Interiors for Collectors by John Phifer Marrs

One day, Dallas-based designer John Phifer Marrs was looking through photos of homes he had worked on, and he became aware of all the wonderful collections that his clients had and how often he had organized, arranged, and displayed all those various collections. “It was a part of the interior design that I loved,” Marrs says in the introduction of his recently released book, Interiors for Collectors. “Some clients already had collections, but really didn’t know it ― so I would gather up the various collectibles from around the house and put them all together in a bookcase or organize them in a lovely piece of furniture or cabinet. Other clients collected passionately, and I always had to find a spot for a new acquisition. Either way, I really enjoyed dealing with all these different collections and loved making them enjoyable for the client and attractive in their home.”

Hence the idea for the book ― Interiors for Collectors. As an interior designer and purveyor of antiques, Marrs helps clients build their collections and display the objects in unique and beautiful ways from arranging in a cabinet to using an entire wing of a house. This book is about the joy of collecting and the author’s passion for displaying just about anything and everything in unique and beautiful ways. It also contains a fascinating overview of the history of collecting. Told in entertaining stories and anecdotes, and lavishly photographed, let’s take a peek inside!

Interiors for Collectors by John Phifer Marrs published by Gibbs Smith
A breakfront with a beautifully painted interior provides the perfect backdrop for Marrs’ collection of various parian busts and figurines. Note the exquisite antique gold braid on the front edge of each shelf… Marrs is an artist with the details!
An intriguing arrangement of “pairs” of unrelated objects makes for a charming composition above this bed. The ribbons with bows unify and add a decorative touch. Many of these items were inherited, and the client had a sentimental attachment to each one.
An early 19th-century gilt convex mirror from New Orleans hangs over a sideboard set for tea with a gorgeous silver tea service, graceful Edwardian five-light candelabras and an assortment of silver serving pieces.
Hanging art around one central object – here an open-back wall shelf – can be very interesting to the eye. This arrangement shows off two different collections.
A Regency rosewood and elm sofa table holds a collection of silver match cases.
The Welch dresser in the breakfast room holds the client’s charming collection of Blue Willow from her grandmother, as well as a lovely group of ironstone pitchers.
Marrs gathered up most of the antique paintings from throughout this house and rehung them salon style in the dining room for everyone to enjoy during frequent dinner parties.
Marrs painted the dining room walls in a former home “butta” yellow. On display are antique hot air balloon prints and parian busts from his extensive collection.
A variety of shapes and sizes of 19th-century watercolors and silhouettes give the walls in this bedroom added interest.
A inglenook under the stairs provides the perfect opportunity to display a passion for pears.
A block of solid marble was carved to create this special soaking tub in the master bath. A pair of antique bronze wall sconces accent the side walls above the tub alcove.
An antique Welch cupboard from around 1870 holds a vast collection of Imari plates and vases, inkwells, and spill vases collected by the owner on many trips aborad over the years.

“ ‘I think everyone should collect something,’ I tell my clients. Some already do and some don’t. Those who do seem to get the disease quite quickly and off we go! I have been so lucky to help in the acquisition of collections and in deciding how to edit and organize, and finally, to decorate rooms, wings, or whole houses with magnificent collections of just about anything and everything you can imagine.”

~ John Phifer Marrs

This exceptional book is particularly special to me because when I was a student at SMU, I used to babysit for one of Marrs’ clients whose home is featured in this book! The timeless decor, antiques, family heirlooms, and collections influenced me tremendously and were largely instrumental for sparking my passion for traditional, classic interior design.

If you love collecting and would like to learn more about John Phifer Marrs, you will definitely want to add Interiors for Collectors to your library. You can also follow @john_phifer_marrs on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.

To take a tour of Marrs’ very own Dallas apartment, please enjoy the Homeworthy tour below…

For further inspiration on collections, click here to read our interview with Patricia Altschul, whose homes were decorated by the late Mario Buatta, a master when it came to collecting. In the article, Patricia shares inside information on her vast collections, along with her favorite tips.

And we would love to hear from you! What are your favorite things to collect?


  1. These are all beautiful, but my favorite is the Welsh cupboard with the blue and white china!
    Oh wait, that spot under the stairs with the fireplace–be still my heart!!

  2. That first photo, a true bookshelf! A book lovers dream, no books turned around so it all looks insta perfect. And the nook under the stairs, what a brilliant idea, I would sit there all day reading.


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