Authors of "Collected: Living with the Things you Love" answer your questions

Oct 30, 2014

Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson are co-authors of "Collected: Living with the Things you Love." Karch is a freelance stylist. Previously he was the editorial director of collecting at Martha Stewart Living. Robertson runs an interior design company and was former decorating editor at Martha Stewart Living.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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What do you collect? Most people collect something. For me, it is brown transferware and fezes. Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson have written a great new book Collected: Living with the Things You Love (Abrams) . In it, they came up with 15 collecting personalities. It's fun to try and figure out which one you are. Fritz and Rebecca are both veterans of Martha Stewart Living, and long time collectors. They know how to make things look beautiful. And they sought out 250 collectors for their book and show how you can live beautifully with your collections, whether clothespins or antique baskets. Ask them about your collections and how to live with what you love.

I have around 50 silver spoons I would like to display. Do you have suggestions on how to display them? I was thinking of using them in my dinning room but I am open to suggestions.

A modern take on the colonial spoon rack is a great solution.  You could paint it the same color as your wall so that it visually disappears and the spoons really stand out. 

What's your advice for displaying items that are very meaningful for sentimental reasons (family history, etc.) but that aren't really consistent with my own style? I love theses items, but I wouldn't have picked them for their looks.

Designate a special place for the items--perhaps a drawer or a closet that you could turn into a mini museum for them.  That way they can be displayed but in a more private personal way and not competing with your style. 

My six-year-old is obsessed with them and currently has about a dozen. Any suggestions on how to display these?! Thanks!

Which type of nutcrackers does your six-year-old have? What size are they?

They're ornamental; I think only one can actually crack nuts (think bought at craft stores for holiday decoration). But they are 8" to 20", maybe?

These would look great displayed on a shelf above the bed or on acrylic format shelves available from CB2 turned vertically.  Another idea would be to attach wine crates to your wall (painted or left raw) and use them to display the nutcrackers.  Happy Collecting!

Are they ok now? I dont want to reupholster or buy a new couch. What would you suggest? What is stylish?

Yes. Slipcovers are a classic. I just wouldn't do anything too baggy or slouchy.

Would the new wood flooring in today's House Calls have been laid directly over the tile? My kitchen floor is white ceramic tile and I hate it, but I can't face the mess it would make to take it out.

No, the flooring would have had to be installed after the tile was removed, which the homeowners said they were ready and willing to do.
Just based on some quick research, there are some products that can be laid over tile/cement/etc. Here is an article from This Old House on it. But I would suggest getting an expert opinion first.

We're redoing our master bath and the majority of the room will be very gray (gray travertine floor, gray vanity, ice gray glass shower tiles) with teal/blue accents. We're debating which finish to use for the hardware. The rest of the house is oil-rubbed bronze but I'm wondering if a brushed nickel would look better against all the gray. We also only plan to live here for another 1-3 yrs so we've very concerned with what will appeal more to future buyers. Thank you.

I would definitely do a nickel.

I like to collect pottery - mostly small items like vases - some modern and inexpensive, and some older items like rookwood. How would you suggest displaying them without looking too "collectory" or precious? Better to put them together for greater impact, or spread them around and mix with other items?

You can group them together for a bigger impact.  Ways that you can group them are by color, by shape, and by pattern--and then display these groups on one wall/table or cupboard together.  Also remember, It is always best to mix different heights withing your grouping.  Happy Collecting!

I have a tiny bathroom that has no character. I want to add some life to it without taking up too much counter space. Wall art? Colorful floor rug?

Use your walls to display a collection of vintage mirrors.  They will create beautiful light and reflections while keeping your counters free!

What books have been published this year that are particularly interesting? And which books are considered classics? Thinking about holiday gifts. Thanks!

Steven Gambrel's book is great, of course our book, Collected:Living With The Things You Love, and Markham Roberts new book is quite nice. 

Any suggestions for a cool way to display a bunch of old keys?

On the wall!! They would look amazing clustered together or in a display style coffee table.

what are your favorite flea markets?

Brimfield, Massachusetts/ Alameda, California/Pasadena city College, Long Beach, California/Renningers in Allentown and Kutztown, PA/Round Top Texas/Lincoln Road, Florida

Is it a bad idea to collect brown furniture now? I hear nobody wants it.

It is a very good idea--you can get amazing quality and variety at unprecedented low prices. 

Hi, I collect and display lapel pins on lanyards and pin bags. The pins are organized by themes, e.g., Olympics, Disney, Star Wars, Harry Potter, foreign and domestic travel, etc. The pin bags are on a high shelf and they're zippered for easy transport. Is there a better way to display my collection? Lanyards are OK, but they can get heavy to wear with the number of pins affixed to the fabric. Thanks.

A novel solution for ones that you do not wear all of the time would be to mount and frame a shirt with pins artfully pinned on it.  Happy Collecting!

Thank you for your questions everyone! Happy Collecting!!

Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson

Great chat. Thanks Fritz and Rebecca for being with us today. Check out their book - it is really enchanting.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Fritz Karch and Rebecca Robertson
Karch is a freelance stylist. Previously he was the editorial director of collecting at Martha Stewart Living. Robertson runs her own interior design company and was former decorating editor at Martha Stewart Living.
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