How to display collections without clutter – to showcase your stuff, not stash it

These six organizing tricks will help you curate any collection with care

A white room with arced inset shelvig, neutral vases on display. A gold dining table and wood and grey upholstered chairs in front. A large square artwork hangs besides the shelves
(Image credit: Caffe Latte)

Collecting brings so many of us joy. Whether it is vintage vinyl, antique plates, or rare books, these treasures deserve to be put on display for us to enjoy. 

However, with any large collection of stuff comes the risk of clutter – especially when it stuff we don’t want to box up into storage units. 

But how do you display collections without clutter? Professional organizers suggest it is as simple as these six steps.

How to display collections without clutter

As with any home organizing project, it is best to start with some decluttering tips for collectors and hoarders to help you slim down your collection to the absolute essentials. Then you can make a start on displaying your collection with pride (and zero clutter). 

1. Keep things on display

Bespoke whtie open shelving ceiling to floor in living room space

(Image credit: Life Created Photography, for Living with Lolo)

When it comes to collections you want to mix storage and display wherever you can, begins Amy Trager, certified home organizer

‘My favorite tip I like to give to collectors is to display items so that they can actually be seen. Keeping things in boxes, stored away in a closet, doesn't allow anyone to enjoy the collection.’

No matter what you collect, consider following the unbreakable rules for displaying artwork to call attention to your hobby and make it an intentional focal point. This will prevent it from looking like unintentional clutter.  

2. Avoid crowding shelving

pink shelving with decorative vases and artwork

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When decorating shelving with your collections, avoid overcrowding to make your collections look more intentional, continues Amy Trager, certified home organizer:

‘Crowding a shelf or two with enough pieces for a full wall doesn't honor the full collection either. That might mean adding more display shelves, cases, or stands. It may mean hanging things on the wall. Always think vertically and use the space available in the whole room.’

3. Use clear containers

Usually, when organizing items to prevent clutter, experts suggest keeping things stowed and hidden away in baskets. With your collections, however, we need to keep them visible and the center of attention. One way to stop them looking like clutter is to keep them in display storage ideas, explains Francesca Verri, professional organizer and owner of Verri Organized.  

‘When you have a collection of things, the first and best rule of thumb is to contain the collection. Containing can be in a basket or a clear bin. It could be a shadow box or frame. Or in the case of paper, it could be in a file folder or decorative box that can sit on a shelf,’ she begins.

‘Simply put, a contained collection can sit unobtrusively on a shelf, without burdening the space, and leave it looking and feeling organized.’

4. Create a home gallery

Nature-inspired artwork hung in a grid of six, upholstered bench and colorful kitchen

(Image credit: Salvesen Graham)

If you have the space, you can create a home gallery for your collection – be it artwork or not – to integrate it into your home decor, suggests Jennifer Bell, professional organizer and owner of Bell Home Organizing.

‘Collections tend to consist of multiple items that appear very similar. Placing them on a flat surface will give the appearance of clutter around your home. If you cherish these items, turn your space into a museum and use your wall space to show off your collection.

‘You can create a gallery, add shadow boxes, or use shelving to display your collectibles and keep them off the floor and furniture. For collections of small figurines, maximize your shelf space by using tiered shelf organizers. These are typically found in pantries to organize spices and canned goods. However, they can work great for figurines.’ 

Add some good lighting ideas and your collection will look fresh out of a museum. 

5. Rotate your items

Tall white cabinet with window curtains, decorated with ornaments and ceramics sitting on top

(Image credit: Albion Nord, Kensington Leverne)

Choosing art and collectibles for your home can be hard work, but you don't have to pick and choose which items you leave in the store. If you have a big collection, you can’t bear to part with and not enough space to display them all, consider swapping items out regularly to rotate your collection, recommends Jennifer Bell, professional organizer.

‘This will allow you to admire all your collectibles and keep your space fresh without appearing cluttered.’

6. Keep things together

How to style a display cabinet - nautical glass fronted dresser in front of white tongue and groove panelling with colour pops of green

(Image credit: Future)

One of the most important parts of displaying collections without clutter is to keep it all together. This is a major rule to organize any space and prevent items from getting lost or getting in the way.

‘Collections are best if they are grouped in one area of the home,’ Barbara Brock, professional organizer, home stager, and past president of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals agrees. ‘A great piece of furniture for a collection is an etagere. This type of furniture is usually not very deep, is tall, has many shelves, and can be seen from all sides or placed against a wall. You don’t want a shelf to be too deep because it’s hard to dust and clean. You could also consider using a corner cabinet where it’s out of the way in traffic but can be seen from any part of the room.’ 


How do you tastefully display collections?  

There are several great ways to display collections that look tasteful and not cluttered. You can frame artwork, drawings, stamps, and other flat items and create a designated gallery wall. For collectibles that need to stand, such as figurines, use shallow, built-in wall shelving with good lighting to make a feature wall out of your items, reminiscent of a gallery or museum. Remember to tagger items so they are not flat on a single shelf – this can make it look too cluttered.  

Once your collection is in place, it is a good idea to integrate it into your daily, weekly, and monthly home organizing tasks to ensure you stay on top of it. Declutter and reassess your items regularly to ensure they all still hold value to you – especially if you are looking to add a new item – to prevent them from becoming overwhelming. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.