Collect-orate, or something like that.

Like most people, our style has evolved over the years. What was once filled with furniture and decor from large chain furniture stores, is now a home mostly made up of pieces that we have found or made. I know it sounds corny, but the term I may have just coined, “collectorate”, is a great way to describe decorating with items that you collect. The term curate is a little overused these days, but still useful in characterizing the process of selecting special pieces for your home that create interest, tell a story, or have a special meaning.

Vintage Pipe Collection

I am always fascinated by what people collect. At a recent auction I came across this awesome pipe collection. The box I came away with was only about a quarter of the whole collection. Ben could not believe I did not grab them all. Along with pipes, the owner of the estate had also collected miniature Liberty Bells and decades worth of Pez dispensers. Random, I know. But it struck me that anything of similarity that can be displayed in groups or large quantities can be kind of cool. And then it struck me that we already do this in many of our rooms.

18 vintage German aluminum keys

When Ben built picture frame moldings for our master bedroom, we had a narrow space between 2 windows. He decided that instead of trying to find one picture or object of the right size to fill the space, we could make a display of these 1940’s keys we found at The Old Lucketts Store. The keys are made of lightweight aluminum during this era because Germany reserved the heavier metals for the war effort.


Another one of our favorite collections is of old panoramic military photos. This is just one wall representing some of our collection, including photos from various eras – and even a non-military one from the Texas A & M Firefighter school graduation.

Militaria wall

I love these colorful vintage Boy Scout arrows below that we currently have in our shop at Sweet Clover Barn. They would be awesome displayed on a wall or in a large vase.

Vintage Boy Scout Arrows

Other collections prominently featured in our home include skulls, bugs & butterflies, vintage sports photos, globes and maps, old books, rocks & fossils, and other nature “artifacts” gathered by our kids. Designing with these collected items have the side effect of teaching our kids to be curious about the world around them and respectful of history.


As you can see, collections do not have to be limited to fine china or milk glass (although those are great!), but can reflect anything that you find interesting, fun, or beautiful in their own way.

If only I could find a way to decorate with piles of laundry or dirty dishes — the most commonly found items of similarity around our house!