In the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia region, we don’t have a shortage of professional sports teams to cheer for. There’s the Caps, the Redskins, the Nats, the Wizards, D.C. United. The list goes on.
You’re probably a fan of at least one of these teams, and like many devotees, may have sports memorabilia, like an autographed ball or jersey, that you feel pride in and want to display in your home. While sports memorabilia is usually confined to the basement’s or man cave’s walls, there is a way to spread it out throughout your home without looking tacky. We spoke with Great Falls-based interior designer Lauren Leiss (who has her own HGTV show, Best House on the Block) to get her expert advice. Highlights from our conversation are below.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to display sports memorabilia?
It can get a little themey and feel a bit juvenile when there is just too much of it and there’s no real artistic or aesthetic interest in the pieces being selected. If the same care, attention and parameters are used in selecting sports memorabilia that might be used to select any other type of art and accessories in a home, it can be beautiful and fun.
Sports memorabilia can often times be associated with man caves, and confined to places of the home where “the men hang out.” How can sports memorabilia be displayed throughout the home in a gender-neutral way?
This kind of goes with my earlier answer, but there are some amazing pieces of sports memorabilia out there—cool vintage cards, flags, balls, posters, etc. I think it’s about selecting pieces that are special in and of themselves, so that they’re appealing and artistically interesting in general, and not aimed at a particular gender.
Should memorabilia be contained to one room, or spread out across the home?
It depends upon the person who lives in the home. If it’s something they want to see in daily life, I’m all for designing with what you love, but I think it can often have more of an impact and wow-factor when it’s all grouped together.
What’s your advice on curating sports memorabilia (or any collectible items) to create a story in the home?
Comb places like thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops and online for interesting one-of-a-kind things. A collection of something is almost always appealing when displayed beautifully en masse. Think about walls as collection opportunities and create a focal point out of each one.
Should memorabilia just be framed or kept in a display in order for it to look good?
Not necessarily. I love things that are hung up, such as flags, nets and pieces of sports equipment.
What are some items of sports memorabilia that should never be displayed in a home?
I’m sort of a never-say-never type, but I would recommend that all memorabilia feel timeless and authentic. Color photography from WWF wrestling in the ’80s, for example, will always feel cheesier than say old black-and-white baseball photos, but in the end, it’s really about what’s floating your boat and what you love. So if Hulk Hogan is your thing, I can’t blame you.
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