A Knack for Knick-Knacks

May 28th 2015 Comments: 3 Topics: ,

Recently, Lindsey Campbell of Veranda online asked designer and avid collector Susan Ferrier for recommendations for designing with collections in mind.
IMG_1399Designer, collector and intrepid shopper, Susan Ferrier knows how to finish a room with a handful of treasures. “Saturation of a collection into one room, devoted to its study, is always striking and strong,” says Ferrier. “The ultimate library of books and curiosities to stimulate the mind and emotions.”

Within her projects and her own Atlanta home she incorporates collections seamlessly, adding a visual delight and a collected feel to every room. Here, she shares her wisdom and insight on assembling collections into your own home:

  1. Create balance. When displaying collections a balance needs to be created that’s calming to the eye.
  2. Be selective and critical. The collection should be highly curated. “Only the best of your pieces should be displayed and shared,” says Ferrier.
  3. Visualize how you want it to look. Think about the graphic impact. “Successfully translate assemblages of collected pieces into single powerful gestures.”
  4. Create a boundary. Decide what you will use to display your collection. “Cabinets and shelves – your foundation, should say very little and work in service to the more intimate display,” explains Ferrier. She suggests glass boxes or cabinet doors, “[A boundary will] highlight the items and stop the movement of your eye.”
  5. Decide which items will stand out most. Choose your star items and be aware of their rhythm of placement.
  6. Use something that emotionally moves you. “Collections are visible evidence of what compels you,” says Ferrier. “Sharing the story of how you see and respond to the world becomes part of your identity.”
  7. Think about what the collection represents. “My assemblages are an accumulation of a history of places I have been, people I have shared experiences with and lessons I have learned,” says Ferrier. “Collections can tell our personal story.”
  8. Don’t be afraid to try different ways of displaying your collection. Interact with your collections by shifting position and adjacencies. It will open up a new way of seeing them as you adjust the light and shadow of their display.
  9. Mirror your collection with blank space. A clear space needs to be maintained in juxtaposition to the visual activity, otherwise it will look cluttered.
  10. Unite the items. Something as simple as a unified color can unite various forms into one still message.
  11. Scale is everything. “Maintain important scale with in one single gesture or the ganging of several pieces in relation reading as one larger expression.”
  12. Be inspired. The only way a collection works in your home is to be inspired. Don’t put something in your home just because. “Choose wisely what you gather in your company so as to always seek a higher or elevated emotion,” explains Ferrier.




Photographs from Veranda magazine by Erica Dines


  1. Accessories/vignettes are the most intriguing part of a room for me. I study those that are well administered and long to learn from their expertise. Thank you for this post. I’ll study and hopefully gain some skills. 🙂

  2. michael says:

    A helpful list for my next project. Question: In a smaller room (in the case a library) how do I use scale without taking up space? Do I use the walls?

  3. Eileen says:

    Very helpful list, thank you. I hate to shop especially on vacation. Now I look for a great rock, a piece of wood something like that to be in my collection.

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