“What’s in Your Collection?” with Lisa Mende


Hi, My name is Lisa Mende and I am an Interior Designer from Charlotte, NC.

I am so honored to be on Kathryn’s blog today!  I have admired Kathryn’s work for quite a while.  Her book, The Collected Table, is my go to guide, when I am trying to think up ideas for setting my table, for parties for family and friends!   When Kathryn asked me to share one of my collections, I had to really ponder what to share!  I am a collector of many things!  I collect flow blue china, sterling souvenir spoons and chinese calligraphy brushes as well as vintage movie star photographs.  I decide to share my photograph collection, because it is a little unusual.  So how did I begin collecting vintage photographs?


Years ago, I read where Winnie Palmer, wife of Arnold Palmer, wallpapered her dressing room with the covers of the New Yorker Magazine.  I thought how clever she was to use something she enjoyed in a personal space like her dressing room.  I am a true believer that our homes are an extension of ourselves, so I took Winnie’s lead and thought about creating a collection that brought me personal joy.  Hence I began to collect vintage photographs of movie stars I have admired from the past.  I first bought a lot of “studio stills” which are photographs the studio made of actors for publicity, to serve as a base because they were cheaper, than original photographs.  I then chose photographs to invest in that had special meaning to me.  Here are some of the “studio stills”photos I purchased in a lot.  I am hoping to use these as a base for a dressing room or powder room in the future, once I collect enough but I still have a long way to go to wallpaper an entire room!

  Here are some of the special photographs I have added to my

 collection of the  “studio stills”:

 Humphrey Bogart from Casablanca!  This is the most valuable photograph I own.  It has a sentimental value to me because this is the first movie my husband and I watched together when we were dating.   If you love Casablanca like we do, you gotta love this: 

Another special photo in my collection is Fred Astaire with his sister Adele, who was his original dance partner before Ginger Rogers.  Here they are from their

press shoot for ” Lady Be Good” which premiered on Broadway on Dec. 1, 1924.   

I have this framed in my living room.

 This is what the back of the photo looks like:

 This is my all time favorite!  This is a photograph of Grace Kelly

 ( at age 3 in the middle) with her brother and sister!  She is definitely the epitome of the song “You must have been a beautiful baby”!

 Back of the photograph with markings:

 Here are some others I have collected over time. These were all original photos

of some of my all time favorite actors!  

(No I wasn’t born in the dark ages, but almost!)

 So where can you find photos like these?  I have found most of mine online from vintage photo dealers or on ebay!  You can also find vintage photos from estate sales or antique malls.  If you want to start a collection of your own, be warned!  If you are buying online read the copy closely, make sure you are buying what you think you are buying!   Always try to see what is written on the back of the photos when possible.  Check the sellers feedback from other buyers.   Here are some examples of photos I bought thinking I was buying originals.  One was a postcard and the others were prints!  None of which were originals like I thought I was buying!  These are fun and I can use them somewhere but they were not the originals I thought I was buying!   


 If you want to start a collection of vintage photographs,  first decide what you want to collect.  You can pick a theme like ladies in swimsuits or old trains,planes,  cocoa cola trucks, or whatever you are interested in.  Look for a theme and then remember to group them together on a wall to create a gallery.  Any photos can become a collection and add a collected look to your room!  It might be photographs of your own family like the grouping below!  There are many ways to display old photographs.  You don’t have to wallpaper your walls like I am planning to do!  You might want to do something like this:

Courtesy of Curious Sofa

 Or you could chose a unique display like this one: 

Courtesy of Yankee Magazine
Credit: Kindra Clineff


Whatever you chose just have fun with it! 


And there is one more photo that I found (it pays to be friend’s with the Publicist.) Can you guess who this is?  Kathryn with her baby, “tiny tears.” Maybe I need to add this to my collection 🙂

Thanks Kathyn for having me guest post today on your blog!   

Thank you so much for sharing your collection with us, Lisa.  To read more from Lisa, you can find her at Lisa Mende Design Blog!

Happy Collecting!









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14 Responses to “What’s in Your Collection?” with Lisa Mende

  1. traci zeller says:

    Love Lisa’s collection … but I really love that childhood photo of Kathryn!!!

  2. I love the photos in the bottles – what a great way to display photos!

  3. Franki Parde says:

    That “Yankee Magazine” display is….so…cool!!! franki

  4. Kathryn says:

    I also love Lisa’s wonderful collection…but you just wait until I get a hold of that Brooke Wallace…for “exposing” Tiny and me!!

  5. Kathryn says:

    I agree, isn’t that clever!!

  6. Kathryn says:

    The entire concept is just great!

  7. Lisa Mende says:

    Thank You for having me on your blog today Kathryn!

  8. Schalene says:

    I had a Tiny Tears doll growing up. One Christmas my Mom sewed an entire wardrobe for her as my present. That photo of Kathryn really brought back wonderful memories. Thank you, Lisa … and Brooke.

  9. Kathryn says:

    My Tiny had a few clothes, but not an entire wardrobe! Your Tiny was a very lucky little doll, and yes, they do bring back great memories. Thanks for your sweet response. Maybe I won’t kill Brooke and Lisa for “outing” Tiny and I after all!

  10. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful post! I love your photos and your ideas are so very clever.

  11. I’m loving the the aged silver frames grouped together on the silver tray. Delightful.

  12. Brooke says:

    Uh oh, I don’t like to get in trouble with Kathy 🙂 I thought it was a wonderful addition to the collection!

  13. Kathryn says:

    Brooke…you know you love trouble! And that’s why I love you so much!!

  14. Kathryn says:

    Isn’t it lovely!

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