Designer Linda Seltzer uses recessed shelves display just a fraction of her collectibles, which have taken decades to assemble.
Designer Linda Seltzer uses recessed shelves display just a fraction of her collectibles, which have taken decades to assemble. (Photo by Jessica Boone.)

For Linda Seltzer, it isn't the big pleasures in life that count the most, but the countless little ones. Really little ones - diminutive dolls, teeny tricycles, tiny clocks - arranged just so on specially built shelves. For as long as she can remember, the interior designer has been fascinated by miniatures. Purchased over the last four decades, each piece reminds her of a place visited, a person loved, an experience cherished. "They're all a part of my life," says Seltzer, whose eclectic collection encompasses upwards of 1,000 pieces, including a nickel-sized crystal locomotive, inch-high galoshes that buckle and a spinning top as tiny as a fingernail.

Scaled replicas of an Eames lounge and a Frank Gehry cardboard chair play against a life-size version of the Eames classic, along with a vibrant stacking chair by Verner Panton, in Linda Seltzer's Brentwood home. (Photo by Jessica Boone.)


Seltzer's favorites, and the heart of her collection, are scaled replicas of chairs - mid-century modern classics from such notable designers Charles and Ray Eams, Frank Gehry, Herman Miller and Verner Panton. Many of the 150 miniature chairs are styles carried at Jules Seltzer & Associates, the 70-year-old Los Angeles furniture store owned and operated by Seltzer and her husband, Grant. And many of the miniatures also have a full-size counterpart in the contemporary home the Seltzers recently built in Brentwood.

MDesigned by architect Craig Burdick, the home includes recessed shelves where just a fraction of Linda Seltzer's collection is painstakingly arranged and rearranged. While the display isn't an approach many interior designers embrace, Seltzer said minimalist approach to her overall d├ęcor exaggerates the effect of her miniatures in the naturally lighted room. "These are all the things I didn't want in a big size," she says. "This time in my life, when I've already raised my children, I don't want clutter."
Designer Quentin Rance created a Southwestern-style fireplace to complement a client's collection of paintings, sculpture, and pottery. (No photo credit)
A bright centerpiece and colorful tablesettings add to the atmosphere of the Southwest. (No photo credit)

Seltzer's personal connection to each piece is one that interior designers try to capture as they decorate with their clients' collections. That presented quite a challenge for internationally renowned designer Quentin Rance, who eventually expanded a client's Bel Air home to accommodate a growing collection of Southwestern paintings, sculpture, and pottery. "The challenge in this project was he wanted to display it all," says Rance, who found inspiration from the displays at the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles. The home now features hints of the collection in each room, from intricate sculptures of American Indian warriors in the entrance way, to fine pottery on the mantle of a re-created fireplace.

Designer Genaro Lagdameo began assembling religious artifacts after inheriting a single piece, a fairly common genesis for collections. Beginning with statues of Catholic saints and 16th century bibles, he's expanded his collection to Byzantine-inspired paintings and other religious figures. While each item has religious significance, he displays them as works of art. "You don't always want your collection all on a shelf," Lagdemeo says. "You don't want your collection to look like they are in a store." Lagdameo displays the historic bibles on the grand piano in the living room while the statues are arranged in the entry way, on coffee and end tables, and on the mantle. The key is striking the right balance, depending on the size and texture of the items. "If you concentrate them in one area, it's too top heavy," he says. "And if you have one specific thing you collect you can incorporate them with another element. Hard, metallic items can be accentuated with fabrics. The work should complement the room and furnishings." While most collectors want to display every item they've taken pains to hunt down, designer Erinn Valencich suggests editing a collection to its core elements. "You don't need to have every piece you have on display," she said. "You can store some pieces, and bring them out at another time."
Designer Genaro Lagdameo collects items of religious significance that he displays of works of art in his San Fernando Valley home. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)