Ask Thriftfulness: Is there such a thing as Comic-Con Chic?

26 Feb

Carrie with a query:

Q: I am a crafty design-lover in need of a creative and diplomatic home solution on the cheap!  I am excited to be moving in with my boyfriend of one and a half years and as we prepare to merge our respective apartments I have run into a tricky dilemma.  I have a deep love of antique thrifted furniture, books, hand-drawn illustrated art, and bright colors.  The focal point of my sweet, geeky, Mac IT specialist boyfriend’s apartment is a hunter green microsuede couch that he proudly purchased at a contemporary furniture emporium.

I fell head over heels for him the day we met, so you could see why I want to make room for both of us in this new home we are creating together.  How can I display his quirky collection of Comic-Con worthy knick knacks that include a few small Japanese-inspired stuffed animals, action figures, a toy rocket, Star Wars Lego ships, and a couple of other things I can’t even put a name to.  Rather than demand he pitch his goofy collection I’m trying to be a good girlfriend and find a creative, delicious design solution.  Any thoughts?

Fell for a Nerd

A: Dear Nerd Lover,

I love this question! While I consider myself a collector because I pick things up off of the ground, I don’t really display anything in my apartment besides books. But researching this quandry made me want to start because there are so many cute ways to show off our junk!

Combining all of the stuff from single life can be hard because each person has established a vibe for their place that they’re kind of partial too. But if both parties are willing, it can be a lot of fun to find your couple style: wabi sabi modern anyone? Anyone?

Here’s my advice, in two steps.

Step 1:  Set a theme (and some rules).

Instead of an amigurumi collection on the shelf and a Lego emporium on the coffee table (etc. etc.) compromise by combining the collection into one space based on some sort of theme. Do a lot of the knick knacks have the same shade of blue in them? Are there a few of each item that look cool next to each other proportion-wise? Combine certain pieces and agree to store the rest. This will keep the collection smaller while still refraining from stomping out his manhood by demanding he pitch all of it. It also gives your place more of a “we intentionally displayed these” look as opposed to “we don’t care about design, we just had all these Happy Meal toys”.

If  he doesn’t like the idea of getting rid of any of his quirky collectibles, you might suggest a rotating collection (i.e.: we’ll display this #$@% in spring and box the other #$@% up til fall) or displaying some items physically and the other items in a kick-ass photograph to reduce clutter.

Step 2: Infuse your style into the presentation with a creative display.

Just because the collection is his, doesn’t mean the design and display of it can’t be be yours (or yours and his).  If you like thrifty furniture, try displaying his action figures in an open vintage jewelry box. If he has a lot of small collectible items, put them in “specimen” jars (i.e. old mason jars) and make funny typewriter labels for them (I would personally love to see a shelf lined with  jars of Japanese stuffed animals so send me a picture if  you do this!). You could also display all of his toy rockets in thrifted old picture frames.

A great place to look for interesting, crafty, and cheap display furniture is I found this cubby unit made out of old encyclopedias on their site . It would combine your love of books, thrifty things, and bright colors!

I hope these ideas help you two blend your styles into a new home that screams “me & him!”. Good luck and happy knick-knack sorting.

Here’s a list of links that might spark your creativity:


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