My husband and I have a slightly klepto tendency to collect bits and pieces from the places we’ve visited: sea glass from the Jersey shore, coral from a beach in Mexico, stones from a river in Vermont, sticks from the forest floor in Northern California. I never unpacked our bits and pieces when we moved into our house 5 years ago, because knew I needed the perfect piece to display them. So our poor little box of bits sat on a shelf in our laundry room.

Last fall, I found printing type drawers from a dealer at SOWA Vintage Market in Boston. They were in great condition — no cracks, stains, or mold — so I picked up two, thinking I’d keep one and hold onto the other for future client. And buying two gave me a little negotiating edge to get a better price.

vintage printing type drawers

Thanks to Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, I put this project on my list of things to get done this month. First, I wiped it clean with a damp cloth, and used a Q-tip to get into the corners of all those compartments. Some of the residual black ink came up, but I didn’t go crazy trying to get it pristine. Then I rubbed the wood with a few layers of danish oil to deepen the color and give it a slight sheen. I installed a cleat-style bracket on the back to hang it on the wall, which also helps keep it level.

display collections of small objects in a vintage printing type drawer

This vignette in a corner of my living room brings a warmth and character to the space that had been missing. Displaying your personal collections can help make a house feel like a home. Don’t worry if they “go” with your décor — they go with you, and that’s what makes it work. Just find the right way to display them.

Here are a few pieces I’ve had my eye on:

cb2 alcove wall shelf
alcove wall shelf, cb2, 149.00
pottery barn cubby organizer
cubby organizer, pottery barn, 149.00
room 86 hexy wall shelves
hexy wall shelves, room 68, 300.00 each (2 shown)
ferm living the little dorm shelf from finnish design shop
the little dorm shelf by ferm living, finnish design shop, 138.00
toy car display picture ledges by lacey carroll interiors, via apartment therapy
picture ledges by lacey carroll interiors, via apartment therapy

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