my wedding crystal, I’m much more likely to break out the glass candlesticks.  Having said that, it’s easy to find lots of vintage goodies on various websites, at estate sales, antique stores and malls – and I love to go to all those places.  Finally, I do believe in using what you have; we use our silver flatware every day, not just for special occasions. I encourage you to surround yourself with your trove.




From top left, these are all Vintage, singular items: (favorite) English plates1840s English Wall Plates

single floral plate, small floral plate, Spode hunting scene plate


I collect a lot of plates — I use the small ones as soap dishes in every bathroom, put scented candles on them throughout the house, and also put them on the front hall table as a dish for loose change/keys.    I also love decorative wall plates, especially in the bathroom.  For those, I try to find the less feminine/flowery ones as it can feel overwhelmingly feminine.   I, of course, also love to collect different dinner plates for various events.  I always carefully set the table and find it a pleasure to work with a variety to set the mood for the evening.   Blue and white plates are a great staple and, as popular as they are now, they are timeless and always a worthwhile investment — grab them while they are now everywhere!


My grandmother collected a lot of Japanese art and plates from her time living in Japan.   They are some of my most treasured pieces.  I was pleased to see this line launched. Honestly they look very similar to the period ones that I inherited.

Next up…



Ah, I love glass.   I have so many random glasses, crystal jars, beautiful bottles (vintage perfume bottles), and other etched vessels for the bathroom.  I decant my bubble bath into pretty bottles and put them as decorative accents next to the bath.   I love this star set so much and would use them to hold q-tips and cotton balls, only so that I could look at them every day!  Number 2 is a fun group.  It’s on one of my favorite estate sale sites that I highly recommend keeping bookmark.  I will recommend more websites in the Resources section below!  Also, this is a must for guest room bedside — lovely!

Glassware and vases are my other favorites to collect. I have linked to lots examples above.   I love any colored or etched or decorated glass, Juliska glassware is highly collectible.  This Williams-Sonoma set is also one of my favorites!  And I love a beautiful vase, the middle one below we use all the time.



One thing that I have been so lucky to be left with (via my generous mother) is bolts and bolts of fabric.   I like to move into a house slowly, to live with things for a while before committing to any changes.   We moved into our house in January, 2016, and I have only just made curtains, re-upholstered chairs, and made pillow covers.   A great way to fill the walls is to buy books or calendars of prints (botanical, birds, shells) and then frame them as a series.   I love all these pieces below:


1/ 2/ 3/ 4 (similar)/ 5/ 6/ 7




One Kings Lane

Everything But The House Great estate sales, excellent for art, furniture, tabletop and fun to bid on/ebay style.

Ebay A great source of vintage fabric, I regularly search for Colefax and Fowler fabric.

Scully & Scully Lovely, very grown up, great for wedding registry.


India Amory Amazing reasonably priced block print tablecloths and napkins