Display options plentiful for big collection

DEAR DEBBIE: I could not have come this far in my brand-new home without your decorative TV guidance. However, I have an issue with our basement.

My husband is a successfully retired firefighter and has collected a million die cast models of fire trucks and cars over 30 years. He wants to develop our brand-new basement with shelves or something to display his collection; however, where does one begin? Glass unit wall, oak wall, who knows? Thank you so much for your time. — Elise.

DEAR ELISE: You aren’t alone! So many of us are juggling collections of every kind, and there’s an art to finding a place for it all so that it can be enjoyed without taking over your home.

However, the good news is that today you’ll find a huge inventory of display shelving and cabinetry from which to choose. Cube shelving is great; it’s versatile, as you can stagger or stack your display. Paint the wall a contrasting color that will become the background for all the objects in the cubes.

Floating shelves are popular; they are supported from the back of the shelf, which gives a lovely clean line. You can build shelves with planks of wood; add a molded lip to the front like a plate rail so that items won’t slip off.

Glass or Plexiglas cases are a modern touch. These look particularly good with built-in lighting to show off your display.

For your basement, I’d do one big feature wall of all your husband’s trucks and make it look like a gallery. Either light it from behind with mini-lights, or arrange pot lights in the ceiling so that this beloved collection can be viewed in all its glory.

DEAR DEBBIE: I’d like to know how to make a room that’s full of antiques not look too dated. Our living room and dining room are filled with heavy, dark wood pieces that are excellent quality and have sentimental value as well. Hardwood floors in the living room are covered with a dark Oriental carpet; the dining room has an off-white wool area rug. How does one contemporize these rooms without changing the furniture?– Janet.

DEAR JANET: Here are three elements that you can manipulate any way you choose, regardless of the furnishings, that will give your rooms new life — wall color, upholstery fabrics and lighting.

Start with your living room sofa and research the latest fabric trends. Oversize prints are in, or if you prefer, look for striped fabrics, as they are timeless. The update comes with the color and width of the stripe — go wide, 3 to 5 inches — in a combination of colors found in your carpet. I’m guessing jewel tones of blue and red.

A light color on the walls also will make an instant impression; try pale amethyst, or any shade of blue is wonderful with dark wood.

Finally, or perhaps this should be first on your list, update the lighting. A modern chandelier for the dining room, pot lights in the ceiling for both rooms to brighten the overall light and one or two contemporary lamps for the living room won’t clash with your antiques. Have some fun, mix it up, and you will love the new old look.

Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at house2home@debbietravis.com.

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