An acclaimed interior designer offers her tips on creating polished displays.
MINDY LAVEN RUNS A FULL-SERVICE RESIDENTIAL DESIGN FIRM based in Yorba Linda, California. We admired her work—which often features vintage items—and her beautiful, organized office. We asked her if she could share some of her tips for creating stunning displays on shelves, and luckily for us, she obliged with some great advice.
FLEA MARKET DÉCOR: TELL US ABOUT THE VINTAGE ITEMS ON DISPLAY ON YOUR OFFICE SHELVES.
MINDY: I have a fabric-bound copy of The New York Times Cook Book, green glass garlic beads from Greece, Depression glass ice cream cups from a tag sale (see those at left), brass roosters and various handmade pottery pieces that I can’t get enough of. I don’t collect anything that I don’t love, and I don’t worry about where something is going to go. If you love something, you will find a place for it.
FMD: WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU MAKE WHEN WORKING WITH CLIENTS WHO ARE HAVING A HARD TIME CHOOSING WHAT TO DISPLAY?
MINDY: When I have a client who has a lot of wonderful things that are collected or have personal meaning, I begin by sorting those items by color. It’s pleasing to the eye and it marries pieces nicely. I may use all white for a winter or New Year’s display, and then rotate those pieces out to a more colorful grouping of greens and yellows for the warmer summer months. Everything you own does not have to be displayed at once, and the nice thing about a rotation is that you maintain the specialness of your treasures because they aren’t always in plain sight.
FMD: HOW IS ORGANIZATION PART OF THE EQUATION WHEN YOU ARE DESIGNING?
MINDY: Collections can look cluttered or they can look like an art installation. It’s all in the presentation. I like to keep
groupings together for impact. Sprinkling milk glass dishes in every room doesn’t have nearly the same effect as grouping the entire collection together on kitchen shelves or on the top of a buffet.
FMD: WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE US NON-PROS WHEN IT COMES TO FRESHENING SHELVES?
MINDY: Vintage books with leather bindings or marbled covers are works of art, so I often use books as the base for everything else that will go on a set of shelves or in a bookcase, building my vignettes on top of them. Also, add in some precious metals. A pair of brass candlesticks or a vintage sterling teapot can provide miles of style.
FMD: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO FIND UPCYCLED HOME ACCESSORIES?
MINDY: Tag sales and estate sales. I’m on email lists for companies that have regular estate sales, and I’m always checking Craigslist to see which sales are happening near me. A few months ago, I bought a Chippendale mirror on the last day of an estate sale in Montecito for $225. When I checked the value on 1stdibs, the exact mirror was selling for $4,500! I couldn’t believe it!