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Something Vintage

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There’s a (very) fine line between collecting and hoarding, says Francine Smith of Hot Cool Vintage. She shares some of her collections, and tips on how she does it. Photos courtesy of Francine Smith.


Usually it starts with one. One item that creates the desire for another, then another….. Collecting is a pastime that has no bounds. It can be high, record-setting millions for a piece of art or very, very low (think hoarders). Most of us may not have the financial ability to purchase rare and expensive art and hopefully we have the presence of mind not to keep every mail flyer we ever receive, but we can all collect something, if we so desire.

Collecting vintage decor is a way to add your own distinct style to your home and can be the beginning of a life-long learning journey. Collecting often inspires the collector to learn more about the object, the designer, or the period. No matter what calls you – pottery, ephemera or glass – whatever you gather will always be unique to you.

Pottery Collection


This collection started when I found a vase like the one my mother had in our living room when I was growing up. After my parents divorced and moved houses a few times, that vase was lost. Though originally part of my past, I’ve found other shapes, colors and sizes and have made it part of my unique home decor. On the practical side, this collection also helps to hide some of the unsightly mess of TV cords.  See, collecting can be useful!

Black and white (and orange)


Collections can be based on anything: patterns, textures, colors, designers, etc. This collection of vintage bisque porcelain and vintage enamelware is usually in flux. I add a piece every now and then and sell others. This grouping is another handy collection to have since the bowls can be used for serving and the vases are often put into use as well.

Blue glass
francinecollectionpic2 Another collection that is in flux, this one includes a mistake and a re-purposed piece of cased glass. The first bottle is a knock-off, although unfortunately I didn’t buy it as a knock-off (all part of the learning process). The tall vase is for sale. The short cased glass “planter” should have a top. It was too pretty to be discarded and too easy to re-purpose for another use.

Francine’s four tips on collecting

1. This is probably obvious but … collect what you love. Collections take time to build – that’s part of the fun of collecting. Getting dirty in a dusty antique store or finding a hidden gem online can be time-consuming, so be sure whatever it is that you are searching for excites you.

2. Collections take up space in your home, so if it is not something you enjoy looking at then it will most definitely not be something you enjoy dusting. Which you will have to do – often.

3. There is a (very) fine line between collecting and hoarding. Every collection needs to be re-evaluated and thinned out every now and then. It should never become a burden.

4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you love it and can afford it, buy it. The regret of not buying often stings more than the regret of buying. Re-gift or donate the mistakes and chalk it up to the learning process.

* You can find more of Francine’s collected items for sale on the Hot Cool Vintage Etsy store. 

* Find lots more stories about vintage, mid-century and mid-century modern here. Sign up for our Vintage Friday newsletter. It’s free!

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