Finding a focus for your collecting can be difficult if you're just starting. How do you know what you like? Or worse, what if you like everything?
Collecting is easy, of course, if you are passionate about one thing--say, wooden tramp art boxes or wind-up tin toys from the 1950s. But many collectors prefer a more eclectic approach--a less cluttered, livable mix of objects and styles.
Here are some broad parameters for organizing collections that don't rely on sheer numbers alone.
Strive to define your style in words. Is it romantic, contemporary, vintage, rustic, or Tuscan? By consciously determining your "style mission statement" you can refer back to it whenever you make a buying decision. If your goal is to express a "romantic vintage look using white" then you'll immediately know that buying a contemporary abstract painting won't contribute your goal.
Even disparate items look more cohesive when they adhere to a consistent color scheme. If you love the lines of a piece but the color's all wrong, consider painting or covering it, providing the piece isn't too fine. So, a black metal sconce can easily fit into your white aesthetic by giving it a few coats of white paint. Or, a clean white slipcover can cover outdated upholstery fabric.
Group items by similar subject matter to give them greater importance. If you like amateur artwork, for instance, focus on collecting landscape paintings or black-and-white portraits as your specialty.
Try these tips for beginning a collection.
1. Begin with one or two pieces that are affordable and easy to find in your area.
2. Look for vintage pieces that remind you of something or someone special. Perhaps some floral china teacups that look like ones your grandmother used to have.
3. Ask relatives if they have any family heirlooms they are willing to give you. Often these personal items will give you an idea of things to collect.
4. Consider your hobbies and interests. Collections of old postcards, golf memorabilia, wooden toys, 1930s kitchen utensils, or leather-bound books should reflect your personality.