It's not unusual for DIY homestagers to hear that collections have no role to play in a staged home. The reason given is that a collection will make a room look cluttered -- the curse of home staging. Or that a  collection will be too personal. Or too expensive or too precious. 

But -- surprise -- there are ways that a collection can be a valuable part of good home staging.  

It just depends on what and how and even where a collection is displayed. Let's look at the times that you could make a collection work to increase the appeal of your home for sale.   

None of the items are priceless

Everything you do to prepare your home for the real estate market should be done with an eye to making the property more valuable. The right collection of interesting objects, arranged well, can do just that. 

The best collections for staging make a home feel cared for by owners who have an enviable lifestyle.  For example, a collection could hint that the current owners travel, or have a sense of humor, or have leisure time for hobbies, or are especially well educated. 

You don't need to spend big bucks to curate a collection that looks valuable. Mixing some inexpensive knockoffs and garage sale finds with more unusual pieces yields interesting arrangements. The photo at the top shows a grouping of a few statement pieces of ceramicware interspersed with ordinary bistro dishes, Asian rice bowls, and even some plastic dinnerware.     

Some of its items are unique

Whether made up of purely decorative or else everyday useful objects, what makes any collection special is that it contains some things that aren't ordinary. If it's a framed collection of sheet music, some pages could be foreign. If it's a collection of vintage luggage, some could have rare travel stickers on them. (hint: reproduction stickers can be purchased from Amazon and Etsy). If it's coasters, aim for one from a famous bar, restaurant or casino. 

But since you don't want anything stolen or broken, anything valuable or precious to you should be kept out of reach, or framed, or locked behind glass doors.      

If your collection is made of simple things from nature like feathers, seeds, leaves, or pressed flowers, it will need a few unique feathers or shells or seeds to make it look special.  A display of shells could include some pristine starfish or extra-large conch shell. Especially a frugally or hastily assembled collection may need elements to make it look like it has some provenance or history.

Often an ordinary collection can be staged to make it look more unusual by adding a related element. A 1940s sewing machine could be part of a display of vintage sewing patterns. An early American flag could accompany a collection of old military medals. 

A collection doesn't need to be valuable, but at least some
of its items should be unique. Photo: etsy 
Think about adding seasonal touches with small collections like  
this stack of children's Christmas books when you list during December.  

It's actually curated   

Arranged haphazardly, a collection of dull objects just looks like a mess. You can't expect a heap of cheap baskets from Goodwill to make much of an impression of quality. 

Perhaps you already own a collection. Ideally, it's made up of items that over time you've purchased or found, chosen because they had some appeal to you. If that's the case, I'm sure your collection has its own character since you didn't simply acquire it as a kit. 

But if you don't have a collection already, don't hesitate to either begin or finish or even purchase one in one shopping trip or online swoop. A stroll through a flea market or antique mall might give you all the novelty salt and pepper shakers you need to make a statement up high on a shelf over the breakfast nook.  

Ask yourself, "Does my collection fit the message I want my home to convey?" Is your home cottagey, sophisticated, quirky, minimalist, coastal, modern farmhouse, historic, colorful...or what? You can create vignettes of carefully chosen items to emphasize the style and feel of your home.  

What not to show off as a collection -- beanie babies, Barbie dolls, CocaCola cans, Disney toys, Pez dispensers, Elvis memorabilia, MacDonald's crap, Pokeman stuff, lawn flamingos, ... I think you get the idea. I hope I don't sound elitist when I emphasize the importance of making your home reflect your quiet, good taste through and through. 

Matching frames help create a clean aesthetic to this 
handsome collection of sepia photos of trees. Photo: Pepperfry
Outdoor collections can be part of your home staging.
This grouping of hosta plants makes a more interesting
addition to the landscape than a mass of identical plants. 

It adds personality

Not all rooms are interesting enough for people touring your home to want to linger. Studies show that the longer a person spends inspecting a home, the chance of a purchase increase. Remember too, that normal belongings you use on a regular basis can be considered collections. Collections can even indicate how a space can be used. 

For instance, a display of purses in the closet, an exhibit of wine bottles on your bar cart, or coffee mugs at your coffee station, or the placement of everyday dishes on your kitchen's open shelving are all legitimate collections and deserve attention to how they are arranged. They are part of your selling team. 

Resist the temptation to carry a collection onto a theme for a room or (even worse) a whole house. If you collect rubber ducks that are on display on a bathroom shelf, you don't need a rubber ducky shower curtain and a rubber ducky nightlight too. This will only cheapen the collection. 

More advice on what not to do: don't display campaign buttons or banners, guns, knives, high school sports trophies, valuable gems, taxidermy (unless you are staging a hunting lodge), erotic art, or weird things like scary masks or gnome figurines. People prefer to buy homes owned by people like themselves. Help them easily relate to you.   

Before you declutter and pack extra belongings
for moving or storage, consider what might
be worthy of staging as a display, like
this shoe arrangement.  Photo: The Home Edit

It doesn't overwhelm 

Don't allow your collection to be a room's focal point by being too large, too colorful, or too unusual. It shouldn't make people stop and study the details. Let it cast a spell but not distract from your home's overall appeal. A little vignette of vintage books on a sofa table or old alarm clocks on a bedroom dresser, or a fishbowl of imported soaps on a bath vanity can be part of the supporting cast instead of the star of the show.

Natural locations for collections are coffee tables, mantles, bookshelves, high ledges, and bare walls. You don't want your collection to take over the room visually. Let's say that you already own a sizeable collection of Vera scarves or antique postcards or CD cases. My advice would be to frame four or six and arrange them as a grid on one wall. 

Consider tucking small collections in unexpected places, such as some old license plates in the garage or a few antique tea canisters in the pantry. These become some of the memorable details of your home.  

A collection can often be placed safely out of reach
and be a subtle, visual treat. Photo: A Beautiful Mess 
Clustered together and carefully arranged on a ladder, this 
collection of quilts sends a comfy, friendly vibe to anyone
touring the home. It enlivens the corner of the room
without "taking over." Photo: Blueisbleu blog  

It shows a variety

A good collection consists of things that are alike but not identical.  Even a collection of brass candlesticks, or similarly-sized stuffed panda bears, or round white plates, or Santa cookie cutters will look boring if there isn't enough variety. There is a sweet spot in every collection between diversity and uniformity.    

Art collections are a little tricky to get right in a staged home. Unless you collect a particular format or theme (such as framed silhouettes or Japanese block prints or watercolors by one particular artist) an assortment of art is going to be just part of your home's interior decor. Art certainly helps sell your home, but it doesn't have to be a collection. 

There are no two exactly matching items in this collection.
They share similarities, but are different enough
to make an interesting display. Photo: Lodge Cast Iron  

Get the look, get the book

So, when you declutter, think again about how some of your belongings can be clustered into collections, whether photos, signs, souvenirs, vases, or hats. A collection done right can be a handsome space filler or colorful addition to a corner, a bookcase, or a wall that had you stumped because it looked bare and boring. 

There are dozens of small ways and unusual ways you can use decorator tricks and professional home stager techniques to make your home more desirable to buyers. Download my eBook DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar to learn how you can easily stage your own home to increase your profit and sell your home quickly.