With shelf space in short supply, how do you show it all off?
When you’re a collector, one of the biggest complications we run into is shelf space. Once your collection gets to a certain size, you find yourself in what I call the “collector’s conundrum.” You have more collectibles than you have room to display them. Your wall is full, your shelves are stacked to the brim, so now what? When you have a collection that has gone from modest to huge, and eventually to giant, you have to find creative ways to show off all the awesome stuff you’ve collected — without losing any of it to the space problem.
Whether you are an out of box or a MIB collector, we all experience the same issue. Throughout my life, I have tried several different ways to conquer this problem– to varying degrees of success and frustration. Here are my top tips for displaying a giant collection, with the pros and cons of each.
Adding a stair tier to each shelf on your cases allows you to create additional space on your limited shelving. Doing this allows more collectibles to be displayed in the same area, without losing the back row. It’s a straightforward way to make more space in the shelving you already have. You can buy tiered shelves, or if you have a bit of woodworking know-how, you can make your own.
This only works with deeper shelves, though — shallow shelves don’t have the depth to allow tiering. It also depends on the sizes of your collectibles. If you are a fan of big statues, you probably need every inch of the shelf you have. If you’re into Star Wars, I highly recommend TheCardboardGalexy on eBay. They make custom displays for collectibles, some of which are tiered.
Pros: Make one shelf into many. Can make it easy to see collectibles at the back of a shelf.
Cons: Makes shelves narrower which makes your collectibles more likely to fall over (which can result in damage).
Take Over an Entire Room
This is one of my favorite methods — but one my husband doesn’t really approve of. I love seeing case upon case full of things I love. But unfortunately losing an entire room in my pretty small house isn’t really something I can get away with (without getting into a marital spat). So while this route doesn’t work for me, it can work for a lot of big collectors.
My biggest problem with this approach is that unless you also make the room your office, or some other often-used room, you don’t ever get to look at your collection without dropping in on it. You won’t spend as much time with it as perhaps you want. I know I wouldn’t. The video above is a tour of Nintendo Collecting‘s infamous Nintendo Room. It’s a great example of doing a full room take over — without losing functionality!
Pros: You can show off a lot of stuff in one space. It makes an awe-inspiring display.
Cons: You lose an entire room to the collection. Unless you add an office nook or something else, you don’t get to see it as often.
This is the one I tend to go with, as the sole collector in a two-person household. It allows me to spend time with more of my collection without completely taking over the house. I would love to take over the house, but I value my relationship more. It means I have to pick and choose what is out. I tend to rotate between Alien, Kaiju, Video Games, and Star Wars. This gives me a different feel for each season, but it has drawbacks. It means every three months I am digging through boxes, reboxing, and putting things out, and posing for at least a weekend.
There is always a risk in the process of taking down and putting up of potentially harming my collectibles. If I make a mistake and drop one, or if I don’t put them away correctly, I can break pieces, chip paint, or lose accessories. It lets me see more of the stuff I’ve collected, but like all things — there are risks. So if you do a seasonal switchout like me, remember to take your time and take extra care.
Pros: Show off more of the collection in a smaller space. Avoid taking over your entire house while still showing off all your amazing stuff.
Cons: It can take a lot of work at the changeover. Your collectibles can get damaged if you take them in and out of the boxes a lot. If you’re a MIB collector, boxes can be damaged if you keep moving them.
The internet is a great place to go to display a giant collection because much like your collection, the internet is enormous. The ability to share my collectibles online is one of my favorite things to happen in recent years. I love finding communities of people who love the same things I do, talking to them about their collections, and showing off my own. I like being able to categorize my collection, and being able to see what I already have. There have been multiple times I’ve gone out Funko hunting and pulled up my Gemr account to see whether I have that particular Pop! already, or if it’s missing from my collection.
I have so much more to upload, but I love having more of my collection on display than I can manage at home. Since my collection still needs some work, so I’m going to show off one of my favorite collectors on Gemr, Sailor_Samara — that’s her stuff above! She’s got her collection so well organized (honestly, I aspire to be as meticulous). She’s so awesome she got spotlighted by Gemr!
I like Gemr because I can join clubs for each of my interests and switch between them quickly and easily. So while my collection might not dominate every single shelf in my house, I know it has a home where people who like the same things as me can enjoy it as much as I do.
Pros: Can show off everything you collect to people you know will like it. You can keep tabs on everything you have. You don’t have to worry about damaging your collection by moving it around. You can organize your collectibles easily by fandom.
Cons: It isn’t up in your room, but you can use either of the other methods in conjunction with this one! And, I guess, if the apocalypse happens and the internet stops being a thing, you lose all your hard work.