The curio cabinet is enjoying an uptick in popularity which could be the result of some pushback to the minimalist theme dominating decor trends over the past decade. They’re great for showcasing favourite things, expressing creativity and telling stories by the placement of objects. Best of all, they’re enclosed which reduces dusting time!
Many think of curio cabinets as furniture seen in antique stores, museums and at grandma’s. They’re steeped in a rich history dating back to the 16th century, when the term “curio cabinet” referred to huge collections, or rooms, where the items were kept. These were called “Rooms of Wonder” and only royalty and the ultra-wealthy maintained such things. Later, when travelling became more accessible, scientists, artists, explorers and serious collectors used curio cabinets to display their “finds”. The industrial revolution popularized the curio cabinet by bringing it into the homes of the middle-class.
Styles and Features
Curio cabinets come in varying sizes from small, and wall-mounted, to large floor-to-ceiling models. Traditional or sleek, modern looking cabinets are available in circular, semi-circular, rectangular or triangular designs. Generally they have glass doors, mirror backs, glass sides and shelves. Some come with lighting which can add charm, depth and focus to decor.
Decorating A Curio Cabinet
This is the fun part. It’s especially so because there are no rules. Display a set of things (like dishes), vintage collectibles, photos, seashells or just a mixture of whatever pleases you. It’s all about personal taste and expression. Change it up seasonally with the addition of a few small, well-placed accessories.
Achieving a balanced look that’s pleasing to the eye is easy. Start with an empty cabinet and place your tallest objects first, creating either symmetrical or asymmetrical shelf patterns. Add small objects in odd number groupings. Step back, assess and regroup until you're satisfied.
Add texture and interest with contrasting bunched fabric and see your objects “pop”. You can use stands for plates, blocks to display smaller items and hooks to hang things from. Make it your “cabinet of wonder”!