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Woman in a wheelchair iobserves glass cabinet at National Museum of Roman Art in Merida, Spain

Top Tips To Display Art And Collectibles In Glass Cabinets

The glass-fronted display cabinet has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years as we seek to make our homes more individual and personal. They are an ideal way to store and showcase valuables, or simply items that bring you joy such as photographs or travel mementos.  

A glass cabinet is an elegant item of furniture in itself that will bring classic charm and sophistication to any room. It also helps to protect your most cherished items from dust and accidental damage, so you will have to spend less time cleaning. Here’s how to display your art or collectibles to best advantage and create a stunning focal point for your home.

Use backlighting

A glass cabinet should have integrated lighting to show off the contents and the translucence of the glass. A mirror placed behind a glass shelf can help to bounce more light through the cabinet. Enhance the contents further with small spotlights. Opt for cool tones to pick out fine details in sculpted or textured surfaces, or warm tones to create an overall ambience. 

Create a theme

To create meaning and context for your display, tie it together with a theme. This could be a collection of vintage photographs, Victoriana, or contemporary art pieces, or reflect a personal interest such as pets, textiles, the natural world, travel, and so on.

Experiment with composition

The way you group the objects together can make or break the look of the cabinet. A thoughtful composition will help to direct the viewer’s eye around the unit, whereas a less artful arrangement can look cluttered or just unengaging. Aim for visual balance, but avoid being too neat and symmetrical as this will quickly become uninteresting.

There are no rules, and of course you are free to display your favourite items however you choose. However, professional photographers and designers tend to arrange objects asymmetricaly and in groups of odd numbers, as this is more engaging to the eye. 

Mix height, texture and scale

Avoid placing objects that are too similar in size, shape, texture and colour too close together, as they will be viewed as one and lose impact as individual items. Aim to mix heights, colours, textures and so on, such as a glass vase and an earthenware mug, or a china plate and a woodwork or wicker item. 

Layer items so that they are slightly overlapping rather than simply lined up. Use props such as a book or two to raise the height of items towards the back if necessary. 

Use glass shelves

Opt for translucent glass shelves rather than solid wood to allow the light to flow through and show off the contents to full effect during the daytime. This will also help to prevent shadows from obscuring objects when they are lit by artificial light. 

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