Packed Pockets

Ok, the holidays are over and you realize that your children have more "stuff" than you know what to do with. You know you can't part with anything, because "someday" this "stuff" will be worth big bucks, well.....maybe. In fact, you like the collection(s) your children have, but you just don't know how to keep it in an orderly, neat, and, in a perfect world, dust free. This month I hope to offer you some display suggestions that won't cost you an arm and an leg, since you've probably lost them to retail establishments this season anyway.

When we think of getting children involved in the display of their collection we have to consider whether, or not, the pieces are "Lookees", or "Touchees". These two completely different types of collectibles have totally different motivation from the beginning. "Lookees" are, either those items that are fragile, or shouldn't get smeared with peanut butter and jelly sandwich gunk. These treasures are purchased with the intent to earn investment income (more like investment speculation). Obviously, these collectibles have to be placed where little hands can't mess with them.

On of my favorite places to show off "Lookees" is on top of window valences, or cornice boards. The space above windows seems to scream out, "Do something with me!", when you look at an average room. Your eye naturally drifts to windows throughout the day as time makes the light change, and if you have beautiful window treatments why not take advantage of showing them off, as well as, some collectibles? All you really need is a few pieces of trim molding and a piece of board. Your local home builder's store may even cut them to your specifications for free, or a small fee. Every home builder's store has a place where they display their decorating books. Spend some time perusing through these books and you'll see just how simple it is to make a weary space a wonderful one.

Of course, you can always go out and purchase a nice curio cabinet specifically designed for collectibles, but if you don't have room for another piece of furniture invention must prevail. What about a row of decorative shelving just a foot, or two, below the ceiling and surrounding the entire room? I once knew someone who ran their collectible train on a track nailed to shelving all around their room just over the door and windows!

Another space saving suggestion for young (short) children would be to remove their closet doors, drop down the clothes bar to their height, purchase shutters to hide clothes clutter, and place shelving over the hanging clothes for display space. If you need extra storage space you can purchase inexpensive risers for the legs of their bed frame and heavy plastic, rolling, storage containers for their out of season clothing.

If your "Lookees" are capable of being hung, a row of brass, or silver plated hooks hung evenly spaced around the room just below the ceiling allows the more delicate types of items to be admired without the heavy bulk of a shelf. It can even seem like a border without the necessity of one, or you could use a border just below the hooks to show off the pieces. But, unless your items all hang at the same length you'll end up with more of a messy display than one that highlights your treasures.

"Touchees", on the other hand, are the collectibles I most encourage adults to get their children involved in, because once childhood becomes their past, they have fond memories of playing with their possessions , as opposed to looking at them, and wondering what Madame Alexander looks like neek-ed under all those frills as most little three year old girls do. I remember being faced with needing a way to display my young son's Pez Dispenser collection. I searched for a ready built display case. I even went as far as calling the Pez candy manufacturer to find out if they, either sold a display case, or knew where I could get one. Would you believe they had no idea of what I was talking about? So, here I was, with a load of small, plastic, doo-dads and no place to display them, because they won't stand up by themselves! Well, since ingenuity is the motherhood of all invention, I purchased a piece of peg board and some Shaker Pegs from the local home builder's supply store. I took them home, painted them to match his bedroom, and glued the pegs into the board. When I mounted the board on the wall the wooden pegs held the his Pez dispensers just under the "head" of each one and the bottoms hung freely. He was able to arrange, and rearrange, them whenever he liked, and I made sure the peg board was large enough to withstand additions to his collection. Peg board is pretty nifty stuff. It can be cut into any shape and several different types of hickey-doos can hang from the holes. Just remember when you mount the board to your wall attach it to the studs to be on the safe side.

I've used decorative shelving with carved out hearts and pegs built in at the height of wainscot trim for my small ones. They used the pegs for their hats and coats, and the tops for their "keepers".

I have been known to use the tops of bookcases to display tall objects. And, I've hung things using S-shaped hooks from gold swag lamp chain that I attached to a plant hook in the ceiling and a U-shaped holder screwed into the floor. The carpeting hid the bottom attachment and the chain could not be swung, as if Tarzan lived with us.

I hope you've found this column to be helpful in your quest for "never enough room", and "not always enough money" to properly display the collectibles of your children, as well as yourself. If anyone has any other suggestions, please feel free to stop by our bulletin board or fill out the feedback form below.

May each and every one of you, your family, and friends find peace, love, joy and good health in the year ahead. Happy New Year!