As a kid, my grandpa had a tin box full of old matchbooks downstairs in his basement. I never quite understood the point of collecting old matchbooks and yet it was obviously something that I felt an attachment to as when my grandparents had both passed away, the little tin box with the matchbook collection came to the other side of the country with me.
None of these matchbooks are particularly valuable and the box sat, unopened and untouched on a shelf in my laundry room for the last 5-6 years. Quite honestly, I’ve been tempted a few times to clear out all of the matches and paint the tin, but I never did get around to it. A couple of years ago while visiting family in British Columbia’s Okanagan, I found myself in the cute home decor store Olive and Elle when I noticed that one of their displays in-store revolved a huge vase filled with old matchbooks. It was both an amazingly adorable decor idea and something that I could do quite easily.
Fast forward to today and I have also acquired a larger collection of vintage matchbooks from my grandparents-in-law when they moved out of their home and into a Senior’s residence. I found some extremely interesting ones, and even some really unique ones from a family business going back a couple of generations labelled with the family name which I’ll save as keepsakes. But I’ve now got a large bag overflowing with matchbooks that need to get used.
I love the vintage matchbooks, but have had absolutely no idea how on earth to use them rather than leaving them in the paper bags they came to my house in and looking through them from time to time commenting on the fact that I should do something with them. I decided that Pinterest would probably be the best place for me to start looking for ideas… But I came up with virtually no results save for a cute bowl where you can gather matchbooks from a blog I already read, everything LEB (below) and a clear base lamp filled with matchbooks from ApartmentTherapy which looked like a huge fire hazard.
This was going to require some serious pre-Pinterest levels of creativity, which you all know means off.the.charts. I also wanted something that wouldn’t enable my toddler to start a fire and required no kitschy framing of old matchbooks in shadow boxes.
I decided to use them randomly as decoration around my house and came up with three ways to do it:
1: I placed them in a large bowl on a counter in my laundry room/bar room (laundry machines are hidden under a large counter and cupboards so all you see is the bar-type area) where I already had a large glass bottle where I am collecting real cork corks. I thought it was a classy way to showcase two different collections while not putting them away into drawers where no one can see them
2: I placed a small mason jar of them on my desk as they do make me both remember my grandparents but also they have really great graphics, colors and vintage feel which I appreciate while blogging and being creative at my desk.
3: I placed a small few matchbooks on my coffee table in my family room. The room is very modern (my husband’s influence) but I have thrown in some vintage family photos and thought another small dose of vintage would be warranted.
What I discovered in trying to incorporate them into my house was that it was not hard when your collection is something you love and already in line with several other elements in a room. It’s then just a matter of displaying your collection artfully.