Leslie Fine: Interior Decorating with Sports Memorabilia—Is This an Oxymoron?

February 8, 2011

If you live in New England, it’s hard not to be a sports fan. Even given our recent disappointment with the Pats, our love for sports in these parts is akin to an abiding, albeit rocky, love affair. Many of us live, breathe and die by the victories and losses of our local teams. Because of this, many fans enjoy collecting articles from their favorite teams and displaying these items in their homes.

I acknowledge that diehard fans are both male and female. But, although I’m not saying that women don’t collect memorabilia (they do), in my experience as an interior designer it’s mostly men who collect and women who have to put up with it!

So here’s the big question: can a home be beautiful and sophisticated while incorporating collections of sports memorabilia? The answer is yes–but it depends on just how and where these items are displayed.

As opposed to having the sports memorabilia spread throughout a home and infringing on every space, it is much more attractive to consolidate the collections in one or two spaces in a home–usually in a game room, family room or study. Displaying the items together in one area makes much more of an impact than spreading the pieces around. To avoid a cluttered and haphazard look, however, the items should be grouped appropriately and properly displayed. In addition to aesthetic considerations, it is important that pieces be protected to assure their continued value–whether that value is monetary or merely personal.

For example, to protect and organize balls, bats, helmets and the like, these items should be displayed in cases.

Photo courtesy of nflshop.com

Photo courtesy of amazon.com

For the same reasons, autographed photos and game shirts should be placed in attractive frames:

Photo courtesy of fansedge.com

Photo courtesy of amazon.com

Other considerations:

  • Use wall space, attractive shelving and bookcases that are all adequately lit to show off the collections.
  • Arrange the items in a meaningful way–for example, by team or by item–so that the collection can be enjoyed to its fullest.
  • Select a wall color as a background that will complement the displayed items.

Here are several attractive rooms where the sports memorabilia displayed actually enhances the interior design:

The owner of this home, a former Fenway bat boy and clubhouse attendant, is a life-long collector of sports memorabilia. A beautiful mahogany bar showcases the wall made of bricks from Fenway Park, an original field sign autographed by Ted Williams and seats from the stadium.

Photo courtesy of yankeemagazine.com

The singer Meat Loaf is an avid collector of sports memorabilia. Designer David Dalton created areas in the home to display the singer’s collection. In this room, Meat Loaf’s prized possessions of game shirts worn by the players are displayed, along with a game ball and helmet.

Photo courtesy of Architectural Digest

This is Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia’s game room in his California home. (Although perhaps his TV collection overshadows his sports memorabilia collection!) Notice the framed game shirts illuminated with overhead lighting.

Photo courtesy of electronics.com

It is quite popular to display sports memorabilia in the home. To create attractive and sophisticated interiors, display your collection properly in the appropriate cases or frames, and organize the items so that they add to the beauty of the space. There are many sources available for display cases and other articles to help you organize and protect your collection.

Do you have any unique and attractive ways of displaying your sports memorabilia? Or, do you live with collections and don’t know what to do with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

–Leslie Fine
Leslie Fine of Leslie Fine Interiors, Inc. in Boston is an award-winning interior designer involved in residential projects all over New England and beyond. In addition to her design career, she also blogs about design. Leslie can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lesliefineint and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LeslieFineInteriors.

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