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The art of accumulating: how to create meaningful interiors

The art of accumulating: how to create meaningful interiors

Accumulating, collecting, curating. Such pastimes were raised to a fine art by our Victorian ancestors, and the love of researching, seeking and displaying favourite pieces is enjoying a resurgence again now. No doubt helped by the fact that we’ve all spent much longer in our homes and realised we want to be surrounded by things with meaning: treasured items, be they expensive, inherited or simply ‘found’, but always pieces that tell our stories and give us joy to live alongside.

The need to be surrounded by favourite objects dates way back to 4000 BC when primitive man had collections of non-functional stone tools. Millenia later, every self-respecting Victorian gentleman was an accumulator of curios, proudly displayed in glass cases not unlike our Shepton cabinet.

But the art of accumulating is somewhat different to the art of collecting. The latter requires a focused, relentless pursuit of a subject and an eye for organising and cataloguing that transcends the decorative. Accumulating, instead, is all about being surrounded by things that we love and things that have stories and histories attached to them, and that, hopefully, come together aesthetically to offer a picture of our lives.

Accumulated displays are not rushed or the result of a major financial investment; instead, they develop organically, as we shop on our travels, inherit treasured pieces from loved ones or gradually define our taste and style. In other words, accumulating reflects a life well-lived.

Of course, it helps to display such precious pieces well. Look for colour or texture themes in items that might sit together, or experiment with scale, grouping some large vases next to a miniature decorative box, for instance. Repeats also work well, so create a pleasing vignette with a row of similar finds. And finally, a symmetrically balanced display is a good way to give disparate items some cohesion.

Starting slowly, accumulated collections grow over time as the seeker gains confidence and knowledge and listens to their inner voice on matters of taste. For accumulating is a passion which lasts a lifetime, enriches our surroundings and brings everyone great joy.

Tags: Interiors